The Doomsday Conspiracy

Front dust jacket of The Doomsday Conspiracy

Doomsday Conspiracy reads like a novel Tom Clancy and Stephen King might have co-authored while drunk, with help from Danielle Steel to make the story end happily.

Robert Bellamy, a Navy Commanding Officer, is ordered to investigate the crash of a weather balloon in the Swiss Alps and identify the tour bus passengers who saw the wreck.

Bellamy thinks it’s a very odd job to be treated as top secret and given top priority, but he follows orders. Witnesses say they saw a space craft with two dead extraterrestrial creatures in it and an empty seat that had obviously been occupied. The witnesses even had their photographs taken in front of the spacecraft.

Each of the witnesses is murdered within hours of Bellamy’s reporting their identity to his superior officer.

When Bellamy learns that three of the witnesses have been killed, he begins to smell a rat.

The liner notes say the story unfolds to reveal “why the world must never learn an incredible secret shielded by an unknown force.”

If it did, I was laughing too hard at the crazy story to notice.

The Doomsday Conspiracy is certainly the most bizarre bestselling novel since Diane of the Green Van.

The Doomsday Conspiracy by Sidney Sheldon
William Morrow. ©1991. 412 p.
1991 bestseller #6; my grade: D+

©2020 Linda G. Aragoni

The Tommyknockers: a novel

The spaceship’s green light glows against the black dust jacket
An otherworldly  light glows

The Tommyknockers is one of the horror novels for which Stephen King is famous: Its descriptions beg to be turned into visual formats.

It’s no surprise that Tommyknockers was made into both a TV miniseries and a film.

The story is about a writer who literally trips over a space ship that eons before had crashed with enough force to bury most of it in the Maine woods.

Something makes Bobbie determined to uncover the ship, despite signs that the remains are lethal.

Bobbie’s friend and ex-lover, Jim Gardener, intuiting that Bobbie needs him, pulls himself out of his alcoholic stupor and hitch-hikes to the rescue.

Jim finds that the minds of the entire community of Haven, Maine, are controlled by a sinister force.

King churns out episode after episode that are variations on one pattern: The residents of Haven are turning everyday objects into lethal weapons running on batteries.

They’re unstoppable because they can read the mind of anyone who wants to stop them. Visitors to Haven are left as piles of puke, blood, and lost teeth.

Jim very much wants to stop the murder and mayhem.

Chapters of the Tommyknockers would have been interesting presented as short stories. The book, at 558 pages, seemed interminable.

Tommyknockers by Stephen King
Putnam, © 1987. 558 p.
1987 bestseller #1; my grade: C-

©2019 Linda G. Aragoni

E.T., the Extra-Terrestrial is extra-terrible as a book

Space craft barely visible in night sky on cover of E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial
Space craft barely visible in night sky

Making a movie version of a great book rarely turns out well. If E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, is anything to go by, turning a great movie into a book is a disaster.

Even people who didn’t see the movie know the general outline of the story: A being from outer space who comes to earth to gather botanical samples, misses the space ship trip home, and is befriended by an American kid, 10-year-old Elliott Thomas.

E.T. gets Elliott and the other two Thomas children, Gertie and Michael, to get him the additional parts he needs to build a transmitter from the Speak and Spell so he can contact his space ship and arrange to go home.

The entry of an UFO into American airspace hasn’t gone unnoticed.

All the resources of America’s government are on the trail of the extra-terrestrial.

They’re no match for the juvenile Dungeons & Dragons fans on bicycles who rush E.T. to the landing site just in time to catch his return flight.

The movie’s special effects made the silly story an entertaining fantasy suitable for children of all ages.

The book renders the story too ridiculous for any reader.

(The website cracked.com ranks E.T. one of the five worst movie-into-book translations of all time.)

E.T., the Extra-Terrestrial
by William Kotzwinkle. Based on
the screenplay by Melissa Mathison
G. P. Putnams. © 1988.  246 p.
1981 bestseller #1. My grade C

©2019 Linda G. Aragoni