First published back in 1988, Robert McCammon's sci-fi horror novel `Stinger' followed on from the successful novels `They thirst!' and `Swan Song'. Already with quite a well respected name for himself within the horror world, McCammon's `Stinger' was a widely anticipated release for this author.
Set in the not too distant future within a dusty Texas town named Inferno, the books starts off setting the scene in this scorching hot dying town. Work is hard to come by and life is hard for the residence of Inferno. Rival gangs rule the streets, fighting amongst themselves on almost a daily basis.
The plot soon gets underway when two spacecrafts land close to the town. One of these is inhabited by an escaped alien named Daufin, who takes over the body of a little seven year old girl named Stevie Hammond. Daufin is hiding after being hunted down by the alien bounty hunter known as Stinger. The town's people are dragged into a war for their survival as the Stinger kills everyone in its path to reach Daufin.
With a vast array of b-movie-esque characters fulfilling every possible cliché going, `Stinger' is a non-stop sci-fi horror thrill. McCammon uses a thick slab of exaggerated personalities for each one of the characters, in order to bring a life to each character. This further enables the reader to identify with certain selected characters as well as building up a love for each one.
With a number of inner sub plots raging through the storyline, McCammon draws them all together to allow them to fight side by side against their common enemy. This delivers the usual b-movie message of overcoming each others rivalries in order to face the common evil.
The pace of the storyline takes a few chapters to get going, but once it's underway the novel maintains a constant fast pace throughout. With the interwoven subplots surrounding the main storyline, McCammon manages to keep a highly entertaining novel going, with action packaged chapters leaving the reader with regular cliff hangers.
The novel ends with a dramatic and well managed conclusion. The storyline is suitably built towards the eventual climax, wrapping up the story well and leaving the reader somewhat satisfied.
The warfare between the two gangs `The Renegades' led by a youth named Cody and the gang `The Rattlesnakes' led by Cody's nemesis Rick Jurado, is throughally entertaining in a sort of post-apocalyptic gang warfare way (Class Of Nuke `em High, Mad Max, Doomsday, etc).
For a lowbrow entertaining sci-fi horror with an action packed storyline then you can't go far wrong with McCammon's `Stinger'. This is 576 pages of pure gritty horror with comic book characterisation and nail biting suspense.