running themes stephen king books

(202 Posts)
marissab Sun 16-Jun-13 20:50:09

I'm reading Duma Key and am picking up lots of themes from other books. For example, one man who can't sleep says he feels like he's floating above himself like a balloon. This is an obvious ref to insomnia. I've read about links between books with randalf flagg and other baddies with `RF` initials. I would like to know more about these themes. Does anyone know if anyone's written anything i can read up on? It's something I'm interested in because I'm going back and re-reading the old SK's.

marissab Sun 16-Jun-13 20:53:10

I've just googled and seen a ref to a crimson king bad guy figure. In Duma Key, it looks like the evil presence has a red cloak so this is also a common theme it seems. Interesting.

PollyPlummer Sun 16-Jun-13 21:01:16

Oooh very interesting, I hadn't noticed before but you have inspired me to have a re read of my collection.
I do like the Regulators / Desperation books. It wouldn't surprise me at all if there are links with other books.
Actually now I think about it I think sometimes a lot of characters stories do interlink briefly. I remember 2 people passing in a petrol station, I think one of them was from Salem's Lot.

Have you read The Dark Tower series? Loads of SK themes come together there.

And I love the kids (Beverley and whatshisname, BeepBepp - is it Ricky?) from 'It' appearing in the JFK book. Just gorgeous - and made me come over a bit weepy, strangely.

The Crimson King is SuperBigBadGuy - although he doesn't scare me as much as Randalf Flagg/The Walkin' Dude.

iklboo Sun 16-Jun-13 22:43:31

Something not nice usually happens to a dog in most books / short stories.

iklboo Sun 16-Jun-13 22:44:16

Remus - It was Ritchie Tozier smile

marissab Mon 17-Jun-13 06:41:50

See i havn't read the dark tower series coz i hate fantasy novels. But when i was gpogling this last night, there were tons of references to the DT books. Apparently IT makesuch more sense once you've read them
And then insomnia makes more sense when you've read IT. I read those when i was a teenager and took them at face value so now i'm thinking i may have to go back and re read em all!

I love the links between SK novels. I think that one of the boys in The Body is the owner of a petrol station in Carrie smile

Oh, I have been the same about the dark series, I don't like fantasy and couldn't get into the first one. Worth persevering?

PiratesLifeForMe Mon 17-Jun-13 13:21:40

Oh this is spooky, I've just decided to start re-reading SK books myself - am starting with a couple i never got to before tho. Finished The Dome yesterday (really enjoyed that) and Duma Key has arrived in the post today!

Love it when he crosses characters over. Remember being impressed with one in Gerald's Game but too long ago to remember who it involved. Makes you feel like his characters are all existing in some parallel world...albeit a very creepy world!

PollyPlummer Mon 17-Jun-13 13:39:35

Yy Pirates it was Delores Claireborne.

marissab Mon 17-Jun-13 16:09:39

Really spooky pirates since the last one i read was under the dome and now i'm on duma key. Its a goody i must say.

SarahAndFuck Mon 17-Jun-13 18:11:37

I think a lot of his themes focus on domestic violence (Insomnia, Rose Madder, Dolores Claiborne) and alcoholism (Tommyknockers, The Shining) and helplessness (Cujo, Misery, Gerald's Game). To name a few of each.

Lots of his books link to the Dark Tower series. And it's definitely worth persevering with as a series. You don't need to read it to enjoy his other books but when you do, a lot of things in the other books have a kind of extra "a-ha!" level about them. Like being in on the joke or the secret.

Some only have a tiny hint at DT links but Desperation, The Regulators and Insomnia all have a lot in common with them. And Insomnia plays and important part of one DT book later on in the series.

I love it when a character from one book shows up unexpectedly in another one. Which does happen often in the DT series but it's hard to say without spoilers.

The book due out later this year, Doctor Sleep, continues the story of Danny and some of the other characters from The Shining (including dead shower lady!)

And I had a lovely moment last week reading NOS 4R2 by Joe Hill (Stephen King's eldest son) when even he referenced his dad's books more than once as part of the story. I really recommend this one actually, it's his best so far.

EuroShaggleton Mon 17-Jun-13 18:14:58

I've just read 22.11.62 and characters from other books appear there.

SarahAndFuck Mon 17-Jun-13 18:35:36

Actually, even if Bag of Bones is not your favourite of his books, this website is really worth a look.

It was set up for the mini-series but the photos (some of which move) have a whole load of other SK references in them from lots of the other books.

Like the books on the shelves in the bookstore photos. You might recognise some of the author names. Or the name of the publishing company. Or the road sign.

And if you click on listen to the commentary under each picture, you get extra pictures that also have recognisable bits from other books in them.

SarahAndFuck Mon 17-Jun-13 18:36:18

Gosh yes, do keep on with the Dark Tower series. If you like King, you will love it. I promise! Just get it out of your head that it's fantasy, read the first book quickly and don't worry too much about if you don't like it and then dive straight into the second - from there, you will be hooked! Unless you are Cote - but what does she know! wink

CoteDAzur Mon 17-Jun-13 22:29:22

Well, I love most Stephen King but have to say that I strongly disliked the one Dark Tower book you told me to read.

I hate fantasy as a genre, too. Dark Tower isn't only fantasy, which would have been bad enough, but it is cowboy fantasy. If there is one genre I hate more than fantasy, that is cowboy fiction. (Sorry, Remus smile)

SarahAndFuck Mon 17-Jun-13 22:46:51

Gunslingers. Not Cowboys. There are very few cows.

That's set my eye twitching that has. smile

There's a lot more in it if you get to the second one.

CoteDAzur Mon 17-Jun-13 23:08:25


I think it was the second one that I read. The one with the stupid crab thing and the comatose action hero that Remus is in love with who can barely walk for most of the book.

marissab Tue 18-Jun-13 07:07:58

Oh no! I hate westerns and fantasy too sad gonna try wade in to the DT novels after duma key. I read that IT and insomnia have linked thems to DT and each othet. So gonna read the DT's then insomnia then It. Thats my plan. Oh and cote, i wouldn't bother with talisman or black house either then. I really struggled. Far too fantasy for my liking.

CoteDAzur Tue 18-Jun-13 09:46:42

I read Talisman when I was about 15 and didn't like it even then smile

DontHaveAtv Tue 18-Jun-13 11:07:51

I love the running themes in SK's books.

I'm reading his new book Joyland at moment and its brilliant so far.

I hate Westerns too! Really tried to get into the first one but it just bored me senseless and think I gave up about a third of the way in when all that had happened was a man doing a bit of walking hmm
I loved Insomnia, and all the ones which could be true as they are about people stuck in terrible circumstances IYSWIM, such as Gerald's Game, Cujo, The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon etc. I also love Carrie due to the style of writing, I love how he tells about the prom through newspaper stories and police messages etc smile

SarahAndFuck Tue 18-Jun-13 12:56:40

You mean the lobstrosities and Roland Remus can't have him, he's mine! don't you. Okay, there's a lot more to it when you get to the third one grin

As a weird kind of introduction to the Dark Tower, you could try The Wind Through The Keyhole, which will put you in the middle of the action but will not give away a great deal if you choose to then go back and read them all properly. I think SK described it as Dark Tower 4.5 because it fits in-between books four and five but isn't a proper part of the series that you would have to read.

Otherwise, you could try The Eyes of The Dragon, which SK wrote for his daughter when she was thirteen, and is a bit fairytale/medieval but gives you the first introduction to Randall Flagg.

Or, if you absolutely had to, you could read Wizard and Glass first, which will be a bit more spoiler-like as it's the fourth of the seven DT books bait mostly contains backstory from Roland's teenage years.

