Why is fantasy moving towards hereditary werewolves?

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#1
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I've noticed in most recent fantasy and romance novels involving werewolves, the condition is hereditary. (There are still lots of people turned by a bite in horror.) Why is this? People have no problem with characters being turned into zombies by a bite (even though that has no mythological basis.)

To me, hereditary werewolves lose lot of the bet narrative possibilities. I've always liked the idea about going about your life and then Blam! The supernatural OTHER intrudes and you are no longer quite human. I like the idea of trying to form a pack from random bite victims.

Can anyone think of any good recent fantasy novels involving characters turned into a werewolf by a bite?
 
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#3
Somewhat terse response, but thank you.

I was mostly asking about fantasy novels...horror movies still seem to do the "bite" thing. Unfortunately, they rarely give you a prolonged view of what becoming supernatural does to your life, which to me is the interesting part.
 
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#4
Though it is not something I read about, I'd suspect it has something to do with how it lends itself to establishing family units, therefor, bonds beyond racial or non-blood kin relationships. In other words, it opens up the genre to different plots.

K2
 
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#5
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I'd suspect it has something to do with how it lends itself to establishing family units, therefor, bonds beyond racial or non-blood kin relationships. In other words, it opens up the genre to different plots.

K2
Well, I think it leads to fewer plot possibilities. But it does lead to different ones. A lot of authors seem to like to use werewolves to tell stories about a more primal community with a "wolf pack" structure and specific hierarchy. This works better if they were born werewolves and raised in werewolf society. I'd find it more interesting to read about a computer programmer who suddenly has to find his place in a wolf-like pack structure, but apparently I'm in the minority.

As an aside, I've noticed supernatural romance books where you could substitute Amish or Indians living on a rseervation for werwolves without changeing much.
 

Al Jackson

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#8
You know I remember some story I read long ago about a mother and father werewolf hiding from their son that he might have the 'trait'! When he goes all werewolfy and murders their house keeper maid they have to tell he the truth!! Goofy story. I think I saw that in an Italian Fumetti from the 1970s.

Wolf bite transform does it have it's origins in hydrophobia?

On the other hand until Night of the Living Dead Zombies were totally different. In fact I don't think they were even called Zombies in the Living Dead movies? It was some virus from space wasn't it and they were just Living Dead! I am not sure when Zombie was used in a 'living dead' movie.....?

The first zombie movie I ever saw was from the 1940s on TV in the 1950s and those were Voodoo Zombies!
I guess in the morph …. the original Caribbean Zombies are totally forgotten?!

I always thought the zombie-bite was a off putting, seemed nobody died from a zombie attack anymore!
I mean being dead dead is more scary than being dead alive!

One thing I liked about werewolves was one was in jeopardy of being killed , scary, not so much so for vampires and zombies!
The whole movie and TV zombie thing has really gotten tiresome , I don't really understand the long popularity.
 
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#10
I've heard of rabies as an explanation for vampirism and rabies. Always seemed to make more sense then porphyria. No one would have known blood transfusions helped porphyria until relatively recently, while you can catch rabies from a wolf or bat bite.

I've never been a fan of zombies either. With all the supernatural creatures in mythology, zombies seem boring by comparison. If the zombies are mindless, you lose the possibility of seeing how things look from the monster's perspective. Romero Viral Zombies seem particularly silly. Viruses by definition can't infect living cells, so literally *ANY* other infectious agent would be a better choice. I prefer magic as an explanation for zombies. There is some appeal to the idea of magic bringing someone back...you can explore what it is like for the resurrected and hint at what they explored before rising.

Honestly, I think the zombies craze is a result of pure macho misanthropy. People fantasize about getting away from society, but don't want to think about the pesky details of raising your own food or making fishing nets as you would in a shipwreck or space colony colony story. Zombie Apocalypse stories sweep away all the people while leaving the caned goods and guns, then get to shoot all you want without guilt.

I've never seen werewolves as rapey. Also, no one seems to have a problem with biting seeming rapey when zombies do it.

"The Black Wolves of Boston" and "Ghost Electricity" series involved protagonists turned into werewolves by a bite. The former was very good. Also, I liked "Misfit Pack" "Good Bones" by Kim Fielding and "Mostly Human: Young Adult Werewolf Rockstar" even though they objectively weren't great because I liked them exploring the effect being bitten had on the character's life. The "Moon Called" series by Patricia Briggs involves werewolves turned by a bite, but we never see a character who hasn't been a werewolf for decades, and two of the major characters did come from werewolf families.
 

Ihe

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#11
It depends on the genre. Bites work for horror because the MCs in that genre tend to be more reactive, and there's less space for backstory and secondary plots, faster paced. Family units, clans, werewolf politics, hiding in society, power dynamics, etc--all of these are right up fantasy's aisle, as the wordier ones tend to spend more time to develop world and character.

