“The Tommyknockers” by Stephen King is one of the books my little brother insisted that I read. As today is his birthday, it seemed appropriate to make this book the subject of my review today. “The Tommyknockers” is one of Stephen King’s longer books, but you barely notice that when reading. It is yet another book that I just found myself devouring. Although there was still a significant influence of the horror genre in this book, it is more correctly categorized as a science fiction book.
Bobbi Anderson in Haven is patient zero in “The Tommyknockers”. One day while out walking the woods, she trips over something. It is seemingly such an insignificant event, but it changes things forever. Bobbi becomes obsessed with unearthing the object that she tripped over. Bobbi is a writer and I found myself connecting strongly with her untainted self in the beginning. I especially liked this quote: “She had been amazed – and a little relieved – to discover that she was not concealing some private neurosis; almost all imaginative people heard voices. Not just thoughts but actual voices inside their heads, different personae, each as clearly defined as voices on an old-time radio show.” (The Tommyknockers, pg 40). I can relate. As she is unearthing the object, it becomes clear that it is an alien spacecraft. During the excavation of the spacecraft, Bobbi and the whole town change. The changes are slow and subtle at first, but it becomes apparent that things are not changing for the better.
The main character is a good friend and sometimes lover of Bobbi’s nicknamed Gard. He is very different from what you usually expect from a main character. Instead of having one or two little quirky flaws, he is chalk full of them. Gard is an alcoholic, he happily alters his state of mind in any way that he can, he is also a conspiracy theorist, a hard-core protestor, and is always up for some mischief. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to call him scum. He has no qualms at making women cry by spouting his truths about anything and everything. He is not an easily likable individual. Likable or not, Gard was certainly entertaining with a fair amount of actual deep thoughts to his name. “He had been raised to believe God was love, but you had to wonder how loving a God could be when He made men and women smart enough to land on the moon but stupid enough to have to learn there was no such thing as forever over and over again.” (The Tommyknockers, pg 70).
I think one of the really interesting things about “The Tommyknockers” is how advanced all the technology appeared to be. To the casual observer, it would seem that the knowledge that was spreading across Haven after Bobbi began excavating the spacecraft was superior in many ways. It took Gard to point out to everyone what the obvious answers were to the problems they were encountering. “All the intelligence and determination in the world cannot create art without a bit of talent, but intelligence and determination can create some great forgeries.” (The Tommyknockers, pg 260). And although the changes that were happening gave the appearance of superiority, things were not better. “Mental communication had not fostered a sense of peace and harmony in Haven; in fact, it seemed to have done exactly the opposite.” (The Tommyknockers, pg 325).
Would I recommend this book? Yes, especially if you are not usually a fan of science fiction. The way that I enjoyed this book made me realize that science fiction is a genre that is almost completely unexplored by me. Considering all the other books that I gravitate towards, it is surprising that it took this long for me to read and enjoy a science fiction novel. I look forward to branching out more. And as always, I cannot wait to get my hands on some more of Stephen King’s work.
“Real terror is the most physically debilitating of all emotions. It saps the endocrines, dumps muscle – tightening organic drugs into the bloodstream, races the heart, exhausts the mind.” (The Tommyknockers, pg 578)