SarabiDog Tue 18-Jun-13 13:24:02

You really have to read the Dark Tower books.

While a number of the books cross over characters and stories, at least 80% have DT references in some way - if nothing else, you'll realise what a tangled world King has crafted over the years.

The structure is fantasy, but there's a lot of elements of horror, suspense and religion - there's a huge steampunk style element too.

It's not always easy or comfortable reading, but it's totally worth it for the insight.

SarahAndFuck Tue 18-Jun-13 13:31:43

Stephen King's books really influenced me as I was growing up too.

People who haven't read them often dismiss them, but the themes he covers are complex and thought provoking once you look at them.

Yes, people can definitely dismiss King without really knowing what he's done. My mum was all 'ugh, no, I don't do horror' and nearly fell off her chair when I pointed out that The Shawshank Redemption and The Green Mile are both SK grin

Get yer thieving hands off my man, Sarah. smile

I hated Wind Through The Keyhole - waste of paper imho. I love Eddie's naked gunfight in book 2 and from there in, I think it's great. I agree that book one is hard work and not v exciting, but you do need it for the back story and especially for the Roland/Jake relationship. Wizard and Glass is lots and lots of back story and again, I could live without most of that. For me, it's the 'gang of five' stuff that's so gripping, and the relationships (which is what SK does best).

insancerre Tue 18-Jun-13 17:38:16

oooh, another SK thread

I loved the Dark Tower series, I loved that it was just so familiar, that a lot of characters i had previously met (yes , they do feel that real) were in the books.
it all seems to make sense when you read the dark tower books

SarahAndFuck Tue 18-Jun-13 18:25:30

I read him first Remus and I'm not just claiming Roland, there's a basket with Oy's name on it as well grin

I know WTTK and W&G are both backstory (or perhaps aside-story might be a better description for WTTK) but they are also the least fantasy I think and give away the least in the way of spoilers, so for someone who hates fantasy but wants to try the DT series might ease their way in with them and then go back to the beginning with a more open mind to the rest of the books.

Did anyone look at the Dark Score Stories website yet? It really is interesting.

marissab Tue 18-Jun-13 18:52:52

Yes i def read sk novels in my teens on face value. Which is ok as they are mostly stand alone horrors. But now i'm older i'm more interested to re read them as i have started to notice deeper threads and themes which seem to weave through them. Just from memory ( 15 years ago!) i can remember theres often a typical setting with people in ordinary lives. But an undercurrent of evil presences. Like in the shining and IT. I gues, again from memory, insomnia makes the guy more aware of the parallel universes and forces working alongside us. If the dt books are set in such s parallel universe, maybe insomnia was a prequal to them. Set in our world but beginning to introduce the idea of other worlds and creatures living alongside us. I remember it is the massivest, thickest book i've ever read. That certainly stuck in my mind!grin

ladymalfoy Tue 18-Jun-13 19:01:57

Don't move to Maine. Bad things happen frequently.

I've read a few SK and I'd live to go back and read some more, is it worth reading them in the order they were written? Or doesn't it matter?

You can have Oy.

But I read The Gunslinger as a teenager in about 1985 so I'm sure that a) I am much older than you and b) I saw Roland first!

Boobs - if you google the Guardian and re-reading Stephen King, there's a guy doing just that. I think generally it's fine but he had a pretty dreadful druggie period in which he produced 'works' (or travesties) such as The Tommyknockers and Needful Things, which (imvho) are beyond dreadful. Also, I'd read the DT series in one chunk rather than as published, personally.

SarahAndFuck Tue 18-Jun-13 19:59:50

Okay, you saw him first. I concede defeat on that one.

But I'm taking Oy and crossing over into The Stand to claim Stu, Nick and Larry AND then I'm going over to Derry to claim the grown up Ben from IT.

You can have em all!

Which one is Ben? I can only think of Bill.

Ben was the fat one, who became the architect.

Sorry for the hijack btw blush

This is one of the reasons I love SK - I really enjoy reading his books and spotting the threads of other stories in there.

Remus, totally agree about his drug/alcohol period, I really hated Needful Things. It just seemed so distasteful in a way.

The other books I haven't reread loads of times are Dolores Claiborne (ok but not outstanding), Gerald's Game (good story/idea but it just really creeps me out!), Desperation/The Regulators (don't know why, they just never appealed), some of his latest ones like Lisey's Story I couldn't get on with and Duma Key was ok but it took a while to get into.

I liked Needful Things blush

I've not read anything recent really, I started The Dome and didn't finish it, can't really remember why, I think I had a baby and got distracted grin What other recent stuff would people recommend? I bought The Cell and hated it after one chapter. Also hated Dreamscapes (?) and ended up buying it twice as it had a different cover hmmblush

marissab Tue 18-Jun-13 21:40:48

Whispers, have you read duma key? Really enjoying it. I didn't find it hard to get into at all. But, and its a big but for me, it is long. I'm a bit adhd and i like a fast exciring read then move on to the next. Duma needs some sticking with.

Oh of course - I clearly need to re-read, 'It' again soon!

Yes - Needful Things is cheap and tacky and nasty, with none of the compassion that marks him out at his best.

Dolores C is just boring - nothing really happens. Gerald's Game is silly.

I like The Regulators a lot though; Desperation less so.

Have you read the JFK one, Whispers?

I've just started Joyland this evening - will report back later but probably won't have time to finish it before the weekend as have lots on at work.

SarahAndFuck Tue 18-Jun-13 23:20:25

Yes, Ben was the fat one who grew up to be quite lovely.

I haven't got Joyland yet.

Does anyone like Buick 8 and Lisey's Story?

I loved Buick 8, but struggled with Lisey's Story. What about Bag of Bones? And Insomnia always seems to be a bit of a marmite book - I enjoyed it anyway

SarahAndFuck Wed 19-Jun-13 09:32:23

I always wondered if the Buick went to Booya Moon though.

They are probably all Mid-world really, but they seem to be the same part of it, if that makes sense. They had that same eeriness about them. But then when I read Under The Dome I wondered if the Buick and it's driver were really more connected to that story.

I had to read Lisey three times before I liked it.

I didn't like Bag of Bones the first time but I like it now. It's not my favourite but I like it. And that link I posted further up is worth a look at if you haven't seen it already.

Insomnia I gave up on the first time I started it, then read it through the night a few months later and loved every word.

DeepPurple Wed 19-Jun-13 12:18:31

I can't believe I had no idea that Stephen king has a son that has written books! I have added them all to my wish list and shall kindle my way through them promptly!

insancerre Wed 19-Jun-13 17:17:27

I didn't like Buick 8 and have never re-read it
I love Insomnia and have read it 3 times
Re-reading SK is almoast as good as reading it for the first time
In fact, you have to re-read them as you miss so much the first time around

SarahAndFuck Wed 19-Jun-13 17:20:21

NOS 4R2 is his best by far Purple, then I think Heart Shaped Box and finally Horns. 20th Century Ghosts is short stories and a bit of a mixed bag.

mignonette Wed 19-Jun-13 17:25:19

I finished 'Joyland' on the day it came out. It is a fast, enjoyable read full of nostalgia for the 70's.

I find SK's books to be about love, not horror in the main. Many of them deal with how to be a man or a Father and about loss (The Shining; Cujo; Pet Sematary; Misery; Carrie; Dead Zone) There is nostalgia and yearning for a childhood and adolescence long gone plus a nostalgia for an America, long long gone too.

The main character in The Dead Zone called John Smith and the murderer he 'saw' George Bannerman are mentioned in several other books as most of the books are set in small towns in the state of Maine. They form part of a fictional regional history...

Bag of Bones is one of my favourites. And I am utterly in love with the old man in Insomnia (is he Ralph?). The end is just heart breaking.

