Volume 18, Number 4, December, 2000

War of the Werewolf

By Gary Greenberg and Jerome Tuccille

Xlibris, 2000
Reviewed by William H. Stoddard
December, 2000

Like Thomas Sipos's Vampire Nation (reviewed June 2000), this novel comes from Xlibris, which publishes it in print-on-demand format. It resembles Sipos's book in other ways as well. Greenberg and Tuccille have written a political satire expressed in the form of a horror story. The central horror motif here is lycanthropy rather than vampirism, but both vampirism and the Frankenstein story appear as well.

The satiric content is very broad. Nearly every character is corrupt, incompetent, naive, or all three. There is no subtlety of motivation: the characters are simplified and exaggerated and have only minimal self-awareness. The fantastic elements are justified partly by appeal to traditional motifs and partly by pseudoscientific references to genetic engineering—but without working through the implications of either the scientific or the supernatural assumptions. The novel's purpose is not at all to construct a coherent world, but solely to comment on the real world.

The libertarian content of that commentary is less clear than might have been expected. The principal viewpoint character is not a libertarian at all, but a conventional and somewhat hypocritical leftist; his opponents are wealthy capitalists who embody nearly every leftist stereotype about capitalism; and his eventual triumph is a success on his own terms. The subtext that both left and right are power-hungry and murderous reflects libertarian ideas, but nothing points to any alternative, at least not in terms that a libertarian would understand. A character named Ludwig von Dracula will remind libertarians of the Austrian economist; other readers are likelier to think of one of Donald Duck's uncles. And only those who have read Atlas Shrugged are likely to get the clever recasting of Victor Frankenstein ("the modern Prometheus") in the role of John Galt (whom Ayn Rand explicitly compared to Prometheus).

In short, the point of this novel seems to be primarily to demonstrate the cleverness of its authors. Some of their ideas really are clever; their secretive master villain's ultimate secret really is ingeniously chosen. But the total effect is insubstantial. To my personal taste, at least, though Greenberg and Tuccille show better developed professional skills than Sipos did, their story has less content than his and lacks the sense of a coherent vision that he achieved; and as a result, the satire is less convincing.

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