Tag Archives: Stephen King

Wednesday Weekly Blogging Challenge: Books That Need a Prequel

Hosted by Long and Short Reviews.

Welcome to the very first Wednesday Weekly Blogging Challenge! Today’s topic is books that need a prequel. I hope my readers will click the link above and see how everyone else responded to this prompt, too.

Lately, I’ve been discovering prequels to all sorts of books that I spent ages wishing would have such a thing, so this post won’t be as long as it would be if I’d written it a year or two ago. For example, I recently read Sarah McCoy’s “Marilla of Green Gables,”  a prequel to L.M. Montgomery’s “Anne of Green Gables.” Last year I read “Caroline: Little House, Revisited” by Sarah Miller and saw Laura Ingalls Wilder’s early childhood from her mother’s point of view. (If you liked those series and haven’t already read the prequels to them, I highly recommend checking them out. They were both excellent reads).

Those experiences give me hope that everything I discuss today has a chance of actually having a prequel written for it someday. My fingers are crossed that this will happen.

Stephen King’s “Pet Sematary.”

For anyone who doesn’t already know the premise of this book, it was about a young family who unknowingly moved next door to a cemetery that brought anyone who was buried in it back to life. The trouble was, the people and animals who were reanimated in it weren’t their usual selves after that experience. They came back violent…or worse.

There were so many unanswered questions about this graveyard and the folks who had used it. Admittedly, I’m probably way more cautious about unexplained phenomenon than many people, but when I read this I really wondered why the people who knew about how dangerous it was didn’t work harder to warn newcomers and, I don’t know, prevent anything from being buried there. Did the cemetery somehow negatively influence your critical thinking and survival skills, too? I want answers!

J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter Series

What I’d love to see J.K. Rowling do is go back to when ancient wizards and witches first realized that they had special powers. Wouldn’t it be cool to see how wizarding society was first formed back when the general human population was much smaller than it currently is today?

Maybe it would be set in Africa tens of thousands of years ago when all of our ancestors still lived there. Then again, maybe magical characters in that universe didn’t actually have the resources to live separately from muggles until we invented agriculture and cities and could support much larger populations. What do you all think?

Robert Kirkman’s “The Walking Dead” graphic novels

I haven’t been keeping up with the latest issues of these graphic novels, but from what I’ve read the creator has no interest in explaining how the walkers (what we would call zombies) in this universe came to be or how they took over the world so quickly while Rick Grimes, the main character, was in a coma for a few weeks after an accident.

This is something I’ve thought about a lot over the years, so not having answers for it vexes me. It sure seems like more people would have realized early on that walker bites would turn you into a walker, too.

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

I’d sure like to know what Mr and Mrs. March’s childhoods were like, how they met, and what it was like for them to have four daughters in five years. That many babies in such a short period of time is a lot of work! I have a relative who had a similar age spread for their children, but they raised their brood with all of the benefits of modern society like disposable diapers, antibiotics, and kid-friendly TV programs for when one of the parents needed a few minutes to relax.

Room by Emma Donoghue 

 I’d sure love to read a prequel to this book told from the perspective of someone who knew why the antagonist kidnapped and imprisoned the main character’s mother for so many years in the first place. This wasn’t something that was addressed in Room since the narrator was a young, innocent kid who didn’t realize how bizarre his life was, but it is something I’ve wondered about ever since I finished reading it.

How about you? Which books do you want prequels for?

18 Science Fiction and Fantasy Shows I Can’t Wait to See in 2018-2019

Last year I blogged about the fourteen science fiction and fantasy series I was looking forward to watching during the 2017-2018 season. Wow, that was a lot of shows! Somehow I managed to continue watching almost all of them, though.

Today I’m talking about the shows I’m currently watching or will be watching during the 2018-2019 TV season. Once again, I’ll be sharing the release dates and a short explanation of why I’m interested in each one. This list looks like a long one, but many of these series will be finished long before the ones at the bottom of the list are aired. I love the fact that shows are staggered like that these days.

Also, I am a few seasons behind some of the items on this list. So expect to see them reappear in future updates on what I’m watching unless I suddenly stop watching a lot of current programs for some reason.

Disenchantment

Season 1 premiered this August. I’m currently watching it.

