Yesterday, I heard the super awesome 3d audiodrama The Mist written by Stephen King. [wow], this audiodrama is awesome, and really scary! But well, some of the characters are as you describe, and most of the story is happening in one building... Just like if this building was the whole world. Lol. But anyway, a nice, extremely scary and weird ending story, which I'll highly recommend if you can grab the audiodrama somewhere.
King as I said does have a tendency to almost the opposite of the Koontz style niceness, given the amount of his characters who ar alcoholics, or drug adicts, or embezle money, or have cheat on their wives/husbands, indulge in abusive relationships or whatever, although I never found this quite as bad as the opposite tendency, because evenif King does have seemy characters they have more to them and there are at least some vaguely normal people in their too.
Heck, King occasionally raids the American dream family flanders style character box too, look at the amount of old neighbors he have who turn out to be "goood ol' buddies" of the main character, however as I said King does balance things quite a lot, and he doesn't tend to crank up the nicy nicy too far the way someone like Koontz seems to.
I have heard good things about the Mist audio drama, so I'll definitely bare that in mind, although as I said inmonthly chat I'm very much in sf mode at the moment.
Dark, not sure what you mean by “nicy nicy” but Dean Koontz has quite a number of interesting characters in his books. In particular his earlier books such as Intensity, Phantoms, Strangers, Watchers, Ticktock, etc. In fact, I can honestly say in some respects I liked some of Dean Koontz's books more than I did Stephen King's books.
For example, the main character from Intensity, China, isn't your typical female heroine in distress. She shows a lot of courage and fortitude in going after the serial killer who killed her best friend and her family, and lets herself be captured by same to help a young girl escape. Intensity is more a thriller than a horror novel, but it is a darn good book. Probably one of Koontz's best.
Another book of his I really liked is Phantoms. Its about this female doctor who returns home after picking up her younger sister after their parents die only to find the entire town is missing. As time goes on they discover a shapeshifter is lurking beneath the town and is responsible for killing the entire town and they are the only two people left alive. The sheriff gets called in, a bunch of cops end up getting killed off, and it is another good book I'd highly recommend.
My point being I'd like to know what you mean by “nicy nicy” as some of Koontz's characters do have some depth to them. He has interesting characters, and maybe you just need to read more of his books as he is an author who has written some good stuff and some not so good stuff.
As I said above my issue with "nicy nicy" was that the characters just seemed so sterriotyped and shallow, everyone was a manly man and the main characters' best old buddy, or a fluffy woman who ran around running the house and serving men with their cute children, and apart from the horror everything was nice and jolly and overblown and anyone doing bad stuff was just painted as irrationally evil.
I read "odd Thomas" (the first book in the series), and this is definitely what I felt, heck I thought the "odd Thomas" was sort of a joke, given that Thomas seemed boring and even the so called tragic ending didn't seem so tragic sinse all Thomas good buddies turned up to help him. Really it had all the hallmarks I dislike in super hero fiction, people with no depth who just sale through life because their so awsome and live in places that are so safe that even when some random psycho turns up, ---- well never mind! it's all nice after all!
I also read "fear nothing", the first novel about Christopher Snow, and felt very much the same way about the characters. I respect characters who go through bad stuff and recover, and the way both Thomas and Christopher had picture perfect lives with a pretty girlfriend each who was devoted to them, careers that were going everywhere, and hundreds of nice friends and neighbors, despite the fact Christopher was supposed to be suffering a serious illness (which really didn't seem to bother him too much), I just wanted to mutilate both people with a chain saw! Heck, I hate people like that in real life, who have never had anything wrong and live perfectly and just behave as society wants them to, so why the hell would I want to read about them?
I admit I probably ought to try Phantoms or some of Kootz' other stuff that you've recommended but I doubt at the moment I'd feel anything but contempt for the characters if they're all this invincible and nice and fluffy, I'd probably be wanting the monsters or psycho or whoever to slaughter them, and their picture postcard friends mercilessly!
Dark, well, for what it is worth I hated the Odd Thomas books. Definitely not Dean Koontz's best by any stretch of the imagination, and I agree the character development in that series was rather lacking. too stereotypical for my tastes.
