Sunday, January 5, 2020

The Fungus ... Some Thoughts Mushrooming in My Brain

I just read Harry Adam Knight's The Fungus, and I have to say, there wasn't one mention of the phrase "there's a fungus among us" in the entire book (unless it was in that part I skimmed...), and that kind of bums me out a bit.

So, The Fungus. What can I say? The beginning was great, engaging, creepy. The kind of horror I like. Maybe a little light on the character development, but we're talking about a book called The Fungus here. About mushrooms taking over the world. Well, the UK.

The second act turned into a goddamned military thriller, a watered down men's adventure book. That bored me silly. I'm not a fan of military fiction, so I skimmed and eventually just skipped ahead to act three. Honestly, those pages weren't missed. Act two, for the most part, was a giant unnecessary intermission. A way to take the plot from point A to point Z that could have been covered in a chapter at most. Could be my unfavorable look at military fiction, though, I suppose.

The third act was okay, but at this point I realized how weak the plot was. Basically there's an epidemic of mutating fungus that is rapidly taking over the population of England. A small group of people are set out in an armored vehicle to find the scientist responsible for the outbreak. The dynamic between the small group of people could have been dynamite, but turned out to be a missed opportunity. For me, less action in act two and more drama between the group would have worked better for a horror story, but then the characters would have had to be fleshed out a bit more. Most of them were unlikable, which means they would have had to be fleshed out even more so that we could at least relate to them in some way.

The end was meh. The reveals were kind of predictable, and I was left hoping my next read knocks my socks off. Books of this nature (I'm looking at Hutson's Slugs and Herbert's Rats) are often idea stories that would work a lot better were they very short novellas rather than full-on novels. But it was the 80s. Bloated doorstops were in order, and though The Fungus is slender in comparison to many of the tomes that were published at the time, it's still needs the fat trimmed. Not every story is a novel idea. Some of them are shorts.

This was published as Death Spore in the States. I was lucky enough to score the Star edition, pictured above (one of my favorite covers!). The only other Knight book I have is Slimer. I will eventually get to that one. It has something to do with Ghostbusters, right?

Up next will be either In Darkness Waiting by John Shirley or Something Out There by Ronald Kelley. Unless I start reading yet another book and finish it first. Both of these are very good so far.

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