Can a seven hundred year old Transylvanian find true love with a revolutionary Rysemian fish-woman?
After seven hundred years, Glamorous vampire Sterling O’Blivion has begun to think the joy is going out of life. Then she meets Virginia Woolf in the ladies’ room of a dance studio in Chicago. But Woolf is really Benaroya, a dolphin-like alien anthropologist here to learn all there is to know about humanity and to fight the good fight against the evil, slave-trading Sajorians. Sterling falls madly in love with Benaroya. It’s just the sort of romp an aging vampire needs—but first, to defeat the Sajorians, they have to sell millions of Famous Men’s Sperm Kits to every woman on Earth.
The second book of Scott's Benaroya Chronicles (after Passing for Human), first published in 1984, is still one of the most astonishing works of science fiction ever written. Sterling O'Blivion is hard at work fleecing ordinary citizens out of their life savings when she unexpectedly runs into Virginia Woolf in the ladies' room. But Woolf isn't Woolf—she's the titular vampire, Benaroya, a 36-foot-tall body-swapping alien trying to save humanity from the sinister Sajorians. Naturally, Sterling falls madly in love with her. Benaroya's plan involves selling Famous Men's Sperm Kits to adjust human perceptions and coaxing the world into psychic enlightenment over several centuries, unless the Sajorians (or Sterling's own morbid self-pity) get in the way. Scott's complex theories of reality will be a barrier to comprehension for many, but readers who can stick out the obtuse bits will be rewarded with a stunning piece of iconoclasm as Scott takes human society to task for its casual cruelties, meaningless obsessions, and ironic hatred of love. Most notably, Sterling's vampirism and lesbian identity work in tandem to make this an early and invaluable work of queer feminist SF; its historic nature alone is worth the price of admission. Introduction by Theodore Sturgeon.
Sterling O’Blivion has been a vampire for 900 years, and has spent her life observing the evolution of a human race - and now works at a dance studio. Thankfully, she is not an obsessive, sulky vampire like those found in some of the more famous fantasy novels! Scott crafts a dry, witty protagonist, whose voice and observations concerning society and humanity will keep you captivated and more often than not, make you laugh or keep you deep in thought. Then one day, after becoming content with her modern life, O’Blivion meets Virginia Woolf - also known as Benaroya, an enthusiastic, bubbly alien that soon becomes O’Blivion’s lover, while they work together to defeat a rival alien threat, and start a business selling Famous Men’s Sperm.
The plot in this novel is unlike one we’ve ever encountered before - it’s wild and complex, but intriguing and one that definitely keeps the book on your mind, even days after you finish it. Scott also creates fantastic characters that carry the story, and even when the plot gets complicated, Benaroya’s enthusiastic quips or Sterling’s witty and cutting thoughts will carry you through the more technical side of the plot, which can lose you at times. Thankfully, if you do get a bit lost, it won’t impact your enjoyment of the book, as the sci-fi elements don’t ultimately carry that much importance to the story or it’s overall message.
Scott crafts an intriguing, funny, and extremely clever story that entertains, while also offering enlightening observations on elements of society. While the outlandish plot and age of the book might put some readers off, we wouldn’t let it stop you. Reading it is an experience that you will want to have, if only to see a vampire and Virginia Woolf try to set up a business to sell sperm to housewives! That, and it’s an extremely well written, witty and thoughtful novel to boot.
BY CHLOE SMITH, reviewed April 2016
Jody Scott knows that science fiction reaches the parts other fiction cannot reach. Like Philip K. Dick, she uses science fiction to question the meaning of reality and the nature of humanity- but saying that doesn't even hint at what a wild, original and outrageously funny writer she is.
The narrator of 'I, Vampire' is Sterling O'Blivion, a 700-year-old vampire working in a Chicago dance studio when alien anthropologist Benaroya , wearing a Virginia Woolf body, enlists her aid in a plan to cure humanity of its mass psychosis. Symptoms of this psychosis include wars, inflation, unemployment, boring novels and insurance: "If a species has "insurance" it is patently doomed. Only a toylike, salivating, pent-up bunch of gruntlings could have conceived of such a sociopathic type of gambling."
