Sunday, June 27, 2004

The Dark Tower Series by Stephen King

After waiting for the last 6 months or so, the 6th book of the Dark Tower Series, Song of Susannah finally arrives. For those of you that aren't following the series, it's an epic that Mr King began in the late 70's about a gunslinger named Roland that comes from a world that is not ours but one of the worlds that lie parallel. All the worlds are connected by 16 beams to the Dark Tower which lies in the center of everything. Something somewhere has gone wrong and the Beams are failing, when they fail the world that's attached to it, moves on. When this happens time loses it's meaning, distances change, people become sterile, war's flash out of control and the entire world darkens. This series is attached to many of his other works, It, Salem's Lot, The Talisman and The Stand, I'm not going to name them all here but it's the underlying meaning to almost half of his writing. You can catch glimpses of it in much of his work, it's all connected. The Stand is a good example of what happens when a world moves on. Reality loses it's meaning and life flees.

King was hit by a car in 1999 while walking and I was extremely worried that he was going to die and wouldn't be able to finish this masterpiece. Guess this thought went through his head too and after recovering and writing 2 other books he was working on before the accident he finished the rest of the series in a whorl wind, he had all the books done and set up a publishing schedule last year. The fifth book was released last fall, 6th on June 1st this year and the last book is coming out this fall. I ordered the 6th from Amazon and it shipped out May 28th and I received it 26 June, damn military postal service, almost a month! Anyway back to the story.

Roland's ancestral land is overcome with bloodshed and mindless violence, destroying his family, his love and everything he held dear. In a cryptic vision he learns the only way to save everything is to go to the Dark Tower and fix the problem. We still don't know what his exact vision was but he vows to journey to the Dark Tower to try to fix what is wrong. His travels take him more years then he could count because time had lost it's meaning and the trip across thousands of miles of vast desert that seemed to dwarf anything from our world (one of the unique side affects of his world moving one was his world growing stretched, threadbare). The journey and take him back and forth between his world, worlds that could be ours and one that might even be. Worlds that have been blackened by nuclear war, emptied by plagues, lands far in the future where you see remnants of what could have been our world thousands of years after civilization had collapsed. Some of the worlds are in the same time as our world, just little differences that you notice, names of baseball teams are with the wrong cities, some of the names of cars abandoned on the sides of roads are unfamiliar, author's names for the same book are different and turning point events don't coincide. The superflu from The Stand is the big one. He gains 4 companions on his journey, Susannah Dean, Eddie Dean, Jake Chambers and Oy the billy-bumbler (intelligent dog critter that looks sort of like a collie mix with a long neck and can speak a few words). Together they are a ka-tet, a group of people that share sort of a family psychic bond that ties them together across time and space and are following ka, which is a sort of destiny. Everything has it’s meaning. The joining of each character is a story by itself so I'm not going to get into that. Song is the next to the last novel; he sets the stage for end game. It's a long convoluted complex tail that back tracks, jumps forward, every little thing has meaning and you can tell King has put a majority of his though in this (or as he says he's been channeling the dream to paper). I highly recommend it and it got me out of Iraq for the 13 hours that it took to finish.

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