Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Necrom (1991)

Since Mick Farren has scarpered off to Blighty I decided to wish him farewell by reading his book Necrom (1991) for Halloween. It's a somewhat supernatural tale of multiple dimensions and the awakening of the eponymous Old One which may herald the end of the world.

The story centers on Joe Gibson, an alcoholic and washed up rock-star who was a member of the world famous band The Holy Ghosts. He's just getting over the breakup of a long term relationship with a woman named Desiree and is generally down on his luck. Then he's contacted by the mysterious and wizened Casillas, a member of a secretive mystical group called The Nine, who informs him that an ancient cosmic being named Necrom is stirring and that Joe may be vital to the effort to stop him. He's put under the watchful eyes of the streamheat, a trio of severe Nordic-types in matching blue jumpsuits who hail from a different dimension (and who have their own agenda). They whisk him off to London for safekeeping, putting him in the care of the urbane occultist Gideon Windemere and his beautiful secretary, Christobele. While there Joe has his first encounter with Yancey Slide, a Sumerian demon, or idimmu, who looks like Clint Eastwood in his prime, and his cohorts, the demoness Nephredana and Yop Boy. They hint to him that his current companions aren't on the up-and-up, something Joe suspected when he found that the infamous Satanist Sebastian Rampton was among The Nine. Soon Joe is forced to flee to an alternate universe, dodging UFOs, demons and his own suspect handlers along the way. Just what are their plans for him, and will he go along with them?

Necrom reiterates many of the elements in Farren's earlier DNA Cowboys series. As in the previous books there is a looming threat which the protagonists marshal against and a good deal of dimension hopping. There's also the presence (offstage) of doppelgangers, in this case Joe's from the alternate universes. And like the earlier books there is little in the way of a formal plot. The novel focuses on Joe Gibson reacting to his shifting circumstances, pursuing an existential odyssey through a changing landscape and trying to make sense of it all.

If the book has a weakness it's that, despite being the center of events, Joe doesn't have much depth to him. Maybe that's a comment on the personality of the average rock star, but the result is he feels rather shallow. The other shortcoming is that by the end of the novel very little is resolved. While I respect that Farren eschewed a pat ending, he does it in such a way that I was left with so many questions that I felt the story wasn't really concluded satisfactorily.

The concept of an ancient evil awaking has obvious overtones of Lovecraft to it, but Farren steers away from any overt Cthulhu Mythos references. Instead he draws on Sumerian mythology, which I found an interesting touch. And despite the supernatural elements this is at heart a science fiction novel, with most of the weirdness rationalized to one degree or another. It's remarkable that this book predates the X-Files phenomena by several years as it anticipates many of the themes of that show, only with more sex and drugs. If it had been expanded into a series it might have tapped into that show's popularity. In any case it reads as a trippy excursion into a psychedelic multiverse.

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