EMPIRE V Slipping the Tongue
released OUT NOW! 387 pages | Hardcover/ ebook
Author Victor Pelevin
Empire V ( subtitle: The Prince Of Hamlet) is a kind of vampire novel, but only debatably so. In fact, it’s debatable if it’s even a novel, as much of it reads like a series of socio- philosophical lectures; erudite, ironic, lucid and witty, but still lectures.
It starts with the first- person protagonist, a young Russian man called Roman, being lured astray by a stranger and vampirised, which involves him receiving an ancient oral parasite called the Tongue. ( Trekkers may be reminded of symbiont aliens the Trill.) Roman is then taught about our world’s reality, where everyone is born a pod- person, a robot of “civilisation”, with no Neo to free us from this Matrix.
There’s very little story as such, even when Roman is smitten by a female trainee vampire. There are some excellent comic vignettes and fine images, such as vampires decanting the memories and experiences of their human livestock, and the conceptual beauty of the revealed world will have some readers purring with pleasure. But the book also reads as an extended harangue against “sheeple” written on one long note of misanthropic smugness. Fortunately, the superb translation means that it’s always exquisitely written smugness. Andrew Osmond
A film version is in the works, with the same director who adapted Pelevin’s 1999 book Generation P attached.