Stephen King Returns To The Dark Tower Universe This Week in Science Fiction
Travel the beam to a new Dark Tower novel.
The Wind Through the Keyhole
by Stephen King
I have an embarrassing confession to make. I’ve never read King’s Dark Tower books. Not a chapter, not a page, not even the full blurb on the back cover. In my defense, my formative years were busy consuming genre classics such as Bill the Galactic Hero, and my current reading time is being held hostage by a pair of belligerent eighteen-month-olds. Still, it’s on my to-do list, and it seems like I might want to shuffle it nearer the top, because today King released a brand spankin’ new installment in that hallowed series, The Wind Through the Keyhole. Which kind of sounds like something that should have been written by Madeleine L’Engle, but never mind that now. Although Wind is King’s eighth Dark Tower novel, it actually takes place between the fourth and fifth books (Wizard and Glass and Wolves of the Calla, respectively). At the center, once again, is Roland Deschain, multidimensional gunslinger. As Amazon explains:
Roland Deschain and his ka-tet—Jake, Susannah, Eddie, and Oy, the billy-bumbler—encounter a ferocious storm just after crossing the River Whye on their way to the Outer Baronies. As they shelter from the howling gale, Roland tells his friends not just one strange story but two . . . and in so doing, casts new light on his own troubled past.
In his early days as a gunslinger, in the guilt-ridden year following his mother’s death, Roland is sent by his father to investigate evidence of a murderous shape-shifter, a “skin-man” preying upon the population around Debaria. Roland takes charge of Bill Streeter, the brave but terrified boy who is the sole surviving witness to the beast’s most recent slaughter. Only a teenager himself, Roland calms the boy and prepares him for the following day’s trials by reciting a story from the Magic Tales of the Eld that his mother often read to him at bedtime. “A person’s never too old for stories,” Roland says to Bill. “Man and boy, girl and woman, never too old. We live for them.” And indeed, the tale that Roland unfolds, the legend of Tim Stoutheart, is a timeless treasure for all ages, a story that lives for us.
Many of those words made little to no sense to me, but that’s all the more reason to finally read the damn series already. For King fans, it’s a return to one of his most beloved literary creations. For noobs such as myself, it’s a compelling reason to dive in headfirst and see what all the fuss is about. If we start now, we should have plenty of time to finish before they actually get around to making the movie…
“The Children of the Sky” by Vernor Vinge
It’s clearly a week of notable writers returning to familiar wells. Vernor Vinge’s Hugo Award-winning 1992 novel A Fire Upon the Deep is rightly regarded by many as a modern classic of the genre. Now, two decades after that tome’s publication, Vinge has penned a sequel. Here’s what Amazon has to say:
After nearly twenty years, Vernor Vinge has produced an enthralling sequel to his memorable bestselling novel A Fire Upon the Deep. In Children of the Sky, ten years have passed on Tines World, where Ravna Bergnsdot and a number of human Children ended up after a disaster that nearly obliterated humankind throughout the galaxy. Ravna and the pack animals for which the planet is named have survived a war, and Ravna has saved more than one hundred Children who were in cold-sleep aboard the vessel that brought them.
While there is peace among the Tines, there are those among them—and among the humans—who seek power…and no matter the cost, these malcontents are determined to overturn the fledgling civilization that has taken root since the humans landed.
Fact or Faked: Paranormal Files (Syfy, 9/8c) — “Bay Area Hysteria/Jersey Shore Haunting”
The crew attempts to replicate a sighting of mysterious lights over California’s Bodega Bay. Also, something about ghosts.
Prototype 2 (Activision Publishing, Xbox 360/PS3/PC)
I was thoroughly underwhelmed by the original Prototype, especially in light of the fact that the comparatively awesome InFamous came out around the same time back in 2009. Maybe this sequel will improve on the uninspired original. In Prototype 2, you play a soldier infected with the same shapeshifting powers as first game’s protagonist, Alex Mercer. You also happen to be seeking revenge on the man who murdered your wife and son…a guy named Alex Mercer.
