Stephen King’s Under the Dome‘s first incarnation was a novel published in 2009 (which I reviewed here). It was adapted for a TV series in 2013 (first season reviewed here), and was renewed for a second season in 2014.
If I disliked season 1 so much, why would I even bother with season 2? For one, I did generally enjoy the book despite its faults and since the show starts at basically the same place but diverges drastically from there it’s interesting to see a kind of alternate universe version of the same concept. And, truth be told, I don’t hate having a show I can watch with half my attention while I’m writing reviews.
One of the major complaints I had about season 1 is that it’s very episodic–a new character would be added and killed in the same episode and played as though I’m actually supposed to care about this person. A fight club would be started and then disbanded and never spoken of again. This seemed to occur somewhat less in season 2, though it did still have some components that only happen in a single episode and then everyone avoids talking about.
A new twist in the series is that there were a series of strange events that mimicked the Biblical plagues. They seemed to be aiming for a significant theme on that early in season 2, but it petered out by mid-season. As with the episodic plots, it seems like there are either multiple writing teams working piecemeal without much interaction to aim at a cohesive whole, or a single writing team with the attention span of a toddler.
Forty years ago this month a promising horror writer checked into Room 217 at the Stanley Hotel in Colorado. The place crept him out so much it inspired his third published novel. You might have heard of it. It’s called The Shining. Story goes that Stephen King picked the hotel after opening a U.S. atlas and randomly pointing at a location, which turned out to be Boulder, Colorado. He wanted to get away from Maine so his next novel would have a “different sort of background.” It certainly worked.
Now on the anniversary of that trip, editor R.J. Cavender has organized a writers retreat at the haunted hotel in the Rockies for a group of authors looking for similar inspiration. It may be a brilliant idea or — if things turn out as well as they did for Jack Torrance — the worst idea of all time.
Before leaving on his trip this week, the intrepid Cavender answered a few questions for SF Signal. So, without further ado, heeeeeere’s R.J.!
JAMES AQUILONE: Why have a writers retreat at the Stanley Hotel? After all, Jack Torrance didn’t get much writing done during his stay in the Rockies.
R.J. CAVENDER: On the contrary! Jack was prolific, just very repetitive. To answer the question, though…why not? I’ve always dreamed of staying in the hotel from The Shining, so why not stay at the version that actually inspired the book? And with 40 of my author friends! It’s such a gorgeous, stately old place. Almost time to find out if Room 217 is haunted or not…
This Summer, readers are once again reminded that Stephen King is one of the most popular authors of our time. If you haven’t seen his new book, Mr. Mercedes, on bookstore shelves, you are either not paying attention or not going to the bookstore. Meanwhile, television viewers are enjoying the second season of Under the Dome, the adaptation of his 2009 novel of the same name.
Head on over to Kirkus Reviews to read Part 2 of The Stephen King Edition of Book-to-TV/Film Adaptations, in which I cover the short fiction adaptations!
It’s probably obvious that prolific bestselling authors have a greater chance of seeing their work adapted for television and film. And you probably know that prolific author Stephen King has already had a large handful of his novels and stories adapted. What you might not guess is that that particular well has not yet run dry and even when it does, Hollywood is perfectly content with producing second adaptations of the horror-masters work. This is evidenced by this latest roundup of speculative fiction adaptations, which focuses on upcoming films based on the works of Stephen King.
Head on over to Kirkus Reviews to read Read Them Now, Watch Them Later: Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Adaptation Watch – The Stephen King Edition!
Hollywood loves Stephen King!
The Hollywood Reporter is, um, reporting that a film adaptation of Stephen King’s 1987 horror novel It has been picked up by New Line. Although an It film has been in development at Warner Bros. for some time, apparently going nowhere, this indicates that the project may finally get to move forward.
The story is about a group of people — childhood friends from the town of Derry, Maine — who reunite to battle an evil creature they call “It”. Why? because they defeated that very same evil twenty five years ago which, instead of being killed, was apparently lying dormant.
According to /Film, the adaptation is being planned as a two-film series, with one focusing on characters as children, and the other focusing on those characters as adults.
I read It many tears ago and loved it. I briefly wrote about it late last year at Kirkus Reviews. There was a television mini-series back in 1990 starring Tim Curry (as “It”, who manifests himself as an evil clown), Richard Thomas, Annette O’Toole, John Ritter and Harry Anderson. It was fairly corny. Here’s hoping any new film adaptation that gets made will be closer to the book’s horror origins.
REVIEW SUMMARY: King blends a mostly accurate portrayal of the Kennedy Assassination with time travel and a man set on doing the right thing by changing history, and turns it into a doorstop-sized page-turner that kept me reading through the night and almost made me miss work.
BRIEF SYNOPSIS: Given a way to go back in time and change history, Jake is persuaded that the world would be a better place by stopping Lee Harvey Oswald from assassinating president Kennedy. After experimenting with changing history, he starts in 1958 and works his way toward that “watershed moment in history”. But along the way he tries to save more than just the world, and must balance honor and duty against love and comfort.
PROS: Stalking Oswald around the streets of Fort Worth and Dallas; portrayal of “evil” cities, small-town Texas, and the music of the 50s and 60s.
CONS: It’s a long doorstop.
BOTTOM LINE: King’s time travel novel focuses on the characters and events, a page-turner that makes the reader not only eager to see how events of history may be replayed but how the lives of the non-historical characters will turn out.
Is there any sequel more anticipated than the one for Stephen King’s The Shining? Now, that sequel, Doctor Sleep, has a new book trailer
Stephen King returns to the characters and territory of one of his most popular novels ever, The Shining, in this instantly riveting novel about the now middle-aged Dan Torrance (the boy protagonist of The Shining) and the very special twelve-year-old girl he must save from a tribe of murderous paranormals.
