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Literature / Necroscope

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Enter Freely, And Of Your Own Will.

Necroscope is a series of Cold War / Espionage/ESP/Vampire Fiction 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, corrupt politicians, and traitors.



  • Apocalypse How: Not Earth for once, but the Vampire World through the wormhole was hit with a white hole, causing a Class 2. The impact knocked the moon into a closer orbit and tilted the planet's axis almost completely sideways, violently and dramatically remaking its terrain into the Sunside/Starside divide of the present day. Of the planet's original 250 million inhabitants, only a few thousand survived. Afterward, the altered day-night cycle allowed the Wamphyri to emerge and become dominant, permanently squelching the return of human civilization.
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  • Arc Words: "Enter Freely and of Your Own Will".
  • 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, and the trauma of the experience leads directly to his Start of Darkness. They might have thought they were doing him a favour ("We told you we had a surprise for you!"), but it's very quickly obvious that he doesn't share their enthusiasm for this plan.
  • 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.
  • Can't Act Perverted Toward a Love Interest: Canker Canison, of all people, treats his love with the utmost respect.
  • 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.
    • How much of this is his deliberate choice is not at first clear.
  • Dead Person Conversation: This is the protagonist's specific talent - not only to talk to the dead, but to get the dead talking to EACH OTHER, breaking what in some cases is a millennia-long isolation. This puts them heavily in his debt, to the point where they will voluntarily drag themselves out of the grave to fight for him and his cause.
  • Deal with the Devil: Harry's deal with Faethor Ferenczy in book four does not end well.
  • Death World: Sunside/Starside, the vampire homeworld, is definitely this. It's Earth, but an alternate version that has its axis of rotation tilted sideways, much like Uranus. What this means is that the southern hemisphere (Sunside) always faces the sun and is mostly scorching desert, while the northern hemisphere (Starside) is mostly frozen. Humans live on Sunside, where they would be safe from the Wamphyri...except that the only livable parts of Sunside are so close to the equatorial mountains that they experience a regular, week-long day-night cycle, allowing the Wamphyri to hunt them at regular intervals. There are swamps along the equator that are not shielded by the mountains and hence safe from Wamphyri, but these are where vampire slugs breed, so anyone living there would become a Wamphyri themselves. The Wamphyri also breed monstrous war beasts on Starside, some of which are powerful enough to take down fighter aircraft.
    • For their part, the vampires assume Earth is this, calling it "the hell-lands" because of its planet-wide day-night cycle.
  • 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.
  • Dirty Commies: While there are good and bad people on both sides of the Cold War, the Communist side is very notably less virtuous, especially in the first two series.
  • Distant Finale: 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.
    • When Harry realizes that his vampire parasite will eventually be beyond his control, he takes care to leave Earth. Before doing this, however, he takes the time to hunt down and destroy a necromancer who is also a serial murderer and rapist (in that order) of young women (while reflecting that even Dragosani never sank this low).
  • 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.
    • Johnny Found and his hollow-bladed murder weapon. "Johnny doesn't want your dirty little fucky hole. JOHNNY MAKES HIS OWN HOLES!" A character so vile that even a Wamphyri will go out of their way to dispose of him.
  • Expy: Inverted; anyone familiar with Vampire: The Masquerade will easily guess that the Wamphyri were the inspiration for the game's Tzimisce Clan.
  • From Bad to Worse: Basically the entire series can be summed up as the "Vampire version of Neon Genesis Evangelion."
  • Gothic Punk: mixed with a bit of Steam Punk, this is the vibe of the architecture and bio-machinery of the Starside Wamphyri, with their giant organ piano's and flyers with elaborate, ornate metal saddles.
  • Grey-and-Gray Morality: Although often veering into outright Black-and-Grey Morality or even Evil Versus Evil, especially when vampires are involved.
  • 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.
  • Humanoid Abomination: The Wamphyri were human beings at some point in the (usually distant) past, but were infested with a vampire symbiote and became something much worse. The resulting thing looks almost like a human being, but has wolflike and batlike facial features, and also has gruesome powers not normally associated with vampires, most notably the power to reshape their own flesh and that of others pretty much on a whim.
  • 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.
  • Inhuman Eye Concealers: The Wamphyri often sport vivid scarlet eyes, though most are able to conceal them while dealing with mortals. In the first book, Boris Dragosani doesn't learn how, and thus spends several of the later chapters concealing his increasingly inhuman eyes behind sunglasses.
  • Instant People: Just Add Water!: It's possible to raise the dead by first reducing their bodies to dust before doing the magic.
  • 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.
  • Naked Nutter: Subverted; in his introduction, Boris Dragonsani ritualistically prepares for necromantic study by stripping naked and using the corpse as a cushion, then butchering the body while still nude. Though the observers assume that Boris is some kind of lunatic, Gregor Borowitz makes it abundantly clear that the necromancer is perfectly sane, a point he proves when Boris manages to uncover the truth and save Borowitz from a traitor while still without a stich of clothing on him. More to the point, when Boris actually does begin to slip into psychopathy as a result of being impregnated with a vampire symbiote, he remains fully clothed.
  • 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.
  • Nothing but Skulls: The cover of every book features a grotesque skull (or pile of skulls).
  • Ominous Hair Loss: Subverted! Boris Dragonani begins exhibiting a receding hairline around the halfway point of the first book, and his boss attributes this to poor health. In the narration, however Boris reveals that his hairline isn't receding at all: his skull is changing shape. As it turns out, he's been infested with a wamphyri symbiote and he's transforming into a vampire.
  • Organic Technology: The Wamphyri make extensive use of this, generally using human flesh as building material. They rely on it so much that they don't even really know how to work metal, instead relying on a specific village to supply them with crafted weapons.
  • 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.
  • Parasites Are Evil: The Wamphyri walk a wobbly line between symbiosis and parasitism: essentially a race of alien leeches, they empower their hosts with immortality, inhuman strength, necromancy and the ability to warp flesh at a touch. Unfortunately, being bonded means being painfully and unwillingly impregnated with a fetal vampire symbiote - complete with rape imagery - and subject to its hunger. Regardless of how benevolent they were beforehand, hosts are all gradually corrupted into villainy by their new appetites, to the point that any differences between the parasite and its host vanish: the end result is a sociopathic Humanoid Abomination that will think nothing of committing murder, torture, anatomically-impossible rape, and other crimes too hideous to describe. Vampires are considered so evil in this setting that, upon dying, they're actually excluded by the other dead minds, who want nothing to do with them. Even Harry Keogh isn't immune to this sort of treatment once he gets infected by a vampire symbiote.
  • 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.
  • 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. Who happens to be the first vampire rather than a devil/fallen angel.
  • 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 ).
  • Shout-Out:
  • 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.
  • Undying Warrior: The Wamphyri indulge heavily in violent lifestyles, having been gradually corrupted into enjoying bloodshed and rape by the eldritch parasites within them. In particular, those on Earth have exhibited a very rich military history: Thibor Ferenczy committed so many war crimes in the service of his mortal monarch that he accidentally gave Vlad the Impaler his title in the process, while his sire Faethor gleefully helped sack Constantinople during the Fourth Crusade, rode with Genghis Khan in the unification of Mongolia, and even served in the Ottoman Empire's conquest of Byzantium.
  • 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.
  • 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.