Recently, Stephen King announced that we could expect a sequel to one of his best books ever, 1977's haunted house masterpiece the Shining. The follow-up, titled Doctor Sleep, examines psychic Danny Torrance as a grown man of 40. He now uses his abilities to ease the deaths of hospice patients in his care, but is thrown back into danger when he runs into a gang of energy vampires that feed off his dependents.
Currently there is no release date set for Doctor Sleep, but King did read the first chapter at George Mason University while accepting an award. The video can be seen here.
Hopefully Doctor Sleep will be a self-contained sequel rather than yet another attempt to shove everything into the Dark Tower universe. We know that we're in the minority of King readers in that we think the first book was awesome enough to have just stopped there, but we think that forcing too much Dark Towerness is only thing that keeps Black House, the sequel to the Talisman, from being one of his best books ever. If we can cure King of that habit, maybe he could revisit some of our other favorites. A few of the books we think would have fantastic sequels are...
With few exceptions, the things that King wrote under the Bachman name are better than most of the work he released under his own. The best of the Bachman books is the Long Walk, a novel about a marathon in the future where teenage boys compete for a wish and a huge cash prize. The catch is that if they stop walking, they are shot.
The world of the Long Walk is a fascist American dictatorship run by a figure known as the Major. We always wondered exactly what role the winners of the Walk had within its confines. The event is basically a crowd-placating blood sport similar to gladiator contests that keep the populace distracted from the fact they are living in an oppressive regime. Suddenly, young pissed-off teenagers are endowed with Koch Brothers money as well as one request that will be fulfilled as long a physically possible. A look at the lives of the Walk's winners would be fascinating.
How a movie version of Eyes of the Dragon never got made when the world went all gaga for Lord of the Rings we'll never know. Probably because there is surprisingly little action in the book when you get right down to it. Still, the story of an evil wizard's attempt to destroy the kingdom of Delain by framing its rightful ruler for the murder of his father is a fantastic novel.
We think we'll actually get a sequel eventually. Flagg is the novel's villain, Delain was already a part of the Dark Tower universe, and King all but states that another story about the characters will be told in the book's ending. He did very well in a pure fantasy setting, and we could do with some more sword and sorcery in the world.
Just After Sunset isn't King's strongest short story collection, but it does have one of his finest works ever in N. The story is about a psychiatric case study of a man whose OCD is actually keeping demons from entering the world through a gate. Meanwhile, his son Joe Hill wrote a mirrored and even better story called Voluntary Committal that appeared in 20th Century Ghosts. That tale focuses on an autistic boy whose cardboard mazes defy all physical laws.
Since the Talisman and Black House, co-written by Peter Straub, have already proven that King works well with others, it would be beyond incredible to have him collaborate with Hill, who is rapidly shaping up to equal his father. The bones of a story about people with mental problems holding back an even worse insanity would be almost impossible to mess up.
Firestarter always seems to be the one King novel we forget, and that's just wrong because it hold up very, very well. It's also, in our opinion, the one that leaves on the greatest cliffhanger. Charlie McGee enters the office of Rolling Stone, ready to reveal her godlike abilities to the world and expose the Unites States government for their role in her creation and the death of her father.
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However, The Shop, the federal agency that serves as the novel's antagonist, is still running and active seven years later in the Tommyknockers. Was Charlie laughed out of the Rolling Stone offices? Couldn't she have just demonstrated her powers to verify her confession? If we're going to explore the fate of Danny Torrance, why not Charlie McGee?
It's not that we want a sequel to either of those books. That would probably be terrible. What we want is another appearance by the reporter Richard Dees. Dees first showed up in the Dead Zone as a cynical tabloid reporter trying to recruit Johnny Smith for a scam feature in his paper. Later, he tracks a Cessna-flying vampire in the Night Flier only to wind up arrested for the creature's killing spree.
Though it seems unlikely that Dees would be convicted of the killings, after all a thirsty vampire is still out there murdering people, it might be a good chance for King to revisit a prison setting. Barring that, we would love to finally let Dees take center stage in a full-length novel bitchily investigating some more paranormal phenomenon. Maybe werewolves this time.