Thursday, October 29, 2009


Since the Halloween season is upon us, let's talk about one of my favorite horror novels: Stinger by Robert McCammon. Oh, how I love the rough and tumble, dry dust, cinematic pleasures in this book.

How many books' beginnings do you remember after a year? Now think back five years? How about twenty? Stinger is one that I will never forget. It gives readers a glimpse into the book's scary center, not a foreshadow, but a scene lifted from the action-packed middle. A disreputable teen on his bike, the Hispanic girl he has fallen for clinging for life behind him, and a bridge that needs to be crossed or else. And part of that or else is crawling and clawing at the bridge making the jump seem impossible. Cool, right?

Then turn the page and the book returns to the beginning. We're in a dying Texas town. The remaining residents are there because they have no where else to go. Then a couple of aliens crash-land. Sounds a lot like Tremors? Trust me, it's a thousand times more awesome (and I think the original Tremors flick to be one of the great horror-comedies).

One of the aliens is good-natured and on the run from the second, a bad ass bounty hunter, the Stinger of the title, who cruelly transforms the unwilling local fauna (included poor humans) into his mobile claws.

Pity the town residents are caught between the aliens. No, pity's the wrong word--empathize, sympathize, those are much better terms because McCammon is not only terrific with the fast-paced and thrilling plot but also with creating characters both familiar to lovers of horror films and stories and original in their charm.

The book, which released back in 1988, won a Bram Stoker Award. You can find paperbacks at any decent used bookstore or online.

Guys, trust me... forget paying nearly twenty bucks to watch a scary movie that's just gore and poor special effects masquerading as a story. This book will sink its claws in you and not let go. In fact, once I'm done typing this up, I'm going to open my tattered copy and return to that bridge. I just hope that kid makes the jump.


Pete said...

Couldn't agree more, sir! One of the great strengths of this book, I think, is that it does such a superb job of bringing disparate groups of people together to tackle a common foe. That's why I'll always look at it as more of a horror than a sci-fi novel--though it certainly has elements of both. Anyway, it's one of those books that might have been even better the second time I read it, and I can't wait to read it again one day.

Steve Berman said...


Thanks for commenting!

I always thought this book would make a terrific movie. It plays out like a great horror film in my head.

Now I know how I'll spend my Halloween! Reading it for the umpteenth time.