Trapped In a Glass Case of Creativity
While reading the end of The Time Machine where the time traveler had gone forward past the end of humanity I was struck by the similarities that scene shared to a scene in The Dark Tower II: The Drawing of the Three by Stephen King. In the scene Wells wrote, “Looking round me again, I saw that, quite near, what I had taken to be a reddish mass of rock was moving slowly towards me. Then I saw the thing was really a monstrous crab-like creature.”1 The exact same thing happens in The Drawing of the Three. In that story, the sequel to the first Dark Tower book titled The Gunslinger, Roland wakes up on a mysterious beach after his time/space/dimension jump at the conclusion of The Gunslinger. He then quickly encounters the “lobstrosities” which are described in a very similar fashion to the creatures in The Time Machine.
I’m a big fan of most of Stephen King’s work, I say most because I acknowledge he has some stinkers too, but I never put very much thought into some of these scenes that are in The Gunslinger and The Drawing of the Three, for example. The beach scene, with the lobstrosities, I always assumed was just another scene out of the strange mind of Stephen King. It appears that Stephen King was heavily influenced by The Time Machine, at least in this scene, which is understandable because he almost certainly has read Wells. While it doesn’t change my opinion of Stephen King too much, even though now it seems like he was ripping off Wells, or at least paying homage too, it made me think of other scenes in the Dark Tower series and draw parallels throughout other books I’ve read, including a very creepy cavern scene in The Gunslinger that might have been influenced by the caves of the Morlocks.
Thinking about some of those parallels brought me back to a discussion we had in class about how our creativity could be trapped in our own culture. Have we reached a point where there is no true originality left? I wonder if people before Shelley wrote Frankenstein, or before Wells had written the Time Machine, believed that their culture was becoming stagnant, or something along those lines and then along came those types of works that set off a new style in writing. Could it be possible that we have run out of ideas, or are we all just waiting for the next culturally defining boom of idea?
1) H.G. Wells, The Time Machine (New York: Penguin Books, 2005) 83.