Fortunately for us, the willingness of just one person to stand up and say "Hey, wait a minute. Why are we acting like psychotics?" may be enough to set off a "self-propagating chain reaction of sanity."
'I, Vampire' is not only great good fun, it's better for you than Vitamin C, garlic or aerobic dancing. Read it: the reality you change may be your own.
“Sterling O'Blivion happens to be a vampire and has lived 900 years but that just makes her the logical choice to oversee the psychic evolution of the human race (or face extermination by the Rysemians). She and [Beneroya] her Rysemian lover, in the body of Virginia Woolf, head up a company to sell a Famous Men's Sperm Kit, which is intended to spur this evolution… They also run into a rival alien race who just wants to capture humans to ship them off as food/slaves/curiosities. The writing is hilarious and witty. There are lots of funny images, like rows of cloned Nixon's being used as servants (although they are the old model and are being gradually updated to the new Reagan models)… The places it goes keeps being totally unexpected and intriguing… Pretty original stuff. If you are expecting either a vampire novel or a sci-fi novel, this isn't it. It has bits of both but lots more.”
Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine:
After thirty years out of print, Jody Scott’s strange and vitriolic feminist science fiction series, The Benaroya Chronicles, is enjoying new life in a new print run from Digital Parchment Services. The first novel in the series, Passing for Human, has already been released. Now I, Vampire, the second novel in the series, is enjoying a reprint. This new edition comes with an introduction by Theodore Sturgeon.
Sterling O’Blivion is a centuries-old vampire living in 1980’s Chicago where she manages a dance studio dedicated to ripping off vulnerable middle-aged capitalists. For fun, and because she could, she built herself a time machine. Sterling is less morally conflicted about her vampirism then about her job, but she takes a circumspect perspective of the whole endeavor, though she is taking a dim view of her current rut. It seems that life has lost its pizzazz – at least until her old crush, Virginia Woolf shows up. Except it’s not Virginia Woolf, it’s an alien dolphin wearing Woolf’s shape, and she needs Sterling’s help. It seems humanity has, though its own mass of failings, doomed itself to corruption. Woolf – Benaroya – has a complicated plan to save humanity from itself, and from the villainous Sajorians who plan to feed off humanity’s baser instincts. Sterling, drawn by Woolf’s charisma and strange, down-home yet other-worldly charm, finds herself questioning her ethics as she is pulled into Woolf’s bizarre scheme.
Sterling is a character of contradictions – strong yet vulnerable, willful yet reticent, flirtatious yet gun-shy. Her voice is chaotic, sarcastic, and wonderfully acerbic. Scott uses her as a scattershot; there is nothing in modern society Sterling does not have an opinion on, often outrageous, always remarkably astute. Scott, through Sterling, demonstrates a slick capacity to effortlessly move from one social critique to another without drawing breath. Contrasted to Sterling is Benaroya: expansive, charismatic, outspoken, yet strangely artless. And also a space-dolphin.
This really is one of the strangest books I’ve ever read. Several times I had to stop reading just to process what was going on. It’s clear Scott felt unrestricted by genre or convention, yet she handles unconventionality with a ridiculous, infectious glee. It’s outrageously fun, at least when you’re not tying your brain into knots keeping up with her.
That said, it’s an acquired taste. If you’re the sort of person who enjoys the weird, sideways style of Vonnegut at his least lucid, Scott’s madcap style will probably work for you; if you like your fiction a little less post-modern, I, Vampire will taste sour. Even still, it is artfully done. If you are looking for a dose of the weird and intellectual, or if you are already a fan of Scott’s work, this new edition will enrich your e-reader. --Catherine Moller
The Seattle Times:
"What is one to make of this second science-fiction novel by Seattle author, Jody Scott? Especially one which asks on the cover, "Can a seven-hundred-year-old Transylvanian find true love with a revolutionary Rysemian fish-woman?
