Ask a “Constant Reader” of King’s work what their favourite novel is and the answer is probably The Stand. It’s his attempt at a Lord of the Rings type epic set in modernish America (depending on the edition it’s either 1980 or 1990) and I have to say I think he succeeded. With the uncut edition running at over 1,000 pages, The Stand is a daunting read but hey, I had a four month summer and I had to do something right? And now we can discuss the book in the marathon.
It’s Bonfire Night so fine, let’s do this, let’s talk about the only good Bonfire Night related media that exists. First published in 1982, Alan Moore and David Lloyd’s seminal comic book V For Vendetta depicts a totalitarian Britain run by the sinister Norsefire. A teenage girl named Evey is roped into working for a mysterious masked vigilante simply known as V, who wears a Guy Fawkes mask and plans to overthrow the government, planning to blow up the Houses of Parliament on the 5th of November. But is V right? Is he a lone figure battling fascism? Does he have good intentions with bad methods? Or is he simply insane? These questions, and more, form the basis of the story.
Do I even need to introduce this one? You all know The Shining. King’s first “superstar” novel, published in 1977 after the success of Salem’s Lot and Brian de Palma’s Carrie adaptation made King a household name, is without question his defining work. It’s an iconic tale of horror and tragedy and its legacy still stands to this day. So what better way to honour Halloween and the release of Doctor Sleep to cinemas then to explore one of the most revered modern horror novels?
Vampires have always been one of the most endearing pop culture creations and to be honest, I dig them. Even before Bram Stoker’s Transylvanian count, vampires have existed in popular culture and folklore for hundreds if not thousands of years. So it only seems natural that any writer wanting to explore horror will eventually write a vampire novel. Stephen King’s contribution to the vampire mythos is his second published novel and at nearly 600 pages long is a much larger, denser and richly packed text than his first. A classic tale of good and evil, ‘Salem’s Lot is the perfect October Halloween book as King explores the self destruction of small town America through the lenses of a vampire invasion.
It’s October, and for once I’m actually going to do horror related stuff across the month and not just on the 31st. Every Wednesday up till the 30th we’ll be looking at the first four Stephen King novels written under his own name. I’m not doing his collection of short stories Graveyard Shift (published in 1978) because I’m lazy and haven’t read it (plus I’m prioritising getting through The Dead Zone right now) and whilst I will discuss the Bachman books in due course let’s be honest, the first four Stephen King books written AS Stephen King are so iconic that it’ll be a shame not to go through October without discussing them. So without further ado, and considering I’ve delayed this long enough, let’s get things started with his first published novel.
Ah, Stephen King. The name conjures up killer clowns, haunted hotels and possessed cars. For over forty years his name has been synonymous with scares, thrills and genius. King is perhaps the most famous author living today and even if you’ve never read a single book of his you surely know of his reputation, or seen a film based on one of his many stories in his gigantic bibliography.
Thanks to the power of animation and modern technology, many of the Doctor Who stories lost in the 60’s have been restored. Particularly badly hit is Patrick Troughton’s Second Doctor, a fan favourite and beloved by many but unfortunately still relatively underserved in the complete story front. Only seven stories (a third of his total) are complete and whilst stories like The Ice Warriors, The Moonbase and The Invasion are thankfully mostly around they are filled in with recreations or animation. It’s the latter format which 2Entertain has chosen to give the completely lost Troughton stories new life. His debut The Power of the Daleks was animated in 2016 and up next is The Macra Terror, a somewhat obscure but influential story from his first season. If the name “Macra” sounds familiar, it’s because they’re the big crab things from Series 3’s Gridlock. This is their debut however and it’s a fantastic dystopian narrative brought to life with fantastic animation that honours the style of the 60’s whilst updating it to a new audience.
Sooo, I’m an idiot and accidentally published the Stranger Things 3 review literally a day after my Spider-Man one so we got two reviews in a row. Well, it’s been a over a week since the last review so it’s once again time to dive into my totally-not-messed-up-at-this-point Month of Reviews and take a look at the Good Omens mini-series that debuted on Amazon Prime earlier this year. Based on the novel by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett, the mini-series has been making waves due to its fun story, unique mythology and amazing dynamic between series leads David Tennant and Michael Sheen. As a huge fan of Gaiman’s work and as someone who wants to get into Pratchett, this series was a must watch for me. That plus the “Doctor Who effect*” was put into effect and I just had to check this out. Not only is Good Omens hilarious and unique, it’s also intelligent and ingeniously written in its perfectly paced six episodes.
Ben’s Month of Reviews continues with one of my most anticipated events of the year- the arrival of a new season of Stranger Things. Yes, I was late to the hype train (I began watching April last year to be precise) but I love this show. It made David Harbour into one of my all time favourite actors, got me on my current Stephen King reading binge (his novels, particularly It and Firestarter, are huge influences on the show) and finally pursuaded me get a Netflix account that introduced me to other shows I love such as Brooklyn Nine-Nine and Castlevania and has greatly helped me with the amount of films I watch. It also really really made me want to live in the 80’s to the extent I have now seen more 80’s films that is humanly possible, including many with the veteran Stranger Things actors such as Winona Ryder, Sean Astin and Cary Elwes. If you’re wondering why my monthly film lists consist of so many odd 80’s films and kid’s films such as The Goonies, blame Stranger Things. So yeah, this little show about a group of kids in the world’s unluckiest town has made quite a big impact on me. Not since Doctor Who had I become so obsessed with a show so quickly. For comparison, it took me a couple of episodes to get passionate about Firefly and roughly half a season to “get” Rick and Morty. With Stranger Things, it only took the gorgeous opening synth titles. No one agrees with me, but I thought Stranger Things 2 was the better season- the first was iconic yes, but Season 2 had the best Hopper writing, Dad Steve and Sean Astin. I spent last Thursday binging the entirety of Season 3 and because everyone’s seen it let’s go full spoilers here. Although if you still haven’t seen it yet, in brief- it’s good. Very very good. With that said, let’s dive into Hawkins with all the juicy details-
July will be Ben’s Month of Reviews. Whilst I am currently on holiday (in York en route to Edinburgh to be precise), thanks to the magic of the Internet I am still able to write a whole bunch of reviews for recent fandom properties I’ve seen recently. First up, the latest Marvel Cinematic Universe film, Spider-Man: Far From Home, the second solo Tom Holland film and a film that features the big screen debut of one of Marvel’s coolest villains, Mysterio. How does it stack up? One of the best sequel’s Marvel’s ever done.