Post-Festival of Books: Science fiction notes


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Joe Hill and his dad: It was nice to find Joe Hill completely at ease talking about his father, Stephen King, during the science fiction/fantasy/horror panel Sunday morning. ‘He’s my first reader,’ he said. ‘I’ve learned a lot from him.’ But, as he told the audience, he decided not to approach publishers as Joseph Hillstrom King (his given name) because ‘it would have been beneficial for me only in the short run.’

‘If I had done that, I’m sure they would have been willing to publish work that wasn’t ready, just for the advantage of having a tie to my family,’ he said.


But because ‘Heart-Shaped Box’ received favorable reviews, Hill feels comfortable enough now when the question is raised about his father. When an older audience member approached the mike and even complained -- ‘There’s a lot that’s wrong with horror today, all that slasher stuff, and much of it has to do with Stephen King’ -- Hill responded that his father’s work ‘in large part explores the experiences of the middle class, what they’re feeling. I think he prides himself on being a reporter of what’s going on. But if you want Lovecraft and all that, go ahead, man. It’s a wide field. You can always find something else to read.’

Other bits: Kevin Anderson, who completed Frank Herbert’s ‘Dune’ saga with Herbert’s son, Brian, told the audience that a new motion picture of ‘Dune’ may be in the works. ‘Let’s keep our fingers crossed,’ he said. The special effects technology that’s available today, he said, might lead to an even richer realization of that book than what one sees in David Lynch’s 1984 film.

James Howard Kunstler wasn’t on this panel (he was on a fiction panel later in the day), but he easily could have been for his novel ‘World Made By Hand.’ His novel looks at life in a future world where energy resources have run out and people revert to an existence resembling 19th century life.

I’m mentioning it here because Kunstler explained that he wanted his book to respond to the post-apocalyptic picture of the world that readers get in Cormac McCarthy’s harrowing novel ‘The Road.’ ‘I want people to feel some hope about the future,’ he said. ‘I just want them to realize that there are alternatives to what that novel presents.’

-- Nick Owchar

Joe Hill photo: Beth Gwinn