In 1991, the first of a series of "shared world" anthologies the
Horror Writers of America (HWA, now the Horror Writers Association) was
published. The anthology, entitlted Under the Fang, was edited by
Robert R. McCammon and Martin H. Greenberg, and featured stories from HWA
In a shared world anthology, different writers contribute stories that
share settings, situations, and/or characters with the other stories in the
collection. McCammon developed the "world" setting for Under
The basic premise for Under the Fang is that vampires have
taken over the world and there are pockets of humanity living
"under the fang." The anthology is the first book McCammon has
edited. "It's been a blast for me to do this. It's been
exciting, with so many good ideas, and I wish I could have asked
to see more stories," McCammon told Lights Out!
The anthology featured stories written by the HWA's
lesser-known authors and such "established" members as Thomas F.
Monteleone, Al Sarrantonio, Brian Hodge, Lisa Cantrell, Nancy A.
Collins, and Richard Laymon. HWA president Chelsea Quinn Yarbro
collaborated with Suzy McKee Charnas on a tale bringing together
the two main characters from their vampire novels.
Robert R. McCammon's original premise for Under the Fang
has been reprinted below with his permission.
Under the Fang
Copyright © 1989 by Robert R. McCammon
They came in the night, to the towns and cities. Like a slow,
insidious virus they spread from house to house, building to
building, from graveyard to bedroom and cellar to boardroom.
They won, while the world struggled with governments and
terrorists and the siren song of business. They won, while we
weren't looking. And now that we see them---now that we know
them---it's much, much too late.
The ancient hordes are the conquerors now, and the remaining
herds of humanity are living under the fang. From Moscow to
Tokyo, New York to Los Angeles, the vampires have come to power,
and what will they do with the world they've won through years of
nighttime combats and bloodsucking in the dark?
Some humans have become their allies, walking an uneasy razor's
edge of truce. The vampires need them, to watch the hiding
places by day. Some humans will do anything for a taste of
power---even power reflected from those that cast no reflection.
But it's whispered through the villages and towns, from Europe to
America, that the vampires are at work in the halls of science.
They're creating hybrids of human and the living dead, and what
might come of that combination no one knows. The vampires are
creating their own economy, with their own structure of society:
a nightmare world, with unholy religions and barter for blood and
other things best kept secret. The vampires have their own
entertainments, events that would make the most debased emperors
of Rome blanch and sicken. The vampires have created coliseums
and "entertainment" spectacles that harken back to the days of
gladiators and Christians versus the lions, only these
"entertainments" have a decidedly wicked vampiric bent.
But a few ragtag armies of humans remain, scattered in the
desolate places. They vow to fight on, against overwhelming
odds. The stories abound: some say the vampires, over the course
of many years, have built underground railroads that carry
cargoes of blood from point to point. Some say not all the
vampires are evil, but that there are those in high places that
are actually helping the human cause. And what of vampiric
politics? Kingdoms rise and fall, cities become fortresses, wars
between vampires are common horrors, and God help the human herds
who get in their way.
Love among vampires? Is there such a thing? Perhaps there is.
Hate there certainly is, and plenty of that. The vampires have
taken control of television networks, satellite systems, radio
stations, newspapers and magazines; they've created their own
fads and sports, they make movies and write books in a bizarre
mockery---some would say a twisted memory---of what it was like,
a hundred years ago, to be human.
When did this begin? It's lost in myth. When will it end? That
is a wish, as yet unknown. Until then, the society of vampires
thrives on the dwindling human herds and the human soldiers
captured in the endless war between the living and the dead. The
vampires have their own version of a judicial system, their own
torture chambers and executioners. It's said that some of the
vampires have studied the black arts well, and have learned to
truly hold hands with the Devil, while others curse the darkness
and long for light. But, as in any species, the vampiric strain
has a predominant need for survival, for the conquering of their
environment and the continuation of their way of life---even if
it is a life lived as a terrible echo of what humanity used to
Away with moldering caskets! Away with crucifixes and holy
water! No garlic served here! The vampires are of the computer
age, and the hideous future yet to be. Vampires in space?
Exploring other worlds? Space stations and Star Wars manned by
the undead? Vampiric scientists, creating what kinds of
blasphemy in the labs? Vampiric ad agencies, promoting what
products for the masses?
And where do we go from here, those humans who are left? Do we
die as cattle, hanging from our heels and bleeding into bottles
on assembly lines? Do we rise up and try to fight, or is
fighting a useless dream? Where do we go, in a world transformed
into a cauldron of black magic, dark hearts, and unholy desires?
Is there any hope for humankind, crushed under the fang?
Or would it be easier---and so coldly sweet---to offer our
throats and wrists and let the humanity rush out of us in a red
tide, so we can learn what it's like to live forever?