By Stephen King; Read by Sissy Spacek
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio
6 discs – 7 hours 12 minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Themes: / telekinesis / high school / religious fanaticism /
The story of misfit high-school girl, Carrie White, who gradually discovers that she has telekinetic powers. Repressed by a domineering, ultra-religious mother and tormented by her peers at school, her efforts to fit in lead to a dramatic confrontation during the senior prom.
To begin, I want to tell a quick story about my introduction to Stephen King. I came really late to the party when it comes to the King. I’ll not bore you with the story about my first read, but to make a long story short, I read The Stand and was not a fan right away…to say the least. For some reason, and after numerous recommendations, I started The Dark Tower series and I wasn’t even that impressed with the first book, The Gunslinger. I didn’t hate it, but it wasn’t nearly what everyone was saying.
O for 2.
And yet, for some crazy reason that I still don’t really understand, I pushed along, reading book two in The Dark Tower, The Drawing of the Three. I’ve fallen for authors before and maybe it was all the prior disappointment, but I fell really hard with that book.
Instant fan here…erm…after three books.
Thereafter my collection of King books has slowly been increasing starting with The Dark Tower series (of course) and moving on to others (I think I’m at around 25 or so). I have even read a couple more since I guess that’s what you’re supposed to do with books, at least someone told me that once. Every single one has been great and that also explains my current read (rereading the one I hated and enjoying it more than most other books).
So we’re talking about Carrie here right? Right. Carrie. King’s first published book. I gotta say, this is quite an impressive book. Published when he was 26, I guess some people are just born to do certain things and King was born to write. This also makes me feel like I’ve wasted my life.
First of all, this audiobook was read by Sissy Spacek. If you’ve been living under a rock, she’s the one who played Carrie in the classic film based on this book. She’s a great actress, although I’ve not seen this film, and she’s perfect for the reading of this book.
On that note, both this book and its movie are inseparable from pop culture. Having never seen the movie or read the book until now, I still knew (or thought I knew) everything about this book. And who doesn’t know about that infamous prom scene? Just the people in that Geico commercial, just those.
I thought for sure that knowledge would ruin the book for me, but it turns out that’s not a problem. The way the book is set up, you already know about that scene almost right up front. Each chapter starts with a snippet of a news story or biography that tells of the occurrence at the high school and Carrie. This scene actually happens way earlier in the book than I thought it would and the rest of the book deals with the aftermath.
I had a hard time with this book, though, and I think it’s for a couple reasons. One of those reasons is that I don’t think the set up really worked for me. There really wasn’t much to this book, it was just the same events told in different ways and even though the book’s only around 200 pages, it still seemed long.
High school is just a terrible place or can be. It’s one of the worst times in many a person’s life and it’s only magnified in and through Carrie. She’s the worst type of tortured teenager and all I could think was that I never wanted my daughters to grow up and go through it. Through the insecurities, the immaturity, and downright meanness of those who tend to have the most insecurities.
Even through these agonizing moments, I was able to see King’s genius. At the end of the book, it really did seem like this was a real historical event. It was well-documented and the T.K. gene seemed almost like it could exist. The characters were also just as real as any other of King’s characters – which is as real as they come.
While the master is there, I can’t say I loved this book. It’s a tough, sad read that just made me miserable. That in and of itself is indicative of King’s ability, but I don’t think I’ll ever be rereading this, I don’t even really have the desire to see either the new or old movie. I respect this book a lot, but it was way too depressing for me.
3 out of 5 Stars
Posted by Bryce L.
*Introducing one of our new reviewers – Rob Z. While he waits for his first audiobooks to review for SFF Audio, we thought we’d tide you over with one of his favorite audiobook reviews.*
The Gunslinger (The Dark Tower #1) – revised and expanded ed.
By Stephen King; Read by George Guidall
Publisher: Penguin Audio, now available on Audible
Publication Date: 6 October 2003
7 hours, 24 minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Themes: / fantasy / parallel worlds /
Eerie, dreamlike, set in a world that is weirdly related to our own, The Gunslinger introduces Roland Deschain of Gilead, of In-World that was, as he pursues his enigmatic antagonist to the mountains that separate the desert from the Western Sea in the first volume of The Dark Tower series. Roland, the last gunslinger, is a solitary figure, perhaps accursed, who with a strange single-mindedness traverses an exhausted, almost timeless landscape of good and evil. The people he encounters are left behind, or worse, left dead. At a way station, however, he meets Jake, a boy from a particular time (1977) and a particular place (New York City), and soon the two are joined, khef, ka, and ka-tet. The mountains lie before them. So does the man in black and, somewhere far beyond…the Dark Tower.
