Slippery S Switches Subjects on Me

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So I’d planned, ever since deciding to take on this challenge, to talk about science-fiction for S. It’s a genre of the impossible, a genre of what might someday be. It’s a genre of prescience, with writers like Ray Bradbury foreseeing our screen-based culture in Fahrenheit 451; Margaret Atwood foreseeing a cultural shift with The Handmaid’s Tale and a genetic one with Oryx and Crake. How we are practically living in Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World.

I meant to write about that.

And then I caught an unintentional glimpse of “Shawshank Redemption” playing on TV yesterday, and I think I have to talk about Stephen King. I am compelled to talk about Stephen King, because his crafting of a story is magnificent.

His books sometimes dip into the sci-fi realm, so he’s not that far off my intended target. But it’s his portrayal of character, of humanity, in whatever position he places them, that makes his work miraculous.

Stephen King, like the writers above, was pegged into a genre early, and was dismissed in terms of serious writing for most of his career, simply because he chose to write about what terrifies us. It’s an interesting quirk of genre writing: it most often shows us exactly who we are or where we’re going, and yet it is somehow seen as inferior.

There’s nothing inferior about any of these writers. There’s nothing inferior about the way King pulls you in and holds you there relentlessly.

Feel like some funny sci-fi? Try Aunty Ida’s Full-Service Mental Institution (by Invitation Only). Or download Better Living Through GRAVY and Other Oddities. It’s free!

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6 thoughts on “Slippery S Switches Subjects on Me

    • He is truly terrifying. I try not to read his straight horror for that reason, I like his character studies, like Deloris Claiborne. Which, I admit, is still creepy. But the novella “Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption” is so stunning, I remembered the lines when I first saw the movie years later. In fact, it’s been years since I’ve seen it, and even when I got sucked in yesterday, there were lines I could recite because they were so clear and perfect.

      He’s so brilliant.

      Not to discount the other writers I mentioned. Ray Bradbury, for example, is rarely praised for the technical aspects of his writing, but wow, could that man construct a sentence clearly while conveying a highly complex idea.

  1. I’ve always been a fan of Stephen King! “Pet Semetary” scared the pee outta me in high school. Thanks for your comment on my blog! ~ Writings, Musings and Other Such Nonsense.

    • I’ve read “The Lottery,” which might be one of the most chilling short stories ever written, and The Yellow Wallpaper, which was a very compelling read.

      I don’t know if I’d call it horror, exactly, but Roald Dahl’s adult collections of short stories have a similar aesthetic, if you haven’t read them.

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