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Who’s Knocking?

Posted on the 07 December 2023 by Steveawiggins @stawiggins
Who’s Knocking?

I’m by no means alone in enjoying Stephen King novels.  I’ve read a fair number over the years.  I was put on alert for The Tommyknockers by a scholar who pointed out some of the religious elements in it—again, not rare in King’s oeuvre—but I’d never heard of it before that.  I’m not really a good fan boy, I guess.  In any case, I saw a copy with the shiny copper of King’s name worn off at a library book sale for a buck.  It sat on my shelf for many months because, well, it’s long.  I finally pulled it down in October only to discover that it wasn’t my favorite King story.  For one thing, it’s simply too long.  For another, the characters aren’t the easiest to cotton onto.  If you’ve not read this one and you plan to, a spoiler of two might slip out but I’ll do my best not to ruin the ending.

I think horror when I think King, although I know it’s unfair to typecast authors like that.  Tommyknockers is more King’s hand at science fiction.  Well, at least it has a space theme, which is generally a cue for sci-fi in my book.  Bobbi Anderson discovers a buried flying saucer on her Maine property.  With the help of an alcoholic friend (Jim Gardener) she begins to excavate it.  The saucer, which has been buried for millions of years, is reactivated by their interaction with it and soon the entire town of Haven, except those with a lot of metal in their bodies—like Jim, are under its power.  They invent advanced gadgets (and weapons) using power from the ship and standard batteries.  They begin physically transforming into something less than human.  Jim, mostly immune, tries to help Bobbi out but he, along with a fairly extensive cast of disposable characters, are powerless to stop things.

Like most King novels, it’s well written.  Like some of his other material, it’s over-written.  Having had my own written work chopped down  (and, let’s face it, I’m now an editor), I see places where cuts could be made.  As with any long book, however, I’m left feeling a bit lonely now that characters I’ve read about nightly for many weeks are gone.  Even though I really had a difficult time evoking much empathy for them, hey, they’re people too.  Or so it seems.  Such is the magic of fiction.  Besides, there are bits of the old King horror still present in the book.  I know it won’t ever be my favorite King novel, but it won’t stop me from reading another, when I have the time.  Hopefully the next one will be a few pages shorter.

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