Brian Lumley: The Book I Would Like To Be Buried With…

The seventh Bury Me With… and Devon-based, cosmically tentacled, blood sucking, mind-reading legend Brian Lumley explains his choice for his own literary-accompanied interment:

Cugelssaga“I’ve been a fan of Jack Vance for as long as I can remember. Bury me with one of his books, by all means! Why? Because he can make light of the direst of situations — and I can’t think of a more dire situation than reading in the ultimate darkness. The book I’m talking about would be Cugel’s Saga. Anyone who hasn’t read it doesn’t know what he’s missing. Some of the funniest, cleverest stuff in modern fantasy fiction, not to mention some of the most nightmarish!

I wouldn’t want anything by Poe – let’s face it,  he’s already been prematurely buried!”

More information about Jack Vance’s Cugel’s Saga at Wikipedia.


LumleyPhotoQuite a lot about Brian Lumley:

Born 2nd December, 1937, Brian Lumley came into the world just nine months after the most obvious of his forebears – meaning of course a “literary” forebear, namely, H. P. Lovecraft – had departed from it. By his pre-teens Lumley had read Dracula and some other horror classics, but having followed the adventures of Dan Dare: Pilot of the Future in the British Eagle comic, his first love was Science Fiction. Then, in his early teens – as a result of reading Robert Bloch’s Lovecraft pastiche Notebook Found in a Deserted House in a British SF magazine – he became more surely attracted to macabre fiction, an attraction that has lasted a lifetime.

Later still, in his early twenties while serving with the Corps of Royal Military Police in Germany, on finding a collection of stories by Lovecraft himself, Lumley began searching for every available item of the author’s work. This culminated in his contacting HPL’s publisher August Derleth in Sauk City, Wisconsin, in order to purchase the one or two volumes still missing from his collection. Then, after Derleth had read various “extracts” from the Necronomicon and other fictional “Black Books” of the so-called Cthulhu Mythos, which Lumley had included in his letters, he asked if the aspiring author had anything solid he could use in a book he was preparing for publication, to be entitled Tales of the Cthulhu Mythos. Thus Lumley began writing in earnest. And the rest, as they say, is history.

Derleth included stories by Lumley in a number of Arkham House anthologies and went on to publish three of the author’s books. One was a short novel with the title Beneath the Moors; the others were collections of short stories and novellas: The Caller of The Black and The Horror at Oakdeene. These stories, set mainly in Lovecraft’s Cthulhu Mythos milieu, echoed HPL’s literary style: a somewhat archaic, adjectival mode of writing which, during the course of Lumley’s military career, he would gradually eschew in favour of his own very distinctive style.

Despite that Lumley completed a full term of 22 years with the RMP – during which time he rose to the rank of Warrant Officer and, in his final years, served as the WO Chief Instruction (the DI) at the RMP Depot and Training Establishment – still he managed to write and see published his three Arkham books plus the first of the six paperback novels in his Titus Crow series, and the stand-alone novel, Khai of Ancient Khem, while he was still a soldier. But by then: “it was time for the serious stuff!”

Having “retired” from the Army in December 1980, Lumley became “a professional author” (he had never really considered himself that way before) and of necessity began to write in earnest. he still had a projected series of four books in H. P. Lovecraft’s “Dreamlands milieu” to complete, during the writing of which he began the Psychomech trilogy, the very first of his works (with the exception of a handful of short stories) to be published in the United Kingdom.

Then came his breakthrough book. In March to September 1984 he wrote his dead-waking, ground-breaking horror novel Necroscope®, featuring Harry Keogh, the man who can talk to dead people. Not at first realizing, however, how successful this book would be (for it would eventually become a best-selling series), in late 1984 early 1985 he wrote the stand-alone novel Demogorgon. Also in ’85 to early 1986, he completed his “Dreamlands” series with a book of short stories and novellas called Iced on Aran; which will explain the gap between the writing of Necroscope and Necroscope II: Wamphyri! After Wamphyri!, however, Necroscope III: The Source, took only five months to complete in 1987, and with the first two volumes having seen initial paperback publication in the UK, finally the trilogy was picked up by TOR Books, USA. Except it wasn’t going to stop at being a trilogy!

Such was the appeal of the Necroscope books that TOR published the so-called trilogy in the space of just twelve months: September 1988 to September 1989 — by which time Lumley had written Necroscopes IV and V: Deadspeak and Deadspawn. And in just five years, 1984 to 1989, the financial problems which the author had experienced on leaving the Army were well and truly behind him. Bestsellers in the USA, his books had already passed one million sales and were heading for two million.