However, if you are looking for a Dean Koontz book with more than the typical cookie cutter variety characters let me recommend Dark Rivers of the Heart. It is more a thriller than horror, but I think you might like it.
Basically, the book is about this person named Spenser Grant who lives alone, ex-special forces guy, and he ends up stumbling upon a black op being carried out by a rogue government agency to capture the woman Spenser met the night before. Spenser tries to play the hero, tries to help rescue Valary, where he gets pulled into the mix and together they end up having to run from rogue government agents trying to kill them. It is an interesting book and I felt both Spenser and Valary had interesting backgrounds. Even the head rogue agent is just creepy enough to be an interesting character himself.
Well Tom "cookie cutter" seems just the right phrase for the characters in odd Thomas and Christopher snow.
It's not even that I necessarily want everyone to be a tortured anxt wridden wreck, it's just that in the two Koontz books I read, the characters with their healthy dose of generic syrup were really thrust in your face. Half of both books was supposedly a mystery of who the bad guy was while trauling through all these obnoxiously nice people who were all friends of the main characters with their awsome lives. I wouldn't have minded if the plot was less focused on the characters, heck, while I do think characterization in Scot Sigler's writing is extremely weak, sinse the main focus of the plots is gorey death, tention, big weapons and convoluted politics it doesn't particularly matter too much that he can't right charaters, but Koontz seemed to feel that you as a reader should like these people and be genuinely disturbed at the possibility that they might be evil (which as it turned out in both books none of them were), really the hole lot of them were so stepford wives esc I found them quite creepy.
I had always heard odd Thomas was one of Koontz best and most landmark books, which is why I never investigated his other writing (not after I read Fear nothing and found it pretty much the same), though I am willing to believe that this was a case of an author having a bad day.
In fairness I suspect my extreme avertion to this sort of thing stems partly from myself as much as from bad writing. I used to really enjoy Anne Mcafry's science fiction, but now find that I am too hung up on how easy and positive she paints all her characters and in particular how easily her idea of romance works, heck i got to the stage of being able to pick who would be the main boy in her books just by how the character was described when he first appeared.
I suspect if I ever get to having a more positive outlook myself I'll look a bit more favourably on this sort of thing, or at least be able to forgive the sterriotypes for the sake of the story.
Bringing this thread back, because Stephen King is one of my favorite authors.
I read "Pet Sematary" at age twelve, and it scared the Hell out of me! But I was hooked.
King does seem to go through phases with his writing, and I think I've figured out that the "lesser" books are written when he has trouble with drugs and alcohol. I didn't much care for Dream Catcher, or From a Buick 8. Tommyknockers and Desperation were kind of slow for me too. Interestingly, I didn't like "Insomnia" when I first read it, but after experiencing eighteen years of non 24 sleep disorder, I appreciated it a lot more.
But I love his world building and character development! The Stand, 11/22/63, The Shining, Needful Things, It, and Under the Dome, are all great if you don't mind huge books.
I loved his earlier books too - Carrie, Cujo, Christine, Firestarter, The Dead Zone, etc. His writing seems to reflect his age, in that in his younger days, he was more of a "BOO! scared ya" writer, and now that he's older, he goes for the more subtle pervasive-fears aspect of things. I like his later writing for different reasons, maybe because I'm aging too. For this era, I like "The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon" and "Joyland."
His short story collections tend to be very good. I don't think I've read one collection I didn't like, but my favorites were "Night Shift", "Different Seasons", and "Skeleton Crew." I thought he had one of the best characterizations of a blind heroine in "The Langoliers" from "Four Past Midnight." I could tell that he had made a real effort to research blindness before he created a blind character, and I appreciated that, at a time when blind people just weren't in media anywhere.
Love him or hate him, the guy is beyond prolific, and a master at what he does.
I didn't much care for the superficiality of some of his earlier stuff, most likely because the sixties weren't a very deep era and I succeed it by two generations. I like to think that it's horrible only because King saw an opportunity there, if not to scare, then to shock and dismay. But still, I agree completely that he's a horror writer for a reason. Honestly, Lovecraft didn't write very good Lovecraft, and King has filled the void very nicely.
Stephen King was probably the horror author that first properly "scared" me in my very early teens. I do think he's quite good at psychology as opposed to relying on blood and guts for his frights.
