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representative of the social repression of the individual, lock Charlie's cell and throw away the key. Though Charlie regains control of the narrative in the final chapter, it is only to tell the reader that he has lost his struggle for individualism.

Biographical/Critical Introduction to Stephen King

Source: Chris Pourteau, The Individual and Society: Narrative Structure and Thematic Unity in Stephen King's Rage, in The Journal of Popular Culture, Vol. 27, No. 1, Summer, 1993, pp. 171 77.

Technohorror: The Dystopian Vision of Stephen King

Critic: James Egan

Source: Extrapolation, Vol. 29, No. 2, Summer, 1988, pp. 140-52

Criticism about: Stephen (edwin) King (1947-), also known as: Stephen (Edwin) King, Stephen King, Richard Bachman, Steve King, John Swithen, Steven King

Technohorror: The Dystopian Vision of Stephen King,

Stephen King has received considerable attention for his treatment of what Brian Ash calls the theme of a darkening world (Ash 86). [Faces of the Future, 1975] Less familiar is the fact that, from the beginning of his career, King has concerned himself with the complex implications of science and technology, so much so that the horror he evokes often seems inseparable from the dangers of imperious science and runaway machinery of many sorts. The anti-technological slant of King's writing links it with one of the primary preoccupations of twentieth-century science fiction. Like many avowed science fiction writers, moreover, King shares the modern dystopian notion that calamity rather than enlightenment, peace, and security will result from the erroneous utopian premises of the technoscientific world view. Beneath the mayhem which permeates King's fiction lie interrelated, troubling questions about the power, extent, and validity of science and rationalism in contemporary society.

King, then, may be read as more than simply a writer of gothic horror fables. Douglas Winter points out that in 1954 55 King began to compose stories emulating the science fiction that he read (Winter 9). [Stephen King, 1982] King's own analysis of the horror genre, Danse Macabre (1980), mentions Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke, and his favorite science fiction writer, John Wyndham. Danse Macabre likewise makes several important observations about science fiction, tales of terror, and kindred genres. Horror, King claims, explores fears which exist across a broad spectrum of people. Such fears, which are often political, economic, and psychological rather than supernatural, give the best work of horror a pleasing allegorical feel (Danse Macabre 18). Horror clearly can exceed the supernatural, and horror does not have to be nonscientific (Danse Macabre 30), for King stresses that science fiction and horror overlap, as do utopian and dystopian literature (Danse Macabre 30). Additionally, Danse Macabre offers a definition of technohorror which provides a useful perspective on his work. The sub-text of the technohorror film, King maintains, suggests that we have been betrayed by our own machines and processes of mass production (Danse Macabre 156). As examples of technohorror he cites the mutant and radiation movies of the 1950s; the more recent vision of technology as an octopus perhaps sentient burying us alive in red-tape and information retrieval systems which are terrible when they work ... and even more so when they don't ; and contemporary versions of an archtype: the brilliant mind dangerously hypnotized by the siren song of technology (Danse Macabre 159 60). Apparently, for King, horror can focus on major technological fears; the concern he voices in Danse Macabre over technological missteps rises to a clamor in his fiction (Danse Macabre 374).

Douglas Winter notes that the technological horror theme is an obvious exploitation of the subversive tendencies of horror fiction (Winter 82). These subversive tendencies have dystopian implications, though King does not explicitly discuss the contemporary assumption that technohorror sounds a dystopian cry of discontent. Paul Buhle's analysis of H. P. Lovercraft's fiction points out that horror has a dystopian ring because it calls into questions affirmative culture ; dramatizes the increasingly empty faith in Progress which has saddled society; implies a suspicion about the control mechanisms of the state; and articulates a fear that science and social knowledge are pushing aside humanity and nature (Buhle 120). [Minnesota Review 6(1975)] King's work can, perhaps, best be characterized as a blend of anti-technological science fiction, gothic horror motifs and dystopian premises. This mixture of motifs and metaphors has distinguished precedents, for example, Shelley's Frankenstein, surely a prototypical horror story, but also an anti-technological, anti-utopian parable. A tenuous but definite link exists, moreover, between King's nightmare vision and the dystopian tradition of Zamiatin, Orwell, and Huxley.

Generally, King addresses what Harold Berger considers the critical point in the interplay of man and science [when] man loses the savor of life or control of the course of events, or both. He articulates many of the primary fears generated by science and technology, especially mass anxieties about man's survival, integrity, and compatibility

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