Top positive review
11 of 11 people found this helpful
Stephen King's buried spaceship science fiction horror story
on 16 February 2004
The start of Stephen King's 1987 novel "The Tommyknockers" has always reminded me of the set up of one of my all-time favorite science fiction-horror films, "5 Million Years to Earth" (a.k.a. "Quatermass and the Pit" in the U.K.). A writer named Roberta Anderson, living on the outskirts of the small town of Haven, Maine, is out looking for firewood in the forest behind her house when she stumbles over three inches of metal. She assumes that she has stumbled over a beer can left behind by a logger, but instead she discovers the metal was solid. What she has found is a space ship, buried in the earth for millions of years, but still vibrating faintly. So, Bobbi begins to dig the giant craft out of the earth by herself, soon to be joined by her friend and former lover Jim Gardener, and by the strange advanced technology that they are suddenly inspired to create. But as they uncover more of the ship Bobbi and Jim, as well as the rest of the citizens of Haven, all start to change.
Up to that point "The Tommyknockers" is pretty good and I have to admit that I thought the idea of alien technology working into the ancient rubric that there are some things human beings were not meant to tamper with was enough to sustain the story. But instead we are treated to a malevolent presence that has evil designs on the citizen of Haven and that seemed to me like overkill. Add to that the fact the two main characters are writers (King dedicates the novel to his wife Tabitha, who is also a novelist), and "The Tommyknockers" becomes a bit too self referential for me as does the whole subplot about Gardener’s writer’s block. This novel represents the start of a period in King's writing where my recurring complaint was that the great set up never resulted in an ending that was equal to the task, although we do have a sort of reverse "deus ex machina" at the end of this one. But the discovery of the ship and the weird inventions people in Haven start putting together out of odds, ends and batteries is pretty good stuff.