Vermont In Speculative fiction

Vermont is off the beaten path when it comes to science fiction, fantasy and horror stories, unlike the usual haunts such as New York or California, but the state has a rich environment that lends itself well to speculative fiction, especially when it comes to fantasy and horror. Amongst the green mountains, there’s not only a good environment and ambiance for such stories, but quite a bit of history behind the area as well.

Looking around, we’ve been able to come up with a number of instances of where Vermont’s been used as a location for a story, across a number of mediums. Here’s what we found:

Film:


I Am Legend


Will Smith’s 2007 ‘Only Boy in New York’ film, set after a miracle cure for cancer kills off most of the human population and leaves his character alone in New York City uses Vermont in the end of the film: Smith’s character Robert Neville, is killed off, and the two other survivors who found him, Anna and Ethan, flee the city with supplies, headed to Bethel, where a rumored survivor’s colony is supposed to be located, eventually locating a walled town that looks very much like small-town Vermont.

The Jacket
I’ve always thought that this 2005 film was vastly underrated, and should have gotten a bit more attention when it first came out. Set in Vermont in 1992, a year after the Gulf War, Jack Starks, played by Adrien Brody, suffers from amnesia, when he’s accused of killing a Vermont State Police officer after picking up a hitchhiker. Found not guilty, he’s sent off to a mental institution, where his Doctor places him in a jacket, where he travels back and forth between realities.

What Lies Beneath
This Robert Zemeckis film from 2000 is one that I vaguely remember hearing about, set in Vermont. Claire Spencer (Michelle Pfeiffer) and her husband, Dr. Norman Spencer (Harrison Ford), relocate to the state after a car accident leaves gaps in Claire’s memory. There’s accused murders, séances and ghosts, and some interconnected family drama.

Sucker Punch


This isn’t out yet, but it’s worth noting that Zack Snyder’s upcoming film is located in Vermont, Brattleboro, to be precise, where a girl is taken to a mental institution, driving much of the story along.

Television:


True Blood
It’s never featured in the HBO show of outted Vampires, but as the show features much allegory towards the rights of homosexuals in the state, it’s no surprised that Vermont was the first place to legalize Vampire weddings.

Fringe

This past week’s episode of FOX’s fantastic show Fringe (Concentrate and Ask Again), sees the main characters of the show trek up from Boston through New Hampshire on I-89 to Washington, Vermont to find a former associate of Walter’s. The man, a mind-reader, seems to have found the perfect place to find a bit of isolation.

X-Files
Season 7’s episode, Chimera, brings Agent Mulder up to the Green Mountain State to investigate the dissapearance of a woman, which turns into a murder by an angry spirit.

Three Moons Over Milford
This was a very short-lived TV show from 2006, set in Southern Vermont shortly after the moon is hit by an asteroid, with three large fragments headed down to Earth. People in Milford start living each day as if it were to be their last. According to the desYou can watch the entire series on Hulu: http://www.hulu.com/three-moons-over-milford

Being Human (US Version)
This doesn’t fall in the Vermont category, but Vermont falls inbetween in an interesting way: the show is apparently being filmed up in Montreal, to the north of us, while taking place in Boston. Trip up to Vermont at some point for the characters? The Green Mountains are already home to all sorts of strange tales: A Vampire and Warewolf would be positively normal!

Literature:


The Stand, Stephen King
Stephen King’s novel The Stand uses Vermont in its story, introducing the fictional Stoveington, Vermont, home to a Plague Center run by the CDC after one of the characters is discovered to be immune to the superflu that’s causing so many problems. Directions are left at the center when it becomes inoperational.

World War Z, Max Brooks
Burlington shows up a couple of times in Max Brook’s book on his death-by-Zombies book.

HP Lovecraft
Lovecraft’s work features much of New England at various points in a number of different stories.

Infinite Jest, David Foster Wallace
This dystopian novel takes place in the future, with some connections to Canada and New England.

Slaughterhouse 5
Vermont gets a brief mention in Kurt Vonnegut’s classic novel, Slaughterhouse-5: 

“Early in 1968, a group of optmetrists, with Billy among them, chartered an airplane to fly them from Ilium to an international convention of optomerrists in Montreal. The plane crashed on top of Sugarbush Mountain, in Vemront. Everybody was killed but Billy. So it goes.”

The Lottery, Shirley Jackson
This story doesn’t explicitly take place in Vermont, but there were a number of assupmtions that it took place here. According to stories that I’ve heard, people showed up in Vermont at various points, expecting to see the stoning portrayed in the story.

To A God Unknown, John Steinbeck
Steinbeck’s second novel is one that I really enjoyed, and I think that it subtly falls into the speculative fiction category with elements of religion, myth and fantasy set in the California farmland. But, the book starts off on the other side of the country, in our humble state, where Joseph Wayne leaves his home for new opportunities out west, as his father dies back home in the green mountains.