I think the Mist is probably my favourite King story because of the lovecraftian feel it has. Also, the fact that the supermarket actually was the extent of the world to those trapped inside it comes across really well. The characters do lose their grip pretty quickly though and are rather single minded in the roles they're supposed to fulfill. Also, how come the main character and the woman he meats go off to the manager's office for some - ahem - "time alone together", yet the first thing he does when he leaves is try to get back to his wife. I'm not a fan of infidelity.
I think Clive Barker is possibly one of my favourite modern horror writers. He's got the right mix of gore and psychology in his stories and I feel he explores different thems to some of Stephen King's more traditional ones.
I also like that modern horror doesn't even need to identify the monster nowadays. I met a fantastic book of modern lovecraftian horror stories and not one of them actually had a named monster or specific entity to blame. There was just weirdness and terror and no happy ending.
I loved "The Mist" too.
Another similar story that I liked was "Trucks." I think that was in "Skeleton Crew." The idea of ordinary things turning on you amused me greatly when I was young.
Okay the reason for this current bit of threadcromancy is that I'm now reading under the dome by Steven king. Though for the record, I have also now read PHantoms by Dean Koontz mentioned earlier in this thread, and actualy quite liked it, for all Koontz could be a little patronizing in places, when not trying to scare people, for more comments on phantoms see This review I did for fantasybookreview.co.uk
As regards under the dome, I'm currently 24 hours in and am finding things amazingly compelling, indeed I've devoured this book surprisingly quickly. I do find the descent into anarchy due to the dome a bit too quick, but the horror moments were very nicely done and I do like the way certain characters actually surprise me.
Hopefully i won't find the ending as disappointing as planely some other people have before me.
I loved "Under the Dome."
For me, it harkened back to the days of "Needful Things" and those big books like that.
What interests me is when King starts telling you how he starts these epics.
For this one, I think he wrote the scene about the woodchuck being cut in half by the dome in like 1975. He put it up and forgot about it, then brought it back 35 years later to introduce "Under The Dome."
Well I've got about six hours to go now (mostly due to me having a sleepless night reading about someone watching disney films and comparing them to the original stories they're based on, who'd ever known who framed roger rabbit was a book).
Under the dome is good though. It actually makes me wonder why I'e avoided king for such a long while. I particularly like the way characters your introduced to end up by surprising you in the way they develop and change, however various people have plans now which are sure to all go wrong in one huge bang.
Well the book is now finished and it was definitely good, quite compulsive and one with a great pace, especially since even some of King's classics like It have been a trifle slow in parts.
Beware! spoiling spoilers of spoilage ahoy!
I was rather worried how prophetic my (one big bang), I mentioned was. Unlike some people in this thread I didn't mind the ending, however I didn't particularly like the way King seemed to develop a lot of plot and then quite literally blow it away.
For example, there was a lot of time spent on the vader file implicating Big Jim which then got wasted, likewise, just as it seemed we were getting into a resistance police state plot there's suddenly a random explosion which quite literally blows most of the plot away and just gives us with an ending to resolve.
I remember King once saying that in the stand he got bogged down in plot and had to use a bomb to keep things moving, but here it seemed he didn't even et bogged down, things were just going into higher gear when suddenly everything ent randomly boom, in some ways I felt a little cheated since it seemed I could've read basically from the explosion onwards.
On the other hand, the devastating ending with various people dying of the gas from the explosion was extremely grimand tense and I liked what happened to Jim and Carter, . I really didn't mind the idea that the dome was just random experiment of godlike aliens who treated people just as playthings, and the way this tied in to Juley's memory worked well.
All in all I liked the book, I just wish that King hadn't had quite as much plot randomly blown up as he did and had left at least a few of the loose ends from the plot surrounding Big Jim's power play to be resolved by human elements.
Btw, interestingly enough, apparently King's original idea for under the dome was something involving an apartment building where people ended up as cannibles. While I've nothing against that idea I think what we got was better, particularly since it far less resembles J G Ballard's High Rise.
