Geeking Out: The Vampire Overpopulation Problem

I just finished ’Salem’s Lot by Stephen King — and I’m livid.

This book does nothing original with the vampire genre whatsoever.

Worse yet, it makes no effort to deal with the vampire mathematics problem.


You know the issue at hand: exponential growth. If every vampire bite yields a vampire, you’re going to get more vampires.

Let’s say you start with one. (Where this one came from, no one knows. This book makes no effort to tackle that topic, either.) Your first vampire bites someone. You now have two. Each of those two vampires bites someone. You now have four. Then you have 8, then 16, then 32, then 64, 128, 256, 512, 1024, 2048, 4096, 8192, 16384, 32768, 65536,131072, etc.

If the population continues unchecked, vampires will overpopulate, and run out of “food.”

The (underrated!) movie Daybreakers depicts a world of starving vampires. They’re out of people to eat, and are mutating into yet scarier bat-wraiths. The Strain trilogy has humans in concentration camps (the Holocaust was a trail run) with forced breeding programs for the people with the tastiest blood types. Released decades ago, the original I Am Legend was about the only human left in a world of vampires.

Interview with a Vampire, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and other (arguably derivative) adaptations have devised solutions to the vampire-bite problem. A vampire and a person must, for example, drain and drink each others’ blood for transformation to occur.

In 30 Days of Night, vampires appear to be a separate species altogether (no bite issue whatsoever).

’Salem’s Lot doesn’t handle this problem.

There are lots of great things about it, mind you. The mundane, everyday evil acts of the town before the vampire even enters. The section about the nightmares of children being heavier than the nightmares of the ossified, dull adult counterparts. (Children fear monsters; adults fear bills.) The elegant turns of phrase. The vampire’s human lackey’s delightful personality.

But I feel like King could have delved deeper into the vampire mythos. Where did the vampire species come from? What’s going to happen to the entire town full of people that turned into vampires? (That’s not a spoiler; it’s made clear in the prologue that the Lot falls.) Why does religious iconography only work sometimes?

People make fun of Stephen King’s work, but I’ve found that a lot of it to be rewarding. This one, however, was a letdown. He had so much more to explore.