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Sweeter Than Wine: A Story of Love, Sleuthing and Vampires Paperback – July 13, 2011

4.6 out of 5 stars 16 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

I don t like vampire novels. I don t even like vampire stories. Never did. They lack verisimilitude if vampires have to bite people frequently, and the people they bite turn into vampires, why aren t we all vampires by now? And what s the deal with sunlight? And the garlic and the wooden stake? That all sounds like superstition. So to me, vampires belong in the realm of fantasy, not in science fiction at all, and, for the most part, I don t enjoy fantasy very much. Now, there are some exceptions I like Terry Pratchett s Discworld vampires, because the story is humorous, like all his stuff. But most vampire stories are dead serious, with all kinds of gothic, fifteen-year-old-girl orientation Twilight is nothing new, just a continuation of the old pattern. Same old same old rape fantasies porn for teeny-boppers.

But I digress. Having established myself as a vampire-hater, I can say that L. Neil Smith s Sweeter than Wine is one heck of a great read. I like his vampire. It s definite science fiction, not fantasy, and is of the hidden history variety, where vampires are among us, and we don t know about it. Usually, this sort of thing is really a strain on your skeptical bump, but the world Smith creates is downright believable, making you nod you head and say, sure, this could very well be happening.

All of Smith s stuff has, as it very well should, a Heinlein flavor, but this book more than most. The protagonist has the air of Heinlein s competent man, who knows how the world works, and has developed an ethical code to cope with it more of a challenge than most of us have, given his special peculiarity. He s like Lazarus Long, but with a personality. And in keeping with both the vampire tradition and the Smith tradition, there are some shootouts, interesting information about weaponry, a lost love story worthy of Japanese anime, and a villain. Whoa, this is a real villain he makes Voldemort look like Heinz Doofenshmirtz. This guy will give you the willies.

The why aren t we all vampires by now problem is solved, neatly and not at all in a contrived way, and we are treated to some education on police procedure, biology, history, and paleontology. Not bad for a short novel.

One more thing: I read it in one sitting. I haven t done that since Mother Night, about half a century ago. So it also qualifies as a top-notch page-turner. It s a vampire story, sure, but Crime and Punishment was a detective story. --Rex F. May

About the Author

L. Neil Smith is a four times Prometheus Award winner. His titles include such acclaimed titles as The Probability Broach and Pallas. He is also the author of the Lando Carlrissian (Star Wars) series.

Sweeter Than Blood is his first vampire novel.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 152 pages
  • Publisher: Phoenix Pick; 1st Edition edition (July 13, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1604504838
  • ISBN-13: 978-1604504835
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.4 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,458,914 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I waited a long time for this book to come out and it was well worth it. The author's approach to thw vampire mythos is an innovadive one. The strengths and weaknesses of the vampire are still there but the vamp characters (most of them) have retained their humanity.
My only gripe is that, at 150 pgs, the book is way too short. If their is a sequel, I hope that it will be longer.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
L. Neil Smith says he does not like vampire stories. Well, in this 50,000 word experiment, he sure packed a lot and wrote an excellent story for the genre. The main character is a detective who was turned into a vampire during the early days of the Normandy invasion. He grouses about his life, but overall appears well adjusted for a vampire. Enter the woman who turned him all those years ago. The sparks fly, love is rekindled, and everything gets really complicated.

If you want a short novel with an interesting spin on the vampire mythos, you can't go wrong with this one. Highly Recommended.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
L. Neil Smith is a staunch advocate of the ZAP (Zero Agression Principle) and so it was with some trepidation that I recieved the news that he was going to write a "Vampire" story. Vampires ARE Predators, after all, and they prey on US!

I needn't have worried, the plot is enthralling, the characters intriguing, and the ethical concerns delightfully creatively resolved. (Although I can see the Lady on the cover having some challenges adapting to the 21st century, and the mores of her new "friends.")

Along the way we find out what happened to the Neanderthals, and... (oops, sorry no "spoilers")

Needless to say, I want to see more about these people. This is a problem as "El Neil" has several other "Irons in the fire." I just hope he lives long enough to finish even half of what's in the pipeline.

Treat yourself to some new possibilities that are "Sweeter Than Wine"
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Except for Barbary Hambly occasionally, I don't read vampire books. I don't know how members of the current vampire craze will feel about this one, but people who like good stories will enjoy it. I've read it twice now and liked it even more the second time.
I don't know how to classify Sweeter Than Wine, not "just" a vampire novel or a detective book or a love story, it's all of those and more.
Glad I took a chance on this based only on my respect for the author. Doesn't read like my other favorites by L. Neil Smith (read Probability Broach for a good start on those), many other authors can't seem to change their style even when changing genre. This one manages to be L. Neil without being a copy of his other books. It's not a recycled story with vampires substituted for another stock character.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Neil does it again, in a book written for National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). He lays out a scientific, logical basis for the vampiric condition without resorting to the supernatural, and sticks rigorously to his framework without bending the rules or failing to entertain. For the discerning, there are Easter Eggs galore to find, which makes this book so much fun to read. I refuse, however, to reveal anything beyond this, except to say that you will not be disappointed if you buy the book, but you'll kick yourself for waiting if you don't do so right away.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I love L. Neil Smith's writing, and this is a delightfully different take on the vampire mythos. But too much was simply left unresolved. What of the mysterious female traveler? Why did the unimaginably old and wealthy villian fail to wear armor on their second encounter (not to mention going it alone when he could afford a herd of henchmen)? I gather El Neil wrote this to a specific length and time frame, but there is obviously a lot more story waiting to be told. The "ending" was a bit abrupt and anticlimactic. I think Neil owes us another story.
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L Neil Smith was somehow able to create a credible theory of Vampirism that even had me going. In the process he disposed of magical powers, but left us with an impressively evil ancient monster. I don't like giving away the story so I will simply say that it is written in his own masterful style. I couldn't put it down until I finished it.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I never thought I'd enjoy a vampire novel but this one (from one of my favorite authors) is very different than what I expected. It is humorous and the characters are well developed and the dialogue realistic. Another fine book from El Neil.
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