I have a rather long list of things that I haven’t read, but am always on the lookout for. Recently I ran across a battered collection of the first four Necroscopes. I picked them up for a song, and got ready to cross a few good reads off my list. The Necroscope series, by Brian Lumley has a large “cult” following. Necroscope fans are rabid, almost as bad as Ringworld geeks. For whatever reason, I just never had the chance to read any of the stories, even though they’ve been recommended to me many times. The Necroscope is Harry Keogh, a young Englishman who has a rather peculiar talent. He can speak to the dead. And I don’t mean using a crystal ball and a silly gown. He can carry on a conversation with anyone who has ever died. In fact, that’s one of the major metaphysical conjectures of the novel, that nothing happens after you die, you just sort of go on but without a body. Leaving that aside, Harry is able to learn from the dead, and he uses their expertise to teach himself self defense, languages, mathematics, etc… So, OK, a good concept, enough to draw me in for a good read. The problem is, it just isn’t that good.Now, don’t get me wrong, it’s pretty good, it just didn’t excite me. One of the biggest failings with Necroscope was that it couldn’t decide what it wanted to be. There were lots of attempts at horror, with walking corpses and even some vampire shenanigans, but there was also a lot of science fiction. For instance, Harry contacts August Mobius (creator of the strip that bears his name) and learns a branch of higher math that allows him to manipulate space-time. There’s also the metaphysical aspect in that the dead just lie in their graves and think, frankly they get lonely and they love Harry for the comfort that he brings them.
Aside from all of that, the writing is that typically British, late 70s type of prose. If you’ve ever read any early Frederick Forsythe, then you know what I mean. It’s as if the whole thing is written as a sort of police blotter version of events. The British people that I know don’t actually talk that way, and it’s off-putting. Anyway, for a yard sale find, I could have done much worse. However, I’m not going to waste my time with the rest of the series. I’m actually a bit disappointed, as I’m always ready to latch on to a new series, but it just didn’t happen with Necroscope.