I quite like Lisey's Story but the can opener bit just completely freaks me out. I can cope with just about anything in King, but that bit gets me and creeps me out every time. Having said I like it though, I much prefer the 'non horror' bits, ie the relationship and the back story about her husband etc. The other world stuff is pretty daft and, for me, the 'monsters' in L's Story and Duma Key are his absolute worst.

Really enjoying 'Joyland' so far. I might finish it tonight.

I hated, 'Horns' - thought it was ridiculous. Daniel Radcliffe is in the film version, the idea of which isn't working for me much either. 'Heart Shaped Box' okay but vastly inferior to daddy.

I used to love sk and my favourite thing was recognising the characters from other books. I'm reading Duma key right now and I'll be honest, i'm a bit bored.

SarahAndFuck Thu 20-Jun-13 00:10:23

I think in my review of Horns I described it as being 'a bit Dean Koontz'. Which at one time would have been a compliment but now is a insult of the highest order.

I didn't know their was going to be a film. Daniel Radcliffe? No.

Have you tried NOS 4R2 yet? It's worth it. This is the one.

Will do.

LaQueen Sun 23-Jun-13 20:09:19

I think I've read just about all SK books.

The reoccuring themes I've noticed are his adulation of childhood (typically pubescent children) - his child protagonists are generally portrayed as being far more pure, intuative and noble than the adults. An interesting tangent to this was the character of Tom Cullen in The Stand, an adult but with the mind of a small child...therefore his mind can't be controlled by Randall Flagg, he is too pure.

Also, lots of reoccuring themes of incest.

Dogs are always faithful.

He has an obsession with push bikes and baseball memorabilia, and goes into great detail about them. Couldn't his parents afford to buy him them, when he was a child?

A large majority of his adult protagonists are writers...and I suspect SK fancies himself as a bit of literary academic? In Bag Of Bones, the main character is a writer, and suddenly for no real reason he gives another character a close reading analysis of Bartleby by Herman Melville, which runs for a few pages? Oh, yes well done Stephen, aren't you've just done what every first year literature under-graduate can do hmm

Lots of references to Lord of the Rings, in many of his books. And Greek mythology.

Many of his supporting cast of characters/side-kicks have a rare gift, typically mimicry, or psychic abilities.

SarahAndFuck Sun 23-Jun-13 20:45:07

Dogs are always faithful unless they are Cujo smile

Poor Cujo. sad

I'm not remembering lots of incest.

Was it King or Bryson whose mum threw out all his baseball cards? Am having a bimbo moment but I 'think' it was SK.

He taught lit and clearly reads a lot, and yes, he comes back a lot to writers and writing - The Dark Half especially but lots more.

SarahAndFuck Sun 23-Jun-13 21:11:06

There was incest in Gerald's Game but I'm struggling to think of it in any other books. But as we've said, there's a lot of books and they cover a lot of themes. I bet I'll think of more as soon as I hit post message.

His father left the family when he and his brother were young, and I think they went to live with relatives. They weren't very well off by the sounds of things.

He has an enthusiasm for the popular culture of the fifties I think, the music, the films and as he was a child I think that carries over to the things that children of his time enjoyed. And a lot of those things are iconic now, in design etc, there is a lot of interest in the things of that time. I think he enjoys the ephemera of childhood really.

I noticed the same thing in the most recent Joe Hill book, a lot of detail about bicycle design and motorcycles etc.

LaQueen Mon 24-Jun-13 13:28:32

Incest in Geralds' Game, The TommyKnockers, and IT (Maggie's Dad starts perving over her). Will try to remember the others.

SarahAndFuck Mon 24-Jun-13 13:33:47

Do you mean Beverly from IT? I remember that now, he kept talking about her being 'intact' didn't he?

Still can't remember incest in Tommyknockers but it's been a long time since I read it.

musickeepsmesane Mon 24-Jun-13 13:41:03

Great thread. I really enjoy the crossover themes in SK books.
No one has mentioned Rose Madder, it is one of my favourites.
He did a small baseball one Billy ???, was a bit meh
Thank god for MN. I never knew he had a new book out or had a son that wrote. Will need to go book shopping.
Also, my brother has been praising Dark Tower series for years. Will have to give in and give it a go. Don't know why I have avoided them, like fantasy and cowboys wink

I remember Beverley in 'It' but can't remember anything in The Tommyknockers (then again, I loathe that book so don't think about it much!).

The baseball one is Blockade Billy. It's okay but lightweight - in the same way that Joyland is his 'pulp' novel, BB is his 'little sporty' novel. smile I think baseball comes across in a much more interesting way in The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon (great book btw!).

What I love about him is that he knows he's typecast but still experiments with genre, publishing ideas, different media etc. Does anybody remember his weird internet only one about a plant?

LaQueen Mon 24-Jun-13 20:17:08

Sorry, yes I mean Beverly, God knows where I got Maggie from hmm He keeps making lewd observations, then just before the crisis point when IT's power is growing, he tries to grab her, but she gets away from him?

I can't remember the character names in The TommyKnockers, but in it, one male character deliberately shoots his father in a hunting accident while they're out in the woods (the power of The TommyKnockers is affecting him). And, SK tells that the man's father systematically abused him, and his younger brother, every time their Mum went to stay with relatives sad

Thanks for the memory jog. I do have vague recollections now - not enough to re-read the damn thing and check though!

SarahAndFuck Mon 24-Jun-13 21:34:30

Oh, I remember that now. That bit about the abuse was horrible, but I'd forgotten what book it was in.

Musickeepsme - my eye is twitching again. grin

Imscarlet Mon 24-Jun-13 21:40:49

Have you seen this flowchart The Stephen King Universe detailing links between different books?

musickeepsmesane Mon 24-Jun-13 21:44:59

my brother would love that poster but if I bought it I would keep it
It looks great

SarahAndFuck Mon 24-Jun-13 23:35:08

I love that poster!

musickeepsmesane Mon 24-Jun-13 23:42:05

Sarah has Dean Koontz slipped a bit then? Haven't read any of his for a while. I liked the Odd Thomas I read a while back?
I am thinking the poster is affordable in pounds sterling........but I would have to get at least 2!!

SarahAndFuck Mon 24-Jun-13 23:52:32

I think he has slipped.

The last few books of his that I read seemed to promise a lot and deliver nothing. A few of them seem to get to the end and have him realise he has no idea how to finish the story properly. IIRC one of them had everything fixed at the last moment by a magic dog.

I gave up on him for awhile but decided to try the 77 Something Street and hated that as well.

musickeepsmesane Tue 25-Jun-13 00:03:33

That's a shame. Though I have plenty other reading to do now! I see SK and Peter Straub did a follow up on The Black House. I have no idea how, but I missed it. So definately giving that a go.

LaQueen Tue 25-Jun-13 10:33:54

I can't read Dean Koontz now...20 years ago I really enjoyed him.

But, now I just find him silly. Plus, I find it really annoying when he tries to make his protagonist interlecktewel, and includes lots of literary references/big words - which DK then feels he has to explain to his readers hmm

S'okay Dean my boy, you don't have to explain to me what osmosis means...or sychophant ...and, yes I do happen to already know that Tolkien wrote The Lord of the Rings.

It may surprise you to know, that some of your readers have a working vocabulary of more than 375 words hmm

Dean K is a poor writer, who lets his own personality and what I think must be pretty overbearing Christianity get in the way of telling a decent story. It's all pretty mawkish - a shame as a couple of his earlier ones showed promise. Also, let's face it, he churns so many out and so quickly that he's clearly not going through much of a planning, thinking, refining or editing process.

