“There was something like sympathy in the vampire’s voice, the practiced affectation of an accomplished mimic. There was something else, too, an all-but-imperceptible hunger, a subtle edge of temptation. I don’t think anyone heard it but me.” (113)
This quote appears after Isaac gets killed while exploring Rorschach. It’s a very evocative, and unnerving, thought from Siri about Sarasti. Throughout the novel, when the crew is alone, or thinks they are alone, they talk about Sarasti; how he is a vampire, and how vampires had evolved to become hunters, or “predators”. I feel like Watts keeps foreshadowing future events with all these fears expressed by some of the crew. Like when the crew goes out for the first time, Sarasti stays back, and then Siri thinks,
“They’re tricks of the mind, the same neurological smoke-and-mirrors that convinced people throughout the ages that they were being haunted by ghosts, abducted by aliens, hunted by—
—and you wonder whether Sarasti really stayed behind or if he was here all along, waiting for you…” (86).
Both of these times, Siri has the fear that Sarasti is just waiting to consume the crew, that there is some innate hunger, and desire to devour them that he is just holding back. The seeds for this tension were planted when they first awoke; Sarasti’s was the only empty coffin, where had he been? Also, there were replacement crew members on board from the beginning, a rather ominous precaution. Isaac also mentions that the weakness of the vampires, a cross, might very well be curable; however, the absence of a cure suggests a sort of fail-safe, to ensure that the vampires don’t get too much power and take over. This adds to the foreshadowing that some sort of event might occur later where this information will be of some use.
The tension itself is the really evocative part for me. I can picture myself trapped inside a spaceship, in an already hostile environment, losing my mind from the “hallucinations”, and worrying about whether or not my captain wants to eat me. The psychological impact of all that stress is overwhelming, it kind of reminds me of The Thing, or Blade Runner: their survival is kind of dependent on whether or not they can decipher who is really human. For example, the Chinese room scenario, Susan figured Rorschach wasn’t a conscious being, and therefore wasn’t really conscious of their conversation, so they decided to land anyway, and we all know how that turns out…