Any way I look at it, there seems to be more plot possibilities if it's hereditary.
 
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Ihe

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#12
I will commit the sin of consecutive posting because I'm in a talkative mood and thought I could expand a bit more on my comments. I'm very pedantic lately, sorry :whistle:.

The reason I say hereditary is more flexible and overall superior plot-wise is because a) the more connections within your fantastic context you start with, the more subplots you can weave from the get-go, the more characters you can have without going through the ordeal of having to introduce each one properly, and with all those threads, the story can increase in complexity far beyond a bite-story, b) All those connections can be exploited much more effectively and sooner in the story for emotional effect on the reader and c) bite stories, as varied as they could seem to some, they all have pretty much the same linear structure, independently of any events in the timeline. Plot complexity gives you more story structuring options to choose from, as is the case with werewolf clans (you can start as a child before coming of age and turning, as an old man reminiscing, as a young wolf just being betrayed by his own brother, from the POV of a human protegee of the werewolf clan, in the middle of an underground war between fantastic beasts, maybe fantastic beasts are commonplace and the werewolves can live normal lives in the open, or maybe they can't and are plotting to infiltrate government institutions to gather power, etc).

If you start with a bite, there are three things that usually must happen in such a story: MC needs to get bit, usually in traumatic moments, he then needs to learn how to be a werewolf, and then needs to accept himself or die somehow if he doesn't. That's pretty much it. If you stray from this too much, the story will lose appeal, because you're focusing solely on the one MC, and more specifically, you are focusing on his gradual transformation and discovery. That is the main purpose of bite stories--cast of one will always be more limited in plot structure. But with a werewolf family? Now there the focus isn't so one-directional. It's more unpredictable because it has more moving pieces. Once you normalize lycanthropy a bit, you can see past the obvious misty superficial charm of it and start digging deeper into what it entails and what it could mean for the MC, and how it interacts with the rest of the world.

A bite story is about the journey to being a werewolf, genetic lycanthropy is about a character that just happens to be a werewolf. You can get away with a lot more in the latter. The change of focus opens up new worlds, IMO. Then again, it's all about the goal of the writer's story. Same story+2 genres=different worlds :giggle:.
 

Robert Zwilling

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#14
The simplest explanation seems to be that the bite method is old school. It also needs a lot of explaining. The instant werewolf method just jumps right into the story which seems to be what readers are looking for. Individual bites also allow the story line to meander as it goes forward. Many readers seem to prefer straight forward movement in the story line. Plus the social aspect is another important factor for the audience, already in a social circle before the first page ends will get people interested faster rather than building up each social connection. A story could break the cone of silence and have the bitten characters interacting peaceably with both the biters and the bitten but that would probably be rare.

Maybe they are the zone between walking dead and vampires. When werewolves are wolf like, they are closer to walking dead. When werewolves are normal they are closer to vampires not interested in biting anyone.

There is an old werewolf movie, Werewolf Of London, that does the biting, and the problems of fitting into society in brief fashion because of the time constraint of the movie itself, but it is quite good, I think it stands up to changing times okay.
 

Randy M.

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#17
Just a thought: bite vs heredity is sort of parallel to horror vs sf/fantasy.

The bite story is about the singular struggle of one person to contain or come to terms with her/his lycanthropy and the psychological toll it takes (The Werewolf of Paris; The Nightwalker). The story of hereditary lycanthropy concerns a society of werewolves and the filling out of how that society works (Sharp Teeth) unless the focus is on humans learning about such a society (The Wolfen, sort of).

Randy M.
(strikes me those are imperfect examples, but they're what I have to work with :) )
 

Randy M.

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#19
Something about popularity, Al. I don't think any werewolf book has had quite the impact of Dracula or Frankenstein, not even The Werewolf of Paris which was fairly popular, but has had long periods of being out of print.

When Universal Studios made horror movies in the 1930s Frankenstein caught on the strongest; when Hammer Studios made horror movies in the 1950s and '60s, Horror of Dracula brought in the bigger audience. The '40s saw The Wolfman and there were some sequels of that.

Zombies as we know them are largely from George Romero's Night of the Living Dead and they seem somehow to encapsulate late 20th and early 21st century concerns.

Randy M.
 

Al Jackson

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#20
You know Hammer made one of the most classy werewolf films The Curse of the Werewolf with Oliver Reed, 1961, alas did not catch on. Hammer's Zombie movie was ok, but kind of lackluster. Plague of the Zombies was a bit weird even tho those were Voodoo zombies.
I guess the old original Voodoo zombie is gone for good??!
 

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