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Literature: Necroscope

Necroscope is a series of Cold War/Espionage/ESP/Vampire novels by Brian Lumley.

It is the 1970s and the Cold War is at its height. Twitchy superpowers are poised to annihilate the other paranoid and twitchy superpower, and take the world with them. You can't get much more screwed than that... oh wait, there are also vampires, necromancers and werewolves waiting in the wings to enslave or annihilate humanity (and willing to manipulate those governments to do it). Welcome to the world of Necroscope. From the height of the cold war, into the future the world will be caught a long and drawn out conflict fought by government sponsored Psychics, Espers, and oddly powered individuals. The opposition, pretty much the same, but you can also throw in the aforementioned supernatural creatures, a generous selection of mobsters, crooked politicians, and traitors. This will end well.


  • Always Chaotic Evil: Vampires = bad guys, always. Unless you have Plot Armor of course, but even then...
  • And Then John Was a Zombie: Vampirisation happens to the good guys every now and again. Eventually, Harry Keogh is subject to this as well.
  • Anyone Can Die: And how.
  • Apocalypse How: Not earth for once, but the Vampire World through the wormhole was hit with a white hole causing at least a class 1 or 2.
  • Arc Words: "Enter Freely And Of Your Own Will".
  • Ascended to a Higher Plane of Existence: Harry's ultimate fate.
    • Also that of Moebius.
  • Attempted Rape: The villain in the first book is almost raped by his female cousins at their aunt's bidding. It kind of messes him up.
  • Beauty Equals Goodness: Max Batu (ugly and evil), Ivan Gerenko (ugly and evil), Zek Föener (beautiful and good).
    • Averted in the case of Boris Dragosani, who is described as a very handsome young man. Then zigzagged when he turns into a vampire. He becomes notably more ugly in his vampiric state but can change back to his human form at will.
  • Body Horror: Oh god, where do we start? Probably most evident in his Vampire World books where it goes Serial Escalation.
  • Cosmic Horror Story: Oh yeah. Ironically, this series is closer to the trope in spirit than the majority of Lumley's Cthulhu Mythos-related work.
  • Cosmic Plaything: Harry, though he loses some sympathy when he ascends to a higher plane and sends fragments of his spirit out to turn others (both his sons and total strangers) into other Cosmic Playthings.
  • Crapsack World
  • Dead Person Conversation: Happens frequently; it's kinda the whole raison d'être for the series.
  • Deal with the Devil: Harry's deal with Faethor Ferenczy in book four does not end well.
  • Death World: The vampire planet is definitely this. The vampires assume Earth is this.
  • Deus ex Machina: The end of Necroscope II: Wamphyri! where Harry Keogh saves the day.
    • Pretty much any book with a Necroscope in it ends like this. Except maybe in Avengers. Still, everything will turn out for the best even in failure, as seen by the precog.
      • More like manages to salvage some small triumph from the utter wreckage of everything rather than victory in a meaningful sense though, as every book leaves humanity or/and our protagonists in a worse position than before.
  • Deus Exit Machina: For most of Necroscope II: Wamphyri!, Harry Keogh (otherwise a God-Mode Sue) is unable to bring his full powers to bear because his spirit is bound to the body of his infant son, Harry Junior.
  • Distant Finale/Downer Ending: The series as a whole ends with vampires managing to infect a vast proportion of the world's population, including the heroes, but an epilogue shows that after a millennium or so humanity (specifically England) worked out a genetic cure.
  • Dropped a Bridge on Him: Dear God, is it raining bridges. Too many incidences to count.
    • A couple of characters have bridges dropped on them, then are resurrected only to have yet another bridge fall on them.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Exile to earth is the fate for vampires that are too evil for other vampires. Yeah. And there is even a vampire ice Alcatraz for those that are worse than that. Which our heroes melt. Oh, Crap.
  • Fan Disservice: Things that would be Anatomically Impossible Sex in most series are just part of the Body Horror in this one, thanks to vampires' shapeshifting abilities. Things usually turn out badly.
  • From Bad to Worse: Basically the entire series can be summed up as the "Vampire version of Neon Genesis Evangelion."
  • Grey and Gray Morality: Although often veering into outright Black and Grey Morality or even Black And Black Morality, especially when vampires are involved.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: Ben Trask and Ian Goodley.
  • Hope Spot: The last book of the Vampire World trilogy lets the characters and readers believe the vampire threat has been destroyed for good. The fact that it's not the last chronological installment should clue you in on how well that went.
  • I Hate You, Vampire Dad: The Wamphyri tend to detest their vampire fathers, because they're sadistic and even incestuous.
    • Not least because the turning process is essentially rape with a side-order of Body Horror, or as the luckless Dragosani finds out: "like sitting on a fountain of acid".
