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Five or Six Things You Should Know about "Amish Vampires in Space" [Spoilers everywhere]




Amish Vampires in Space—the truly inspired title is the best thing about this book. Surely you at least took a peek at it on Amazon when it came out and the cover got passed around on social media in 2014. It is 481 pages long and laboriously crafted, so unless you are a forgiving speed-reader or intend to study Amish Vampires for research purposes, you may wish to content yourself with my takeaways.

  1. Plotishness: Jebediah and Sarah Miller are members of an isolationist Amish colony planet, but Jebediah uses forbidden technology to summon help when their solar system becomes unstable; the cargo ship that evacuates the colony is also carrying the remnants of a research colony where everyone died under mysterious circumstances; an epidemic of vampirism breaks out; hijinks ensue, along with a bazillion subplots.
  2. Origins: The book started as a joke by Jeff Gerke of Marcher Lord Press, who circulated a mock cover design for Amish Vampires in Space Book 3: Vein Pursuit. Later, author Kerry Nietz contacted him and asked whether he could have permission to use the concept—and write it straight.
  3. Seriously: The guy actually researched the darn thing. It’s much more solidly grounded in Amish religious practice than the current leading trilogy of Amish vampire romance novels and most bonnet-rippers. A bunch of the character conflicts rest on essential Amish beliefs in non-conformity, nonviolence, and shunning, and he dredges up and shares the appropriate biblical passages that form the basis of them. There’s also—Jacob Amman’s honest truth—a reference to the infamous Hostetler massacre. So, if your local Mennonite historical library initially tried to collect all the Beverly Lewis books and eventually gave up on stocking the myriad Amish romance titles which added little or nothing to the wider cultural understanding of Amish cultures, you should recommend this book for the collection as one which does, indeed, add something.
  4. Genre: The book is a genre mash-up like no other you’ve seen: not only does it combine the tropes of Amish romance with vampire fiction and sci fi space adventures in generally predictable ways--vampires trying to escape in a shuttle to infest the universe, Amish hayseeds in awe of technology, Amish maidens seduced by vampires and becoming seductive themselves (a ship-wide pursuit by a flock of vampire farm animals is a nice touch)—but it also carries a message of Christian redemption because it is produced by a Christian SciFi publishing house (yes, apparently that is a thing, with 30 houses on the first list of Christian SciFi publishers my search returned). A subplot deals with the captain’s budding romance with his crew member, Singer, going temporarily awry when he discovers that she is one of those fringe romantics, a Christian with an "inherent attachment to a value system."
  5. Uses: Amish Vampires in Space works well for dramatic readings around a bonfire with Mennonite college students, although you may find yourself editing some cringe-worthy lines as you go. It may give rise to discussions about the appropriateness of dressing up as an Amish person. Is wearing a bonnet cultural appropriation? Is it better or worse if the person dressing in Amish garb is of Anabaptist heritage or otherwise affiliated with Anabaptist groups or institutions? And what if we hybridize these cultural and religious expressions with the trappings of an imaginary vampire culture, i.e. wax lips with fangs?
  6. There are more! Nietz is marketing Amish Vampires as book 1 of 2 in the Peril in Plain Space series. I somehow missed Amish Zombies from Space when it came out in 2015, a mistake I shall rectify immediately.

About the Author

Kirsten  Beachy

Kirsten Beachy is assistant professor of English at Eastern Mennonite University, where she serves as director of the Core Curriculum. She edited the anthologyTongue Screws and Testimonies: Poems, Stories, and Essays Inspired by the Martyrs Mirror and co-chaired Mennonites Writing VI. She lives in Briery Branch, Virginia.