The Fungus by Harry Adam Knight (a pen-name for collaborators John Brosnan and Roy Kettle) is a page-turner right from the get-go, wasting absolutely no time at all thrusting readers into the horror of a grandiose and apocalyptic plague. Knight hardly lets up on the rapid-fire pace, packing in plenty of mayhem, violence, and gore as the UK collapses quickly and totally.
As with Slimer, another Knight collaboration recently reissued by Valancourt alongside The Fungus, this is a story of science gone awry, however it's far more epic in scope. Knight showcases the peril of unintended consequences as a scientific answer to the problem of world hunger sees genetically modified fungus infecting broad swathes of England, turning the island nation into a no man's land forcefully quarantined by Europe.
I've got a heck of a soft spot for fungal horror and The Fungus hit on all the right notes for me. I loved that Knight drew on multiple species of fungus, and it's clear the authors did their homework in figuring out the various horrifying ways these modified strains would impact humanity. All those pesky homo sapiens suffer from things like dry rot, are eaten alive or violently explode, or develop symbiotic or parasitic relationships with the various types of fungus. Brosnan and Kettle threw in so much variety in these apocalyptic strains that it was absolutely impossible for me not to appreciate their studiousness and creativity, as well as the utterly twisted imagination required to pull it all off.
When it was originally published in the late 1980s, The Fungus proved to be the most successful of Brosnan and Kettle's Harry Adam Knight works, and I suspect this reissue may repeat that bit of history. I'm also hopeful that Valancourt will be able to secure to reprint rights to other Knight titles, like Bedlam and Carnosaur, as well as Brosnan's Simon Ian Childer pseudonym. Now that I've gotten a taste for Brosnan's and Kettle's works, I want and need more, and quickly too!
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