Calling all fans of Futurama! The creators of that series have something new for you.

Disenchantment was about a princess who befriended an elf and a demon and proceeded to have all kinds of PG-13 related adventures with them. Yes, this is an animated program. No, it’s not suitable for kids. There’s everything from sex to violence to substance abuse in this tale, so send the small, impressionable humans to bed before you watch it.

 

The Good Place 

Season 3 premiere: September 27.

So much of the stuff I want to say about this program would give away major spoilers for anyone who hasn’t watched the first two seasons yet. Needless to say, the characters have continued to explore the afterlife and learn just how complicated things can get when the line between heaven and hell becomes so blurry.

I would not recommend watching this to anyone who is easily offended or who has strong opinions about what, if anything, happens to people after they die. While the tone of it is tongue-in-cheek and friendly, this is something that will work better for viewers who are easygoing on this topic.

The Man in the High Castle

Season 3 premiere: October 5

If history had been a little different, the Axis powers could have won World War II. This series takes a look at what life would be like in the country formerly known as the United States this had happened. Germany and Japan split the U.S. up into sections in this universe, and everyone who wasn’t a Christian Aryan was in terrible danger.

I should warn all of you that this show can get very dark at times. It’s not something that anyone should watch if they’re easily triggered by references to Holocaust-like events.

Black Lightning

Season 2 premiere: October 9

Black Lightning has been changing my opinion of the superhero genre for the better thanks to everything that was going on in the main character’s life. I adored the complexity of his personality and life. He had to deal with everything from chasing down bad guys to repairing his relationship with his wife in the first season. I’m looking forward to seeing what happens to him and his family next.

The Orville

Season 2 premiere: December 30

I adored season one of this program. While it was originally written to be a lighthearted parody of the Star Trek universe, it felt much more like a Star Trek show than Discovery has so far. This isn’t a diss, either. I’m enjoying Discovery, but it doesn’t have the optimism about the future that I’d expect from this universe.

Luckily, The Orville picked up that slack beautifully in its first season. The characters dealt with some serious issues, but there was always a lighthearted undercurrent to their conflicts that reassured me that better days were coming for everyone in that universe. The world needs more material like this, especially now.

Timeless

Movie premiere: late 2018

Technically, the last TV season of this show ended this past spring. There is a two-hour movie about the characters in it coming at the end of this year, though, so I’m including it on this list. I’m glad the fans are going to have a proper goodbye for it. The time travel in this story was really well done. I especially liked the fact that the characters who weren’t white men acknowledged how difficult certain eras would be for them to visit due to the prejudices and laws of those times.  hoping there will be plenty of that in the sendoff.

 

Star Trek: Discovery

Season 2 premiere: January 2019

Despite my comments above, I actually did enjoy the first season of Discovery. There was a huge plot twist in it that I didn’t see coming ahead of time. I can’t say anything else about that without giving away spoilers, but I am looking forward to seeing where this series goes next and if it begins to feel more friendly and hopeful like other Star Trek tales.  (Although I am hoping that the second season will flesh out the secondary characters. So far, only the main characters have gotten attention from the storyline).

Roswell, New Mexico

Season 1 premiere: April 29, 2019

This is a reboot of Roswell, a science fiction show about aliens living on Earth in the early 2000s that I liked quite a bit back in the day.

Like the reboot for Buffy the Vampire Slayer, I’d prefer to see this universe revisited in its current form. This doesn’t stop me from feeling excited at revisiting this universe in whatever form it will take.

The Handmaid’s Tale

Season 3 premiere: April 2019

Anyone who has followed this blog over the past few years already knows how much I adore The Handmaid’s Tale, so I won’t repeat myself.

Needless to say, I’m already counting down the weeks until season 3 is here.

Castle Rock

Season 2 premiere: 2019. I have yet to begin season 1, but plan to start it soon.

Two words for you: Stephen King. Every time a TV show comes out that is based on something he wrote, my ears perk up. This was no exception to that rule.

Lucifer

Season 4 premiere: 2019

First this show was cancelled, and now it’s somehow coming back for another season.

