Thursday, September 21, 2017

A Guided Tour of the Kingdom: A Chronological Walk Through the Career of Stephen King, Part 1 (1956-1966)

Today, I'm beginning a rather large project: a complete guide to the career of Stephen King.
A caveat is immediately necessary: with a career like King's, a guy like me uses the word "complete" at his own peril.  Can I completely list all of King's books?  Yeah; maybe even from memory, although I'd probably forget a few.  Can I list all the movies?  You bet, provided we agree on excluding Dollar Babies.  Short stories?  Absolutely, although whether some of them count or not is a matter for some debate.  (This is the point at which you might make a tentative sound of confusion in the front of your throat, and then relax and see where I'm going with all of this.)  Comic books?  I think so, yes.  Audiobooks?  Possible, but not a certainty.  Nonfiction?  Not a chance.  Interviews?  Give me a break.  Homages to King's work in the works of others?  You're out of your mind.
And so forth.
What I'm getting at is this: it is a daunting task merely to define what "the career of Stephen King" means, either as an idea or as a practical thing.  So rather than shoot for doing that in an objective sense, I'll specify that what I'm aiming to do is to define "the career of Stephen King" as I see it.  I think that lets me off the hook in terms of how complete "complete" is.
Since my personal interest in King's career are broad, I'm going to be as inclusive as I can be without jumping from the diving board of obsessiveness into the pool of insanity; I'll leave it to you to determine whether I managed to stay above water.  That'll be a judgment call for each of you.  The bottom line is, I'll be following my own interests and concerns here, which is why I'm calling this a guided tour.  Every guide may wish to point out different things, but on this tour, you're stuck with me.  Hopefully, I won't lead us off the path and accidentally get us all eaten by lions.
This first post -- published (quite intentionally) on the day of, and celebrating, King's seventieth birthday -- is  going to focus on the years leading up to King's first professional fiction sale.
By definition, most of this material is inaccessible to the average King reader (myself included), but I thought it would be worthwhile to touch on the stories from this era that are known to exist.  And, again, there may be a few ephemeral pieces that won't be included; for example, a story titled "Charlie" is known to (partially) exist, and seems to be a science fiction story King write around the age of twelve.  It's never been published, though, and the extant manuscript is not even complete.  So while you might see it referred to in a few places, I'm not counting it here, because it just doesn't seem to merit inclusion.  Again, that's my own judgment call; and since true comprehensiveness is off the table, I think judgment calls like that are not only okay but damn near mandatory.
It is my goal to eventually -- and when I say "eventually," know that I mean at some point before I die, so not necessarily anytime soon (although continual progress is the goal) -- write analyses of every single thing I include on these tours.  Well, the stuff that's obtainable, at least.  When I do, I'll include links here.  So what you're going to see for a while is a lot of non-links.  We'll get there, though; oh yes we will.  The idea is for this series of posts to serve almost as a Table of Contents for my blog, and also as a touchstone for my own personal use.  I expect it to grow and change regularly, although the extent to which that will be apparent to people who aren't me is likely to be minimal.

Ideas and suggestions are more than welcome, so if you've got 'em, fire away.
Everything we'll be looking at in Part 1 is best classified as juvenilia.  And here's the thing about that: as such, it both does and doesn't merit literary analysis.  King himself would likely disagree with an assertion that it does, but the way I see it, King's is one of the most influential prose voices of his era; that being the case, almost literally everything he has ever written is of interest to those studying his work.  I gather from his work (Lisey's Story in particular) that he is, at best, uncomfortable with that idea; but that's just how it is, Uncle Steve.  I ain't sayin' your words are scripture or nothin' like that, but I am saying that it's of interest.

The flip side of the coin is that just because it is of interest does not inherently mean it has merit.  The scholar who gives juvenilia the same level of attention that they give mature works is making a serious mistake.  I'm not actually a scholar, mind you; I'm an amateur enthusiast, an annoying breed of would-be scholar.  I do have standards, though, and try to stick to them.

