I’m Reading Stephen King’s ‘The Stand’ And I Have No Idea What It’s About

Yet, I should say. Grabbed you with that controversial headline, though, didn’t I? Hopefully some of King’s many fans rushed here to defend his work in my comments section. (Hi!)

But no–I’m talking about the rare and happy occurrence of starting to read, watch or otherwise consume a book, movie, TV show or other art with absolutely no idea of what the story is about. Because how often does that happen these days?

I’ve heard of The Stand, obviously. I know some people think it’s King’s best book, and that others insist it’s overwrought, overblown, and in need of a good editor. I know that my mum started watching the TV adaptation some years back and gave up a few episodes in.

And that’s all I knew when I saw a copy on the shelf of the second-hand bookstore two blocks away from the new apartment in Washington, D.C. into which Mrs. Dan and I recently moved, priced at what seemed like a bargain $3.00. (The book, not the apartment. They run a little dearer than that.)

Stephen King for three dollars? And it’s a thick one,” thought I. Thumbed it open. “Small print, too. This’ll keep me going for a while.” Closed the book again, looked at the cover. ‘The Complete and Uncut Edition’, it says, and the brief foreword promised 150,000 words, or 500 pages, more story than the already lengthy version that was originally published.

No blurb on the back cover, no clue to the story. Just a black and white photo of an unsmiling King from twenty-odd years ago. And on the cover, a figure on horseback wielding a scythe.

Well, people are going to die in it, I can tell that much.” And I paid my money, and I took my new book home.

It doesn’t actually matter what The Stand is about, and I won’t risk robbing anyone of the same experience I’ve had by describing it. But it did make me think a little about what we’ve lost in this age of constant, immediate, instantaneous media. We’re flooded with trailers, reviews, articles and blogs, each movie studio or television network desperate to shove their product in front of our eyeballs, and a million other internet denizens waiting to pronounce it good, or bad, or simply broadcast that it exists.

God forbid if you haven’t seen the latest episode of Breaking Bad because you’re planning to watch it later. You’d better stay off the internet until you do. (And just to be on the safe side, don’t go to work either.)

We buy books and movies because we read reviews, and plot teasers, and friends tell us “Dude, you have to watch My New Favourite Show. It’s about this geography teacher from Arizona who has Alzheimer’s but becomes a Mafia don in New Jersey before faking his own death and joining the Baltimore police force. It’s fantastic. Netflix it. I’m on season eight.”

I loved The Avengers. And I’m already pretty damn excited about the sequel. So far all I know is it’s coming out in May 2015, and someone or something called Ultron is in it, but I’m sketchy enough on my Avengers canon that I don’t know what that is. But I guarantee that by late April 2015, I’ll know exactly who stars in the movie, who all the new characters are, what Ultron is, and will have seen four different trailers containing 90% of the best scenes from the film. Because I’m weak, and I won’t be able to help myself.

But wouldn’t it be nice, just once, to not have those teasers, those tasters, the constant little dribbles of information that leak out and draw us in? To go back to finding out about a film by seeing a poster for it on the side of a bus stop two weeks before it came out? Or discovering a great new TV show by flicking through channels one night and being gripped by a great scene? Or discovering a new book not by browsing a list of what customers who bought that item also bought, but by wandering into a second-hand bookshop that you didn’t even know was there and just picking one up off the shelf?

You can still do that last one, at least. And you should, I highly recommend it. Because, you see, The Stand is about–

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Making sense of the KWL terms and conditions

Just a quick reblog for the benefit of any other authors who received an email about Kobo’s new Ts and Cs, and couldn’t work out what had actually changed. Ahem.

Kobo Writing Life

All KWL authors received an email recently regarding a small change to the terms & conditions of the KWL agreement which will be in effect Oct 17, 2013. Here’s a quick plain-English rundown of what those changes are and why we’ve made them.

The Kobo Writing Life team is constantly on the lookout for ways to help you succeed, and that means keeping an eye on trends and valuable high-end data.  One of the trends we’ve noticed is the Dead Price Point as we recently posted about.  We are keen to pay attention to these types of purchasing trends and do what we can to encourage authors to think of price as a verb rather than as a noun, to experiment with pricing models for different territories and to be careful not to devalue their work.

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We’re still trying, for example, to understand the logistics behind a customer’s decision.  For…

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Riddick. Riddick! RIDDIIIIIIICK!

Riddick‘s out now. Grantland posted a wonderful primer on the series, the character, and one Mr. V. Diesel, which is well worth a read.

I love Pitch Black. It’s one of my favourite SF films of all time. Partly because of the minimal ensemble cast of almost unknown actors, partly the stark harshness (harsh starkness?) of the desert and the contrast between blazing day and total night, and partly the grungy lo-fi, low-budget vibe.

But mainly because: Riddick. Intergalactic badass with surgically shined eyes, the wits and moves of an alpha predator, and not a single sleeved shirt.

“Hello, ladies. You’re not afraid of the dark, are you?”

Then four years later came Chronicles of Riddick, a sequel with the kind of grandiose title that made me immediately worried it was going to be a completely different kind of movie. And it was, and it was objectively pretty bad – incomprehensible plot, lots of Royal Shakespeare Company-trained actors hamming it up massively, including Judi Dench (!) – but I still enjoyed it.

Because, you know – Riddick. Who (spoiler alert for a nine year old film!) ended up being emperor of the galaxy! Somehow. Maybe? I’m still not clear. He’s king of the Necromongers, at least! (Ugh.)

The closest we’ll ever get to seeing Khal Drogo on the Iron Throne, basically.

And now, those nine years later, Riddick’s back, and this time – judging by the eponymous titling of the film – it’s personal. I’m trying to avoid reading too much about the movie so I don’t spoiler myself, but I do know he’s not the king of anybody anymore. And the brief synopsis on IMDB sounds remarkably familiar:

Left for dead on a sun-scorched planet, Riddick finds himself up against an alien race of predators.

Pitch Black 2, ladies and gentlemen! I can’t wait.