All I know is that I have a huge crush on Lucifer. Yes, he’s (sort of) the Lucifer you’d expect someone with that name to be. That is, he is the devil in this universe, but he’s not evil. Children love him, and he only harms people who have already hurt innocent folks. Everyone else is pretty safe around him unless they happened to be horribly annoyed by shameless flirting.

The Magicians

Season 4 premiere: 2019

I have four words for you: Harry Potter for adults. While this isn’t set in the Potterverse, the characters in it do attend a school for magic and end up having all sorts of unauthorized adventures when their professors aren’t looking.

It took me a couple of tries to get into the first season, but now I can’t get enough of this series.

Cloak & Dagger

Season 2 premiere: 2019

Not only are there two superheroes in this story, their powers complement each other perfectly.

I’m also watching this one with the hope that when a romance develops between the main characters, their racial differences won’t be a source of conflict for the plot in any way. One of the beautiful things about living in Toronto is seeing interracial couples living their ordinary lives together without it being a big deal. While I know this definitely isn’t true for every community (or even in every single Torontonian household, to be honest), I think it’s high time for screenwriters to stop assuming that every interracial relationship is fraught with conflicts over race and culture.

That is such an old-fashioned and unhelpful way of perceiving the world, especially if you’re on the outside looking in at someone else’s relationship.

Glitch

Season 3 premiere: 2019

Some of the characters in this show were people who came back to life from the dead without being zombies, vampires, or ghosts. One moment they were corpses, and the next they’d come to life.

I can’t say much else about the premise without giving away massive spoilers, but I’ve loved the character and plot development so far. It’s going to be pretty interesting to see what happens now that more and more townsfolk have realized that some of their new neighbours are actually people who lived there decades and even a few centuries ago.

 

Stranger Things

Season 3 premiere: mid-2019

The first two seasons of this show were filled with stuff that happened in the 1980s but would be frowned upon today. For example, smoking was ubiquitous, and children weren’t supervised well back then.

This isn’t the only reason why I’m looking forward to seeing what happens to the town of Hawkins, Indiana, but it is one of them.

Luke Cage

Season 3 premiere: late 2019 (tentatively)

So, it turns out that I might like superhero shows more than I thought I did. When I first began working on this post, I hadn’t fully realized how many different superhero shows I watch.

One of the coolest things about Luke Cage was how close he was to various members of his community. Some of my favourite scenes so far have showed him talking to his neighbours and trying to figure out how to improve all of their lives. The social justice aspect of the storyline is what originally pulled me in and what has kept me coming back for more.

Black Mirror

Season 5 premiere: unknown, but I’m hoping it will show up in 2019.

The only episode I’ve seen so far from this series was 4.1, “USS Callister.” It was about a massive multiplayer online game populated by sentient digital clones who were treated very poorly by the man who created them. When the clones realized that the world they’re living in isn’t real, they had to try to decide how or if to escape their circumstances.

I was so impressed by the storytelling and writing quality that I’ve added Black Mirror to my to-watch list. I’m hoping to catch up on as many of the other episodes during the winter of 2018-2019 as possible.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer (no photo available yet for this one).

Season 1 of the rebooted premiere: unknown, but I’m hoping it will show up in 2019.

To be honest, I don’t know if Buffy the Vampire Slayer will be rebooted in 2019 or come out at some point after that. Either way, I’ll be curious to see how this universe is reimagined for a new generation.

What science fiction and fantasy shows will you be watching between now and next summer?

Nothing Appeals to Everyone

As I mentioned last week, there are certain authors and genres I’ve never been able to become a fan of no matter how many times I try to like them.

It simply isn’t possible to write, draw, film, or sing something that’s going to appeal to every single person who stumbles across it. My thoughts on this topic were too complicated to condense for last week’s post, so I’m going to discuss them with you this week instead.

Some themes, plot twists, or tropes will appeal to one reader but will repel the next person who attempts to read them. This is completely normal, and it says nothing about the quality of the writing itself. It all boils down to the subjective nature of art and storytelling.

Subjectivity and Literature

To give you a concrete example of what I’m talking about, let’s go back to when I was in high school. My eleventh grade English teacher was a kind, generous woman who regularly allowed her students borrow books from her if we wanted something to read for the sheer joy of it.

