Malthus and the vampires

Paul Raven @ 30-03-2009

A vampire, yesterdayEver wondered why there aren’t more vampires around? Why more people haven’t seen one? You’re not alone – Laura McLay applies stochastic equations to the possible population fluxes of vampires and determines that they’d either over-run the planet or die out in short order:

I have yet to see a vampire movie that implicitly assumes that there is a reasonable model for vampire population dynamics (using a stochastic process framework or something else). And frankly, I’m pretty disappointed. Until I am offered a reasonable explanation for why there aren’t more vampires, I won’t be able to jump on the vampire bandwagon. If I had free time, maybe I would write a mathematically consistent vampire novel.

Please don’t bother, Laura. Maybe you could write a mathematically consistent novel about a genre trope that hasn’t been relentlessly flogged to death over the last decade instead?

Just sayin’. [via New Scientist Short Sharp Science; image by Robert Couse-Baker]

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5 Responses to “Malthus and the vampires”

  1. Dagonweb says:

    I am rather smitten with the white wolf explanation – in the first edition they had “generations”, where in the first generation vampire would be the eldest and strongest, a fullblown deity, generations above would be offspring of the first and generations up till 7 would be veritable demigods. Generation 14 would be close to human and in vampire terms – pathetic. Creating a vampire in this storyline, moreover, was an active act. You’d have to really want it, and it was a tough thing to do, like giving birth.

    The trick was that vampires were paranoid because there were other predators who hated their guts (werewolves) and vampires did benefit from hunting other vampires – taking the effective benefit of a lower generation of their victim was of a better blood than they. This would cause significant culling and strong incentive to hide. Add to that a vampire civil war with strong dynamics to stay hidden (Sabbat versus Camarilla) and you could in fact end up with the picture of a miserable version of ours.

    The RPG KULT asserted something else – this world is a prison, and “average mental balance” causes you to be locked inside the prison. Negative mental balance would be associated with vices, insanity and “the infernal”, positive mental balance with ascension, mysticism, sanity, detachment, gnosis and buddism.

    In KULT, another roleplaying setting, people who were bitten by vampires would die, unless they were intentionally made a vampire, and their mental balance was pretty negative. They could then exist, until their mental balance became too far negative, and they would slowly fade from out dimension into “higher” and more sinister ones.

  2. Denni says:

    I think Peter Watts cunningly gets around this problem in ‘Blindsight’.

    I either case, his vampires are believable 😉
    http://www.rifters.com/blindsight/vampires.htm

  3. Fredosphere says:

    Denni, I agree: Blindsight came immediately to mind. And I’ll add I just love the way the “crucifix glich” is not fully explained until the appendix. (That would be the book’s appendix, not yours, or mine, or the vampire’s.)

  4. Dave says:

    And in Watts’s next novel, the vampires will overrun the planet.

  5. Chad says:

    “a genre trope that hasn’t been relentlessly flogged to death”

    WOW! Did you guys just prove his point.