The start of an epic journey. Or is it? The start I mean.
“The man in black fled across the desert, and the gunslinger followed.”
Why? To what purpose? How long has he been chasing him? Ah my friends, these are but a few of many questions.
The journey is the key, and here we throw our lot in with the Gunslinger as he speeds towards his goal. Will we ever reach it? One must continue the journey with Roland to find out. And so I have. Again.
I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve read this book. It’s probably my least favorite in the series, and yet it contains some of my favorite moments.
The glimpses into Roland’s childhood that are a large part of what makes Wizard and Glass one of my absolute favorite books are present in this book with much smaller doses. The story of Roland’s coming of age in particular is one I could listen to again and again (and so I have, say thankee-sai).
Another particular favorite of mine is Tull. It gives us a glimpse, and it just a glimpse of who the Gunslinger really is. It is here that Mr. King makes a revision in a scene I’m not sure I agree with. It’s not a “Han Shot First” re-write for me, but one I felt un-necessary that tries to offer some forgiveness for Roland’s actions.
That said. I love this book. The original book is actually a collection of 5 stories that were published in a magazine over the span of about 3 years. Mr. King revised the book in 2003.
For the most part, the revisions help to fill out the story and clear up some continuity issues that Mr. King hadn’t worked out when he first wrote them. You could maybe call it ret-con, but I really consider it more of clarification of detail that was lacking.
I’ve always wondered why so many people don’t like this book. My friend listened to it with his brother. He almost quit the series right there. His brother did. I’ve seen many people recommend skipping this book outright and coming back to it at the end. I suppose that would work, but the need for it is beyond my comprehension.
I thought maybe this re-read many years since my last around the time of the final 3 books release in the mid 2000s would shed some light on it. It did not.
Maybe it’s a sense of nostalgia. Maybe because I first read this book before many of the long sprawling epics I’ve tackled since. But their are certainly other books I enjoyed as a younger man that I no longer enjoy as an adult.
This book isn’t one of those. To me it offers you a glimpse and a promise of all that is to come. For that I must again say Thankee-sai to Mr. King.
I listened to the audible version of the revised edition of this book. The reader is George Guidall.
He was enjoyable enough, and his voice seems suited to the tale. I opted to do an audio-book re-’read’ of the series as my friend has been experiencing it for the first time and I find my memory of it lacking.
One of the things lost by doing the audio however is the artwork. I have 1-4 in trade paperback by Plume (with both the original text and updated version that this audiobook contains) and the original hard cover releases of 5-7. The Plume editions contain some, but not all of the artwork contained in the original hard cover releases.
Some may not welcome the art, as they prefer to let their own imaginations paint the pictures, but I’ve always been lacking in visual imagination so I welcome the inspiration to help my brain fill in the rest. I plan to make it a point to re-visit the art at some point as my re-read continues.
Review by Rob Zak.
Talked about on today’s show:
Worlds Without End: Award Winners and Nominees in 1986, Tom Clancy said “nobody does it better”, how many alien invasion books are there?, Niven didn’t want to do an alien invasion in the Acknowledgments, came out of research for Lucifer’s Hammer, a mainstream The Mote In God’s Eye, too many characters (124!)?, character list in my Goodreads review, “put the screws to the president”, Sfsignal Mind Meld – science fiction writers on earth’s first contact team, Of Men And Monsters (The Men In The Walls) by William Tenn, would Stefan Rudnicki have lisping aliens?, the surrender position, alien science fiction writers, Russia nuking Kansas, is it an allegory?, Star Trek, The Burning City and Burning Tower were fantasy allegories, ‘what if’ stories, Oath Of Fealty has giant buildings, War Of The Worlds, Popular Alien Invasion Books, Heinlein’s The Puppet Masters, “high concept cool gee-whiz wow”, Lucifer’s Hammer could be more focused, idea books vs entertainment, characters and Stephen King’s The Stand, Tuckerization of a real person into a story, Wrath Of God by Robert Gleason (from the acknowledgments?), how much would these inventions cost?, someone get Paul Krugman, Chapter 20 (Schemes) has all the ideas, Project Orion (nuclear propulsion), Kinetic Bombardment — Project Thor, Laser Propulsion, Niven on Prisoners Of Gravity, environmentalists and Fallen Angels, Pournelle for pope
Posted by Tamahome
The SFFaudio Podcast #201 – The Inn by Guy de Maupassant, read by Mirko Stauch. This is a complete and unabridged reading of the short story (34 minutes) followed by a discussion of it. Participants in the discussion include Jesse and Mirko.