When she noticed me reading a scary Stephen King story one week and a collection of Langston Hughes poems the next, she smiled and say she was glad to see a student of hers readings such a wide variety of stuff.

She taught her students a lot about literature in general. The authors she assigned us to study were from a wide range of eras and movements. I enjoyed all of them at least a little bit with one glaring exception: The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald.

By the time I finished the first scene of it, I began counting down the days until we finished the last chapter and moved onto literally anything else in the entire world. I honestly would have preferred to read the phone book by the time we were halfway through that story because there was nothing about it that I found at all enjoyable. The characters were vain, selfish, and materialistic from what I observed. If anything interesting ever happened to them, the horrendously slow pacing made it hard for me to tell when those scenes were occurring.

I’ve never been able to get into F. Scott Fitzgerald’s catalogue even as an adult reader who no longer has to remember anything about what I’ve read for a future pop quiz. Obviously, there are plenty of people who disagree with me here, and I’m glad that they’re able to get something out of his writing. The fact that it doesn’t speak to me in no way means that it isn’t worth reading.

He simply isn’t the kind of storyteller that I’m drawn to. Something tells me that my teacher would have understood this if it had been socially acceptable for me to tell her how much I disliked that unit. As it was, I stayed perfectly polite and never brought up the subject. She might have privately had a list of authors she wasn’t a fan of as well!

Subjectivity and Art

The subjective nature of these things isn’t limited to literature, either.

One of the biggest reasons why I love going to art museums, shows, galleries, and other creative spaces with a small group of like-minded people has to do with how interesting it is to see how different folks respond to the same painting, sculpture, or other creative work.

When it comes to photography, I like whimsical, thought-provoking pieces like the shot of two toy robots on the right side of this post. Their glowing eyes make it easy to imagine that they’re somehow at least slightly aware of their surroundings.

There are so many different ways to interpret a photo like this one. Sometimes when I’m sitting quietly somewhere this is exactly the sort of thing I think about.

My taste in paintings is nothing like my preferences for photography. Hyperrealism fascinated me long before I had any idea that there was a name for this movement or that multiple painters have figured out how to paint scenes so realistic that I genuinely feel like I could walk into them and never notice I was in a painting at all. It was a style of painting I was pleasantly surprised to see on occasion, and I only grew to love it more once I figured out what it was called and that many different artists have explored it over the years.

Of course, not everyone is going to agree with me on either of these points. There are people out there who don’t connect with the pieces that speak to me at all just like I have been known to have trouble understanding other, most abstract types of art.

Subjectivity and Music

Have you ever noticed how difficult it is to get a group of people to agree on what a good song should sound like even after you’ve sorted out objective criteria like the quality of the singer’s voice or whether or not they’re singing on key?

I know plenty of folks who have incredibly strong opinions on this topic. Some of them even refuse to listen to certain artists or entire genres of music altogether because of how firmly they’ve made up their minds about what they do and don’t enjoy.

Yes, I’ve done this, too. There was a long period of time when I didn’t think I liked any form of country music at all. It was only after being exposed to many different types of it that I realized there were a small number of country artists that I actually did enjoy quite a bit.

There’s Something for Everyone

While nothing is going to appeal to everyone, there is something out there for everyone.

I don’t know about you, but I find that freeing.

It’s okay not to like something. Someone else out there loves it.

On the flip side, you’ll find plenty of books and other creative works that you do love if you keep searching for the things that speak to you.

What have you read, watched, or listened to that you’ve never been able to enjoy? What creative works have you tried and been surprised by how much you loved them?

Saturday Seven: Characters Who Need a Date

Saturday Seven is hosted by Long and Short Reviews.

Valentine’s Day is right around the corner, so today I’m thinking about characters who could really have benefited from going on a date. None of the characters I’m about to discuss had romantic storylines. They were far too busy looking after a disabled friend, exploring a haunted mansion, fighting for the freedom of an innocent man, raising a large family, protecting their household from a vengeful spirit, or otherwise staying busy.

While avoiding romantic subplots was definitely the right decision for all of these books, I can’t help but to think that all of the main characters in them would have had happier lives if they somehow could have carved out a couple of hours of free time for an offstage date at some point.