SarahAndFuck Tue 25-Jun-13 17:55:03

I did like some of his books, Intensity was very good if I remember, and I think Dragon Tears and Strangers were both good. And Lightning. But I haven't read them for ages so I'm not sure if they will have stood the test of time for me.

It is all a little bit perfect though, in his world. Children are always good and good people are usually beautiful. I agree about the Christianity as well, it is a pretty big presence in his later books, which can work against the story.

marissab Thu 27-Jun-13 20:59:04

I always found DK to be a poor SK substitute. Whereas james herbert and clive barker were right up there alongside him as my fave horror writers. They're different to SK but just as exciting and scary. DK was a bit meh. Was it him that did the cool poems at the front of his books though? They were good. Or was the CB. Anyway, i'm about to start the gunslinger. Right. Now. grin

SarahAndFuck Thu 27-Jun-13 21:33:17

There were poems at the front of all the DK books.

Love James Herbert and Clive Barker too.

And you are reading The Gunslinger! I hope you enjoy it smile

I don't like Clive Barker - more fantasy than horror but not v good fantasy imho (then again, there is a heck of a lot of not v good fantasy around, sadly).

Marrisab - don't worry if you're not overly taken by The Gunslinger. Just read it quickly then leap into book 2 immediately! smile

LaQueen Fri 28-Jun-13 18:33:29

Yep, far too much of his own personality in DK's books.

I can never forget a line from one of his books (paraphrasing slightly)

"This wasn't just an ordinary an orgasm she was having. He'd already given her several of those. It was something different on an epic level, removed from all time and place. He took her to a distant place beyond the stars, and she followed him pleading for more."

Yeah, your dreams Dean hmm

LaQueen Fri 28-Jun-13 18:34:45

Sarah yeah, in DK's books the parents always utterly adore the children, and vice versa...and he works so hard and making them appear like the perfect family, with their own little buzz words/phrases and rituals. I find it all very twee.

Ugh - I feel ill.

Then again, there's that bloody awful sex scene in Needful Things too. In fact, I hate reading sex scenes generally. Pat Barker is the worst.

SarahAndFuck Fri 28-Jun-13 18:45:12

Oh, that is horrible LaQueen, awful writing.

It should have won one of those

mignonette Fri 28-Jun-13 18:54:29

DK's own childhood may go a long way towards explaining his idealisation of the family. He was born to abusive, neglectful parents and had a dreadful childhood.

He has spoken about this in interviews and credits his love of reading and writing as one born out of escapism.

LaQueen Fri 28-Jun-13 19:38:25

Interesting Mig I've often thought that his portrayl of happy family is very, very romanticised. His parents are endlessly patient and loving hmm

mignonette Fri 28-Jun-13 19:43:01

Yes it puts it in a whole new light doesn't it? Think his childhood was on a 'locked in a cupboard and beaten' level.

LaQueen Fri 28-Jun-13 19:57:46

Oh, that's so sad Mig. I bet he writes about families, in the way that he assumed (hoped) they'd be?

KittenofDoom Fri 28-Jun-13 20:00:18

Needs to be stressed that The Dark Tower series is not "Western", not about cowboys .... I can see why people might make that assumption from the word 'gunslinger' and the general atmosphere of the opening, but Roland's world has much more of the medieval about it.

I avoided TDT for years because I don't generally read fantasy, but I was finally persuaded, and found it staggeringly different from what I was expecting. I was warned not to judge it by the first book, which is not that gripping and leaves things unexplained, but it's well worth going on. As others have said, it enriches the experience of many other SK books.

mignonette Fri 28-Jun-13 20:01:45

It would appear that way. I read his first books but cannot get past the first few pages of his newer ones. Think I have outgrown them.

I find SK's books very moving and do not see them primarily as 'horror'. SK's depiction of Americana is wonderful and as a literary figure he is unfairly disparaged and bracketed in a way that clearly frustrates him. His 'On Writing' was one of the best books about the craft of writing and what drives him ever.

Yes. Roland is a descendant of King Arthur.

Or an Arthurian figure at any rate.

LaQueen Fri 28-Jun-13 20:09:54

I actually think SK is a gifted writer, in the proper sense of the word. Many of his observations are piercingly acute, and he does a nice line in lyrical prose.

mignonette Fri 28-Jun-13 20:15:39

Yes I agree. He has taught me as much about American culture as any academic has. He is responsible for my life long interest in American literature/culture/history and every other 'ology'. And he makes me cry more than a lot of other authors do.

At his best, he is a God/a poet. I read some Neil Gaiman stories recently and, whilst they promised a lot, they delivered very little compared to the best of King's.

Rufus43 Fri 28-Jun-13 20:32:37

Love Stephen King, there are a few duds and I have had to steel myself to give away the ones I don't like. Loved joy land and was crying by page 86, I can't wait for Doctor Death.

Also can't wait for the new Joe Hill, I enjoyed heart shaped box and 20th century ghosts but was not as impressed with Horns

I think the Stand is my favourite, though The talisman is great too! Now I'm confused!

May try reading some of the older books that I got rid of

confusedmuch Fri 28-Jun-13 20:40:39

I adored Lisey's story and it is up there with my all time faves. It read more like an alternative autobiography I felt. In his book on writing novels SK described his process as being something like finding a thread, picking it up from the grass and following it to see where it went. I really like that someone as prolific a writer as he can simply stumble across these amazing worlds and then pour them on to the page for us to share.

I have never been able to get into DK, just always seemed too contrived to me.

I liked Joyland a lot - until the end.

RussiansOnTheSpree Fri 28-Jun-13 20:45:26

It's all Dark Tower. All Dark Tower, all the time. There are loads of books and web resources devoted to this. It's brilliant.

marissab Mon 01-Jul-13 10:46:36

I'm really hoping that by reading the DT's it will open up the other SK books to another level of understanding so that i can get something new from all my old, well read, favourites. I feel the stand is such a 'big' novel. So many themes and almost biblical themes i thought. And i just adored the shining and still do. The book, the film, jack nicholson! The whole lot. So really looking forward to the sequel.

RussiansOnTheSpree Mon 01-Jul-13 11:00:37

The Stand is big. And yet it's just a tiny teeny weeny little bit of The Dark Tower thing. There's a real punch the air moment when Captain Trips gets a mention though (not the response I every thought I'd have to that!) and also when someone says.....something. You can probably guess. smile

SarahMumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 01-Jul-13 11:41:47

All about The Stand and IT as far as I'm concerned; was thinking about The Stand again this morning on the way into MNHQ, when someone was coughing up a storm on the train!

There's a great rereading-Stephen-King series running on the Guardian, for anyone who's interested (ie everyone here)

RussiansOnTheSpree Mon 01-Jul-13 13:13:03

Sarah My point wasn't that The Dark Tower is my favourite - I think Under the Dome is my favourite. Or Duma Key. Or, indeed, TheStand. It's that As far as SK is concerned it's All Dark Tower. Almost all his books are actually (small) elements of The Dark Tower. His life is an element of The Dark Tower. And RF, for example, is just a small baddie compared to ...the real ones.

I love the fact that King is himself a character in the DT - and I love the way that On Writing focuses on his accident, which in turn informs the DT.

But I hate the film of The Shining - Jack Nicholson completely miscast.

RussiansOnTheSpree Mon 01-Jul-13 19:51:18

See this. See this very well. grin


Long days and pleasant nights...

SarahMumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 02-Jul-13 16:30:19

Sorry, Russians, I didn't mean that to be directed specifically at you! More a general reflection on my particular King-love ...

On DT though - I've read the first two books but haven't been grabbed by the throat by them in the way I was with others of his; should I persevere? Several people have said the same thing - that to understand his universe you really need to read them ...

