Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Twi-Theories Tuesdays: Vampire Physiology

This post will contain book spoilers for the entire series, including the Midnight Sun draft. Go Read.

In my plea for ideas last week, the lovely RaShell came through f0r me with an excellent question about the physiology of our favorite vampires. I dug into some correspondence with Stephenie Meyer available at the Lexicon and TwilightMoms, as well as diving back into the series again (I LOVE when I have a good excuse to do that!).

So how does the whole thing work? I'm going to ask you to accept a certain about of "magic", because, after all, we're dealing with a fantasy world of undead, please don't go overboard with the logical stuff. I'm also only going to deal with vampires as they exist in the Twilight universe.

Thanks to Alice, not to mention Bella's first hand account of her transformation, we know that, once bitten, the venom in a vampire's saliva begins to slowly move through the body. As it moves, it both heals any damage done, and begins changing the body into the cold, hard, unliving body of a vampire. Eventually the venom reaches the heart, allowing it to flow to the entire body, before stilling the heart and leaving the newborn vampire "alive". The transformation takes approximately 3 days, but can be shortened by getting as much venom into the system as possible and as close to the heart as possible. Edward's bright idea of collecting his own venom into a cardiac syringe allowed him to get the venom directly into Bella's heart, allowing the venom to move through her body immediately.

The newborn vampire brings us to the basic thing for vampire physiology: Blood. Blood is everything for a vampire. Literally. Yes, yes, without it, us humans are pretty screwed, but that's not the point here. There's a significant point made that a newborn vampire is extremely strong, as a result of the remnants of their own human blood being in their system. Over time, this strength fades into the "normal" superhuman strength. (Can you imagine what Emmett was capable of as a newborn vampire??)

The blood doesn't just keep them alive, it literally powers everything. The strength, the speed, the heightened senses, even the mental abilities. According to Q&A's with Stephenie Meyer, if you could cut into a freshly fed vampire, they would bleed, but otherwise not. This tells me that they drink the blood of their victim, whether human or animal, and it's absorbed into their body. They don't have the digestive system as we do, to put it as delicately as possible. The blood is simply absorbed and burned as they go about their lives, just like we do with food, the calories powering our bodies, giving us strength and stamina. They don't necessarily need to eat as often, though Edward mentions that the more often he feeds, the easier it is to curb his bloodlust.

Now for the fun part! Let's talk bodily fluids! From the books, we now there are a few. Vampires retain a few basic bodily fluids. According to Stephenie Meyer, all are composed basically of venom. Saliva is the first, and the strongest composition of venom, since that's the direct application of it for the purposes of incapacitating their victims and beginning the conversion process. In the Midnight Sun draft as well as Bella's experiences in Breaking Dawn, we can gather that 'saliva' isn't entirely pure venom, as when the bloodlust strikes, there's a definite pooling of venom in their mouths, the vampire version of drooling, essentially. I have always taken from these accounts that the 'regular' saliva of a vampire is fairly diluted venom. After all, Edward made no move to stop Bella from taking a bite of that slice of pizza after he did. Perhaps it would have been a problem if she'd had a split lip or a cold sore, but then, Edward would have noticed that.

In Breaking Dawn, we know that the fluid in their eyes is essentially venom also. Vampires are incapable of tears, but there is some fluid in the eye, enough to dissolve contact lenses in a matter of hours. We also become more aware that there is no 'waste' fluid to deal with.

And finally, the part I know you all REALLY want to know about....the one remaining body function. I assume we all took health class in middle school and/or had the birds and bees discussion with mom and dad, and I don't need to have a basic discussion of how babies are made. Thanks to Bella's deliriously happy state, a few destroyed pillows and a broken headboard, we're left to assume (darn fade-t0-black!) that the mechanics of sex are the same. Remember back when I said that blood powers everything? Ahem. Yes. Not much different than a human male, right? Except, that I'd bet that those lovely vampire boys have a bit more control...as in 'on command'.


Sorry, I'm back. Where was I? Oh, right, 'on command'. (Focus, ladies!) I'm sure at some point, instinct and desire take over and after a thoroughly satisfying and furniture destroying experience, another bodily fluid makes its appearance. Is it venomous? Probably, at least in that diluted state, but not enough to kill the little pieces of DNA required to make baby half-vampires. Here's part of where I'm asking you to accept a little magic. I'm sure many of you can come up with logical reasons why Edward's lil swimmers shouldn't be swimming anymore, but they do. Deal with it. Perhaps it's a blood thing, perhaps it's because sperm are produced constantly, as opposed to a pre-established number and cycle, like women. Perhaps it's a statement on the differences in the sexes. Either way, vampires pro-creating with humans isn't a new concept, perhaps because, regardless of the audience or story, a little vampire sexing is a good thing.

