Space Vampires by Colin Wilson is a NOT-TO-BE-MISSED science fiction classic from 1976. As the source material for the “erotic” science fiction movie Lifeforce, it starts off with the discovery of a fantastic starship that has traveled tens of thousands of years, and is discovered by the human race in 2080. The derelict carries a cargo of supposed corpses of (at least) two types of aliens — one squid-like and the other humanoid (supposed humans from Earth). Unbeknownst to the British space agency explorers, it also harbors a third alien — space vampires.
[English and French covers for The Space Vampires]
Not all is what it seems, and three of the vampires are unleashed upon the fertile playground of Earth. It soon becomes a race against time to find them. (This is where the novel and the movie depart. Pleasantly so though as each of the two mediums becomes a brilliant work of its own.)
The characters, setting and plot are all plausibly written and properly motivated. The fantastic turn of the book is the engagement at which author Colin Wilson tackles the idea of not just vampirism in general, but in fact, energy vampirism (i.e. “lifeforce”), and eventually what he dubs “benevolent vampirism” (which he develops throughout the course of the novel). Seemingly well-researched (or at least well thought-out), Colin discusses it through the characters and plot like a chess master almost as if he is delivering an extremely engrossing college lecture, without being pedantic or speaking down to the reader.
The only drawback to the book itself (and this is small) is the slow pace of how the characters discover what is happening, and the lack of perhaps some traditional “action” that readers may expect in such a book. Make no mistake on two point though, 1) this is a fantastic book if you love SF that makes you think, and 2) it has several sex scenes which though are rather “plain” in their description in the book, are played up in the film version. So if you are looking for titillation, I recommend enjoying the book and then enjoying the movie after for full effect.
Images below are from Lifeforce. Behold the gorgeous breasts of French bombshell Mathilda May as one of the eponymous space vampires. (Now out on Blu-ray!)