RussiansOnTheSpree Tue 02-Jul-13 17:25:20

Sarah absolutely yes. The first book is pants really, until you have read some of the subsequent books when suddenly you get it. The second book is a slow-burner but I was grabbed by the end. Are you reallly not fussed about what happens to Eddie and Susannah?

I love the second - love the Eddie stuff. But really you need to get into the third to start to appreciate some of the layers he's building, when book one will start to make more sense.

Do carry on - if you love The Stand (which I think is probably his most effective and most popular stand alone novel), I truly think this goes further and does more - I don't think he'll ever write anything finer now (but live in hope!).

RussiansOnTheSpree Tue 02-Jul-13 17:59:56

Remus I love Under the Dome. Of course, it's DT, which is one of the things that makes it fab. But I do think that without knowing about DT it's a great book (the first time I read it, I hadn't read DT). Completely agree about Book 3. The Wastelands is the point at which it becomes CRACK. grin

SarahAndFuck Tue 02-Jul-13 18:27:49

Is Under the Dome particularly DT?

I don't remember 'getting' DT from it, not in the same way as from something like Insomnia for example, but it has been a while since I read it. I thought it perhaps had more in common with Buick 8 and possibly Lisey's Story than anything that made me think "ooh...DT reference!" What with Booya Moon and whatever the place is that the Buick came from.

I can see I'll be joining that bloke in Sarah's link and rereading everything, with notes, just to refresh my memory on it all.

SarahAndFuck Tue 02-Jul-13 18:29:50

Although obviously, Booya Moon and Buick-world could well be part of Roland's world, but they felt a bit different to me.

ILovePonyo Tue 02-Jul-13 18:32:58

Whispersofwickedness are you me? I liked needful things and started reading under the dome when dd was a baby, I just couldn't get into it and kept thinking of the Simpsons film confusedhmm

Marking my place to come back and look at some of those links later.
I loved Stephen king when I was a teenager, I haven't read more recent books of his and this thread is inspiring me to get reading!

Definitely agree about the themes of nostalgia, and of incest.
I don't know if this is a theme but the story I remember is the young sociopath from IT who used to trap animals in fridges to kill them, can't remember his name sorry. But why I'm trying to say (confused) is he often had small characters with cruel natures, it just struck me how 'real life' that was (not examining it very well)

SarahAndFuck Tue 02-Jul-13 18:40:00

ILovePonyo - you are talking about Patrick Hockstetter. I hate him so much, it's a toss up between him and Greg Stillson as biggest villain for me.

That puppy in the fridge gave me nightmares when we got our own dog, kept dreaming he was trapped like the one in the book. And the dog Greg Stillson kicks to death can make me cry even now.

SK often does a harm to the dogs in his book. I have a friend who loves SK and dogs as much as I do and will often get an email from her when a new book comes out that says "oh-oh dog!" if there's one in the book.

RussiansOnTheSpree Tue 02-Jul-13 18:45:45

Sarah Yep. See this. See this very well. Booyah. The moon. (still spelled the same way wink ) The many worlds scenario. There's an Oy (sort of). There are Regulators (sort of). Some of the stuff with Junior and Big Jim is very reminiscent of RF (but that might be reaching). The idea of the Dome itself, and the searching for the focal point which is keeping it going - that's VERY DT. PErhaps the most DT bits for me though, are the references to Lost (which is itself ALL DT ALL the time) and the ending. Which ....well, I don't want to spoil DT for those who haven't read it. But, it's potentially the same ending. All Steely Dan. It's absolutely brilliant.

SarahAndFuck Tue 02-Jul-13 18:49:13

So you're saying it's like all the DT books but condensed into one little Dome? I can see where you're coming from with that. smile

ILovePonyo Tue 02-Jul-13 18:49:33

See even that name doesn't ring a bell Sarahandfuck, I need to read it again. My memory is rubbish. Who is Greg who kicks a dog to death/what book is he in?
I do remember being quite young when I readit and being obsessed with the word sociopath, I'd not come across it before and it was a terrifying concept.

RussiansOnTheSpree Tue 02-Jul-13 18:58:21

Sarah I'm saying it's clearly in the same many worlds scenario as DT. It's in 'that universe' and as with so many of the other books there are seepages, things slipping through. Because it's all connected. The breakers are breaking, the Tower is still standing, and the wheel is turning round and round. The Lost references are particularly meta but since SK was on the record as being flattered by the DT homages in Lost, they are clearly significant.

There's a lot of 1s and 9s and 19s too.

No Modred though. For which, you know, hooray.

Mordred's a hongry.

I hate the ending of Under The Dome, HATE it. Love the rest of it though, but the ending is stupid. Avoids spoilers but... did I mention that I hate it?

Gregg is in The Dead Zone - and so iirc is the Patrick who ends up in Roland's world - NOT the same Patrick as evil dog killing Patrick.

Another big SK fan here, though I also get exasperated with him sometimes. Needful Things really is a crock. And Cell's not all that.

I like Bag Of Bones and Lisey's Story of the later ones. And Duma Key.

But I got very, very irritated by John Marinville in The Regulators/Desperation. That character was one long SK whine about why no one takes him seeeeeriously enough as a Proper Writer. The monsters couldn't kill him quick enough...

ILovePonyo Tue 02-Jul-13 21:05:06

Thanks Remus. I've not read the dead zone.

Is Duma key good then? Am planning a bit of an SK revival grin

DK not one of my faves by any stretch of the imagination - but some good stuff about the recovery process after an accident.

SarahMumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 02-Jul-13 21:14:50

Right, you've sold me - ordering book 3 in DT now! I did enjoy book two, but it didn't have the same sense of internal coherence that the big stand-aloners have - felt more attenuated. But i can see that in order to achieve true internal coherence with the SK-iverse I need to continue! Did love The Talisman which i know is DT-y ...

SarahAndFuck Tue 02-Jul-13 21:22:30

Patrick who ended up in Roland's world was in Insomnia, he was a little boy in that book and appeared towards the end, briefly. He's not dog killing Patrick, he was in IT.

Greg Stillson was in The Dead Zone.

Russians I kind of liked Mordred, typical teenager really, nothing but ungrateful until they decide to turn into giant spider and kill you. grin

I know all the books (and so all the worlds) are linked. I was a little bit unsettled when the world of The Stand seemed to be in a different world to 'us' when it got a mention in Wizard and Glass (I think WAG anyway, could be wrong).

But to me the world that Buick 8, Lisey and Under the Dome come into contact with is a different (but still linked one) to the one that Roland came from and from some of the other books. A different level of the Tower so to speak.

Whereas IT and 11.22.63 seem to be on the same level as each other.

I would like to know which level SK would say each book was on.

RussiansOnTheSpree Tue 02-Jul-13 21:32:06

They are different zones, not different levels, I think. Remember, Pere Callaghan can step between them. I think 11.22.63 might give us a clue how these zones proliferate.

He keeps telling the constant reader they need to see it. I think that's very significant.

I can't wait to see UtD on Telly.

redlac Tue 02-Jul-13 21:35:54

MY DH bought me wizard and glass and I read it not realising that it was part of DT and loved it so had to buy the rest. I've not reread them in years and might give them another bash once I've finished rereading Per Semetary.

I think my fav book is Insomnia closely followed by the Stand.

No, I know Roland's Patrick isn't dog killing Patrick. But I think the little boy who is saved is Roland's Patrick too - is he saved from nasty wife beating man in Insomnia, rather than nasty politician in DZ? smile

I don't like the Duma Key and Lisey's 'zones' - they have v silly monsters. Then again, the corridor chaser in DT is a silly monster too, I guess.

TheMoonOnAStick Tue 02-Jul-13 22:04:03

Interesting thread. I like SK and like to spot the little nods to other stories in the books.

