Thursday, January 15, 2004

Vampire logic 

Jacob Levy asks, "Why would any vampire hang out in Sunnydale?"

The Master was bound into the Hellmouth, and some of his servants were bound to him. Occasionally there was a vampire who wanted the glory of killing a Slayer. But then there were the countless, often nameless, vampires who just inhabited the town and treated it as their feeding ground-- until they got staked. The Hellmouth might have attracted demons, made it more likely that new vampires would be created, and generated generic magical weirdness. But wouldn't an even-remotely-rational vampire, even one who had been created in Sunnydale, move out of town immediately upon realizing that he or she was much more likely to get destroyed there than any other place in the world? Even the glory-hounds must have thought that the glory of killing a Slayer was inordinately valuable, given that they should have wanted to avoid any risk at all of getting slain. Instead, they continued to congregate in the least rational place for them to do so.
Sunnydale, California had always been where one of the Hellmouths are, but it's not the case there's always a Slayer in Sunnydale. The vampires living in Sunnydale could be making a rational calculation that sooner or later the Slayer would be killed and be replaced by another who lives far away. If the next Slayer was some fifteen-year-old living in Cleveland, she can't be expected to move to Sunnydale.

Also, since so many more vampires were created in Sunnydale than most places, it only takes a small percentage of them to stay to create a sustainable vampire population.

Lastly, Jacob's question came from Tyler Cowen's about whether immortal humans would be risk-averse, with car accidents as the only risk of death. I think an analogy can be made between Tyler's theoretical and the Buffy universe. Jacob thinks that any rational vampire would want to avoid the vampire, but would all immortal humans avoid driving, or any other activity with any risk of death?

As an aside, I don't think that the demon community gives much extra respect for killing a Slayer. Spike killed two slayers in the past, but I don't remember his being especially well-respected by the other vampires in town.
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