Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)
Lumley, Brian

(1937-    ) UK writer. BL encountered the work of H P Lovecraft while a teenager; his early Lovecraftiana was published in The Arkham Collector, house organ of Arkham House. These stories formed the core of his first collection, The Caller of the Black (coll 1971), and linked his early reputation to the Cthulhu Mythos. BL's first two novels, Beneath the Moors (1974) and The Burrowers Beneath (1974), liberally reinterpret the philosophical concepts behind Lovecraft's fiction, anthropomorphizing Lovecraft's monstrous incarnations of universal Chaos and disorder as evil adversaries in a cosmic Cold War where humanity is forever getting the upper hand. He pursued this theme in The Transition of Titus Crow (1975), The Clock of Dreams (1978), Spawns of the Winds (1978) and In the Moons of Borea (1979), a cycle of novels featuring the Occult Detective Titus Crow, who penetrates to the extradimensional void inhabited by Lovecraft's Monsters and finds it a fantasy landscape populated by fallible Gods and heroic human beings.

BL has a very masculine storytelling style and his protagonists are usually idealized embodiments of virility and strength. Nonetheless, they depend on brains as much as brawn to fight their battles. Titus Crow, whose earthly exploits are assembled as The Compleat Crow (omni 1987), relies on his superior knowledge of occult arcana to triumph over supernatural nemeses. The hero of the Psychomech trilogy – Psychomech (1984), Psychosphere (1984) and Psychamok (1985) – harnesses the brain power bestowed on him through sf means to fight a series of villains endowed with advanced psychic powers. In Demogorgon (1987), the offspring of Satan labours to use his latent supernatural powers to free himself from his father's clutches and avoid succumbing to their dark side.

A considerable amount of BL's fiction is Sword and Sorcery. Hero of Dreams (1986), Ship of Dreams (1986), Mad Moon of Dreams (1987) and Elysia: The Coming of Cthulhu (1989) are set nominally in the world of Lovecraft's The Dream Quest of Unknown Kadath (1943) but have more the flavour of the Heroic Fantasies of Edgar Rice Burroughs and Robert E Howard in their elaborations of the adventures of two ordinary men who live vivid Dream lives as fantasy warriors. Iced on Aran and Other Dreamquests (coll 1990) collects their shorter exploits. The stories in The House of Cthulhu and Other Tales of the Primal Land (coll 1984; vt Tales of the Primal Land, Volume 1 1990), The Complete Khash, Volume 1: Never a Backward Glance (1991; vt Hrossak!: Tales of the Primal Land, Volume 2 1992), and Sorcery in Shad: Tales from the Primal Land 3 (1993) take place at the dawn of human civilization; although abundant with Lovecraftian elements, they are stylistically more indebted to Clark Ashton Smith.

The Necroscope series is BL's best-known and most vividly imagined work. Necroscope (1986) introduces an entire subculture of psychics and paranormals who have opened a new frontier in Cold War espionage. Necroscope II: Vamphyri! (1988; vt Wamphyri!), Necroscope III: The Source (1989), Necroscope IV: Deadspeak (1990) and Necroscope V: Deadspawn (1991) are laced with elements of traditional Gothic Horror and pit a UK special agent capable of conversing with the dead against a series of increasingly diabolical enemies in league with Vampires from another dimension and backed by the USSR. The Vampire World trilogy, spun off from this series – Vampire World #1: Blood Brothers (1992), #2: The Last Aerie (1993) and #3: Bloodwars (1994) – is an exotic fantasy epic set in the complex and detailed extradimensional vampire world.

BL's non-series short fiction, primarily supernatural horror, has been collected in Fruiting Bodies and Other Fungi (coll 1992), The Last Rite (coll 1993), Dagon's Bell and Other Discords (coll 1994) and The Second Wish and Other Exhalations (coll 1995). These stories show BL's competence at handling a variety of traditional and nontraditional horror themes. [SD]

other works: The Horror at Oakdeene and Others (coll 1977); Khai of Ancient Khem (1981); Ghoul Warning and Other Omens (coll 1982), poetry; Synchronicity, or Something (1989 chap), Game-related novelette; The House of Doors (1990); Return of the Deep Ones and Other Mythos Tales (coll 1994); Necroscope: The Lost Years (1995); Necroscope: Resurgence. The Lost Years 2 (1996).

further reading: Brian Lumley: A New Bibliography (1984) by Leigh Blackmore.

Brian Lumley


This entry is taken from the Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997) edited by John Clute and John Grant. It is provided as a reference and resource for users of the SF Encyclopedia, but apart from possible small corrections has not been updated.