Know, then, that all of the stories mentioned here are interesting for the peeks they afford the reader at King in a somewhat embryonic state; but know also that comparing them to, say, "Graveyard Shift" or "The Mangler" really isn't a good idea.  It's unfair to both sides of the comparison.

And you won't get that here.

Alright, now that the big preamble is out of the way, let's get this tour bus rolling.  We'll be making frequent stops, so please keep your arms and legs inside the windows and silence your mobile devices at this time.  Our first stop takes us back in time some sixty years, to the far-flung era of:

 "Jhonathan and the Witchs"
(short story, written circa 1956)
  • published in First Words (edited by Paul Mandelbaum), 1993 
  • uncollected 
  • more on this story

p. 116

      The earliest known extant King story (so far as I am aware) is the charmingly misspelled "Jhonathan and the Witchs," which he wrote at age 9.  It's about a guy named Jhonathan, and some witchs witches he meets.  I bet you already guessed that.

      Several things jump out at me from reading this tale.  First, King is playing in high-fantasy mode, possibly because it afforded him the opportunity to telegraph his intent: namely, the idea that THIS IS A STORY.  Nothing wrong with that, especially for a nine-year-old.  When I was nine, I could barely keep from rolling out of bed while I was asleep, much less write a complete story (even one of this relative brevity).

      Second, King's wit is on display.  I'd argue that it's kind of similar to the sense of humor he has to this very day; it's either insulting or complimentary (depending on which perspective you take) to suggest this, but it's kind of true.

      I've not read the rest of First Words, but it's a charming idea for an anthology, and I think it's well worth owning for hardcore King fans.

      "Jumper" and "Rush Call"
      (short stories)
      • "published" in Dave's Rag during the winter of 1959-60
      • reprinted in Secret Windows, 2000
      • uncollected 
      • more on these stories

          When they were kids, Dave King self-published a "newspaper," Dave's Rag, for which his brother Steve made occasional contributions.  Among these: "Jumper" (a story serialized in three parts) and "Rush Call."

          The former is about a guy who is thinking about jumping off a building, and another guy who is trying to stop him.  Annie Wilkes would not appreciate some of the cliffhangers.

          The latter is a heavily moralistic tale about a doctor who gets an emergency call.

          Both were included in King's 2000 collection Secret Windows, which was a companion volume to On Writing.

          People, Places, and Things Volume I
          (short stories)

          • self-published collection, written by King and by Chris Chesley
          • first edition, 1960; second edition, 1963
          • uncollected 
          • more on these stories


          In 1960, King teamed up with his friend Chris Chesley to create a self-published "book" of stories, which they titled People, Places, and Things Volume I.  (Note the correct use of the Oxford comma.  The official stance of this tour line is that the Oxford comma is a must.)

          You can see the contents above.  King's stories include "The Hotel at the End of the Road," "I've Got to Get Away," "The Dimension Warp," "The Thing at the Bottom of the Well," "The Stranger," "I'm Falling," "The Cursed Expedition," "The Other Side of the Fog," and (with Chesley) "Never Look Behind You."

          Copies of the second edition can be found by the King collector who has well-connected friends within the community, although even those copies are missing "The Dimension Warp" and "I'm Falling," both of which are thought to be lost.

          The "Forward" by King and Chesley was replicated in the 1998 book Stephen King A to Z, and "The Hotel at the End of the Road" in the 1996 book The Market Guide for Young Writers.  Chesley's "Genius" made an appearance in 1991's The Complete Stephen King Encyclopedia


          "The Killer"
          (short story)

          • published in Famous Monsters of Filmland #202, Spring 1994
          • uncollected 
          • more on this story