A lot of of fun, for one thing. You don't like vampire stories? Sterling O'Blivion is not an ordinary vampire. Scott does a wonderful job of shattering vampire myths as O'Blivion explains how she has lived to the present time and has become a top instructor at the Max Arkoff dance studio.
Having established the vampire solidly, Scott then introduces alien invasion. Virginia Woolf and Sterling O'Blivion have a wonderful brawl in the ladies' restroom, and then fall madly in love. But Woolf, whom O'Blivion met one time for an hour, is really Benaroya, an alien from Rysemus, whose natural form is that of a fat sea-pig.
There's a method to all this madness. The Rysemians are on Earth to prevent the Sajorians, a second alien race, from conquering the world. They, too, are able to assume human form. Whom can one trust? Are Patty Cox and Johnny File, friends of O'Blivion, human or alien?
There is much action in this novel, but its real appeal is in Scott's stabs at the foibles and shortcomings of our society. Woolf, as alien, and O'Blivion, as someone who has seen it all, are perfect spokesmen for such criticism. Jody Scott sees things with a clear eye. You must read carefully, for she can point a caustic finger with a single throwaway line. And when she really winds up, everything is fair game: big business, the military, politics, religion and more. In addition to sharpness and criticism, there are wackiness, clever dialogue, action and lots of love.
Underneath it all, there is the sense that Scott loves humanity, with all of its weaknesses. Her sharp critical eye tells us to look around, to see the awful things we do to ourselves and each other. In spite of what she sees, Scott is saying, "I love you, world."
This reviewer doesn't even like vampire stories. But I enjoyed this one immensely and recommend it highly." -- Frank Denton
The Evening Post, Nottingham, U.K.:
"In 1980's Chicago, a disillusioned vampire from 13th-century Transylvania meets Virginia Woolf in a washroom.
They beat the stuffing out of each other, then fall in love before moving several years into the future and setting up an artificial insemination company using famous men.
This is all part of a revolutionary plan by a race from another planet to make earth a jollier place by alerting its inhabitants to the fact that reality is self-created- and can therefore be altered at will.
The plot of Jody Scott's I, Vampire is startlingly wide-ranging - leaping barriers of time, place and personalities as neatly as the author ignores the restraining rules of convention and logic.
Superficially, this funny and thought-provoking book tells of the battle for humankind's soul between the evil Sajorians and the white-hatted Rysemians, but I, Vampire also has much to say about the shortcomings of life- and the therapeutic effects of a lot of positive thinking." --Caroline Stringer
For Books' Sake:
"An exuberantly clever and wildly iconoclastic feminist and SF take on vampires in fiction. If you thirst for something really witty, quirky, with bags of brains [...] you'll do no better than this wonderful novel."
“The rapid non-sequiturs Scott puts into Benaroya’s mouth and her aside justifications combine sharp jabbing observations and great humour. Those who seek to deride feminist SF often suggest that it is too serious, po-faced, but Jody Scott’s wild imagination, seemingly scattershot but tightly controlled, makes … an absurdly comic romp of unexpected juxtapositions and witty aside.”
From Theodore Sturgeon:
"Let it be understood that this is, however, not a vampire novel in any usual or expected sense.... If this astonishing book is about anything, it is about this kind of parallel; about Jody Scott's amazing ability to look askance and detached at humanity and human affairs, all the while passionately involved. And if that be a paradox, make the best of it.... after the huge enjoyment of Scott's vitriol, her hilarity, her delineations of action and excitement (and indeed, one can read for these facets alone and gain many times the price of admission)."
"A further, truly remarkable achievement of hers is her ability to describe a steamy, passionate love sequence without being explicit. My. How unfashionable. How very refreshing!"