Talked about on today’s show:
Where and why, more and more Maupassant, is there a definitive list of Guy de Maupassant SFF stories?, German translations, the BBC audio drama adaptation of The Inn, RadioArchive.cc, a ghost story, the twist in the end or the twist middle, great writing, an ambiguous ghost story, a psychological happening, the dog’s reaction, revenant, “it becomes the monster”, Louise Hauser, is Ulrich dead?, Gaspard, The Others, Maupassant tricks us, “they bury themselves”, Ulrich is punished for no reason, the voice, white noise, Ulrich’s religious beliefs, Cologne on a cold night, the ravens!, the audio drama improves on the short story!, a filling metaphor, “the immense ocean of pale mountain summits”, mainstream, the vertical issue, Wolfgang von Goethe, “only a very stable character”, a proto-cosmic horror, The Festival by H.P. Lovecraft, a Christmas story, describing nature, the second meaning, “arose from the snow itself”, “he’s alone on the Moon”, being alone, cabin fever, we are alone in the cosmos, community allows us to hide from the harsh truth, gambling, “I would have brought a bunch of books”, “illiterate mountain peasants”, a lonely island, did Gaspard fall into a crevasse?, nature is the monster, the unknown is more terrifying, the terror of the soul, undeserved guilt, “eighteen degrees of frost”, “he was of a sleepy nature”, 1886, Guy de Maupassant visited the Alps, riddled with disease, the Inn at Schwarenbach, The Shining by Stephen King, an internal flaw, “he could speak no human words”, Nightflyers by George R.R. Martin, Perry Rhodan, Silent Running, I Am Legend by Richard Matheson, the dog as a symbol, the dog as a companion, the importance of routine for the lonely, the demon of loneliness, “all is busy work before the grave”, Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe, Castaway, The Piece Of String (aka The Piece Of Yarn), “eating a sandwich that you find on the sidewalk”, he dies alone and unloved, “two feets”, every Norman is trapped in disbelief, it could have happened to us!, his hair turned white, Supernatural Horror In Literature by H.P. Lovecraft, “the unseen”, “the outer blackness”, able to appreciate the immensity of reality, Honey Boo Boo, The Horla by Guy de Maupassant, The Call Of Cthulhu, “when I think of H.P. Lovecraft I don’t think of immense tentacles.”
Posted by Jesse Willis
The SFFaudio Podcast #200 – Jesse, Mirko, and Gary Lovisi discuss the Science Fiction novel Mars Needs Books! by Gary Lovisi.
Talked about on today’s show:
the great description, Audible.com, it’s a prison novel, it’s a dystopian science fiction novel, it’s a book collector’s novel, Philip K. Dick, a reality dysfunction, The Man In The High Castle, 1984 by George Orwell, “retconning“, Stalin, airbrushing history, a new Science Fiction idea!, Amazon’s Kindle, Mark Twain, “The Department Of Control”, J. Edgar Hoover, Simon is the most evil character ever, oddball individualists, a straw man gulag, one way of keeping the population in control is to send troublemakers away, another is to give them someone to hate, The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress by Robert A. Heinlein, the Attica Prison riot (1971), Arabella Rashid, entertainment media, when you can’t tell what the truth is anymore it’s very easy to control people, maybe it’s an allegory for our times, Paperback Parade, SF writers were wrong about what our times are like, Mars, crime novels, Science Fiction as a metaphor, people are scared of reading, “I like good writing”, Richard Stark’s Parker novels, getting the word out about Mars Needs Books!, Gargoyle Nights, H.P. Lovecraft, Clark Ashton Smith, Jack Vance, horror, fantasy, nice and short, short books pack a punch (and don’t waste your time), Stephen King, Patrick O’Brian, ideas, paperback novels from the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s, customers want thick books, Winter In Maine by Gerard Donovan, were looking at a different readership today, James M. Cain’s The Postman Always Rings Twice, there’s nothing that doesn’t add to the story, “Lawrence Block is scary good”, Donald E. Westlake, Robert Bloch, Eight Million Ways To Die, A Pair Of Recycled Jeans by Lawrence Block, Evan Hunter (Ed McBain), Charles Ardai (was on SFFaudio Podcast #090), book-collectors, Murder Of A Bookman by Gary Lovisi (is also on Audible.com), collectable glassware, Sherlock Holmes Mystery Magazine, cool dialogue, Driving Hell’s Highway by Gary Lovisi (also on Audible.com), That Hell-bound Train by Robert Bloch, noir, Violence Is The Only Solution by Gary Lovisi (paperback), hard-boiled, revenge, betrayal, personality disorder, Sherlock Holmes, westerns, “if there’s one truth in the universe that I know it’s that Germans love westerns”, which frontier are you talking about?, The Wild Bunch, a western with tommyguns, Akira Kurosawa, Outland (is High Noon in space), Altered Carbon by Richard K. Morgan, hard-boiled, violence, the Martian national anthem, Prometheus Award, libertarian motifs, world-building, GryphonBooks.com, Hurricane Sandy, Wildside Press, POD Books, eBooks, fire and water, that paperback is still in readable condition in 150 years?, fanzines, Jack Vance, The Dying Earth, Robert Silverberg, Dell Mapbacks, paperbacks were disposable, used bookstores, sex books.