          In his indispensable book Stephen King: Uncollected, Unpublished (which we will cite frequently on this tour), Rocky Wood mentions a passage from King's On Writing in which Steve talks about submitting a story to Forrest J. Ackerman's then-new magazine Spaceman in 1960.  Wood speculates that this story is "The Killer," and I'm inclined to think he's right about that.
          "The Killer" was definitely submitted to Ackerman for Spaceman; Ackerman verifies that in the above-pictured magazine, where the story finally saw professional publication in 1994.  Lest you think this opportunistic of Ackerman, King gave his permission, and was presumably charmed by the $25 check the publisher sent him in "accepting" it.
          King and Ackerman in the early 1980s

          King's submission letter (which was not in this issue of Famous Monsters, but was reproduced within the 2009 book The Stephen King Illustrated Companion) indicates he was 14 at the time.  That would have placed it in 1961.  I think we can forgive King for getting the year wrong by one in On Writing.

          from The Stephen King Illustrated Companion
          "The Killer" is about as good a story as you'd expect, which is to say not very.  Hey, did you do any better at age 14?  I'm sure you didn't.  Rocky Wood states that it is essentially a rewritten version of "I've Got to Get Away!" from People, Places, and Things.  Having read both, I can say that Wood is correct about the seeming relationship between the two stories.

          The Pit and the Pendulum

          self-published adaptation of the movie The Pit and the Pendulum


          In On Writing, King tells the story of how he came to write a(n extremely unauthorized and, technically, illegal) novelization of Roger Corman's movie The Pit and the Pendulum.  It is well worth checking out, so I direct you to pull down from your shelf your first-edition hardback, turn to page 47 (it's in the section subtitled "C.V.," in sub-chapter 18, for those of you with different editions), and give it a read.

          For the benefit of those of without the book close to hand, I'll summarize:

          • King and his friend Chris Chesley went to see the movie one Saturday in what I assume was the fall of 1961 (the movie was released in August of that year, and may have taken weeks or even months to make it to Maine).  They found it to be most boss indeed.
          • While hitchhiking home, King was struck with the idea of writing a novelization, printing it, and then selling it at school.  He wrote the "novel version" -- which ran about eight pages -- in two days ("with the care and deliberation for which I would later be critically acclaimed," he snarks).
          • He expected to sell maybe ten copies at a quarter each, but instead sold three dozen.  His first bestseller!  
          • The jubilation was to be short-lived, though, because when school ended that afternoon, he was called to the principal's office and given a proper dressing-down.  He was made to give all the money back, which he did, even to the kids who wanted to keep the story.
          • No copies survive, to King's knowledge. Boy, now there's a massive payday waiting for the lucky sucker who finds one at the bottom of a box in some dead relative's attic!
          • King's takeaways: not to try to turn his school into a profit center, and not to steal somebody else's intellectual property.  So when summer break came around, he wrote an original and sold it instead!  That was a story he calls (in On Writing) "The Invasion of the Star-Creatures," and we'll hear more about that in a bit.

          I'd be pretty thrilled if somebody eventually DID find this and put it back into the world, but it seems unlikely ever to happen.
          The Aftermath
          I first heard of The Aftermath from Douglas E. Winter's book Stephen King: The Art of Darkness, and here's what I found there:
          ...the story of Talman, one of the survivors of a nuclear holocaust.  Talman is a loner, and something of a Jonah; ultimately he joins the Sun Corps, a paramilitary organization seeking to restore order to crippled America.  He learns of a Godlike computer that ordains the increasingly fascist policies of the Corps, and sets out to destroy the machine.  The novel is remarkably mature, and demonstrates King's storytelling talents even at an early age.
          The Aftermath has never been published, but it can, theoretically be read ... provided you somehow manage to obtain permission to visit the collection in the University of Maine library where it is stored.  Good luck with that!  The manuscript refers to itself as King's "1st novel written, aged 16," and runs 76 single-spaced pages, or roughly 50,000 words.

          In other words, regardless of its quality, this is a substantial piece of work.  Therefore, it represents a turning point of sorts within King's juvenile period of fiction-writing.  Prior to this, what King was doing was seemingly on the level of more or less any kid tinkering with writing stories; you look at work like that as you would crayon drawings by a kindergartner.