Joe Citro novels
Where to start with Joe Citro? One of the preemminent figures in Vermont folklore, his books take place all over the place when it comes to speculative fiction: Deus-X: The Reality Conspiracy looks at conspiracy theories after a Vermont farmer vanishes, Shadow Child involves a force of evil in the Green mountains, with other books like The Gore, Guardian Angels and Lake Monster all taking place within the state as well.

Vampires of Vermont, Mark Summer
This was a book that I came across, but with little information about it. However, the title suggests that there’s some connection somewhere here.

Casting Spells, Barbara Bretton
This paranormal romance takes place in the fictional Sugar Maple Vermont (apparently near Montpelier), where a Boston cop is brought in to investigate a mysterious drowning. Apparently there’s something to do with witches and all sorts of paranormal phenomena and creatures.

Horns, Joe Hill (NH)


Joe Hill’s novel Horns is one of my favorite novels published in 2010. It’s another that I’ve since reviewed, and author Joe Hill (son of Stephen King) resides in New Hampshire, where much of th ebook takes place. The story is fantastic, one of the best books that I’ve read in years, and it bounces between various familiar locations in New Hampshire and Boston. It’s well worth picking up.

The Magicians, Lev Grossman
This is a bit of a cheat, because most of the novel really takes place upriver in New York, at the magical academy Brakebills, hidden from sight much along the same lines of Hogwarts. While there’s some parellels to JK Rowling’s series, this is more adult-focused. Parts of the plot break out from New York and go elsewhere in New England, to Connecticut (if I remember correctly), and to Maine.

Gaming:
Tribe 8
This role playing game, according to Wikipedia, takes place in a post-apocalyptic Montreal, where thre was some disaster long in the past. Players take on the role of survivors in this world as they’re hunted by demons.

Comics:


Penance Relentless Vol 13: The Garrison.

Part of Marvel’s 50 State Initiative, The Garrison was Vermont’s team of Superheroes, appearing in the issue Penance: Relentless #3, with the characters Fin and Man-Eater comprising the team.

15 thoughts on “Vermont In Speculative fiction

  1. Vampires of Vermont, Mark Summer
    This was a book that I came across, but with little information about it. However, the title suggests that there’s some connection somewhere here.

    Barely. The “vampire” is from Vermont or seen in Vermont or dies there or something. On my long-ago reading of the book, I figured the author chose Vermont purely to make the title alliterative.

    • A lot of the connections here are pretty tenuous. A couple merely take place in the area, or just for scenery. Still, the state’s there.

  2. What Lies Beneath is a pretty good movie. It was shot in and around Middlebury/Addison County Vermont. I was actually married at the State Park (DAR State Park) where they put the house that Harrison Ford and Michelle Pfeiffer lived in. After shooting they built a beautiful stone pavilion where the house had been. The final scene takes place on the NY/VT bridge that was recently blown up.
    Also, I just watched The Jacket and loved it. I agree it deserves more attention. We watched the same night that we watched Code Source and they go together very well.

    • I’ve seen The Kindling of GreenFyr, but does it actually take place in Vermont? Not totally sure about Wolf – didn’t know about that one! I’ll look it up.

      • Yup…the story opens with the main character in Vermont…until he gets swept away to lands fantastique…not that Vermont isn’t pretty fantastic to begin with.

      • Ah, gotcha. I didn’t come across it when I did a search online. I’ll likely do a followup list at some point, and I’ll include it!

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  4. World War Z‘s other Vermont reference is an oblique reference to former governor Howard Dean.

    Also re: Infinite Jest: the Vermont references are specifically that it’s part of “the Great Concavity” (a giant radioactive landfill, essentially) and home to a bunch of pseudo-mythical mutant beasts (including a giant baby).

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  6. Joe Hill’s novel Horns is one of my favorite novels published in 2010. It’s another that I’ve since reviewed, and author Joe Hill (son of Stephen King) resides in New Hampshire, where much of th ebook takes place. The story is fantastic, one of the best books that I’ve read in years, and it bounces between various familiar locations in New Hampshire and Boston. It’s well worth picking up.

    Kinda missing the Vermont connection there.

    “The Magicians, Lev Grossman
    This is a bit of a cheat, because most of the novel really takes place upriver in New York, at the magical academy Brakebills, hidden from sight much along the same lines of Hogwarts. While there’s some parellels to JK Rowling’s series, this is more adult-focused. Parts of the plot break out from New York and go elsewhere in New England, to Connecticut (if I remember correctly), and to Maine.”

    Neither Connecticut nor Maine are Vermont. I suppose we could offer to annex them, though.

    Gaming:
    Tribe 8
    This role playing game, according to Wikipedia, takes place in a post-apocalyptic Montreal, where thre was some disaster long in the past. Players take on the role of survivors in this world as they’re hunted by demons.”

    Montreal’s part of Vermont now?

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