"OUR TIME HAS PASSED," medical scientist Ephraim Goodweather says in The Fall, the second book of Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan's Strain Trilogy. "The 20th century was viruses. The 21st? Vampires." True, the good doctor is bemoaning his irrelevance as vampire hordes besiege New York, but the comment rings true across pop culture: Vampires are everywhere, and they won't go away.

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Though it's hard to think of a supernatural trope more overplayed than vampirism, that—thankfully—hasn't stopped del Toro and Hogan from plowing ahead with their own bloodsucker saga. The Fall, much like last year's The Strain, offers pulpy, fast-paced thrills; equal parts sinister horror and goofy action, the books revel in the fact that their vampires are monsters—grotesque, alien things that viciously strike from the shadows, and creepily scuttle up walls.

As fun as the Strain books have been so far, though, the real reason to check out del Toro's reading is the dude's day job: Smart, imaginative, and passionate, he's simply one of the best directors working today. Del Toro's movies (Cronos, The Devil's Backbone, Blade II, both Hellboy films, Pan's Labyrinth) have reminded people that art-house films and genre flicks aren't mutually exclusive. Here's hoping that in addition to discussing the finer points of vampire novels, del Toro will also discuss his past films, why he dropped out of directing The Hobbit, and his upcoming adaptation of HP Lovecraft's At the Mountains of Madness.

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