          Beginning with The Aftermath, though, King's work would best be considered to be nascently and aspirationally professional.  It was not (I'm assuming) ready for publication; but King was pushing himself in that direction, consciously and steadily.
          More information about The Aftermath can be gleaned from Stephen J. Spignesi's The Lost Work of Stephen King.  Spignesi had available to him extensive notes on the novel by George Beahm, who'd been allowed to access the Special Collections material.  From those notes, Spignesi provides a plot summary:
          A paramilitary organization known as the Sun Corps has risen to power, and it is the mission of one young survivor, Larry Talman, to infiltrate the Sun Corps and destroy the omniscient computer, known as DRAC (an acronym for Digital Relay Analogue Computer) that is controlling the organization and its activities.
          Talman succeeds in destroying DRAC and sacrificing Reina Durrell, the girl he loves, in the process.  After DRAC's destruction, the truth about the Sun Corps is revealed: It was actually a front for spies from the planet Deneb IV, an alien race that saw an opportunity for the domination of Earth following the atomic war.  However, the Denebians would be thwarted in their efforts by the Espers, a band of Terran psychics who knew of the Denebians' plans and would do everything they could to stop them.
          Spignesi also includes several excerpts of critical analysis from Beahm's notes, such as this one:
          In style, this is very much a "Bachman" book . . .  Despite King's youth, this first novel-length manuscript shows many of his skills: his ability to tel a story, an almost instinctual skill; his ability to create vivid characters, quickly and economically; his ability to develop motivation in his characters.  And King Trademarks: colloquialisms in dialect; the use of brand-names; in SF, pseudoscientific language that sounds convincing.
          I, for one, would love to read this.  I can't and don't blame King for keeping it under guarded lock, though.  I'm sure he feels it's worthless, and for the vast majority of readers, I'm sure he's correct.
          For the rest of us, though, The Aftermath can only entice.  If you want the clearest possible notion of what the novel is like, consult Stephen King: Unpublished, Uncollected, where Rocky Wood provides three-plus pages of thorough plot summary.  One of the many reasons you should have a copy of that book.

          "The Star Invaders"
          (short story)


          For information on "The Star Invaders," we turn to Stephen J. Spignesi's The Lost Work of Stephen King, which contains the following plot summary:

          Jerry Hiken, one of the last protectors of the beseiged planet Earth, is captured by the clawed-hand, alien Star Invaders and brutally tortured.  The Star Invaders want to know where they can find Jed Pierce, the brilliant scientist who is Earth's last hope, the one man who may have a chance at defeating the alien invaders.  Jed Pierce is building the Counter Weapon, the only device that may be able to defeat the extraterrestrial marauders, and the Star Invaders want to stop him.
               Jerry resists as long as he can, but then the torture becomes more than he can withstand.  He cracks and tells the Star Invaders the location of Jed's secret lab but then commits suicide because he cannot live with his betrayal.
               The Star Invaders attack Pierce's hideout, where he has almost completed construction of the Counter Weapon.  As the aliens attack, however, Pierce cannot delay implementing the Counter Weapon any longer.  He fires on the invading ships, destroying vessel after vessel, ignoring the deadly consequences as his machinery dangerously overheats.  Pierce manages to single-handedly destroy all of the Star Invaders' ships and then cool the atomic pile that had been feeding his weapon, narrowly averting a catastrophic nuclear meltdown.
               Jed Pierce's Counter Weapon has worked, and the story ends with the inhabitants of Earth confident that they now have an effective defense against alien invaders.

          Hey, guess what?  I've actually read this story.  A fellow King enthusiast shared it with me a while back, and boy, was I happy to read it.

          I'll write you something in-depth about it one of these days, but until that day arrives, what I'll say is this: it's clearly the work of a developing talent, rough around the edges and goofy and poorly-written.  The story doesn't work, but it's no worse than your average Transformers movie, and if you gave me a choice between the two, I'd opt for "The Star Invaders."

          In other words, shabby though it may be, I kinda dug it.

