Title: The Fungus
Author: Harry Adam Knight
Book Length: 192 pages
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Genre: Fiction, Horror, Science Fiction, Novella
Read Start Date: April 28, 2023
Read Finish Date: May 5, 2023
Brief Summary of the Plot from Goodreads: When a brilliant scientist seeking to solve the problem of world hunger tries to create giant mushrooms through genetic manipulation, what could possibly go wrong?
The mutated spores escape the lab and spread across all of England. Toadstools grow to twenty feet tall, and a case of athlete’s foot can mean a grisly and horrible death.
But those who die quickly are the lucky ones. Those who survive infection by the fungus will be transformed into something unthinkably monstrous …
With a perfect mix of nightmarish horror and black humor, Harry Adam Knight’s cult classic The Fungus (1985) will grow on you. This edition features a foreword by the author.
My Review: The Fungus is a 1985 science fiction horror novel by Harry Adam Knight, a pseudonym of John Brosnan. The novel tells the story of a genetically modified fungus that escapes from a laboratory and begins to spread across England, quickly mutating and becoming increasingly deadly.
The novel begins with the introduction of Jane Wilson, a brilliant mycologist who is working on a project to create a new type of fungus that can be used to produce food. She hopes to create a mushroom that will end world hunger. Wilson is successful in creating an enzyme that when coming into contact with fungus, grows it to enormous proportions. She accidentally lets it escape the lab, causing widespread panic throughout England.
As the fungus spreads, it begins to mutate even further. It grows to enormous sizes, and it becomes increasingly deadly. People who are infected by the fungus begin to suffer from a variety of symptoms, including hallucinations, fever, and skin lesions. Depending on the type of fungus that came into contact with people, some are entirely consumed, while others are forced into a grotesque mutation / symbiosis with the fungus. In most case, eventually, the infection kills them.
The British government is quickly overwhelmed by the fungus. The military is unable to contain it, and the country is soon in chaos. People are forced to flee their homes, and food and water become scarce. The government eventually decides to quarantine England, and the country is cut off from the rest of the world.
The novel follows the efforts of a group of survivors as they try to find a way to stop the fungus. The group includes Jane’s husband, a former mycologist named Barry Wilson, a psychotic soldier named Terence Slocock, and a woman named Kimberley. The group travels across England, on a mission to get to Jane’s lab to find her notes. They hope that if they can figure out how she created the fungus, they can find a way to stop it.
I had never heard of this book before I saw it on the shelves of my local library. The Fungus is a terrifying and suspenseful novel that will keep you up at night. At times, the depictions of the mushroom infested humans was grotesque and gag worthy. The novel is well-written and suspenseful. The author does a great job of building up the tension and creating a sense of dread. The characters are well-developed and believable. The novel is also very thought-provoking. It makes you think about the dangers of scientific experimentation and the hubris of man.
Even though written in 1985, the topic of world hunger and scientists trying to find a solution, is still relevant today.
Overall, The Fungus is a great read that will stay with you long after reading it. I highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys science fiction horror novels.