Stephen King

BSP #60 – The Binary System Crapfest

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BSP #60 – The Binary System Crapfest

Happy Thanksgiving everybody! (Or, if you’re not celebrating Thanksgiving, happy Thursday.) Want to kill some time while the turkey’s baking? Need to while away the minutes in the car? Want to get away from the holiday cheer with some good old fashioned negativity? We’re here to help! Presenting the first-ever Binary System Crapfest! In an attempt to keep all our complaints and judgeyness contained in one place (…which totally will not work…) we’re ranting about as many things as we can cram into a half hour, and no more than two minutes per rant. What makes our list of things we hate? Listen in to find out!

With one caveat: No. Politics.

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Review: Six Scary Stories

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Review: Six Scary Stories

Stephen King’s last short-story collection came out a year ago. If past behavior predicts future performance then it could be as long as eight years before we get another one.

Before anyone (like me) starts to despair, we’ve got a little something to tide us over while we wait. Part of the promotion for Stephen King’s book The Bazaar of Bad Dreams was a competition where UK authors would submit short horror stories, with King himself choosing the best one. King ended up being so impressed with the finalists that he recommended having all of them published together in one collection. Six Scary Stories is the result.
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Review: The Bazaar of Bad Dreams

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Review: The Bazaar of Bad Dreams

Anyone who regularly reads my book reviews will know I love short story collections. Anthologies by many different authors are great; collections by one of my favorite authors are even better. And there are two authors who could make me run a marathon if they told me they had a new collection waiting for me at the end. One of them is Neil Gaiman, the other is Stephen King.

Released two days after Halloween (dammit, Stephen, you had one job), The Bazaar of Bad Dreams is a sampler of the weird and the dark and, strangely enough, the mundane. King paints a picture of himself in the introduction as a street vendor laying out his handcrafted wares after midnight, and finishes with the warning, “Feel free to examine them, but please be careful. The best of them have teeth.”

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Movie Issues: Stephen King’s IT

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Movie Issues: Stephen King’s IT

Hey kids! You’re ol’ pal Spooky is taking the podcast captain’s chair this week as Leland has left the country for parts unknown to bare knuckle box a Chupacabra in order to regain his family’s honor.  Not to leave a listener without a podcast though  Spookette returns for her second appearance on Movie Issues and just in time for Stephen King’s IT.  Be afraid of clowns all over again as Spooky and Spookette (no relation) experience the 1990 TV movie classic for the FIRST TIME IN THEIR LIVES, and reflect on the 3 hour adventure for your aural pleasure.

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Review: Revival

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Review: Revival

                  …something happened…

A lot of Stephen King’s older works revolve around younger (or at least simpler) themes: little boy versus the haunted hotel, aliens from outer space, teenagers fighting a demon-possessed car. His more recent books seem to be taking a gloomier tone, and involve a lot more soul-searching. The main characters are all getting older, and having to come to terms with their eventual mortality. Books like Revival feature all of the mundane nastiness that can come from real life, like cancer, and substance abuse, and domestic homicide. And, of course, stupid and pointless accidents.

Jamie Morton is six years old when he meets Reverend Charles Jacobs, the cheerful, intelligent young minister who moves to Harlow in 1962 to become the town’s new preacher. Three years later Jacobs responds to tragedy by throwing away his faith and his career in one blistering sermon that alienates most of the town and kills whatever faith nine-year-old Jamie might have had left.

In 1992 Jamie stumbles across Charles Jacobs again. Jacobs has turned a passion for the study of electricity into something much more. It starts with impossible photographs taken at an amusement park; by 2008 he’s using his “secret electricity” to heal cancer and paralysis and congenital handicaps, curing people by the thousands. And Jamie gets more and more wary every time Pastor Jacobs comes back into his life. It’s not just that Jacobs obviously doesn’t believe a word of what he’s preaching during his tent-revivals; the cures are real even if the testimonials aren’t. It’s that the former minister-turned-carnival-barker-turned-revival-preacher is looking for something he won’t explain, and he isn’t even concerned that a small number of the people he’s cured have had some weird side-effects.

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Halloween: Our favorite horror books

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Halloween: Our favorite horror books

Horror novels are good any time of the year, but the best time for them is right around Halloween. With the weather getting cooler and the nights getting longer, there’s nothing like curling up in a dark room with a cup of hot chocolate and a great horror story and scaring the hell out of yourself.

It’s also interesting how much of horror has a sci-fi or fantasy element to it. The exceptions are true-crime books or novels about gritty, urban violence, and those are great, but Kathryn and Elizabeth really prefer the ones with some kind of otherworldly element. So they’ve whittled down their list of favorites and each picked three books they think you’d like, if you’re looking to sleep with the lights on tonight.

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Review: Mr. Mercedes

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Review: Mr. Mercedes

Every religion lies. Every moral precept is a delusion. Even the stars are a mirage. The truth is darkness, and the only thing that matters is making a statement before one enters it. Cutting the skin of the world and leaving a scar. That’s all history is, after all: scar tissue.

That quote should give you an idea of how dark this book gets. The book jacket tells how it starts: a random act of violence by a killer who is never caught. The massacre happens in the first chapter, and in true Stephen King fashion he foreshadows what’s going to happen, introduces you to the victims, makes them very sympathetic and likable, and then kills them.

The first murder then becomes the background noise for the rest of the book. Don’t expect a play-by-play of the event, with flashbacks from the survivors and all the blood and gore described in loving details. Mr. Mercedes is all about the chase, with the two main characters using the original murder in their own way to inject some kind of meaning in their lives.

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Review: Doctor Sleep

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Review: Doctor Sleep

In his afterwards, Stephen King points out that he almost didn’t write Doctor Sleep, the sequel to The Shining. The trouble with sequels, he points out, is that no matter how brilliant it is, there will always be someone who’ll read it and say “Nope, nope, it’s just not as good.

And he’s right. You can’t help comparing Doctor Sleep to The Shining, and I do think The Shining is the better book by a long shot. But if you can read Doctor Sleep and try to see it on its own merits, as a fun, stand-alone horror story, it’s really enjoyable. And nicely chilling, as any halfway-decent Stephen King book ought to be.

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Review: 11/22/63

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Review: 11/22/63

The date doesn’t cause the instant recall for me that it does for my parents’ generation, but the Kennedy assassination (and an idea of how to stop it) has obviously been on Stephen King’s mind for a long while. King started researching this book back in the 1970’s, but had to put the project on hold when he realized he wouldn’t have time to do the research it would need and hold down a full-time job. After a forty-year writing career he has the time and the skill for it now, and it shows. He’s also come up with the oddest time-travel method I’ve seen; an accidental portal, hidden in the back of a diner, leading to 1958. If that sounds a little simplistic, think of everything you could do with a door to 1958. Now think about the fact that each and every time you step through that portal it’s 1958.  The same day in 1958. I spent the rest of the book waiting to see just how that was going to mess with the characters. No spoilers, but the answer is: badly.

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