But still the story wasn’t finished; in fact it wasn’t half-way there yet! Such had been the success of the first five volumes, and such was the demand from readers, that Lumley went straight on from Deadspawn to commence writing the massive Vampire World Trilogy, which he considers his finest, most ambitious and important work. Begun in 1991, finished in 1993, Blood Brothers, The Last Aerie and Bloodwars between them contain some three-quarters of a million words of horror, fantasy … even a little of the author’s first love, Science Fiction.

In 1994, just short of six years since publishing the original Necroscope, TOR began reprinting the entire series in hardcovers: a rare event in the modern publishing world. And Blood Brothers was the first Necroscope – or more properly the first series spin-off – to be published in hardcovers from the outset. The rest of the volumes in this incredible series have all followed suit. Their titles are:

The Lost Years and Lost Years Two: Resurgence – the Invaders Trilogy: Invaders, Defilers and Avengers – and the novellas: Harry Keogh: Necroscope and Other Weird Heroes – and, in the Summer of 2006, Necroscope: The Touch. Harry and the Pirates – a volume of Necroscope novellas – appeared in 2009, and one final novella is promised.

Thirteen countries and counting have now published, or are in the process of publishing these and others of Lumley’s novels and short story collections, which in the USA alone have sold well over three million copies. In addition, Necroscope comic books, graphic novels, a role-playing game, quality figurines, and in Germany a series of audio books have been created from themes and characters in the Necroscope books, and Lumley has added his “real” voice to Dangerous Ground, a Downliners Sect rock-&-roll album released in the UK in 2004.

Lumley’s works other than Necroscope – such as his SF-ish novel The House of Doors and its sequel Maze of Worlds; also a dozen collections gathered from his more than 130 short stories and novellas, most notably Fruiting Bodies & Other Fungi, whose title story won a British Fantasy Award in 1989 – have seen or are seeing print in many European countries as well as the USA, and all the while his reputation is growing apace. As far back as 1990, the readers of Fear Magazine voted Lumley “Best Established Genre Author” for The Source, and his short story Necros (not a Necroscope spin-off!) was adapted for Ridley Scott’s The Hunger series on the USA’s Showtime Television series. But best of all, in 1998 as Guest of Honour at the World Horror Convention in Phoenix, AZ, he received the genre’s most coveted Grand Master Award in recognition of his work. Moreover, the original Necroscope has now been optioned (and four times re-optioned) for a major film, and the original trilogy will be included in the deal if there’s a follow through.

From 2000 through 2007 fans of Necroscope and Lumley’s other works convened at the annual KeoghCon, and there celebrated with the author and his wife Barbara Ann, who is known to one and all as “Silky;” where each successive year forged stronger bonds between the members of this much extended “family” of friends and fans. (As for the last word, “fans:” Lumley prefers to refer to these people — his friends — as “dedicated readers.”)

Widely travelled, Brian Lumley has visited or lived in the USA, France, Italy, Cyprus, Germany, Malta, Canada, Scotland, Wales, Ireland, not to mention a dozen or more Greek islands. He still makes regular visits to the Mediterranean, indulging a passion for moussaka, retsina, just a little ouzo … and Metaxa, naturally! In addition – as icing on the baklava – Necroscope and its sequels, along with others of his books, are now appearing in Greek translations.

UPDATE LATE 2009: Recently, both Subterranean Press in the USA and Solaris in the UK have published two companion volumes of Lumley’s previously uncollected Cthulhu Mythos tales: The Taint and Other Novellas and Haggopian and Other Mythos Tales. Other books from Subterranean include a very special edition of Necroscope®, Brian Lumley’s Freaks, Screaming Science Fiction, A Coven of VampiresThe Nonesuch and Others and Necroscope: The Plague-Bearer (forthcoming).

As for the future: “Well, the future is always uncertain.” But with several books from an extensive backlist awaiting reissue, it certainly isn’t over yet!

When they’re not travelling, the Lumleys keep house in Torquay, Devon, England…

Film review: Zombies of War

April 23, 2010 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Film reviews 

zombiesofwarThe zombie Nazi film sub-genre is, like everything else these days, not the obscure, difficult to discover (and fund) thing it once was. The atmospheric Outpost (although, were they really zombies, or ghosts, or…?), and the blood-drenched zombedy Dead Snow both made positive contributions to the list that began with Shockwaves back in 1977 and then all but expired with the mouldy cheese that was Oasis of the Zombies (1981) and Zombie Lake (1981).