But I just cannot get into DT books. I've tried, but gunslingers and fantasy seem to leave me cold.

Listening to fellow SK enthusiasts praising DT so highly always makes me so mad with myself and jealous that I just can't seem to reach this extra 'layer' of King that I should be enjoying. Frustrating! Like peering cluelessly at one of those magic eye pictures trying to see what everyone else can.

TheMoonOnAStick Tue 02-Jul-13 22:12:12

Hey Remus I agree with your thoughts on UtD. I was also unimpressed with the end but thought the book as a whole was good.

I also didn't enjoy 22.11.63 as much as I wanted to or expected to. I felt it rambled on and on, lost its way several times and finally just ran out of steam.

Bag of Bones one of my favourites but dear oh dear the Tv made straight for tv (always a bad sign) film was just terrible.

CoteDAzur Tue 02-Jul-13 22:14:46

"Silly monsters" - What about that laughable giant crab thing that kept saying "Click-a-dick?" or whatever in the Dark Tower book you love?

ILovePonyo Tue 02-Jul-13 22:18:25

Ok! I've just downloaded the first Dark Tower book to my kindle... now to make time to read it!

I have spent a while looking at amazon and reading reviews of SK books I haven't read, but realised the synopsis of various books don't really do them justice? Some of the books I have loved don't sound too inviting just reading the blurb on amazon, maybe they just aren't summed up very well in a paragraph or 2?

I don't think I;ve read pet cemetery so might get that too, happy days smile

RussiansOnTheSpree Tue 02-Jul-13 22:23:59

The lobstrocities? Probable mutations after a nuclear war? Important plot point because of ....shall we say, what they eat? Also a geographical note as to where in that zone we are (and oh look. See this. See this very well. It's Maine. As always. ) and your problem is? Are they that less believable than, um, sentient mist? Or scary clowns??

RussiansOnTheSpree Tue 02-Jul-13 22:26:03

Actually, my favourite SK book is The Long Walk. It's the first one I ever read.

CoteDAzur Tue 02-Jul-13 22:33:55

I didn't say "less believable". I said silly. And that was Remus's description smile

Yes, silly. Not only are they big lobsters, but they move about as fast as a snail and they say things like "Dad-a-chum? Dum-a-chum? Ded-a-chek? Did-a-chick?”

If that is not silly, pray tell what is.

SarahAndFuck Tue 02-Jul-13 22:37:10

Yes the boy Patrick who is saved in Insomnia is Roland's Patrick later on. I was really just thinking out loud because Ponyo said she still didn't remember the name and I wanted to differentiate the two Patricks and the books.

I can remember SK writing about the levels of the tower though, and actually calling them levels. I think zones fit as well, but he definitely describes them as levels and certain people/creatures come from different ones.

There's a lot of talk of levels in Insomnia, there was a scene in the hospital where the levels of the hospital building and the levels of the tower seemed to blur a little bit.

SarahAndFuck Tue 02-Jul-13 22:40:02

The lobstrosities are the reason I can't eat certain types of seafood now. Cannot look at it without thinking 'lobstrosity' and feeling a little bit sick.

i liked the long walk, the langoliers, the talisman, but yes, the stand, the shining and It are probably my favorites. Hated misery, cujo. Havent read any for years, may have to get up to my top shelf tomorrow!

RussiansOnTheSpree Tue 02-Jul-13 22:49:01

But the levels are in the tower not in the journey (we know that he could be diverted while climbing, but isn't (no spoilers). We see many zones on this journey, he's following one, um, spoke, though, isn't he? So there could be different zones on different spokes...I don't think it matters though. Above between below. The route is irrelevant it's the destination that matters to the champion (and the implication is that Roland isn't the first to try)

TheOriginalSteamingNit Tue 02-Jul-13 23:03:21

I had always thought SK was a bit sexist in a forgivable-if-you -half -close -your eyes and don't think about it too hard kind of way, until I read Abut a year ago, some godawful story about a woman who gets raped by the son of a big fat lezzy librarian who couldn't get no man to look at her, and decides she doesn't want to go to the police because then she just wouldn't be her any more.... Dunno what it was called, but it was fucking awful!

SarahAndFuck Tue 02-Jul-13 23:24:17

He is following the spoke (the beam of the bear I think, with the opposite spoke being the beam of the turtle).

But the levels aren't necessarily on top or below each other in a physical sense I don't think.

Certain places and certain people or creatures come from different levels, like the little bald doctors in Insomnia being from a different level than Ralph and Lois for example. But they can be in the same physical place at the same time, where the worlds are 'thin'.

I'd really need to reread Insomnia to find the part I mean, but some levels are more 'out there' maybe, more inclined to the supernatural and our level can sometimes find one of his 'thin' spots and tap into it. Whatever it is, because even supernatural isn't quite the right word.

Where he says "there are other worlds than these", I think you can move worlds without moving levels (Scott moving from our world to Booya Moon, same level but different world) but you can also move levels without moving from your world (such as the hospital scene in Insomnia that I mentioned earlier, I think Ralph staying in the hospital but went up a level or two and then came back down, or when the children in IT do that thing with the smoke). And to complicate things even more, I think in some cases they move worlds and levels at the same time.

SarahMumsnet we really need a SK web chat so he can explain what he thinks please grin

RussiansOnTheSpree Tue 02-Jul-13 23:27:43

sarah above between below was a reference to something else both influenced by, and influencing, DT. grin

SarahAndFuck Tue 02-Jul-13 23:37:36


But the point of yours I was answering was that you said the levels were in the tower, which they are, but not just there. They are in the journey too and people can move though the levels without climbing the tower or move from world to world without changing the level they are on. With the tower as the centre of every world on every level.

RussiansOnTheSpree Wed 03-Jul-13 00:03:08

The levels are an artificial construct (as are the zones). Pere Callaghan wasn't even aware he was moving through, to begin with. He calls the low men 'low men' but I don't think we need to take that as an indication that their point(s?) of origin are 'lower' than say Roland's. just different. The whole zone/level thing is just potato/tomato really - we just don't have enough information to identify whether the UtD world, to take your example from upthread, is our world, or Jake's original world, or Eddie's or Susannah's or the world they all end up in, or one of the many many ones Pere Callaghan goes through - are they many worlds or different levels of the same world - we don't know. As I said, 11.22.63 shows us how different realities are created - or at least, it shows them being created, it doesn't actually tell us how.

We don't even know if a piece can become a player and which actually Roland is (I think the rest of the ka tet are pieces. But to be honest - who can say, really). I'm not entirely convinced SK has decided for himself whether he's a piece or a player either. And he's already told us that we will never get any resolution. That's one of the reasons why I love it to be honest - there is no answer. And there never will be. grin

I think Pet Semetary is the saddest of them all. I read it in the 80s then made the awful mistake of re-reading it when DS was little. If you have small boys, don't go there...

ILovePonyo Wed 03-Jul-13 09:11:29

SolidGoldBrass I am going to start Pet Cemetary tonight I think... I have a small daughter, I'll be ok won't I... hmm

Good point though, I read The Road and Blood Meridian when dd was a small baby and some parts made me feel physically sick, which I don't think would have happened had I not had dd <off topic>

Ponyo <winces>. Um. Have a box of tissues handy. And don't forget it's only a story...

ILovePonyo Wed 03-Jul-13 11:05:07


SarahMumsnet (MNHQ) Wed 03-Jul-13 12:37:37

yup - I read pet semetary when DS was about the right/wrong age. near-broke me. Second recommendation for tissues.

sarah - the possibility of a web chat has been mooted, and is being investigated! Needless to say, I'll do my best wink

Oh a webchat with SK would be amazing. Please, please, please can somebody at MN Towers pull some strings?