For example…

1. Dr. Faraday from The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters.

Dr. Faraday rose from humble beginnings to become a respected country physician. Unfortunately, his job didn’t pay well, and his patients kept him so busy that he didn’t have any time at all for romance. This became even more of an obstacle once he realized that a few of his patients may be living in a haunted house. Let’s just say that dealing with what may be a angry ghost doesn’t leave a lot of time for dating.  

He would have some attention-grabbing stories to share on a date, though, and I think it would have been good for him to have someone to discuss all of his eerie experiences with. He lived such a lonely and sometimes even frightening life in this book. Having someone to talk to  would have done him a world of good.

2. Constance Barton from Angelica: A Novel by Arthur Phillips.

Constance was a young Victorian mother who became convinced that an evil spirit was terrorizing her daughter at night. She hired a spiritualist to figure out what the entity wanted and why it was attacking her family.

There was far more happening in the Barton household than what was revealed right away. Constance’s marriage was disintegrating before her eyes, and her health was becoming increasingly fragile as a result of a string of incredibly dangerous pregnancies that had produced only one living child so far.

Constance could have really used a nice, chaste date with someone who treated her kindly and who wasn’t obsessed with having a son to carry on the family name.

3. Miss Peregrine from Miss Peregrine’s Home for Wayward Children by Ransom Riggs. 

Miss Peregrine was raising multiple children who were mischievous and had magical powers. She’d been doing this on her own for years, and she had no reason to think her duties would ever end because she and her brood been forced to move to a place that existed outside of time in order to avoid being caught by people who wanted to harm all of them. Her wards were always going to remain their current ages due to the weird way that time passed by where they lived.

She was a fantastic parent figure to the kids, but she really could have used one night where she didn’t have to remind anyone to wash their hands or eat their vegetables. A date would do a world of good for this character. Since I haven’t read the other books in this series yet, I can only hope that someday she’ll get to do just that.

4. Atticus Finch from To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. 

Atticus was a widower, a single father of two young kids, and a lawyer. He agreed to defend an innocent black man named Tom Robinson who had been wrongly accused of raping a white woman.

Atticus probably never would have admitted that he could find the time to date, but this character sure would have benefitted from a few hours away from all of the responsibilities in his life. Other than Tom, of course, Atticus was the character I sympathized the most with in this tale.

5. Susie Salmon from The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold. 

Susie was violently murdered when she was fourteen. As she adjusted to the afterlife and attempted to contact the loved ones she’d been ripped away from, she began to realize all of the important life events she was going to miss out on because of how young she’d been when she died.

Going on one date would have meant the world to her. I wish she could have had that experience.

6. George from Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck.

George had voluntarily taken on full financial and legal responsibility for a developmentally-delayed friend of his at at time when people who had those kinds of disabilities didn’t have access to any of the government programs or other types of support that they can rely on today.

While this definitely isn’t canon, I imagine George as a man who would have been identified as gay if he’d lived in modern times. He seemed much more comfortable living with and near other men than he did around women, so I’d set him up with a friendly guy who didn’t mind dating someone who already had many responsibilities in life.

Maybe he’d do well dating someone who also knew what it was like to be the legal guardian of someone whose disabilities required them to have close daily supervision?

7. Carrie from Carrie by Stephen King.

Carrie’s horribly abusive upbringing made me feel so much sympathy for her, especially once I realized that her life was only slightly less traumatic when she was at school.

If only she’d had the chance to experience a normal, happy existence. There were the briefest glimpses of the person she could have become here and there, but she would have really blossomed if she’d done something as simple as held hands with a cute guy at the movie theatre or had someone in her life who told her she looked pretty every once in a while.

Which characters do you wish you could send on a well-deserved date?

Saturday Seven: Cold and Flu Season Reads

Saturday Seven is hosted by Long and Short Reviews.

We’re well into the depths of winter now here in Ontario. Cold and flu season is in full swing. I spent the last several weeks fighting and just recently finally getting over a stubborn cold myself, so communicable winter illnesses like these have been on my mind. How do you stay healthy when everyone is sniffling and coughing their way through January? Will we ever come up with a cure for the flu or the common cold?

Today I thought it would be amusing to talk about books that approach these questions from a wide variety of perspectives. My list begins with one of the most common ways that germs enter a body, explores what happens when an epidemic occurs, and ends with the one of the greatest medical discoveries of all time.