          Evidence indicates that "The Star Invaders" may be a rewrite of a previously-written tale called "The Invasion of the Star-Creatures."  As I mentioned earlier, King refers to that story in On Writing as being one that he wrote during the summer break (of 1962, seemingly) after his less-than-wonderful experience with the novelization of The Pit and the Pendulum.  In Uncollected, Unpublished, Rocky Wood says that in 2011, "King confirmed, in personal correspondence" that "The Star Invaders is the story he sometimes refers to" [as] "The Invasion of the Star-Creatures (in section 18 of the C.V. part of On Writing); and as The Invasion of the Star Monsters (in the documentary, A Night at the Movies: The Horrors of Stephen King, first shown on the Turner Classic Movies channel in late 2011)."
          Let's bear in mind that King is piecing together a memory of something he did many decades previously, with only a bit of specific information to go on.  But still, adding all of this up leaves a few questions.  Does this mean that, in the months after his experience with "The Pit and the Pendulum," he wrote some other story entirely and self-published/sold it during summer break?  Does it instead mean that it WAS "The Invasion of the Star-Creatures," which he would later (in 1964) rewrite -- or, perhaps, merely rebrand -- as "The Star Invaders"?  In On Writing, was he conflating one story with another?  Was "The Star Invaders" the story he mentions in that book, and did he merely misremember both the title and the year?
          The latter is my guess.  But a guess is all that is, and anyways, let's be honest: there can't be more than a few thousand people in the entire world who would really care one way or the other.

          What's a fact is that "The Star Invaders" exists and is dated June of 1964.  Everything beyond that is speculation.
          "I Was a Teenage Grave Robber"
          (short story)

          • published serially across three issues of the fanzine Comics Review in 1965
          • revised version published under the title "In a Half-World of Terror" in a 1966 issue of the fanzine Stories of Suspense
          • uncollected 
          • more on this story

          You occasionally see this story listed as King's first professional publication.  There's debate to be had on that subject, depending on how one defines words like "first," "professional," and "publication."  I still value the service provided by gatekeepers, and with that in mind, I generally do not consider self-published work to be a professional publication.  Therefore, I do not consider this to be King's "first story."
          Let's turn once more to Rocky Wood:

          I Was A Teenage Grave Robber was the first of King's stories to be independently published.  It initially appeared in partial form in a mimeographed 'fanzine', Comics Review, serialized over three issues in 1965.  The fourth and concluding issue never appeared but the remaining text of King's story was posted to at least some subscribers as printed pages and not as part of a magazine.  The material that appeared in the third issue (Chapters 5 & 6) was reproduced in The Stephen King Illustrated Companion in 2009.
               The following year the entire story was published in another fanzine, Stories of Suspense, as In A Half-World of Terror.  However, the text was so different as to have almost certainly been printed from a different manuscript.  In one major change the lead character's surname is Gerard in the original version and Gerad in the Stories of Suspense form.  Of course this could simply be an initial error by Wolfman when typing the second version that he had to continue throughout the tale, considering its form as a mimeograph.  Both versions of the tale were credited to 'Steve King'.
               King tells something of the story's background in On Writing: 'The first story I did actually publish was in a horror fanzine issued by Mike Garrett of Birmingham, Alabama (Mike is still around and still in the biz).  He published this novella under the title , "In a Half-World of Terror," but I still like my title much better.  Mine was "I was a Teen-Age Grave-robber."  Super Duper!  Pow!'
               In fact, King has it wrong.  The reprint, in Marvin Wolfman's fanzine, was retitled to In A Half-World of Terror.  Garrett had actually published the story as I Was A Teenage Grave Robber.
               Wolfman recalled receiving the manuscript from Jeff Gelb, later Garrett's partner in the Hot Blood erotic horror series.  In his editorial for that issue of the fanzine Wolfman wrote: 'The next tale of fright, written by Steven King (sic), is the third end to this issue.  "In A Half-World of Terror" was originally published by Mike Garrett in his fangzine (possible sic, probable pun) "Comics Review" under a different title.  The title: (gasp, I cringe when I hear this) "I Was A Teenage Grave Robber" certainly didn't do anything for the story, so when (eeech) Wolfman got permission to print the thing, the title was changed . . . The story has an atmosphere of the horror movies you see on TV so we tried it."
               King is also quoted in Collings' The Shorter Works of Stephen King as having said of this story, "One of the things I think has been good for me -- really, really good -- is that I stayed out, mostly by luck, of that circle of fanzines and fans that club together."  To this point Beahm writes, "Unlike H P Lovecraft whose life and writing career were handicapped by his involvement with fanzines -- amateur publications done for fun and not profit -- the young Stephen King, early in his career, wisely avoided organized fandom . . . As King said 'I was never part of a fan network.  I never had that kind of a support system.' "
               In fact, it seems it was indeed luck that kept King out of fanzines.  In material sent with the concluding part of I Was A Teenage Grave Robber Garrett told subscribers: 'Steve King and I are going ahead with a new fanzine, Teen-Zine.  It will feature a variety of things and should be of interest to everyone.  So, for further details write either to me or Steve at this address: Steve King / R.F.D. #1, Pownal Maine / Thank you very much for your co-operation.'  Having checked with Garrett it can be confirmed this project never proceeded.