Roland is both a piece and a player - he is being played but each time he plays he has a little more free will and a few more pieces of his own to play. Or something. smile

Cote - I love you. I love your dad-a-chee / dad-a-chums and I love your utter fury and inability to engage with poor old Roland. For somebody who reads so widely and such (with all due respect) daft stuff in so many levels, you are still failing to willingly suspend your disbelief. smile Go on - just roll with it and don't try to intellectualise it all too much. Roland = sex God on a v long journey and he might even make some friends or partly save the world along the way. The end - but so, so much more.

I have no heart. Evil little boy in grave suit in pet Sematary did not make me cry - it made me laugh.

insancerre Wed 03-Jul-13 18:00:53

ooh a webchat with Stephen King
that would be amazing

marissab Wed 03-Jul-13 18:16:33

Well so far i am racing through the gunslinger. He's just met Jake. And unbelievably, i'm find it an easy enjoyable read! But i guess its not too fantasy yet. The story has kinda drawn me in though. I really want him to catch the man in black (reminds me constantly of the johnny cash song!) coz i wanna know more about this charachter. When someone said ots more medieval than western, well not so far. Its been very western style, but i am unexpectedly enjoying it!

CoteDAzur Mon 08-Jul-13 16:16:33

Today's Amazon Kindle deal is The Shining, FYI fellow SK fans smile

CoteDAzur Mon 08-Jul-13 16:43:38

Remus - I have never found the need to suspend disbelief, even when reading sci-fi. Why would you want to? Personally, I like reading stories that are well-constructed and internally consistent so that they are rather believable.

My problem with Dark Tower #2 wasn't even that. It was:
1. I don't like fantasy books
2. I don't like Western/cowboy stories
3. Roland was ill, feverish, incapacitated throughout the books so really not the "Sex God" you led me to expect
4. Story was very dull and seemed to involve lots of walking or worse, pushing a wheel chair, on sand dunes.
5. The "monster" was a giant lobster that crawled at a snail's pace and blabbered "Dad-a-chum? Dum-a-chum? Ded-a-chek? Did-a-chick?”. I mean, seriously. grin

"For somebody who reads so widely and such (with all due respect) daft stuff in so many levels"

Thanks for the respect but I honestly don't know what you mean by the "daft stuff" you think I read. Stephen King books are probably the daftest in my library. For the most part, I like reading pretty heavy, complicated (and imho intellectually rewarding) books like Umbrella and Cloud Atlas. Can you give some examples of the "daft stuff" you think I read?

But you are choosing to suspend or not suspend disbelief according to whether you think a book meets what you have constructed to be your perception of good. By 'daft stuff' I mean stuff in which there are serial killing clown in the sewers, or spaceships coming to destroy the earth , or aliens coming to earth and having lots of sex or whatever. Daft yes, but still good!

Daft stuff can be great - and 'intellectual' stuff really isn't always good. That's why I agree with BOF on the other thread tbh.

CoteDAzur Mon 08-Jul-13 20:26:02

I read It ("clown in the sewers") in my teens. It was OK then but I wouldn't read it now. I honestly don't know what you are referring to with spaceships coming to destroy earth or aliens having lots of sex. Sci-fi of the last 30 years is not about that sort of stuff at all.

I'm very disappointed in your understanding of the sort of stuff I read and have now decided to tell you even more about my books. Starting with Cloud Atlas grin grin grin

I'm JOKING, Cote. Relax! Spaceships = War of the Worlds and aliens wanting sex (actually half Martians wanting sex) = Robert Heinlein. Both of which give the reader plenty to think about too but are essentially 'daft' overall. smile As you know, I'm busy expanding my classic sci-fi reading at the moment - I haven't hit the last 30 years yet. smile

CoteDAzur Mon 08-Jul-13 21:07:16

He wasn't a half-Martian! He was 100% human, brought up by Martians after his parents died (or something). Again, I was about 15 when I read Stranger in a Strange Land. Not sure if I want to read it again.

Where are you in your sci-fi reading list? Have you read Dune and 2001: Space Odyssey yet?

Oops - shows how much it's stayed with me!

Have read Brave New World (loved), Do Androids Dream...(loved), Farhenheit 451 (liked), War of the Worlds (liked except for the cheesy ending), The Invisible Man (hated), The Time Machine (liked), another HGW which I've now forgotten the name of, erm...that's what I can remember offhand.

Haven't read Dune or Space Odyssey yet. Oh and not Sci fi but I've read and thoroughly enjoyed some Jules Verne books this year too.

CoteDAzur Mon 08-Jul-13 21:28:10

You now need to move on to Asimov, Arthur C Clarke, and Heinlein - masters of classic sci-fi.

I'd recommend you start with:

Foundation (trilogy) - Isaac Asimov
2001: Space Odyssey - Arthur C Clarke
Time Enough For Love - Robert Heinlein

When you have read these three authors to your heart's delight, we can move on to the sci-fi of the last 30 years, starting with its masters William Gibson and Neal Stephenson.

Does Neal S write for YA too? I think I read Time Enough For Love when I was a teenager, come to think of it. I also read some Asimov then but can't begin to remember which.

CoteDAzur Mon 08-Jul-13 21:38:47

No, NS doesn't write YA. Some of his books are quite complicated and brain-hurty, in fact. In a good way grin

HarderToKidnap Tue 09-Jul-13 12:54:24

OT a little, but I MUST take issue with Nit above, who said SK was sexist. I couldn't disagree more. I think he writes women better than just about anyone, and that is part of what makes him so readable and so fab. He writes women with love, deep respect, with huge insight and just generally seems to dig them, as he might say. He is also very good at writing about how decent men experience sex and desire, without objectification, which makes me think he is probably a decent man who can desire a woman without objectifying her. I love him for this lack of sexism, especially in his earlier books when it would have been so easy and so obvious to write women as 1-d.

Rereading insomnia now, thanks to this thread. Haven't read it since reading DT and it's brilliant.

Brain hurty, eh? I'll need to wait until the winter for brain hurty. I've just read a batch of history books which were brain hurty so I need a bit of a rest. I thought my vocabulary was pretty good but I was needing the dictionary every other paragraph in some of them! smile

ILovePonyo Tue 09-Jul-13 21:36:43

Just returned to thread to say I have finished pet sematary. Glad I read it but I felt worse for the daughter at the end than the son, although the actual description of gage getting hit by the lorry made me feel sick.

I can't believe I missed the shining on kindle deals! Might just get it anyway.

Pet Sematary wasn't one of my favourites, it started off good but tailed off quite quickly imo.

Finished Joyland today which I loved! Remus interested to see why you didn't like the ending?

I agree with hardertokidnap - I think SK writes women very well generally, the majority of them are resourceful, brave females! Having said that, there were a couple of stories in the Full Dark No Stars book that did leave me feeling a bit cold, mainly to do with the treatment of its female characters. But every author misses the mark sometimes, and SK has written so much it's to be expected!

Cote love Robert Heinlein but was told to save Time Enough for Love until I'd read most of them? Given I'm finding them hard to get hold of, it will take a bit of time. Love Job though, and need to read Stranger in a Strange Land!

CoteDAzur Tue 09-Jul-13 22:27:06

tilly - I don't know why you would need to hold off on Time Enough For Love, especially since it is the prequel to several Heinlein books - To Sail Beyond The Sunset and The Cat Who Walks Through Walls, for example.

I read all Heinlein books in my teens and thought they were brilliant. Not sure I want to find out what I would think of them now smile I thought Friday was pretty cool, too. If you like Heinlein, definitely read Friday.

