Brian Lumley is a British horror writer whose appreciation for the works of H. P. Lovecraft’s led him to craft his own take on the mythos. Early on, several of these stories were published in anthologies edited by Lovecraft’s friend and greatest proponent August Derelth. Lumley would go on to produce an expansive list of short stories and novels in the years that followed and would rise to further acclaim with the success of his Necroscope series of novels. He served as President of the World Horror Association from 1996 to 1997 and was awarded a World Fantasy Award for Lifetime Achievement in 2010.
Below are all the stories by Brian Lumley which I have read thus far. I really enjoyed each of them, but if I had to pick just one to suggest, it would be “Fruiting Bodies”,which is an absolute masterpiece in my opinion.
THE LIST (by order of publication):
1. “The Cyprus Shell” (1968) – A military man writes his friend a letter explaining why he had such an extreme reaction to being offered oysters recently. It involved a recent experience he had while investigating another officer’s mysterious illness after discovering a previously unknown variety of shell fish and the psychic trauma it caused him. This is a great, creepy little tale!
2. “The Deep-Sea Conch” (1971) – This sequel to “The Cyprus Shell”centers around the recipient of the letter in that story as he’s responding to share a strange tale of his own he’d come across. It involves a remarkably resilient conch crustacean which a pair of men had been trying to clean without success. The ending here is a real stinger and could even be taken as darkly humorous.
3. “Sister City” (1971) – After returning home from school during WWII to find his house destroyed following a German bombing raid, a boy begins to notice alterations to himself such as developing webbed fingers and sprouting a small tail. Being likewise completely hairless, he struggles to be accepted by his peers. Driven by an obsession with the great lost cities of the world, he sets out to try and find them. He ends up discovering far more about his own lineage and a big secret his parents kept from his as well. This tale ties in with several H.P. Lovecraft stories.
4. “The Whisperer” (1976) – While commuting by train, a man named Miles Benton finds himself sharing a compartment with a horribly smelling, hunchbacked stranger wearing a wide-brimmed, floppy hat. This hunchback has a devious aura about him and seems to have the ability to whisper to those around him and make them do anything he wants. The little man uses this power to incite others to bully Miles while he grins and winks gleefully the whole time. Things go from bad to worse as Benton finds the fiend has taken control of his wife in this darkly satirical tale.
5. “The Strange Years” (1982) – A man recounts how several years of terrible droughts, floods, plagues and pestilence ravaged the Earth over a series of years which eventually climaxed with a new species of monstrous creatures that feed on man and can perfectly camouflage themselves with their surroundings.
6. “Fruiting Bodies” (1988) – A man traveling to visit his aging parents stops off at the derelict ghost town where many of his ancestors used to live. The town has been crumbling into the sea for years. Only one person still lives there. He’s an old miner named Gareth who’s been tearing apart the abandoned houses to sell their wood and bricks for a living. Gareth shows the visitor how an aggressive form of dry rot has been destroying what remains of the town and offers up an eerie theory as to how it came to be there. This intriguing, yet somber novelette is saturated with the loneliness and isolation of poor Gareth. It’s moving, heartfelt and poignant, leaving a lasting impression long after its conclusion.
Brian’s Website: https://www.brianlumley.com
Brian’s U.S. Amazon Page: https://www.amazon.com/Books-Brian-Lumley/s?rh=n%3A283155%2Cp_27%3ABrian+Lumley
Brian’s U.K. Amazon Page: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Books-Brian-Lumley/s?rh=n%3A266239%2Cp_27%3ABrian+Lumley
Article by Matt Cowan