Throwback SF Thursday: Firestarter by Stephen King

Firestarter is the story of Andy McGee, possessing mild powers of mind domination, and his young daughter, Charlie McGee, possessing very un-mild powers of pyrokinesis.  The story begins with Andy and Charlie on the run from agents of a mysterious government intelligence agency called the Shop.  We learn how Andy and his wife got their powers and how she died from flashbacks interspersed with the main story.  The antagonist the government, as represented by the Shop, and the primary antagonist from the Shop is Rainbird, kind of a poor man’s Anton Chigurh, so loaded with traits and quirks something the whole is less than the sum.

It is very much the kind of story Stephen King is known for.  Heavy on suspense (with a lot of prescient comments dropped), use of science fiction tropes (psionic powers), heavy characterization, and philosophical sensibilities.  The characterization isn’t nearly as strong as in The Stand, for example, but the philosophical musings are better.  King’s strength isn’t from dealing with it in the abstract (The Stand suffers from too much of this), but from dealing with it on a visceral level, e.g., capturing the impotent rage people feel when confronted by the Shop.  He also nails the bureaucratic inefficiency inherent to a government agency, especially one as unanswerable to the public as a covert intelligence shop.

Time has rendered the final section of the novel unintentionally hilarious, but that is hardly King’s fault.

About H.P.

Blogs on books at Every Day Should Be Tuesday (speculative fiction) and Hillbilly Highways (country noir and nonfiction).
This entry was posted in Book Reviews, Horror, Throwback SF and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Throwback SF Thursday: Firestarter by Stephen King

  1. bormgans says:

    Fond memories of this when I was a teen. I’ve been thinking of rereading some King, I thought The Stand might be the thing to pick.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Bookstooge says:

    What makes the ending so funny? I have no intention of reading this, so spoil away!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Pingback: Second Quarter 2022 Quarter-in-Review | Every Day Should Be Tuesday

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