Three of these books are non-fiction, and four of them are fiction.

5. Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal by Mary Roach. 

One of the most common ways to catch a cold, the flu, or other diseases is to touch your face after you’ve touched someone or something that is carrying those germs. That virus then travels from your eyes, nose, or mouth into your body and begins replicating.

While this book spends most of its time talking how the digestive tract works in general, it also discusses the body’s defences against germs and how someone’s diet can affect their chances of getting sick. I was simultaneously fascinated and also a little grossed out by the author’s descriptions of how all of these things work.

 

1. Flu: The Story of the Great Influenza Pandemic of 1918 and the Search for the Virus that Caused It by Gina Kolata. 

Imagine how terrifying it must have been for our ancestors to watch their loved ones die from this strain of the flu or from the secondary infections they developed as a result of it. Normally, influenza kills people who are very young, very old, or who have underlying health conditions. It must have been even more frightening to see so many young, healthy adults succumb to it.

Antibiotics and life support machines didn’t exist in 1918, so there was little the hospitals could do in general to help patients who had severe reactions to this virus. People either recovered or they didn’t. All the doctors and nurses could do was watch and wait.

What I enjoyed the most about this book was how much detail it went into why this strain of the flu was so deadly, how it disrupted the daily schedules of the people who encountered it, and why it faded away.

2. The Stand by Stephen King.

The Stand was the first story I ever read about a virulent strain of influenza accidentally being released and killing off 99.4% of all humans. It ignited my interest in this genre.

While the plot soon veered off in other directions, the first few chapters went into great detail about why the U.S. army weaponized this virus to be so deadly in the first place, how it ended up being introduced into the general population, and what happened once people began dying in droves.

 

3. Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood. 

As regular readers of this blog know, I’m a huge fan of Margaret Atwood’s stories in general. What appeals to me the most about Oryx and Crake is how much time she spent describing what the world would be like after all but a handful of humans died in a terrible pandemic.

Some species flourished after mankind died off either because or in spite of all of the ways we bio-engineered them. Other species weren’t so capable of looking after themselves without a friendly human to feed them and keep them out of mischief. The buildings, trees, and land in general also changed in many ways as the Earth quieted down.

4. The Plague by Albert Camus. 

Don’t read The Plague if you’re easily grossed out by detailed descriptions of disease or what happens to a body after someone dies. The communicable disease that these characters come down with is a particularly nasty one, and there were never enough people around to take care of the ill or bury the dead.

With that being said, there are a lot of poetic passages in this book once you get past the descriptions of what happened when the characters fell ill.

5. I Am Legend by Richard Matheson.

Most post-apocalyptic novels assume that everyone who comes down with the disease that’s destroying humanity will die. This one describes a world in which infected people remain alive but are changed into something that is no longer human. By the time the first scene began, there is only one human left in the entire world.

That’s all I can tell you about the plot without giving away spoilers, but I was fascinated by the idea of a virus that permanently and severely changes someone’s personality, habits, and ability to communicate rather than outright kills them.

 

6. Miracle Cure: The Creation of Antibiotics and the Birth of Modern Medicine by William Rosen. 

Finally, we come to the idea of a cure. The introduction of antibiotics changed how modern medicine was practiced in so many positive ways. Surgery became much safer, and with the threat of infection greatly reduced we were eventually able to start performing risky procedures like organ transplants as well.

Before I read this book, I had no idea how dangerous it used to be to give birth, have surgery, or even do something as ordinary as accidentally cutting yourself and then developing an infection in that wound. No one was too young or too healthy to avoid a terrible death if the wrong strain of bacteria entered their body during one of those events. I wonder if a similar drug will ever be invented that cures the common cold or the flu?

My fingers are crossed that we’ll someday have such a thing. In the meantime, stay healthy this winter!

10 Fantasy Books I’d Recommend to New Readers of This Genre

Last August I blogged about science fiction and fantasy books I’d recommend for elementary, middle school, and high school students.  Last week I blogged about science fiction books I’d recommend to adults who are unfamiliar with that genre. Today let’s talk about books that are a wonderful introduction to fantasy in general for anyone who… Read More