Posted by Jesse Willis
Filed under: Audio Drama, New Releases, Podcasts, Recent Arrivals
Talked about on today’s show:
Recent arrivals first, here’s Jenny’s list, Harry Harrison’s Deathworld, Speculative! Brilliance audiobooks (from public domain works), “he’s super clear”, author of Make Room! Make Room! (aka Soylent Green), Planet Of The Damned, “nice font”, Ursula K. Le Guin’s The Telling is in the Hanish Cycle, the out of print Harlan Ellison version of A Wizard of Earthsea, The Lathe Of Heaven and the PBS TV-movie with Bruce Davidson (trailer), Work Of The Devil by Katherine Amt Hanna, “the devil has no time for long novels”, Joe Hill’s Horns and In The Tall Grass (with Stephen King), Philip K. Dick’s Vulcan’s Hammer, similar to Colossus: The Forbin Project (film), “goes Skynet on your ass”, The Game-Players Of Titan has slug aliens, good names for bands, Time Out Of Joint, Tears In Rain by Rosa Montera is inspired by Blade Runner (it has a female Rutger Hauer), translated from Spanish, The Woodcutter by Kate Danley has fairy tale characters, Beowulf, Jeff Wheeler’s Legends Of Muirwood series released all at once, House Of Cards is a great British show, Dead Spots by Scarlett Bernard sounds like one of those Lifetime movies, The Mad Scientist’s Daughter by Cassandra Rose Clarke has a disturbing android romance, ewww!, Tam knows who Steven Erikson is (Forge Of Darkness), re-read of the Malazan series, we need urban fantasy and military SF people, Tenth Of December by George Saunders, prefers short stories, on Colbert, Vampires In The Lemon Grove by Karen Russell, her novel Swamplandia has been optioned by HBO, New releases start, Poe Must Die by Marc Olden, Ben Bova’s Farside comes out soon (hard SF), narrated by Stefan Rudnicki, Stefan’s Fantastic Imaginings, where’s James P. Hogan’s Inherit The Earth?, the movie Frequency didn’t star Kevin Bacon, the entire X Minus One radio drama run, short story audio collections having chapters and a table of contents, Star Wars audiobooks with enhanced sound, Bryce’s review of Star Wars: Scoundrels, more Star Trek novel audio books, more classic sf, Leigh Brackett, Jerry Pournelle, Harlan Ellison, Arthur C. Clarke, George R.R. Martin, “you’re welcome, Audible”, The Mad Scientist’s Guide To World Domination by John Joseph Adams, short fiction is back, Olaf Stapelton, like a science fiction The Silmarillion, SF Crossing The Gulf podcast will discuss Olaf Stapledon and others, Mary Doria Russell, where’s the audio version of Karen Lord’s The Best Of All Possible Worlds? (actually it came out the same day as the print version), Jenny loved it, what is the Candide connection Karen?, indie Scifi Arizona author Michael McCollum on Audible (Steve Gibson approved), the Audible Feb2013 Win-Win $4.95 sale, get the first in a series cheap, Sharon Shinn’s Archangel Samaria series, Image Comics’s first issue sale, The Red Panda audio drama becomes a comic (cover), John Scalzi’s The Human Division serial, wish science fiction authors in TV series, George R.R. Martin to develop more shows for HBO, football jerseys vs Star Trek uniforms.
Posted by Tamahome