The most recent addition to the canon (although it was made in 2006) is the ultimately disappointing Zombies of War (as it’s known in the UK on DVD; Horrors of War elsewhere). Many of the reviews on the Internet Movie Database have referred to ZoW as being referential to the ‘classic’ B war movies of old, but, you know, arguably there’s not much call for this sort of approach these days, (unless you’re Tarantino), so as someone states, why bother?

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Reggie Oliver: The Book I Would Like To Be Buried With…

The sixth Bury Me With… features the impeccable taste of Thespian and dark-scribe, Reggie Oliver:

A Question of Upbringing“The book I would like to be buried with is A Dance to the Music of Time.

Recently I went to a talk by the revolutionary intellectual and radical 60’s icon Tariq Ali at my local Literary Festival. In the course of an interview he revealed, to my amazement, that, like me, he was a devotee of A Dance to the Music of Time, the twelve novel sequence by Anthony Powell. This is a work which divides opinion considerably. Some see it a dull and snobbish series of novels, mainly about Old Etonians and their spouses written in a slightly circuitous mandarin prose. Others, like Tariq Ali, Ian Rankin (and I) see it as a unique vision of 20th century English society which charts the course through life of some memorable characters.

The most memorable of these is, of course, Widmerpool whose rise and hideous downfall is marked by a series of comic and sometimes horrific vignettes. For the moralist Widmerpool is a masterly study in the destructiveness of egoism; to a political thinker like Tariq Ali he is the quintessence of the ruthless establishment man who walks the British corridors of power, to a fellow writer he is a superb lesson in how to build and develop a credible but memorable fictional character over a period of time.

And why should a horror writer in particular admire this work? Well, Powell is a writer who has no dogma or ideology to speak of but who is fascinated by the sheer strangeness of life and human nature. There is a fascinating occult and supernatural thread running through the books: there is Mrs Erdleigh, the fortune teller; Dr Trelawney the mage, based partly on Aleister Crowley whom Powell had met; there is the New Age occultist Scorpio Murtlock who proves to be Widmerpool’s nemesis. A ghost features unapologetically in the fifth novel, The Kindly Ones. And there are scenes of true dark horror: for example the deaths of  X. Trapnel and Widmerpool whose last episode reflects as in a distorting mirror the first time we see this character in the very first of the novel sequence, A Question of Upbringing.

Powell is a writer who sees life as a strange dance, full of mysteries and coincidences, whose pattern only half emerges as you approach its end. I think you will find that vision shared and expressed by many of the best writers in our genre.”

More information on A Dance to the Music of Time is at Wikipedia.


Reggie_19About Reggie Oliver:

Reggie Oliver has been a professional playwright, actor, and theatre director since 1975. His biography of Stella Gibbons, Out of the Woodshed, was published by Bloomsbury in 1998. Besides plays, his publications include four volumes of stories: The Dreams of Cardinal Vittorini (Haunted River 2003), The Complete Symphonies of Adolf Hitler (Haunted River 2005), Masques of Satan (Ash Tree 2007), and Madder Mysteries (Ex Occidente 2009), and a novel Virtue in Danger (Ex Occidente 2010). An omnibus edition of his stories entitled Dramas from the Depths is published by Centipede, as part of its Masters of the Weird Tale series. His stories have been published in Zencore, Shades of Darkness, Tails of Wonder and Imagination (an anthology of cat stories) and many other anthologies including successive editions of such series as Exotic Gothic, Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror, The Black Book of Horror and The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror.

Michael Marshall Smith: The Book I Would Like To Be Buried With…

The fifth Bury Me With…, and I’m thankful to Michael Marshall Smith for providing an insight into the book that has influenced him more than any, the book he’d like to take with him to his grave…

lucky jim“It’s tempting to say the book I’d like to be buried with is an iPad, of course – as that way I could not only take a ton of books but be able to chase deadlines beyond the grave, too. But assuming that’s not within the spirit of the thing, then I’d have to say Lucky Jim, by Kingsley Amis. I first read it when I was about thirteen, and it made a huge impression on me. I read it and re-read it, countless times, and it probably informed my sense of humour more than anything else I’ve ever read. Amis’ ability to find comedy in life’s slings and arrows, to use words as precise little hammers to attack the countless impotent little furies and frustrations of existence, has been an inspiration ever since. It was also the very first book that gave me an inkling that I might like to try writing for a career. Though if I’m allowed to entertain the idea that I might still be able to read in the grave, I might substitute a really big entymological dictionary instead. I love words, and especially enjoy reading about their journeys through time, shifts in their meanings reflecting changes in society an attitude, and how each of them – as Butler said – tries to enclose the wilderness of an idea. In effect every word is a little story in itself. With an eternity to get through, a couple of hundred thousand of those might help pass the time…”

More information on Kingsley Amis can be found at Wikipedia.