    • Vampires also love eating each other, even more than eating humans, so they tend to keep their progeny around just to feed off them, (and the progeny would feed off their creator if they could, so there's no love lost there).
  • I See Dead People: The pathway to ultimate power in the setting.
  • Kill It with Fire: The most reliable way to dispose of vampires, although the ashes are still suspect.
  • Kleptomaniac Hero: Harry does an awful lot of stealing, mostly of weapons.
  • Lovecraftian Superpower: True Wamphyri can reshape flesh and bones (both theirs and others') like Play-Doh. And they're both very imaginative and very sadistic.
  • Magic Mushroom: The mushrooms growing on a vampire's grave can vampirize you.
  • The Masquerade: The vampires generally have a vested interest in maintaining this and even have a proverb that "Anonymity is Synonymous With Longevity" (with a couple of minor exceptions). In the final two books the Big Bads break this hard.
  • Mind Rape: Used liberally by all sides. Virtually every main character gets the treatment at some point, and usually from their own allies.
  • Necromancer: A type of psychic who can commune with the dead... by horribly defiling their corpses and souls. Necroscopes don't need to be horrible to communicate with the dead, and are correspondingly better appreciated by them.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Again, too many to count.
  • Nothing but Skulls: The cover of every book features a grotesque skull (or pile of skulls).
  • Our Souls Are Different: Harry spends book 2 as a disembodied soul but for some reason is not considered dead.
  • Our Vampires Are Different: Vampires are symbiotic/parasitic fungi.
    • More specifically, they're infected with a kind of symbiotic leech that gives them superpowers and a thirst for blood. It also gives them disturbingly metamorphic flesh and makes them into total sociopaths. The only way to kill them is fire, beheading, or sunlight.
  • Our Werewolves Are Different: The Werewolves are vampires, or at least vampires whose leeches are descended from infected wolves.
  • Our Wormholes Are Different: Type 3, see trope page for details.
  • Phantom Zone: The Wamphyri see Earth as this, humanity has the vampire world as this.
  • Power Parasite: Harry Keogh, or Deadspawn, spends the entire book taking other people's powers (to be fair most of them weren't needing them since they were dead at the time) for the final confrontation with the Big Bad in the alternate universe. It Makes Sense in Context.
  • Psychic Radar: In the Necroscope novels people who have this "Talent" are called spotters, and are rarer even than regular Talents.
  • Randomly Gifted: How talents are handed out.
  • Red Scare.
  • Retired Monster: Faethor Ferenczy, retired due to death. In this series that is no bar to being an active participant of course. His one attempt to come out of retirement, well, it does not go well for him.
  • Satan: Possibly appearing under the name Shaitan.
  • Scotland: All the standard tropes are invoked and then brutally disemboweled.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: Once per book. From a werewolf encased in amber and resin for hundreds of years, to a Vampire Ice-Alcatraz (which the heroes melt note ).
  • Soviet Superscience: The USSR tries to put a Deflector Shield over the entire country, but instead accidentally rips Space-Time a new arsehole. Oh and turns the small hard-to-reach wormhole to the Vampire World into the equivalent of an expressway.
  • Stable Time Loop: Possibly the origin of the Wamphyri, as detailed in the fifth and sixth books. Shaitan, the first vampire, falls into the Vampire World after a great unspecified battle and breathes in vampire spores from a hideous corpse he finds in a swamp. As it turns out, the corpse is that of the vampirized Harry Keogh, which got blown back in time due to a nuclear explosion near a wormhole... that also killed Shaitan's future self. It Makes Sense in Context.
  • Tailor-Made Prison: The USSR treat the vampire world of Sunside/Starside as this while Sunside/Starside reciprocates. When the two sides work out it isn't...
  • Trilogy Creep: Started as a trilogy, now up to at least 13 books.
  • Villain Protagonist: Dragosani is this in the first book, which is at least half devoted to him.
  • Writers Cannot Do Math: The math problems used to establish that young Harry is a genius are accurate enough, they're just not really impressive to actual mathematicians.
    • They may not be impressive to adult mathematicians, but from a more-or-less uneducated primary school boy?
  • You Can't Fight Fate: The future is fixed; anything a prognosticator foresees will happen. The best you can hope for is that you misinterpreted the vision, resulting in a Prophecy Twist. Not only that, if you try to peek at your own future you are guaranteed to discover that you'll be dead in less than a day.
    • Not literally, though it happens the first time we see it done, but when Harry does it he finds out that his life-ribbon is tinged red, and everything he's done to rid himself of vampiric taint is doomed to fail.

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alternative title(s): Necroscope
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