“Star Trek: DTI: Forgotten History,” by Christopher L. Bennett
We won’t often highlight books from either of the Star XXXX franchises here, simply because there are too damn many to keep track of. This one, however, bears mentioning because the premise makes me chuckle. DTI stands for Department of Temporal Investigations, a group introduced in the Deep Space Nine episode “Trials and Tribble-lations.” It’s their job to police the time stream. They are probably the most important organization in the Star Trek universe because, let’s face it, people are mucking about in time constantly across the Trek canon. And it’s not like they’re careful about it. If they’re not falling in love with Depression-era social workers, they’re kidnapping innocent humpback whales or beaming onto active nuclear wessels. Quite frankly, it’s a crime that James T. Kirk wasn’t arrested before he even graduated Starfleet Academy.
Mass Effect: Homeworlds #1 (Dark Horse Comics)
Penned by Mass Effect 3 head writer Mac Walters, Homeworlds will tell a different story of the ME3 supporting characters each issue. This installment focuses on meathead marine James Vega (voiced in the game by Freddy Prinze Jr.).
Nova (PBS, 9/8c) — “Secrets of the Sun”
You wouldn’t think the sun would have many secrets, what with the brightness and all. Nevertheless, this week Nova takes a look at how modern telescopes are allowing scientists to learn more than ever before about everybody’s favorite celestial fusion reactor.
Awake (NBC, 10/9c) – “Game Day”
A big football game unfolds differently in each reality. Unfortunately for Britten, it isn’t just a case of one team winning here while another triumphs over there. One of the realities involves a murder.
Community (NBC, 8/7c) — “Basic Lupine Urology”
This show just got nominated for a Hugo award, so I figure that’s justification enough for me to be listing it here. Plus, it’s hands-down the funniest show on television. But you already knew that, because you’re already watching every week, aren’t you? Aren’t you?
Person of Interest (CBS, 9/8c) — “Matsya Nyaya”
Reese goes undercover with an armored-car crew, and proves to be more entertaining than Matt Dillon. We also get a few more insights into Reese’s past with the CIA.
Touch (Fox, 9/8c) – “Noosphere Rising”
“Martin’s search for Teller’s workshop results in another professor’s poker winnings. Meanwhile, a young Italian man tries to find the love of his life; a city dweller learns a valuable lesson about his deceased father’s life on a ranch; and Martin’s sister-in-law visits Jake and Clea at the board-and-care facility.” I swear, every Touch synopsis is more random than the last. It’s like Fox is secretly playing a game of Bingo nobody else knows about. “A meat-packer reunites with…his long-lost cousin…during a competitive eating contest.” “Bingo!”
Fringe (Fox, 9/8c) – “Worlds Apart”
Both teams of Fringe agents find themselves working together on a case that ties back to Walter’s Cortexiphan experiments. After tonight, only two episodes remain…
Sound of My Voice (In Theaters, Limited Release)
No, not the Barenaked Ladies song. Sound of My Voice is an indie sci-fi thriller about two people who attempt to infiltrate a cult run by a man who claims to be a visitor from the future. The flick is only getting a limited release this weekend, but if it’s playing near you and you’re not in the mood for the adventures of Edgar Allan Poe: Action Hero, Sound of My Voice might be worth checking out.
Space Twister (Syfy, 9/8c)
Syfy, I’m disappointed in you. Well, more disappointed than usual. You’re telling me you made a movie called Space Twister…and you didn’t think to add an exclamation point to the end of the title? Bad form. Spaaaaaaace Twiiiiiisteeeeeerrrrrrr!!!!!
MythBusters (Discovery, 9/8c) – “Mailbag Special”
Will they be investigating myths submitted via the mail? Will they be testing myths actually involving mailbags? Will they accidentally fire a mailbag through someone’s suburban home? Tune in to find out!