CoteDAzur Tue 09-Jul-13 22:28:46

Remus - If you want to see a real brain-hurty book where you definitely will need the dictionary several times per page, try Will Self's "Umbrella". He is a genius and that is a brilliant book. But Oh. My. God. How difficult can it be to read a book?! shock

I understand why it was nominated for the Booker Prize last year, and I also understand why it didn't win.

TheOriginalSteamingNit Tue 09-Jul-13 22:32:38

harder Jo in Bag of Bones? Rachel in Pet Sematry? The story about the magical typewriter, where the writer makes himself a nice homely purty wifee and a geeky son? I'm sure SK likes women, but I don't think he likes them very career minded!

The fatty lezzy rape-organizee librarian in the short story whose name I can't remember is pretty dreadful as a character, really.

I'll try it. I hated The Book Of Dave though -self aggrandising twaddle imvho.

Have just started A Canticle For Leibowitz - loving it so far.

Joyland - I didn't like the end because I felt cheated and tricked. It seemed clumsy, and un-Kingesquely cynical to me. I thought it was clunky and schlocky.

Thanks Cote. I wish I had read them in my teens but only started reading them a few years back when I was lent a couple. A couple of people suggested holding off on TEfL as it (apparently) ties up a lot of threads from the other books? Maybe not, or maybe I got the wrong end of the stick (entirely possible!) I have read Friday, loved that one too.

TheOriginalSteamingNit Tue 09-Jul-13 22:36:36

Oh and The Stand is quite horrendously sexist. But I did like it as a teenager and could probably read it again....

Nope, not getting the sexist thing at all. The only one I can recall that has hideous portrayals of women is Needful Things - but the men are hideous in it too.

TheOriginalSteamingNit Tue 09-Jul-13 22:39:10

Oh, I wrote something about it once: I'll find it off my laptop and see if I can bear to post it tomorrow!

Needful Things is one of the few books I read once & never picked up again! So dreadful.

ILovePonyo Tue 09-Jul-13 22:44:15

Re: SK and his portrayal of women, I agree with TheOriginalSteamingNit about his female characters not being very career minded, BUT Rose Madder was an excellent viewpoint from a woman in an abusive relationship. I work for a dv charity now and still think of it from time to time, just the depth of the understanding of abuse and I now LOVE the fact that the perp was a police officer, just shows how it can affect anyone.

GetStuffezd Tue 09-Jul-13 22:55:07

Rose madder was wonderful - it hooked me even at the age of 16 when I had no experience of DV. However, I hated it when it went into the bizarre tangent of the painting and the bull! God I must buy a copy and re read it and see if it makes any more sense 12 years later!

ILovePonyo Tue 09-Jul-13 22:58:31

Wow exactly the same GetStuffezd, I read it at a similar age and couldn't put it down, and I found the painting/bull parts frustrating! The actual 'real life' bits were much more scary. I re-read it a few years ago and still loved it, hope you do too!

GetStuffezd Tue 09-Jul-13 23:03:12

That's really weird, Ponyo! I've always felt like that about SK and I think it's what's prevented me being really addicted to his books. I think he describes "real" situations (however odd he chooses them to be) so well, but I HATE it when he goes off into fantasy. I really must give him another go. I read Cell when it came out and thought is was appalling.
The Stand though.... I've read it about eight times and know it tragically off by heart!

GetStuffezd Tue 09-Jul-13 23:04:38

Oh and has anyone seen The Langoliers? One of the funniest/most cringey SK adaptations ever. I LOVE it! :-)

I just think some of his worlds work better than others. The bull stuff is silly and so is the thing with the piebald sides in Lisey's Story, but other fantasy like the world of The Langoliers, for example, is brilliant.

Freaky cross-post there! Not seen it though.

ILovePonyo Tue 09-Jul-13 23:07:16

See I've not read the Stand either, I'm going to look it up on my kindle tomorrow! Not read the Cell but it didn't really appeal to me. Not seen Langoliers, doesn't sound like I want to grin

The story of The Langoliers is brilliant - one of his best imho.

GetStuffezd Tue 09-Jul-13 23:12:55 here you are! The whole gloriously terrible three hours of the Langoliers! I'm off for a bath and bed with this on :-)
Ponyo, please please read the stand. We sound similar ages and I remember being young and my parents letting me watch the tv adaptation of the sand. It really "got" to me as only SK books do.

GetStuffezd Tue 09-Jul-13 23:13:07
NeoMaxiZoomDweebie Tue 09-Jul-13 23:17:45

"Floating like a balloon" that surely references It where the clown tempts the child into the sewer with a balloon and says "We all float down here!"

ILovePonyo Tue 09-Jul-13 23:21:21

Will do! (I'm 32 btw wink) will post back in about 4 weeks when I've finished it haha.
I remember not bring allowed to watch IT, but watching it anyway, then REALLY regretting it shockhmm

Out of curiosity, are there any SK books you read ages ago, never really got or liked but rereading them years later realised what you've missed? Does that make any sense? grin

Apt Pupil was like that for me, was generally my least favourite in the Different Seasons collection, but when I reread it a few months back, it really stayed with me.

marissab Wed 10-Jul-13 18:47:48

I loved all the ones like pet semetary and it when i was young as i wasn't allowed to watch the films but i dont think my mum thought the books would be as scary :s but when re read any now, i can see much more depth to them than just an on the surface horror story. I guess i've matured as a reader. For example i read 'carrie' and the gripping bit back then was when she was covered in blood and murdering everybody. Now, i read it and the main part is her home life and the child abuse that went on. I've changed from loving Carrie as the baddie to pitying her as an abused child.

HarderToKidnap Wed 10-Jul-13 20:50:14

SK 's women generally aren't career minded no. They don't have big powerful jobs, they aren't stockbrokers or lawyers. But they work as teachers, librarians, writers, secretaries, farmers. His men also do these same jobs! They arent career minded either. He doesn't write about people with big jobs and yes he does have a couple of SAH wives/mums, which reflects the reality of his home life. But these women are always smart, busy, creative, brilliant women. I just don't get a shred of sexism.

His 'big job' people are invariably the bad guys! smile

TheOriginalSteamingNit Thu 11-Jul-13 09:04:51

I don't mean they should be corporate lawyers to prove he isn't a sexist! I just think he's a lot happier with folksy housewives, whilst their husbands do the writing.

Anyway - Big Driver. That's all I have to say.

marissab Fri 12-Jul-13 19:16:51

Well i've just started reading the 2nd DT but havn't picked it up for 2 nights. This is not a good sign sad

Stick with it!! I think DT really picks up with book 3 unfortunately smile

Anyway, those of you who know of the Crimson King have a look at this on SK's FB page grin

KittenofDoom Sun 14-Jul-13 21:02:10

tillyfernackerpants The first SK book I started was "It", and I couldn't get into it (oops) at all. I read about a quarter of It grin and abandoned It grin, didn't try any others for a long time. One day I'll give It another go grin as It seems to be a favourite for most people. grin

Rufus43 Wed 17-Jul-13 17:43:49

Rereading some of his books, finished Desperation at the weekend and then I realised I should retread The regulators as they are linked. I like the Stand so much that I also have the unabridged version, bloody huge!

Couldn't stand Lisey and was also a bithmm at Rose Madder

I like The Regulators much more than Desperation. There's some silliness but I like that whole, 'suburbia in crisis' idea, and how some people crumble so quickly whilst others are able to cope even if we might not have expected them to.

marissab Fri 19-Jul-13 11:14:20

Going camping this wknd so gonna tromp through book 2 whilst there. Bit more exciting now hes helping that prisoner get through the airport.

DontHaveAtv Fri 02-Aug-13 10:29:13
marissab Fri 02-Aug-13 20:45:06

Ooo interesting

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