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Suitcase of Memories

Loving Safoa

By Liza Wemakor 

16 Feb, 2024

Doing the WFC's Homework

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Liza Wemakor’s 2024 Loving Safoa is a stand-alone social-activist vampire novella.

Observers might expect the impediments to Cynthia and Safoa’s romance to be the age-gap (Safoa is somewhat older) and cultural differences between modern America (Cynthia) and Ghana (Safoa). There’s also the minor detail that Cynthia is alive while Safoa is a vampire.

But it turns out that the problem is Safoa’s tattoo.

Safoa has a name tattooed on her body. Cynthia assumes this is a former lover’s name. Cynthia would like to see her own name emblazoned on Safoa. Safoa has extreme boundary issues (we learn that this is for good reasons). Has Cynthia overstepped?

The romance is saved when Cynthia writes a touching note acknowledging her misstep and the reasons for it. Safoa, for her part, explains the significance of the name on her skin. She promises to appropriately memorialize Cynthia.

Safoa’s tales goes back centuries, to the days when she was enslaved by and preyed upon by a British vampire. Being used as a living blood bank ends in one of two fates: death or transformation into a vampire. Safoa was lucky enough to survive and canny enough to escape. The name on her skin commemorates someone who was neither lucky nor canny.

Just as Safoa was turned, Cynthia herself is showing signs of becoming a vampire. The process will be challenging. Successful passage raises another question. Vampires are very long-lived. What future awaits America’s undead?

As far as I can tell, this story has a kind of mundane vampirism that is not at all supernatural. One might call it a communicable disease, but that doesn’t really fit. The condition is more like having a symbiont, one that can be spread. For those who survive the transformation, the condition has many benefits. The main drawbacks: dietary requirements, environmental sensitivities (potentially fatal), and social issues.

I found it interesting that this is not set in a world like that of the RPG Vampire: The Masquerade, in which vampires must disguise themselves. In this setting, people do know that vampires exist. They have learned to cope with them — even profit from them. In the bad old days, for example, vampire hunters sought out and killed the more obnoxious vampires. Modern day America has seen the financial potential in holding immortal prisoners in for-profit prisons.

Alas, this was not a story for which I was the best audience. It was nice to read a story which predicted that life in the coming decades wouldn’t be entirely horrible, but I wasn’t convinced that the developments were plausible1. But then again, this is a novella and there’s not much room for detail.

The story is focused on romance, a romance in which two people surmount past communications barriers. It’s nice to see characters committing to do what it takes to make a relationship work, rather than indulging in flamboyant dramatic gestures, perhaps involving a boom box2. I’m a product of old-time Canada, which taught me that open discussion is anathema; feelings should be bottled up until they ignite into fusion-hot anger or distress. However, other readers might benefit from this example of sensible relationship problem-solving.

Loving Safoa is available here (Amazon US), here (Amazon Canada), here (Amazon UK), here (Barnes & Noble), here (Chapters-Indigo)

and here (Words Worth Books). I did not find Loving Safoa at Apple Books. I am still bitter about the fate of Book Depository.

1: Cynics may claim I never find settings (particularly recently written ones) with beneficial developments plausible… but this is untrue. It’s not impossible that some nation might introduce a UBI that survived for many weeks before being undermined by the government. Tomorrow’s empty vows of never again” could be framed in particularly poetic terms. Every asshole who makes life worse will die, many of them from painful conditions. Really, there is no end of positive developments that I could grudgingly admit were not entirely impossible.

2: Kids, ask your grandparents what a boom box is. Perhaps they will also remember the talkie romance in which a boombox figured.