On highways across America, a tribe of people called The True Knot travel in search of sustenance. They look harmless—mostly old, lots of polyester, and married to their RVs. But as Dan Torrance knows, and spunky twelve-year-old Abra Stone learns, The True Knot are quasi-immortal, living off the “steam” that children with the “shining” produce when they are slowly tortured to death.
Haunted by the inhabitants of the Overlook Hotel where he spent one horrific childhood year, Dan has been drifting for decades, desperate to shed his father’s legacy of despair, alcoholism, and violence. Finally, he settles in a New Hampshire town, an AA community that sustains him, and a job at a nursing home where his remnant “shining” power provides the crucial final comfort to the dying. Aided by a prescient cat, he becomes “Doctor Sleep.”
Then Dan meets the evanescent Abra Stone, and it is her spectacular gift, the brightest shining ever seen, that reignites Dan’s own demons and summons him to a battle for Abra’s soul and survival. This is an epic war between good and evil, a gory, glorious story that will thrill the millions of devoted readers of The Shining and satisfy anyone new to the territory of this icon in the King canon.
Back in 1983, the Alarm released “The Stand, a song based on The Stand by Stephen King. This is the video from MTV (y’know…when the “M” actually stood for “music”…)
The official Stephen King webiste has revealed the cover art for Stephen King’s upcoming novel Doctor Sleep, arriving in September 2013 from Scribner.
Here’s the synopsis:
Subterranean Press has posted the cover art and synopsis of the upcoming novel Doctor Sleep by Stephen King (Gift Edition).
I have a new post up over on the Kirkus Review site looking at Stephen King’s The Dark Tower-The Gunslinger: The Journey Begins, Graphic Novel from Marvel Comics. The script is by Peter David, a name comic book readers are well accustomed to seeing (The Incredible Hulk, Young Justice). He also wrote one of my favorite Star Trek: The Next Generation novels: Imzadi. The series is illustrated by Sean Phillips (WildC.A.T.S.) and Richard Isanove (Wolverine: Origin), and plotted by Robin Furth (Stephen King’s personal research assistant for The Dark Tower: A Complete Concordance).
Here’s an excerpt:
The story opens with Roland Deschain, the Gunslinger, tracking the man in black across a desert wasteland. He comes across a man who offers news of the man in black along with food, water and shelter for the night. All he asks in return is for The Gunslinger to tell him a tale. Through flashbacks, we see the day Roland’s ka-tet were slaughtered by the Good Man, John Farson. As Farson’s followers are stacking up the dead for a pyre, Roland escapes along with another Gunslinger, Aileen. She is mortally wounded and asks that he bury her in her family crypt back home – in Gilead.
Check out the full article over on the Kirkus Reviews blog.
The Horror Writers Association has announced the nominees for the Bram Stoker Vampire Novel of the Century Award.
Press release follows…
In my last column, Laird Barron commented, albeit briefly, on the marginalization of the short story. The subject seemed to interest readers, so this time around my guest, Paul Tremblay, and I will discuss the current state of the short story and perhaps a bit of history as to how we got to this point.
Stephen King ventures into the world of comics with the launch of a new series called American Vampire, a new series co-authored with Scott Snyder and illustrated by Rafael Albuquerque. King will co-write the first five issues of the series, which is described thusly:
When notorious outlaw Skinner Sweet is attacked by an old enemy (who happens to be a member of the undead), the first American vampire is born… a vampire powered by the sun, stronger, fiercer, and meaner than anything that came before.
Plus… Pearl Jones is a struggling young actress in 1920’s Los Angeles.
But when her big break brings her face-to-face with an ancient evil, her Hollywood dream quickly turns into a brutal, shocking nightmare.
This is the beginning of an epic new series, spanning decades and generations, and it all begins here.
The website includes a 40 second video (shown here) and other extras like a preview of the first issue.
[via Robot 6]
REVIEW SUMMARY: One of Stephen King’s most interesting novels.
BRIEF SYNOPSIS: With his life, and mind, in shambles after an industrial accident, Edgar Freemantle retreats to an island in Florida, where both the island, and Edgar, are deeper and darker than he had imagined.
PROS: As with any King novel, it’s full of strong dialog, sharp characters, and a slowly-building mystery which makes it hard to put down.
CONS: A few King-isms creep in (the tendency for characters to laugh uncontrollably, to tears, in odd places, as one example).
BOTTOM LINE:Sharp, poignant, scary, mysterious, funny, with a terrific ending, this is one Stephen King novel among a few others that I would hand to someone and say “Here, you might like this author…”
REVIEW SUMMARY: There’s something to be said for a book that holds your intense interest for 1,000+ pages.
BRIEF SYNOPSIS: A transparent dome materializes around the town of Chester’s Mill allowing one of the local politicians to make a power-grab.
PROS: Completely engrossing and often page-turning; excellent characterizations; reads fast; deals with relevant issues.
CONS: I’m hard-pressed to name a single gripe with this novel.
BOTTOM LINE: I cannot image a better reading experience.
There’s a point in Stephen King’s new 1,080-page novel Under the Dome where one of the many characters — contemplating the life plans she had before she was trapped in the small town that has been inexplicably covered by a huge, transparent dome — expresses the desire to be a writer. She deems it as risky, because what if you “wrote a thousand-pager, and it sucked?” If King had been echoing his internal fears while writing this, he can rest easy by my reckoning. Under the Dome is easily one of the best reading experiences I’ve had this year.
[SF Signal extends Best Wishes to Joe Haldeman, who took an unexpected trip to the hospital. Get well, Joe!]
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