          From here, Wood gives us about three and a half pages of plot summary. And to read THAT, you'll have to locate a copy of Stephen King: Uncollected, Unpublished.

          I will, however, leave you with the first half of a briefer synopsis, from The Lost Work of Stephen King:

          [Danny] Gerad, a destitute orphan, is recruited by Rankin, emissary and assistant to mad scientist Steffen Weinbaum, to work as a grave robber.
               Danny's job will be to acquire corpses for what he later discovers are fiendish experiments involving radioactivity and maggots.  Weinbaum tells Danny, "[M]y experiments are too complicated to explain in any detail, but they concern human flesh.  Dead human flesh."
               Weinbaum's experiments involve exposing corpses to radioactivity, which causes the maggots on the bodies to mutate and grow into hideous monstrosities roughly the size of a double-wide trailer.

          And so forth.  Spignesi judges the story thus: " 'I Was a Teenage Grave Robber' probably embarrasses Stephen King today, but it should not.  Sure, the story has some style and structure problems, but it is an important step forward for the teenaged King."

          Circa 2004, a fellow King enthusiast emailed me a transcription of the "In a Half-World of Terror" version of the story, so I've actually read this.  And all things considered, I concur with Spignesi's assessment: this is clearly the work of a still-developing writer, but it is (just as clearly) a complete and readable story.

          "Code Name: Mousetrap" and "The 43rd Dream"
          (short stories)



          The Drum was -- and may still be, for all I know -- the school paper for Lisbon High, and during his senior year of 1965-66, King had at least two brief short stories appear in it.
          Neither of these were known to the King community until 2002.  Rocky Wood tells the story like this: in December '02, Wood heard from Stu Tinker (the proprietor of Betts Bookstore in Bangor) that he'd heard tale of a previously unknown story from King's high school days surfacing.  Wood contacted that collector, who had bought a copy of the October 27, 1965 edition of The Drum from a teacher who had been academic advisor to the paper at the time.  She'd discovered some copies of the paper in her own (self-admittedly) pack-rat-like collection, and as it turned out, the 10/27/65 edition contained "Code Name: Mousetrap," by "Steve King."
          The story runs only about a page and a half, and is about a burglar who breaks into a grocery store only to find a rather advanced security system.
          The same teacher also unloaded several copies of the January 29, 1966 issue of The Drum, which contained another King story, "The 43rd Dream," as well as a three-panel cartoon drawn by the budding young author (who, mercifully, did not pursue a career as a cartoonist).
          "Code Name: Mousetrap" is a mildly effective and mildly more advanced version of the sort of short-sharp-shock type stories King had done earlier in his life.  It seems, to my mind, like a major step back from the ambitious (if juvenile and flawed) "Star Invaders" and "In a Half-world of Terror."
          That's fine, though.  I've got a theory: namely, that King wrote "Code Name: Mousetrap" on the spot prior to the paper's publication, and likely wrote it to fit a specific space.  In other words, this was King dicking about at school.  That's just a guess, but it feels like a good one.  
          As for "The 43rd Dream," King fans can actually read that for themselves if they get a copy of the 2009 edition of Bev Vincent's The Stephen King Illustrated Companion.  It's a goofy piece, and not one that anyone ought to take even vaguely seriously.
          So as to be able to do the next bit I want to do, I've got to post the scans from that book:

          Let's turn back to Rocky Wood's Uncollected, Unpublished for an analysis:
          [The] use of rhyme [in the story] has caused some experts to speculate The 43rd Dream is actually a poem, but the layout and tone militate against that view.
          If so, those militants must have never heard Bob Dylan's 1965 song "Bob Dylan's 115th Dream," which King's "The 43rd Dream" resembles in meter and mood alike.
          I'd guess that what happened here was that King had been listened to the Dylan song one day.  He had it stuck in his head, and, thus mentally encumbered, sat down to write a piece for the paper during a limited window of time (probably about the duration of his newspaper period).  As a result, he produced a poem in prose form that consciously imitated Dylan's song.  I once had a short amount of time to write a poem for a college course, and simply wrote some stuff to the tune of the song stuck in my head that moment ("Suzanne" by Leonard Cohen); so I know shit like that happens.
          Wood, however, makes some amusingly strained attempts to connect "The 43rd Dream" in intent and impact to Rage, It, and The Dark Half.  I love his book, but he misses the mark by about a parsec here.


          This brings us more or less up to the point of King's departure for college.  His freshman year was 1966-67, and given that 1967 brought King his first professional fiction sale, that seems like a good place to begin part two of this Guided Tour.  My goal is to publish one of these each week until we've gotten current.

          See you in about seven days, then, when we will be magically transported to the year 1967!


          1. You, sir, are a madman!

            And we all reap the considerable benefits of your madness, so carry right the eff on.

            I for one would be tickled pink if King got back around to "The Star Invaders." Hell, maybe that's how "The Tommyknockers" got started. (Or "Under the Dome.")

            I haven't listened to Dylan in awhile but like most Dylan fans went through a phase where I listened to "115th Dream" enough times where its meter/rhymes can be recalled at will. Almost (but not quite) as easily as commercial jingles from the 80s. The brain is a funny place. Anyway - I kind of like that King dream one; there's an awful lot of time and place in there, i.e. a proverbial faded snapshot.

            1. Very much so!

              I doubt King will ever return to "The Star Invaders" itself, but -- just for shits and giggles -- I'd love for him to write some sort of pulpy futuristic sci-fi/horror blend in that vein. Not really his forte, but I'd just like to see what that would be like.

              As for the charges of me being a madman: guilty, your Honor!

          2. To paraphrase Stan the Man(?) in the "It" miniseries, "Hi, sorry I'm late", deadlines and work been knockin' at the door. "Well let's see" what's "here".

            1. I had never run across that "First Words" collection, though I do remember running across "Jonathon and the Witches" in Spignesi's "Lost Work", though I can't remember what he said about it. I do wonder though, if perhaps, several decades later, King subconsciously reworked this story into "Wind through the Keyholes". No proof positive or anything like that, just a possibility.

            2. People, Places, and Things.

            Likewise, I also wonder if "The Other Side of the Fog" is a first draft run for "The Mist"

            3. The 43rd Dream.

            You might be right about Dylan being the inspiration for this piece. Apropos of nothing else, here's a good shoutout to an old frined of Bobby D's:


            Hope you're able to pull this whole deal off. See you further down the line.


            1. 1. I don't see a huge amount of similarity, but the argument could be made, absolutely.

              3. That's apropos of everything!