So, there we are, Kerry's Basic Vampire Physiology Course 101. I hope I answered your question, RaShell, if not, I could talk about Edward's...physiology a lot more, I'm sure.

If you missed it, last Thursday Amber and I, along with our guest blogger, Sabrina, began a chapter by chapter discussion on Eclipse. Last week we discussed the preface, and this week we will dive in to chapter 1. Some of the future Twi-Theories may tie into events that happen in the book, but I'm also interested in other points you'd like to see discussed. Feel free to continue the discussion and suggest in the comments. Thank you!!


Desiree said...

Love your blog site! I think I love Kerry's BVPhys Course 101. You should make it a regular article; wheither it be a basic Werewolf kinda thing etc. There are plenty of us I'm sure out there that were wondering, thinking, contemplating the same thing....(I guess some of us have too much time on our hands...but anytime it has something to do w/the book series I know it stops me in my tracks for sure). I know I had a question but can't remember. When I do I'll send it your way......Anyway, keep up the great entertaining creativity. Love the site.

Bouncy72 said...

Wow Kerry that was awesome. Great insights. One thing I've been slightly confused on (argg I'm trying to think what would be classified PG13) Um you know you said that blood powers everything? Well in order for certain PARTS of anatomy to work (or rise) in said vampires. Do they need to have recently fed to access the blood as they don't have their own?
Or do you think that's another "magic" moment? lol the things we think of *grin*
I really loved this post!!

Kerry said...

Thank you and welcome, Desiree!

@Bouncy Ermm..I would think that after a while of not feeding, some functions might be more difficult, but this is Edward we're talking about here. And Edward is good at everything, right/.

Desiree said...

KERRY.....LOL!....wiping of tear from corner of eye.

Anonymous said...

To the comment of little swimmers not being alive. No one said that vampire cells are dead, just different as in species different. That the venom is the lubricant of the body in different forms, it also has the ability to transmute human cells to vampire cells by changing the DNA. So wouldn't the reproductive cells of the male vampire also have the ability to convert as part of the conception process?

Anonymous said...

(comment continued)
Convert as in alter to create 24 DNA strand.


Amber (EyesofAmber) said...


That is an absolutely wonderful comment! I think you're totally right. What do you think, Kerry?

Bouncy72 said...

Lol thanks Kerry, that does make sense. Mmmm Edward is good at EVERYTHING, *mind wanders* ...hehehe.
@ Velda, wow impressive hon.Lol it also makes perfect sense :)

Kerry said...

@Velda THANK YOU thank you for totally geeking out with me. I bow to your exceptional explanation!

Desiree said...

Speaking of the diluted Venom....you were talking about the pizza? Well, Think about when they KISS?? So we know its diluted.

Oh, I thought about something else. One of the things I meant to ask about & was thinking (and I'm sure I'm not the only one)...Her monthly visitor?! She's already very tempting to him.....Just think when it was that time of the month? Or would it be different.

Bouncy72 said...

Yeh Desiree I always wondered about that time of month. I mean even if Edward has control, can you imagine Jasper with the girls at school?

Kerry said...

Stephenie Meyer addressed the issue of 'that time of the month' in one of her correspondences, and it made sense to me. I had wondered myself, and the theory I came up with pretty much matched hers.
That type of blood is very different from blood straight from your veins, not to mention, it's essentially 'dead' blood. It may give a human female a stronger scent, but not particularly appetizing.

And as SM says, yes, Edward is more than aware when Bella's cycle arrives, he may go hunting during the strongest portion, or just deal with it. Bella is too embarrassed to ask him about it, and Edward is far too much of a gentlemen to mention it. At least until BD when it becomes relevant...lol..

WhyIstheRumAlwaysGone said...

Great post! Although I'm still a little bit unfocused after seeing the last unexpected picture of hot Edward and Bella. I had forgotten about that cut scene *** fanning myself *** Oh dear... it's really unfair to spring that on innocent, unsuspecting readers. So where was I! Oh yes, great post! The "lil swimmers"... lol... Just an idea though: couldn't we say that Stephenie Meyer's vampires are really some kind of mutants? Beings who are not dead or undead, or magic, but have evolved differently, the venom being like a kind of virus which makes them mutate? I think I remember seeing a blog based on this idea. The author said that Edward was wrong when he thought he was a kind of undead monster with no soul and a "dead" heart and body : what had really happened was that his body had undergone a powerful mutation.