In light of the Ebola outbreak (of course) I’m re-reading Stephen King’s classic pandemic nightmare, “The Stand.” The verdict: I’m frankly amazed at how well it had stood up to the test of time, and how it has insinuated itself into our perception of threats like the Ebola virus. Also, any of us who write fiction in any genre should look to this book as an example of how someone explodes popular expectations and creates an enduring work of popular culture.
This is a gigantic book composed in 1978 by a guy dismissed at the time as a hack genre writer, about a pandemic that wipes out 99.4 % of the world’s population, but it doesn’t feel dated at all. Instead, you realize that King cares more about the characters than the plot - its like Charles Dickens writing horror - and he makes you care, too. Moreover, you rapidly realize that (a) “The Passage” is a total rip-off of Stephen King, (b) everyone from Jennifer Egan to Neal Stephenson to JK Rowling was hugely influenced by Stephen King, (c) cocaine and alcohol can make you write really long books with an unrelenting lunatic intensity, (d) Stephen King was heavily influenced by late 19th and early 20th century realists (!), (e) the guy can write. Even when he’s completely over the top, and can’t stop himself from falling into a rant about something that he believes a character would care about, but that you don’t, or disagree with, he pursues his thought to the end, and you follow him because you have to. Is this is “best” book? Probably not - I think “11/22/63” is probably his masterwork. But this is a remarkable novel that’s only superficially about a pandemic, and only superficially about an apocalyptic battle between good and evil. It is really about America, and about the people who make it their home, and it will probably be the Stephen King book that everyone remembers.
I’m always asked to recommend books - and it’s actually one of my favorite things to do. I read a lot, and I have at least twice as many opinions as are strictly necessary, so this is pretty much my sweet spot. In any event, while I have all sorts of specific recommendations for specific types of people, here are the books I generically have been recommending to everyone recently. They aren’t the “best” books I’ve read, or even the best books I’ve read over the past decade (FYI, best book: 2666 by Roberto Bolano), but they are some of the most entertaining books and/or the books most useful to get a sense of what types of things are good these days and what’s going on in the culture:
1. The Golden Compass, by Philip Pullman
2. Enclave, by Ann Aguire
3. American Gods, by Neil Gaiman
4. Cryptonomicon, by Neil Stephenson
5. Angelmaker, by Nick Harkaway
6. Lexicon, by Max Barry
7. Graceling, Kristin Cashore
8. The Name of the Star, Maureen Johnson
9. The Magicians, by Lev Grossman
10. Ready Player One, by Ernest Cline
11. Turn of Mind, by Alice LaPlante
12. The Night Circus, by Erin Morgenstern
13. Halting State, by Charles Stross
14. The Amulet of Samarkand, by Jonathan Stroud
15. Cloud Atlas, by David Mitchell
16. Mr. Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore, by Robin Sloan
17. Wool, by Hugh Howey
18. NOS4A2, by Joe Hill
19. The Naturals, Jennifer Lynn Barnes
20. Shadow and Bone, Leigh Bardugo
The highly praised YA time travel thriller The Secret Root is free (!) on Kindle but only from July 29-August 2. This special Amazon promotion ends soon, so download your copy now! http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B009LK59FG?ie=UTF8&at=aw-iphone-pc-us-20&force-full-site=1&ref_=aw_bottom_links
Over 3500 people downloaded it yesterday alone (that’s like 5 a minute!), and it’s now the #1 young adult action adventure download on Amazon! So what are you waiting for - get your copy now!! http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B009LK59FG?ie=UTF8&at=aw-iphone-pc-us-20&force-full-site=1&ref_=aw_bottom_links
The way all sequels should be composed.
Amazon Best Sellers Rank:
#1 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Teen & Young Adult > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Science Fiction > Time Travel
#1 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Teen & Young Adult > Literature & Fiction > Action & Adventure
#1 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Teen & Young Adult > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Science Fiction > Action & Adventure
So what are you waiting for - download it now!
Thank you to the (literally) hundreds and hundreds of people who downloaded the special free promotion of The Secret Root yesterday - I’m thrilled that so many people will soon be sharing in the adventure! But tell your friends - the promotion lasts until tomorrow, and then everything goes back to normal!
For a limited time (February 19-21 only) Amazon is giving away the Kindle version of the awesome YA time travel thriller The Secret Root for free! That’s right - $0.00! This special Amazon promotion for the first volume of The Mesh Chronicles will end soon, so don’t delay - share this message and tell everyone!
So I have a problem - I have too many books to write, and too many books to read. I have five (!) books in process, and I keep getting pulled back to a different one, resulting in none of them getting finished (I have a “real” life so I only have so much time…). On the other hand, I have about 2 dozen books that I want to read, with almost that many of them already loaded onto my Kindle, and I can’t decide (do I want to read a serious bit of literature, a dystopian fantasy, or a brutal mystery? I don’t know!)
So do I work on the book that seems most likely to sell? The book that will be the best one in the end but that will take me ages to finish? the one that’s funny and entertaining? The awesome sequel to The Secret Root?