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Stephen King
Scribners Books, 620 pages

Cliff Nielsen
Stephen King
Stephen King was born in Portland, Maine, in 1947. He attended the grammar school in Durham, Maine, and then Lisbon Falls High School, graduating in 1966. King graduated from the University of Maine at Orono in 1970, with a B.S. in English and qualified to teach at the high school level. He met his wife, Tabitha, in the stacks of the Fogler Library at the University of Maine of Orono, where they both worked as students. Unable to find a teaching job, the couple lived on his earnings as a labourer at an industrial laundry, and her student loan and savings, with an occasional boost from a short story sale to men's magazines. In the fall of 1971, King began teaching high school English classes at Hampden Academy, the public high school in Hampden, Maine. In the spring of 1973, Doubleday & Co. accepted his novel Carrie for publication. A few months later, its paperback sale provided him with the means to leave teaching and write full-time.

Stephen King Website
ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft
SF Site Review: Hearts in Atlantis
SF Site Review: The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon
SF Site Review: Bag of Bones
SF Site Review: Storm of the Century
The Green Mile Website
Stephen King Tribute Site
Stephen King Tribute Site

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Hank Luttrell

With this book Stephen King has chosen to use elements from popular culture as his menace: flying saucer myth, blended with Hollywood interpretations, such as Close Encounters and Alien. (Many observers feel movies such as The Day the Earth Stood Still initiated popular belief in flying saucers, anyway.)

In an interview about this book, Stephen King said that he wanted to venture into truly taboo areas. Since sex is hardly taboo in fiction these days, he turned to scatology. Not only is it a somewhat forbidden area, but as King points out, as we grow older, we pay more attention to the signals our bodies send us about our health: elimination acquires an added dimension of interest. After you meet this book's Shit Weasels, little monsters that seem like the chest-bursters in Alien, except where they burst from, you may feel uneasy about farts and defecation for a while.

This is strong stuff, but Stephen King's characters are as endearing as his subject matter is revolting. Four high school chums share several moments of heroism, mainly in their close friendship with a Downs Syndrome boy known as "Duddits" because that is how he says Douglas. Duddits is a simple, joyful soul, and a focus for the boys in a way that allows them all to acquire extra-sensory perception: precognition, telepathy. As the strands of their fate weave together, these powers give them a chance to oppose the alien invasion they encounter as adults on one of their regular deer hunting trips. Their conflict with the aliens is less frightening than their conflict with government "cleaners" sent in to neutralize and cover up the situation.

There are other strong ingredients in this book. This is the first novel that Stephen King wrote after being almost killed by a motorist, so there is a lot of pain in this book -- auto accidents, painful recovery from extensive injury. You can tell he knows what he is writing about.

Stephen King is such a compelling story teller! This book foreshadows many of the critical scenes, a kind of literary foreplay. By the time King actually gets around to giving us the details, readers will be begging for it!

Copyright © 2001 Hank Luttrell

Hank Luttrell has reviewed science fiction for newspapers, magazines and web sites. He was nominated for the Best Fanzine Hugo Award and is currently a bookseller in Madison, Wisconsin.

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