Dreams of Decadence, #17, Summer 2002

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"For Whose Dear Sake" by Sarah A. Hoyt
"The Season Of Her Return" by Holly Phillips
"A Friend In The Night" by Elizabeth Slawinski

Dreams of Decadence is alternately titled "Vampire Poetry and Fiction", and that is what the editors deliver. This issue contains three works of fiction and four poems, all variations on the dark world of the undead.

The first dark tale is "For Whose Dear Sake" by Sarah A. Hoyt, a regular contributor to this (and other) periodicals. We are presented with the question of whether or not the great English writer, Marlowe, was seduced by an undead man posing as no less than the great William Shakespeare. Marlowe is consumed and degraded completely by the vampire, and later languishes when he is discarded for another favorite. His ultimate degradation comes later when the vampire decides to try his hand at this playwriting thing Marlowe is so successful with.

The second, and best tale, is "The Season Of Her Return" by Holly Phillips. Danya returns to the family's ancestral mansion after years of rolling in the gutter, wallowing in self-degradation. She had fled because her beloved brother disappeared, leaving her and the servant Finn behind, two of a former threesome. She returns to find that Finn is being consumed by a vampire, and that her brother is the leader of this enclave of undead. And so she must choose between the seductive allure of her brother's world or her current life.

The last tale in this issue is an odd unfocused tale by Elizabeth Slawinski titled "A Friend In The Night". Nicholas the undead goes off in search of the reincarnation of his oldest friend, who has returned again and again over the years to serve him. Sadly, we are not told much of the relationship, or its roots, just that it exists.

Overall, Dreams of Decadence does not break any new ground, but it does offer a compelling glimpse into the dark, languid world of the undead. For those who care for this, Dreams of Decadence is unique in this regard, and is well worth their time.

Jim Reichert has been a reviewer for Tangent for many years. He's a government lawyer specializing in the field of child abuse prosecutions, and lives with his wife and family in a rural area of southern Delaware. He's been an avid fan of speculative fiction all his life, and has been writing short stories and novels for 5-10 years on a sporadic basis. His first fiction was published last year in the e-zine Dark Matter Chronicles.