Karavansara

East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

On the tracks of the vampire queen

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As you may remember – or maybe not – I manage a small service, together with my brother, called RE:CON. We do bibliographical and documentary research for writers, game designers and, basically, anyone who’s willing to pay our very cheap fees.

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It’s a fun job, one that gives us a little extra to pay the bills, or to have a pizza once a month, and it can be lots of fun.
Because we so far have worked chiefly with game designers and comics writers,and their requests can be really weird.
Like today, that we were hit by a request for a short report on N’Gobi and its vampire queen.
Wow.

For the uninitiated, The Vampire of N’Gobi is a novel written in 1935 by a British author, Ridgwell Cullum. he was a specialist in westerns and adventure novels, and a few of those were made into movies, after the Great War and in the early ’20s.
You can find a lot of his works (but not the one we are talking about) in the Internet Archive.
According to wikipedia

He left home aged 17 to join a gold rush in the Transvaal in South Africa, where he became involved in the conflict between British and Boer settlers; he travelled to the scene of another gold rush in Yukon in north-west Canada; he spent a few years cattle-ranching in Montana, USA.

His experiences in Africa and in Transvaal might remind someone of H. Rider Haggard, and might explain why the plot of The Vampire of N’Goby looks at first sight like the bastard son of King Solomon’s Mines and She.
Set in a mysterious lost African city in which survives an equally mysterious civilization of Oriental-looking men, the novel has a plucky adventurer, traveling in the company of a Cockney guy and an African warrior, falling foul of Queen Ramaanita, that is supposedly immortal, and is your classic sultry sexpot.

So, one part Quatermain, one part Ayesha, one part Yellow Peril.
And admittedly, an absolutely gorgeous cover, that makes it clear Queen Ramaanita means business…

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The biggest let down of the whole thing, apparently, is the fact that the Vampire of N’Gobi is not. A vampire, I mean.
Here the word “vampire” is used to indicate a sexually predatory woman.
A vamp, we might say today. But really, “The Vamp of N’Gobi” sounds pretty silly.

And this is more or less it – and it will be hard putting together a proper file on this mysterious city and its equally mysterious queen: the book has been out of print for decades, and it’s available at stiff prices that, apparently, it is not worth of.

The only positive bit in all of this story is that by doing some quick Googling about Cullum’s novel, I found out J F Norris’ blog, Pretty Sinister Books, that has instantly become one of my favorites.
You might like to check it out.

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Author: Davide Mana

Paleontologist. By day, researcher, teacher and ecological statistics guru. By night, pulp fantasy author-publisher, translator and blogger. In the spare time, Orientalist Anonymous, guerilla cook.

2 thoughts on “On the tracks of the vampire queen

  1. I would like to check it out! And herewith apologies for being absent so long from this, I really do believe, terrific website. But. No more gushing, it ain’t cool.
    I wonder about one thing, though.
    THE VAMPIRE OF N’GOBI was written in 1935.
    Robert E. Howard’s yarn, “The Moon of Skulls”, was published in WEIRD TALES magazine of glorious memory, in 1930. Five years earlier. The cruel wanton villainess in that story is the vampire queen of Negari. Did Ridgewell Cullum possibly read that and was it an influence along with haggard et al?
    Maybe!

    Like

    • Welcome back, Keith!
      Now this is interesting – I was telling myself that the N’Gobi thing came from the Gobi desert: after all, there is a mysterious Oriental race living in the city, and the Gobi was big news in the ’30s, and lost cities were part of the Gobi mystique.
      But now that you mention in, the vampire queen of Negari sounds like a pretty big coincidence… I’ll have to check out the Howard story (Solomon Kane’s always a pleasure anyway) and see what’s the name of Howard’s wanton queen.
      I see another post coming 🙂

      Like

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