Off the Shelf - "Stinger"

by Marcus Pan

Chain Border

StingerPart Body Snatchers, part Species and part Attack of the Killer Tomatoes, Stinger is one of the sci-fi horror novels from the mind of Robert R. McCammon. Also responsible for such pulp horror fare as The Wolf's Hour, They Thirst, Boy's Life and the most well-known, Swan Song among others, McCammon farted this one out on the heels of the 80s science fiction rage.

Taking place in a rural town in the deep south, Stinger concerns the landing of two aliens; one fleeing, the other following. The latter, who takes the name Stinger because, I'm assuming, it sounds scary, cordons off the area with high-tech purple electro-cages and basically goes around killing things in search of the first alien, who took the name Dauphin because, I'm assuming, it sounds sweet.

Through the course of the novel you're introduced to a wide range of characters. The smooth illegal-operation car dealer, the fat and scared-little-boy-inside Sheriff, the clean cut and crisp-class Air Force lieutenant, the unassuming family thrust into the mix when Dauphin decides to use their daughter as its earthbound vessel, and the gang-member racially motivated hero-boys who become best friends through the horrifying ordeal. Par for the course, I say.

Was the story any good? It was ok. That's about it - ok. It was much longer than it ought to be, and the characters were cookie-cutter fart-outs, but there were some interesting nuggets inside if you're willing to slog through the sci-fi cheese it's packaged in. One of these is the way Stinger replicates things by copying them, to the best of its knowledge, into a similar but hell-variation of metal and bio-parts. The workroom in which it did this was rather interesting taking the bio-mechanics theme a bit farther. The ending was anti-climactic with expected results - except for the fact that the real Stinger (of course the real creature is saved for the "final confrontation" and all the other things it created were only it's "eyes and ears") is basically a slug. Well, a big slug - but still a slug.

I read this story many years ago when I was younger. I read it again just before writing this review of course - and strangely enough I remembered barely a thing about the book from when I read it before. That alone should give you a clue as to its staying power as far as excitement goes.

Overall - yawn. But I'll say this - it's better than Amityville: The Final Chapter which I'm currently boring through now.

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"Stinger" by Robert R. McCammon
Published by Pocket Books
Copyright © 1988 by The McCammon Corporation
ISBN: 0-671-62412-1

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