It’s official: Outlander is now on air in the U.S. For Starz fans, this might as well be an Alfred Hitchcock special. The latest episode features the legendary director behind the scenes, as he guides a collection of Hollywood A-listers—including some well-known faces from TV’s The Sopranos—as they shoot a sci-fi horror movie in Spain.
HBO made a similar behind-the-scenes documentary about the making of The Sopranos, so perhaps we’re in for more of these revealing looks into the creative process? To celebrate the premiere of Outlander on Starz and the big reveal of its mysterious and complex world, we’re taking a detour from our regularly scheduled programming to bring you an exclusive excerpt from one of the greatest novels of all time—The Vampire Chronicles by L.A. Meyer.
The Sexy Star
There’s no questioning that the hottest kid on TV has got to be Sam Weiss (played by Robert Pattinson). This was evident from the very beginning of the show, when he burst onto the scene in a pool party scene wearing only a speedo and sunglasses. From that moment on, it was like he was born to swim, treading water and looking cool as a cucumber the whole time. We know now that he’s a vampire, which he shares with his father. But at the start of the series, viewers didn’t know if he was really a descendant of Lestat—the vampire who made Martha Stewart a popular guest on his show—or if he was just another typical teen who happened to have supernatural characteristics.
Even now, it’s not entirely clear what will happen in the upcoming season of Outlander, since the trailer for the show’s second season dropped mere days ago. But given that the trailer shows a very different side of Sam Weiss than what we’ve seen previously, it’s clear that the show’s creators are not ready to fully answer all our questions about the character. We can only hope that the truth about Sam will slowly but surely begin to unravel, and perhaps even cause a bit of a ruckus along the way.
The Making Of A Vampire
The Vampire Chronicles is, quite simply, the greatest novel adaptation of all time. Every scene is a masterpiece, every character is rich and complex, and the whole thing is written with an incredible amount of verve and creativity. And it all started with a simple question: What is a vampire?
L.A. Meyer’s unique and timeless tale of vampire fiction has inspired countless books, comics, and films throughout the years. It was the basis for a major motion picture in 1998, which starred Ethan Hawke and Willem Dafoe. But even before that, the legend of a creature that can only survive in the dark had gripped the public imagination, leading to countless paintings, sculptures, and other works of art depicting the macabre beauty of a creature that preys only on the living.
Though the idea behind vampires had originally sprung from folklore and ancient Eastern religions, it was Meyer’s genius to ground such a fantastical concept in the scientific reality of the 21st century. Vampires, he showed, are not creatures of superstition or myth but are, in fact, the living descendants of the creatures that inflicted the first true cases of blood-borne illness on humans. This made them perfect candidates for the ever-progressing science of genetics, which could finally explain this mysterious, otherworldly affliction that had mystified and terrorized mankind for so long.
A special kind of germ, transmitted through saliva, gave rise to the first instances of vampirism in humans. The illness, which is passed down through generations, was responsible for the Great Plague of London in the 17th century. It was also a major factor in the Haitian Revolution of the early 19th century, and was a key element in the Spanish Influenza of 1918. The list of historical plagues now extends to include the Black Death, which killed a third of Europe’s population in the 14th century, and more recently, AIDS and Ebola, which have taken a combined toll of over 14 million lives worldwide.
The Perfect Companion
The Vampire Chronicles is a romantic novel, but it also has a remarkable amount of action and adventure, as well as gross-out horror scenes. So it goes without saying that it’s one of the great all-rounders, just like Gone With The Wind or The Lord Of The Rings. In fact, it’s often cited as one of the great love stories of all time—and for very good reason.
One of the novel’s main characters, Louis de Fontenay, a descendant of Dracula, is an immortal creature of the night who possesses the power of seduction. He is a perfect companion for the human woman he ultimately loves, Victoria. Together, they fight for truth, justice, and the American Way—which, to us modern readers, doesn’t sound too different from some of the great themes in Game Of Thrones.
A Tale Of Two Cities
But like most great novels, The Vampire Chronicles is more than the sum of its parts. It’s a complete, immersive world that you enter, and leave as much as you enter it. This is something that film and TV adaptations have struggled with, as they’ve had to condense Meyer’s sprawling 800-page story into a rigidly structured two-hour movie or TV episode. Sometimes this results in the complete alteration of an author’s original work, as the film and TV versions of Anne Rice’s Interview With The Vampire changed the original novel’s climax, transforming a climactic battle between good and evil into a cut-and-dry fight between two immortals. But in the main, it’s served to enrich and expand Meyer’s tale, giving it new layers and details that only enhance the already vivid experience of reading the book. (We’re looking at you, Dragon Tattoo.)
Filling The Void
In the novel’s climax, Louis and Victoria’s romance is threatened by the machinations of Victoria’s evil sister, Serena. When Louis tries to protect Victoria by giving her a sip from his blood, Serena casts a spell that results in the brutal transformation of both Louis and Victoria into vampires. The spell also has the unintended consequence of making Victoria into a cannibal, and she devours her lover, drinking his blood until he is fully replenished. (After which, she mourns his passing with a bloodbath, dispatching any and all of his descendants who dare to walk the earth.) The tragedy of this terrible event is that it closes the book on a bittersweet note: While Victoria’s actions are inexcusable, Serena’s betrayal and the destruction of her marriage are more than sufficient tragedy for one chapter.
Now that we know the truth about Sam, will we feel differently about Victoria? Will her actions haunt her forever? Will anyone forgive her? Or will the show finally reveal the real culprit who was truly responsible for Louis and Victoria’s tragic transformation? All these questions will be answered when Outlander returns for its second season, premiering on Starz in the United States on April 7, 2016.