A few thoughts here:
Under the Dome is good. I didn't mind the huge explosive bit, because all that presaging about the propane just had to go somewhere. I liken it to a flashy card trick. He's got you focused on the police-state, Big Jim's power-playing, and to some extent the congregation up on the hill near the weird black box. Then boom!
I didn't love the ending, but I can deal with it. I actually was least pleased with Rennie himself. I don't think people are generally that grabby, and Jim didn't actually seem all that smart. I'm really surprised someone didn't kill/maim/otherwise get him out of the way. Heaven knows there were enouogh people with the tools and the means. Junior, his son, just made me wince though, in the sense that his brain cancer was really awful to see as it ramped up.
I like a lot of King's work. Desperation was actually one of my favourites; my old favourite was Bag of Bones. Misery is probably top of the list, or very close to it. These days, he's not writing as much that grabs me. Doctor Sleep was meh, his book of short stories called the Bazaar of Bad Dreams didn't do much for me, and Revival was sorta creepy but also meh. His writing has evolved since the 1970s, and not for the better in all ways.
Now, regarding Dean Koontz and a bit of discussion from a couple of years back:
Strangers, Watchers, Phantoms, Whispers, Intensity...stuff like that is probably among his best work. At some point in the late 80s or early 90s, Koontz's prose style shifted, and his characters generally began to grow shallow, predictable and bland. They were either caricatures of niceness and success, caricatures of down-on-your-luck heart-of-gold types, or caricatures of sociopathic anarchists. He can still spin one hell of a yarn, but his characterization hurts so much that I really don't take pleasure from his novels anymore.
In Odd Thomas, I was hugely gut-punched by the ending. When Stormy dies but Odd doesn't actually tell us that, and he's hanging out with her ghost for a few days until his friends show up and tell him he's got to stop. My brother had died about two months before I read that. When David Aaron Baker says "It's time to stop, son", in that rough voice he uses for Wyatt Porter, the chief of police, I just turned off the tape and curled up in a ball and shook for awhile. I'm not sure if it was because I was a bit tired, or really sad, or both. It just hammered me. Not that she was dead, but that I hadn't realized it and it hit me really hard. If I'd looked for clues I would've probably seen it coming, and it'll never have that visceral impact it did the first time.
I did stick through with that series because I wanted to know how it turned out. I liked the first book well enough, but with each book it just got more and more cliched. The third one, Brother Odd, has some really neat ideas in it, but everything afterword just goes to pot.
Anyway, that's me done for awhile. King is still one of my favourite authors, and I've still got a little soft spot for Koontz, hackneyed shallow characters and all.
Well my review for under the dome is done and will hopefully be appearing on fantasybookreview.co.uk soon.
One thing I do notice, especially since I'm currently in the states having got married here, is that in this part of the world extreme views, and extreme reactions are a little more common than what I'm used to, especially when it comes to religion, and religious bombast in politics, even among comparatively reasonable people.
Undoubtedly, pencilvania is probably a little more cosmopolitan than chester's mill, but I can still see how the cultural climate might change as far as letting someone like Big Jim gain power, especially in a crysis situation.
As to Koontz, I definitely can appreciate why Stom's death in odd Thomas would've been affecting given when you read it, but myself I just found it ar too overdone, especially the way all of odds good buddies turned up to help him out. I'd have actually had more respect for Odd Thomas if he'd been pretty much friendless and pulled himself together on his own.
There were bits of Odd Thomas I liked, such as the death predicting creatures, and his very disturbing relationship with his mother, but really the characterization I just found irritating as I said above.
Phantoms had a few passages where Koontz goes into the pedagogical tone, and he also is rather guilty even in that book of assigning characters roles and saying effectively "You will! like this character because I say so!" or "You will! hate this bad guy" but things were not too over the top for most of PHantoms, and the book was primarily dealing with nasty stuff happening I didn't find it half as irritating as odd Thomas.
I don't know what it is, maybe it's my life circumstances, but I find the hole "nicy nicy" unrealistic, trouble free character approach annoys me more and more as I get older. I'd much rather see people with real! problems which actually have adverse affects on them triumph. It's a similar issue to why I hate most superheroes.
All that being said, I did! like phantoms, just for being generally dark, grim, and extremely atmospheric (I gave it 8.4 out of 10), and currently have midnight on my victor, and will likely read it when I am next in a horror mood, ---- assuming I don't fansy trying more King.