MMS2_colour_smallAbout Michael Marshall Smith:

Michael Marshall (Smith) is a bestselling novelist and screenwriter. His first novel, Only Forward, won the August Derleth and Philip K. Dick awards. Spares and One of Us were optioned for film by DreamWorks and Warner Brothers, and the Straw Men trilogy – The Straw Men, The Lonely Dead and Blood of Angels – were international bestsellers. He is a three-time winner of the BFS Award for short fiction, and his stories are collected in two volumes – What You Make It and More Tomorrow and Other Stories (which won the International Horror Guild Award). His Steel Dagger-nominated previous novel – The Intruders – is currently in series development with the BBC.

His new novel Bad Things is now in paperback in the UK, and will appear from William Morrow in the US in 2010.

February 2009 also saw the UK paperback publication of The Servants, a short novel under the new name M. M. Smith.

He lives in North London with his wife Paula, a son and two cats.

David Moody: The Book I Would Like To Be Buried With…

triffidsIn the fourth in the series of Bury Me With…, I asked zombie-rage-master David Moody about the book that has influenced him more than any, the book he’d like to take with him to his grave…

“The book I’d like to be buried with is The Day of the Triffids, by John Wyndham.

When a day that you happen to know is Wednesday starts off by sounding like Sunday, there is something seriously wrong somewhere.

I was 10 when I read ‘Triffids’ for the first time. Probably far too young, but I’d just watched the opening episode of the classic 1981 BBC TV adaptation (infinitely superior to the dreadful 1962 movie and the awful 2009 BBC TV adaption) and I was captivated. I can still clearly remember the horror and unease I felt at the time. I guess the story was my first real introduction to post-apocalyptic fiction, and it had a profound effect on me.

I’d finished reading the whole book by the time the second episode of the series was broadcast – I was so overwhelmed by the story that I couldn’t wait for the BBC to catch up! It affected me on many different levels… the terror and helplessness of a suddenly blinded population of millions; the encroaching danger of thousands of virtually silent, emotionless predators; the horror witnessed by the few sighted people struggling to survive; a world falling apart without power, sanitation and other basic necessities… I’d never come across such a terrifying, all-consuming, nightmare scenario before – the entire world rendered helpless, literally in the blinking of an eye.

Looking back now, Wyndham’s story seems to have been the blueprint for many of the countless other ‘End of the World’ tales which have followed. In fact, the Triffids themselves seem to be the vegetarian alternative to my apocalyptic scenario of choice: zombies. Mute, devoid of all emotion, driven and relentless, preying on the last few remaining survivors in massive numbers… sound familiar?

Although it’s had its fair share of detractors, The Day of the Triffids remains an exceptional story which had a huge impact on me and which set me on the path to writing the kind of books I love – books in which the ordinary world becomes extraordinary in an instant, and there’s nothing you can do about it but try your damnedest to survive. Okay, elements of the novel seem twee and dated now, many of the characters are paper-thin and the horror has muted somewhat over time, but it’s intelligent and bleak and it still makes you think.

It certainly made me think. And that’s why I’d like to be buried with it.”

More information on John Wyndham can be found at Wikipedia.


david-moody-1About David Moody:

David Moody used to give his books away for free. This unconventional marketing approach resulted in the film rights to Hater being sold to Guillermo del Toro (director, Hellboy 1 & 2, Pan’s Labyrinth, the upcoming Hobbit series) and Mark Johnson (producer, The Chronicles of Narnia series). Another of his novels, Autumn, was also adapted for screen as a movie starring the late David Carradine and Dexter Fletcher.

With the official publication of Hater and its highly anticipated first sequel, Dog Blood, David is rapidly becoming a leading voice in modern dystopian fiction.

He lives in Halesowen, UK with his wife and a houseful of daughters and step-daughters. This may explain his pre-occupation with Armageddon.

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