It’s been incubating for 25 years but Stephen King is finally ready to show the world the 1,000-plus page epic he first attempted writing in the 1980s. Under the Dome, in which an invisible force field seals off a Maine town from the world, is due to be published this November, his publishers have said.
Weighing in at a whopping 1,120 pages, Under the Dome is a return for the bestselling author to the arm-breaking heft of his classic novels The Stand and It. King told an audience at the Library of Congress in Washington DC last year that he’d first had the idea for the book 25 years ago, and made a stab at writing it. “I tried this once before when I was a lot younger, but the project was just too big for me and I let it go, I let it slide,” he said. “But it was a terrific idea and it never entirely left my mind. It just kinda stayed there and hung out, and every now and then it would say write me, and eventually I did.”
Set in the town of Chester’s Mills, Maine, “on an entirely normal, beautiful fall day”, inhabitants suddenly find that the town has been sealed off by an invisible force field. “Planes crash into it and fall from the sky in flaming wreckage, a gardener’s hand is severed as ‘the dome’ comes down on it, people running errands in the neighboring town are divided from their families, and cars explode on impact,” King revealed on his website. “No one can fathom what this barrier is, where it came from, and when – or if – it will go away.”
Characters in the cast of more than 100 include Dale Barbara, a Gulf veteran and now a cook, the town’s newspaper owner Julia Shumway, a physician’s assistant at the hospital and three children. They’re up against an evil politician, Big Jim Rennie – who’s desperate to hold onto power and will stop at nothing, even murder – and his son, who in classic King style, “is keeping a horrible secret in a dark pantry”. Meanwhile, time under the Dome is running out.
King, the author of more than 50 books, has said that the new novel “deals with some of the same issues that The Stand does, but in a more allegorical way”.
“Since it’s over a thousand pages long, I sure hope people like it,” he said earlier this year in his regular column for Entertainment Weekly. (Reprinted from The Guardian)