Right now I'm reading Justin Cronin's city of mirrors, third in his passage trilogy, which is just plane awesome! extremely human, three dimentional characters, an unpredictable plot, a truly beautiful writing style, an astounding amount of world building, not just one of the best zombocalypse books I've ever read, but one of the best series I've read for some considerable time.
if nobody beats me to it I'll likely review city of mirrors and unless something really! catastrophic happens I should be giving it a pretty high score.
Try Strangers, by Koontz, if you've ever got the time.
You're introduced to several different characters across various places, and each of them is having something unexplained and troubling happening, which is pulling their life apart. One is sleepwalking and keeps waking up terrified in his closet. One has basically a panic attack at a deli and has some sort of nervous breakdown. One formerly ruthless thief starts feeling compelled to give away his wealth. One ex-marine becomes utterly terrified of the dark.
And there's something which links them all together, something they all shared and that none of them can remember. Can they figure out what it is, and what to do about it, before it ruins their lives?
This book has some nicey-nice characters in it, for sure, and most of the characters aren't alone (there are people to help them), but I really did like the way the whole thing pulled together after awhile. It's not a brilliant book, but it's probably my favourite offering from him.
I've read The Passage and The Twelve, and liked them pretty well. Cronin gets a little sprawly in the second book, but he's got an interesting world going on. Scott Brick doesn't help though. He's a very competent narrator, but he just puts me to sleep. He can make even a fight scene sound like philosophy. Haha.
Well Jayde, I've been reading philosophy for years so Scot brick doesn't bother me .
Actually i love his intensity, indeed I've been reading city of mirrors for most of today and probably will go back to it pretty soon as it's quite compelling.
I don't remember The Twelve as too long winded, though it is a while since I read it, fortunately I read the wiki articles on both books before starting City of Mirrors, and Cronin does give a rather fun recap to get back up to speed. Actually I'll say City of Mirrors is going in a quite unexpected direction. I did wonder given that most of the virals had been destroyed in the twelve where cty of mirrors would go, but it's surprising me thus far with the backstory.
I also like the fact that cronin remembered in this book that there is actually world outside the united states, given that one of the very few things which annoyed me in The Passage was the rather convenient and offhand "oh everyone in the rest of the world is dead" thing, which we're now finding might not be the case.
Strangers is a koontz novel my lady also likes, so I'll bare it in mind next time I fancy trying something by Koontz, though after I finish City of Mirrors I'll probably want a change of setting and pace, and possibly something a bit more light hearted too .
Just to say my Under the dome review is now published and can be read here
As you'll gather from that review I liked it, indeed possibly more than the other chap who reviewed it. Interestingly enough, the webmaster of fantasybookreview.co.uk regards under the dome as better than The stand and possibly king's best work, so he was pleased that I'd given it a positive review.
And the reason for this latest bit of Threadcromancy is that my review of Midnight by Dean Koontz is now up, and can be read here
Sadly I didn't enjoy it half as much as Phantoms, though there were things I liked, and I don't know how long it'll be before I try Koontz again, though i probably will at some point, albeit now it's not as major a deal as it was when I first read phantoms.
If you really want to know, start from his first works of fiction by date written.
E.g. definitive, 'Salem's Lot, etc. I really loved night shift, too, but all of his books kept me captivated in some form or another.
And with more King reading by me it's time for yet more raising threads from the dead .
First off I read cell a few months ago (or pulse as many people call it).
Mrs. Dark described it as one of kings most Horory (yes she used the word horory which is a perfectly cromulant word).
I really enjoyed the way that the apocalypse was set up and the speed of the over all book. However I felt things ended a bit too abruptly. Also was quite surprised after how much time King spends in The Stand showing the bad affects all across America (shame he doesn't show the rest of the world but ah well),, that Cell was such a small, comparatively intimate story.
I don't know if I'd regard it as one of King's best, but it certainly had a lot of unique ideas and some real moments of horror, though I am a wee bit sad I didn't quite get to a review for it.
My lady and I also spent this afternoon reading King stories, ---- actually read by king himself.
