Thursday, April 03, 2008

Stephen King's Multiverse

In the foreword for The Gunslinger, Stephen King talks about writing an epic. He said that he, like so many others of his time, was completely smitten with Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings and knew that he wanted to create something like it, but different enough that it would be his and not just a copy. To quote the text he says:

...although I read the books in 1966 and 1967, I held off writing. I responded to the sweep of Tolkien's imagination...but I wanted to write my own kind of story, and had I started then, I would have written his. That, as the late tricky Dick Nixon was fond of saying, would have been wrong. Thanks to Mr. Tolkien, the twentieth century had all the elves and wizards it needed.

After re-reading the book, and exploring some of the other works of King (I know, I said I wouldn't, so sue me) I realized that, despite trying his best to not write a Tolkien-esque story with halflings and dwarves, he was, in fact, doing something very similar to another popular fantasy writer of the time, Michael Moorcock.

Moorcock is well known for creating his famous Multiverse and all the myriad characters who inhabit it. From Elric of Melniboné to Jerry Cornelius, Moorcock's characters have weaved in and out of each others stories for the last 40 years, with some characters even sharing a common aspect of a single entity, The Eternal Champion. From the Wikipedia entry:

The Eternal Champion, a Hero who exists in all dimensions, times and worlds, is the one who's chosen by fate to fight for the Balance; however, he often doesn't know of his rôle, or, even worse, he struggles against it, never to succeed.

All the incarnations of the Eternal Champion are facets of each other, and the Champion may also be aided by a companion, who, like himself, exists in various incarnations. Likewise the Champion is often associated with one romantic association that is possibly an aspect of an eternal figure. Other characters in the various books have occassionally crossed over from one universe to another, although it is unclear what their status in the multiverse may be.

From what I've gleaned about The Dark Tower series is that King has created a very similar fictional construct, one in which he is able to explore all sorts of possibilities, including bringing in characters from other books (like Randall Flagg who debuted in The Stand but also appears in The Eyes of the Dragon and The Dark Tower series).

Anyway, I know I'm not the first one to see this, and it's not huge news or anything, but it's the first time I'm thinking of Kings work as a larger piece of interconnecting fiction. As a huge fan of Moorcock and his Multiverse, this appeals to me a great deal.

That's all I have to say on that subject for now. I apparently have a date to read some Prince Caspian to a couple of troublemakers before bed so I'm off to do that.



1 comment:

M Schmidt said...

If you read the other 6 dark tower works the King multiverse expands dramatically. There is a large portion of his works linked into the DT. Mr. King even links Salem's Lot in the DT series and spends a good deal of time on this particular link in the Wolves Of the Calla (DT #5).