But before I
get into all that, let's get into the blah blah blah, and I mean that very
respectfully: firstly, Brian is an established ace at writing what he
writes. I'd rather not pat him too much on the back for fear the
swelling redness between his shoulder blades may make him wince in pain from
all the countless other pats. He's got a plethora of notches under his
literary belt and is one of today's outstanding voices in horror fiction.
Two Stokers, an impressive body of work in few enough years to more than
rival authors with twice as much longevity in the business....Keene is head
and shoulders above his breed to date and there's no reason to believe he
won't become a household name in time. That's the blah blah blah.
Conqueror Worms is the first novel I'd read of his, and as for my
assessment of it, here goes:
growing older in years and wrestling with a serious nicotine fit writes an
account of his last days, from his personal point of view and exploits, of
course, but these may likely be the last days of Mankind also. It
seems that God has broken His promise to Noah that He'd destroy the Earth
with water never ever again, and globally it's now rained constantly for
more than forty days and nights, all it took to cover the world with H20 the
first time, biblically. And this time, in this
like Dante's Waterworld. (If I had the
money, I'd open up a water theme park and call it just that, team up with
Brian to make it something abysmally special.....)
Though clearly here there is no such thing as dry land, land does
exist and it is the world's coastal areas that lie under a sea swallowing
more of it each day. Now, we all know earthworms emerge from the earth
when it rains. The rich, juicy element of genius in this book, in my
opinion, is Keene's core idea: if it rains and the rain forces
earthworms from the ground, then what will it force from out of the ground
if it rained long enough?
In the lore of mankind's history, we imagine we get closer to hell the
deeper into the earth we look. Brian looks deep into the earth.
And like a magician pulling the obvious from out of a top hat, we get from
the earth's inner reaches not merely earthworms but colossal carnivorous
ones that make the sand worms of Herbert's Dune look like timid
giants and these are their terrestrial progeny experiencing their terrible
Very War of the Worlds, as Keene himself remarks in his narrative
halfway through, and I was thinking along those lines myself though also
more precisely Wyndham's Day of the Triffids. And there's a
very nifty second act, where the author takes us away for awhile from the
earthworm situation and introduces us to a new set of characters under
similar circumstances, but where Satanist surfers, seductive mermaids
and Lovecraftian underworld lords take the reader into a wild ride.
Though I prefer its original title (The Earthworm Gods), The
Conqueror Worms is a staple for those who readily consume contemporary
horror fiction, particularly, as Brian insists, to be read on a rainy day.