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Brian Lumley: 1937-2024 –

Brian Lumley: 1937-2024

Sunday , 4, February 2024 Leave a comment

The word went out this week that author Brian Lumley died on January 2, 2024. He had retired from writing. ISFDB has his fiction ending in 2012 with the exception of “A Dreamer’s Tale” in Trevor Kennedy’s Phantasmagoria Special Edition Series, May 2022. He made it to 86, which is a respectable age to reach.

I first read Lumley as so many other authors in the Arkham House anthology Tales of the Cthulhu Mythos with “Cement Surroundings” and “The Sister City.” I next read “Cryptically Yours” in Swords Against Darkness IV (Zebra Books).

I encountered Lumley periodically in books including The Disciples of Cthulhu, issues of Weirdbook, and used copies of Fantastic from the 70s which I was picking up. I ended up getting the Arkham House collection The Horror at Oakdeene and Others in the mid-80s.

Lumley could be hit or miss for me. I preferred the non-Cthulhu Mythos stories. He had a post-pulp execution to his tales. His “Primal Land” stories had a Clark Ashton Smith approach. He had a cycle of stories set in H. P. Lovecraft’s “Dream Lands” where the style was more like Fritz Leiber. I am not a huge Leiber fan. I view him almost as good as his reputation.

I have fond memories of reading the Primal Land collection Tarra Khash: Hrossack! on the front porch swing in early September around ten years ago.

Spawn of the Winds and In the Moons of Borea was within Lovecraft’s mythos but delivered like an Edgar Rice Burroughs interplanetary romance.

The book that I really liked was stumbling across a used copy of the Berkley paperback of Khai of Ancient Khem. This was Lumley in Robert E. Howard mode with a sword & sorcery story set in a prehistoric Egypt. A shame that book had such a stupid cover as it deserved better.

The series that really took off for Lumley was the Necroscope series. Lumley fused the horror novel with the British adventure thriller. It worked. Necroscope is not high literature but it was a page turning mix of the supernatural and action adventure story. Harry Keogh is a necroscope. He can talk to the dead. Lumley had necromancers who used the evil eye, dead Mongol armies, and vampires from another planet while battling the KGB. I remember well one vampire describing a Goth attack on Constantinople in the 3rd Century A.D. in his early life. Lumley could write an historical sequence with the best of them. The Necroscope books were huge in the early and mid-90s. Tor Books had some story collections of Lumley’s fiction as the Necroscope series was so popular.

Tor Books even produced The Brian Lumley Companion, a bibliography plus collection of critical essays. I picked it up at Barnes & Noble in the remaindered section and pull it off the shelf once in a while.

Lumley wasn’t the greatest horror writer nor especially ground breaking. His fiction was slighly old fashioned due to the pulp influences but lacking in degeneracy. He gave some hours of pleasure with Khai of Ancient Khem, Tarra Khash, and the Necroscope books I read. Hopefully his passing was fast and peaceful. His legacy lives on his books.

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