The Tommyknockers

Stephen King Books, Tommyknockers, Stephen King Store
“Late last night and the night before, tommyknockers, tommyknockers knocking on my door“

Stephen King’s The Tommyknockers was, at the time of publication, a bit of a departure from his usual fare of horror for the author, verging more into an excursion into the realms of science fiction. This temporary change of direction, though, was not well received by all of his fans, but then nor was Bob Dylan going electric well received by his fans either so that was no real big surprise!

The Tommyknockers, which was published in 1987 and was later made into a TV miniseries is a science fiction book, but, written in the horror style, and centres on the story of the residents of Haven in Maine, who fall under the influence of a strange object buried in the ground in some woodlands.

The object turns out to be an alien spacecraft which, once exposed, gradually turns the locals into something similar to the aliens themselves. The transformed residents of Haven begin to show the traits of genius which makes them become very inventive, but, it also gives them very little moral insight into what they should do with their new found skills and, in some cases, brings out a psychotic, violent side to their personalities. As usual, we won’t give the entire plot away, in case you haven’t read Tommyknockers but, suffice to say that things get a lot worse for the folk of Haven before they get better. Or do they?

Whether or not you think that Stephen King should have stuck to straight horror, the storytelling genius of the author still makes this a book that you won’t want to put down. The characterisation the twisting and many plotlines and subplots and the sheer scale of the tale make it a great read.

The book touches upon many of the fears that existed at the time of writing around the impact that technology, if misused, could have on society and, with the events of Chernobyl which heightened peoples fear of nuclear power and basically frighten people. It also touches on the topic of addiction, with one of the main characters being a poet struggling with alcoholism, a situation that King knows about first hand.

Science fiction, it is, and perhaps that's why some people didn’t like it and have voted it one of his least popular books, but if you put aside your prejudices that Stephen King is only allowed to write horror and read it as a standalone work, then it holds its own as an enthralling tale. An author of Stephen Kings standing has every right to go out of his usual zone once in a while; he is first and foremost a skilled storyteller. The fact that most of his books fall into the horror genre is just a happy stroke of luck, for those of us who like that kind of read.