Dean Koontz on Science Fiction Classics

For some reason, I’m reading a 1988 Dean Koontz novel, and I come across this:


Really? Really? These three movies belong together in a list of the genre-defining benchmarks in science fiction? Two record breaking franchises and a kids’ movie with 15 reviews on Rotten Tomatoes?

And being aware of those three things is enough, apparently, to make someone an “expert in the weird.”




Fans of H.P. Lovecraft May Not Want To Read This

This week I was thinking of something I read somewhere, that much of what we think of as “Lovecraftian” doesn’t really come from the works of Lovecraft. It’s true. Most of his work is not horror fiction as we think of it; his style has that ring to it, but the plots tend to be be of different genres.

Most of his major work is really more science fiction. The rest is a mix of weird Gothic, some is dark fantasy, and, sure, some is just horror. But he jumps around, blends genres, and covers his main body of work under the very broad umbrella of speculative fiction.

Basically, he’s Dean Koontz.

There, I said it. Let the rioting begin.



Global Warming Overreaction

Let’s say, for argument’s sake, that everything the media says about global warming is true–humanity is the primary cause of a huge warming trend in the last century and it’s a serious threat to the future.

Even in that case, every single bad thing that happens in the atmosphere is not caused by global warming.  This should be obvious, right?  Climate change could exacerbate some violent weather, but not cause all of it.

I did some research, and it turns out that Earth actually did have some storms before 1900.  Who knew?

And yet, on the political left, any and every meteorological disturbance is automatically the direct result of, and an opportunity to preach about, global warming.  This kind of knee jerk overreaction isn’t science, it’s superstition.

In Dean Koontz’s The Taking, a sudden global superstorm causes impossibly giant waterspouts throughout the oceans and torrential rain across the planet, at the same time that Earth’s satellite network starts going dead.  Naturally, cable news anchors instantly pin the responsibility on their trusty old go-to, global warming.  That was published in 2004, though.  Alas, it’s hard to satirize a reality bent on being even dumber than satire.

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“Preternatural” Watch

Pursuant to my note in April about Dean Koontz’s predilection for the awkward term “preternatural,” I finished Odd Thomas last week.  It was terrific, and I highly recommend it.  And in the hardcover edition at my library, the word appears on page 127.


I’ve often told students that one of the most glaring scars in amateur writing is the tendency to use their favorite words too frequently.  It’s not unusual for young writers to put something like “obviously” or “perhaps” three or four times in the same paragraph, or even the same sentence.

But the problem is far worse when the word is more obscure and the writer is more experienced.

I haven’t read that many Dean Koontz books, but he clearly loves the word “preternaturally.”  He seems to use it near the beginning of every one of his books that I’ve seen.

Is he just trying to see if anyone notices?  Did he lose a bet?

Part of me wants to go to the library and take all of his books off the shelf one at a time, scanning the first two chapters, just looking for that word.

Has anyone else picked up on this, or is it just me?

It reminds me of this great Kids in the Hall skit:

Reviewed: Watchers, by Dean Koontz

13739102I picked up Midnight from a library shelf a couple years ago at random and absolutely loved it.  I’ve started a couple of other Dean Koontz books since then, but nothing has been nearly as good, and I haven’t bothered finishing them.  But I decided to end my summer with a fun, easy, puffball of a book, and I picked up Watchers

Koontz is not a very good writer, but he is a terrific storyteller.  (I cringe every time he flaunts the word “preternaturally” as an all purpose spooky adjective–as he did twice in this book–and I pretend he’s doing it on purpose when his characters converse in speeches more stilted than in an old Disney movie.  Still, he knows how to pace a plot, that’s for sure.)

I liked Watchers.  Like Midnight, there is suspense and even violence, but it rarely punches below the belt and always affirms individual dignity and even glory, and does so in a very traditional, and often outright spiritual, context.  Despite the menacing cover, the title is not referring (as I first assumed) to some voyeuristic spies that the good guys must overcome with their open, honest virtue.  No, the title actually refers directly to those Apollonian protagonists themselves: at one emotional point near the end, a character says, “We have a responsibility to stand watch over one another, we are watchers, all of us, watchers, guardians against the darkness.” 

Yes, Dean Koontz is the novelistic equivalent of Thomas Kinkade as a painter–much glossy romanticizing in an idealized world (though to make the analogy more apt, Kinkade’s quaint village cottages would have to also be under assault by genetically enhanced killers produced by shadowy collectivist governments who are ultimately dispatched by a sympathetic band of rugged, clean-shaven regular joes who come together to weather the storm)–but so what?  I like Thomas Kinkade paintings, too.  Kinkade and Koontz make pleasant places. 


Final Grade: B