The first was The raft, which is a story from skeleton crew about four students who go swimming in a lake and encounter a very very nasty creature!
I Have heard "the raft" called King's most terrifying story. I don't know if I quite agree since generally it didn't absolutely petrify me as much as it might, but that being said that might just me being a bit of a hard nose.
the story was certainly grim enough, indeed I think it probably ranks as King's and most gory deaths, the ending is also a right royal gut punch!
As a total contrast, my lady and I also listened to a recording of a live reading by Stephen King of his story The revenge of lard ass Hogan, which appeared in published form in "the body"
this was a story my lady really liked, ---- in a truly disgusting way.
Actually it sort of amazes me how much my lady likes this story given she has a far weaker stomach than me in some ways, ---- but really this story make me sick.
it's odd, absolutely vile, body based toilet humour is not something I like, I really dislike comedies like southpark, but I've rarely seen a story that manages it so well.
I won't say anything else because I don't want to spoil the story, but lets just say I was impressed, and very amused, all while being equally nauseated .
This evening we're going to do "the mist" which still havent' read but am looking forward to.
Also, fans of King's work might want to check out The great Stephen king reread
This is one of the rereads on tor.com where someone reads something and comments, there are also rereads for wheel of time, harry potter, dune and song of ice and fire.
i'll say that the guy who does this one, horror writer grady hendrics is a bit harsh, often snarky, and on occasion is imho waaaay off with his opinions of King, but he does have some interesting things to say about American culture and King's writing process.
As with most reviewers or rereaders I find it interesting not because I agree with him, or even because I think he is a particularly decent person, but he does at least have informed which he presents in an interesting way, even if I do not agree with him.
I'll of course be back tomorrow to let people know what I think of the mist.
73 (edited by flackers 2017-07-30 20:26:40)
Thought this was a new thread, then checked the date, doh. What I always say to people who haven't read King and are unsure what to expect, is that you don't get to be a proper household name as an author, especially one primarily seen as a horror writer, unless you're doing something very right. Agree about the raft, it's a really creepy story, but my favourite of his shorts is 1408. There's something really unnerving about it, and apparently he wrote the first part of it as a teaching exercise for some students in a writing class, who thankfully urged him to finish it. Haven't read the one you mentioned Dark, so will be looking that up. And also I didn't know Insomnia was a tie-in to DT. It was one of those King books I started but couldn't stay focussed on and gave up. Think I'll revisit it in ebook form in case it was a dull narrator that was the issue. I've read almost everything he's written up to the nineties. I especially like his Bachman-penned works. I loved The Long Walk. Thought it was a testament to King's story-telling genius that he could keep you interested in such a simple premise with hardly any sub-plots. I wish King would write in that lean style more often. if I had one criticism of him, it's that he tends to go off on long rambling delayed gratification tangents too often, and his books end up being super marathons as a result. I think he once accused himself of having diarrhoea of the word processor.
The regulators was another Bachman book I have a high regard for. I much prefer it to its Stephen King twin: Desperation. Don't know why he always seemed to write in a stripped-down style when writing as Bachman, but I really like it. His genius is still there, just with all the fat removed.
edit... I have in fact read that short story. Just didn't twig it was the one the kid tells in The Body in Different Seasons.
Interesting you mention The Long walk because my lady says exactly the same thing, a premise but a story she really liked, methinks I need to read that one.
my lady did enjoy Desperation far more than the Regulators, though as I have only read the regulators myself can't say much on contrast, indeed I devoured the Regulators a bit too quickly and probably need to read it again, albeit there is still plenty of King (and bachman), that I have not read which I still need to (I have the green mile, Rose Madder and Dream catcher on my victor at the moment along with skeleton crew though when I will get to them goodness knows).
Btw, Yes, insomnia is very much a dark tower tie in, indeed it's probably as crucially important to the last couple of books of the series as Salem's lot is, for one thing it actually features the crimson king himself as an antagonist.
Insomnia was actually one of my favourite King books, though it definitely has something of a slow build up the payoff is well worth it.
75 (edited by flackers 2017-07-31 16:06:57)
I think the consensus is that desperation is a better book than the regulators, but I go against the grain on that one. I'll be reading Insomnia next. Oh my, you need to read the green mile, it's a belter.