Friday, December 2, 2011

Happy Birthday, Brian Lumley!

Courtesy of www.brianlumley.com
Brian Lumley was born December 2, 1937. Today he is 74 years old, and still reigns supreme as one of the world's top horror writers. There are very few writers out there that can master Lumley for style, character and originality. Though I have been influenced subconsciously over the years by R.A. Salvatore and Raymond E. Feist, there is a special place in the scope of those who have shaped the way I feel about writing and genre fiction for Brian Lumley.

Brian Lumley was born to a simple family in County Durham. He had tried his hand several times at writing as a young man, but received very pragmatic advice about writing professionally when his father told him, "You can't eat words," (The Taint, introduction, Subterranean Press). Lumley went into the Royal Military Police, writing stories in his spare time. He retired in 1980 from a successful military career and began writing professionally.

Brian Lumley first began publishing stories under August Derleth at Arkham House, adding to Derleth's Cthulhu Mythos. Lumley's hero Titus Crow appeared in many of those stories and would go on to have several anthologies based on his exploits. Titus Crow, and the other heroes of the Cthulhu Mythos, including Tarra Khash of Themedra fame, were singularly different from H.P. Lovecraft's characters in that they had a profound attachment to life and sanity, a tenacity that even the Elder Gods themselves could not best, and a lust for life (some of them, a very lusty lust). Titus Crow is among my favorite characters in Brian Lumley's mythos. I remarked a few days ago that Titus Crow and the Eternal Champions needed to hook up and battle chaos, since Crow has many of the personality facets essential to the Eternal Champions, and has been all the way to the End of Time itself.

Stock photo
Though I have read most of Lumley's Mythos stories, Necroscope remains the series of choice when I talk about Brian Lumley. My first introduction to Brian Lumley was one of his genius stories involving the infamous necroscope and his battle against the evil, horrifying Wamphyri lords and ladies. It was, unfortunately, one of the last Necroscope novels, an E-Branch novel called Defilers. I was only a kid in high school when I read that book, and admittedly, had to put it down and come back to it some years later. I never had any censorship or restrictions on my reading, but I knew when I was not ready for some material. I came back a few years later and finished it. Though I put the book down, Nephran Malinari was added, and remains, a member of my vampire pantheon as one of the best, worst monsters ever to grace me with his awesome presence. I even devised offspring for him in some of my racier short stories. Of course, this was also when I was writing X:Files short fiction, and Malinari's son was adopted and raised by Dana Scully. She named him Fox. If Fox were a real boy, he would be about eleven years old now.

The Necroscope novels changed the way I thought about vampires. Lumley subscribes to the school of thought that vampires are monsters, perhaps not unholy creatures of the night, but forces of nature that feed off of subordinate races in order to survive. Instead of vampires who gained their powers by selling their souls, Lumley's vampires are spawned as leeches, parasites that imbue their hosts with certain powers while taking every shred of their humanity away from them in order to perpetuate the species. Lumley's works are very much a cross of science fiction and horror, mixing the natural order with futuristic science, paranormal talents with computer programs. The Necroscope series was, in many ways, ahead of its time, and yet always grounded in myth and mysticism. I have read all but four of the Necroscope novels (some of them are kinda big, and Lumley wrote so much more) and own all of them, including several recent releases under the Lost Years classification, Harry and the Pirates and Necroscope: Plague-Bearers. Short of the re-releases, I own all of Brian Lumley's collected works, including a gorgeous hardback of Kai of Khem, and two signed Necroscopes, Defilers and Avengers. Though the Necroscope took on as many forms as he needed, Harry Keogh will always be the original, and the days when I could sit down to Harry's exploits are now done, as he was succeeded in death by his grandson Nathan Kiklu and later by Jake Cutter.


Brian Lumley was president of the Horror Writers Association from 1996 to 1997, and In March of 2010, he received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Horror Writers Association in Brighton, England, where he was also a special guest at the World Horror Convention. He also received the World Fantasy Award for Lifetime Achievement in 2010. I consider it one of the highest honors and greatest fortunes of my young life to have met him at Horror Con. in 2010. I wish that, as I stood there in awe of my hero and inspiration, that I could have told him the story of how I discovered his works, and how I had been so strongly influenced by his work, and to ask him if it was difficult to write all those sex scenes. I barely had the courage to ask him to sign my book. Later, I was introduced to Lumley's wife, Silkey, by Stephen Jones, who I was also honored to meet. I was convinced--and still am--that I had made a complete ass of myself in front of my hero. If I could do it over again, I would have approached him with a beer instead of a book to sign. I hope I might have that chance again.

This is a video excerpt of Lumley reading "The Thief Immortal" at Horror Con. 2010. This video is a rare treat, and is not on YouTube or anywhere else. Trust me, if I find it anywhere else, it goes bye-bye.

video

Lumley is retired, officially. He told Paul McClain in an interview on YoggRadio that the last thing he wanted to do was die chained to a desk, his last words on paper, "Aaaaaaaaaah." He lives with his wife in Dover. According to brianlumley.com, you can order a copy of a recent release called The Fly-By-Nights. If anyone wants to know what they can get me for Christmas, there you have it.

Happy Birthday, Brian, and many happy returns!

2 comments:

  1. Brian Lumley had three children. Two girls and a boy. Called, Gail, Richard and Julie. Who all have children and in fact, Brian Lumley is a grandfather and a great grandfather. While he was in Germany he sent Richard to boarding school in England, Richard was eleven. Thought I might just, you know, put that out there.

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  2. Thanks. I wasn't aware of this aspect of his life, though I was focusing strongly on the significance of his professional accomplishments.

    One might also point out that I'm using YouTube's api to run my video, which is contradictory to what I said in the article.

    Thanks for reading. Check out the blog in it's newest incarnation at www.squealingnerd.com

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