From out of space, they came... riding on a comet of doom. In numbers too mammoth to conceive, they fed upon the blood of the living. Khaenealler’s Comet appeared in the heavens, bringing with it a strange glow, mysterious weather changes and vampires... filthy, loathsome creatures that could not be stopped. Three survivors of an annihilated world, Garry Garrington, his comrade-in-arms Bingham and the lovely young Janet, scour the English countryside seeking some place of safety from the horrors that have descended from above. This rarely-seen legend of horror, originally published in London in 1935, is now reissued for today’s readers in electronic format.
The June 1983 issue of the Twilight Zone magazine contained a short but fascinating article by noted horror writer, editor, fan, and collector, Karl Edward Wagner, on the 13 Best Horror Novels ever published. But because Karl had such winding, obscure tastes he was not able to fit all of his choices into one list . Instead he produced three -- one effort consisting of supernatural horror, one for science fiction horror, and one for non-supernatural horror (mainstream fiction). His choices ranged from the familiar to the forgotten. Last month we brought you The Maker Of Shadows by Jack Mann from his supernatural listing.
As a follow-up to that novel and a special Halloween treat, this month we present another novel from the Wagner list, this time from the Science Fiction category. One of the famous Creeps series published in England, it is a unique horror story that describes a vampire invasion from outer space. The monsters are definitely “Vampires Overhead!”
The author of this forgotten classic of horror fiction was Alan Hyder. As best as can be determined, this novel was Hyder’s only work of horror fiction. His name was not listed in the massive Bleiler Index to Supernatural Fiction or Mike Ashley’s comprehensive guides to horror writers of the past century. Even more telling, Hyder did not have any fiction in the Creeps Short Story Library published by Philip Allan, of which Vampires Overhead was part of the series. We were left to conclude that Hyder was a one-idea wonder who sold his one spectacular story to the Creeps series and then left the publishing world forever.
The concept for Vampires Overhead is a unique one and definitely something out of science fiction, not fantasy or the supernatural. The Earth is overrun by a cloud of monsters from outer space. These monsters, numbering in the hundreds of millions, are some sort of cosmic vampire bat and they arrive on Earth hungry for blood. No explanation is given for the origin of the bats or how they survive in outer space. They just are. Vampires Overhead is a cosmic disaster novel, very much similar to Garrett Serviss’s The Second Deluge, published nearly thirty years earlier. But where Serviss has the Earth engulfed by a gigantic cosmic water cloud and most everyone drowned, Hyder imagines a swarm of near indestructible bats attacking humanity. It is an unforgettable novel of interstellar menace!
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