Top critical review
Not Lumley's Best... plus formatting and typo issues
on 10 August 2013
Okay, I'm going to say some things in this review that some people might feel are unkind - so I want to preface that by making it clear that I am a great admirer of Brian Lumley. He writes some really good stuff, particularly the Necroscope series. However, like all authors, he ain't perfect, and some of his imperfections show up rather vividly in Psychomech.
Lumley's strengths lie in his intriguing concepts, memorable characters, and deceptively intricate plots with logical chains of causality. His main weakness is dialogue, and to be fair, the dialogue in this novel stinks. Not only is it wooden, over-expositiony, and melodramatic, but it just doesn't build character well. I also got tired of breathy female characters crying 'Oh, Richard!' or 'Oh, Gareth!' We also have to put up with male characters slamming their fists into their palms. And when, in one such fist-palming episode, a character cries, 'God damn!' I almost fell about laughing. Adam West and Burt Ward sprang to mind.
Enough unkindness, however honest it might be.
Psychomech is not the worst novel you will ever read. For me, it reads a little bit like a dress-rehearsal for Necroscope: The major themes are all there; ESP, teleportation, high-technology versus the paranormal, metempsychosis, father-son relationships, fear of death, life after death, etc. Furthermore, some of the lesser motifs appear; the swamp, the alien landscape with strange rock formations, there are even mentions of vampires! I can imagine that these themes were eating away at the author when writing this novel, but they finally came to a head with the brilliant Necroscope.
The characters in Psychomech are all memorable, although none of them are in any way nice (possible exception of Vicky). The concept is interesting, and the plot, while having some intricacy, ultimately fails to deliver simply because it is so linear.
If you can get past the melodramatic dialogue, though, it's a half-decent read.
Lastly, I have to say something about the production values of the ebook. Having also read a few of Gateway's ebook versions of the Necroscope books, I can now see that the proliferation of typos and formatting errors are due to poor editorial control. I would go as far as to say that the editing is amateurish, and completely lacking in due care and attention. The publishers are letting down both the author and the readers with these standards. They lose a star for this, which is why this is a two-star, not a three-star review.