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Customer Discussions > Horror forum

Stephen King or Clive Barker?

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Showing 1-18 of 18 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jun 7, 2012 2:33:30 PM PDT
Lao Tzu says:
I was a huge Stephen King fan growing up. Then I discovered Clive Barker. King has great characterization, but Barker is more imaginative, more outrageous, more visually graphic.

King, as he aged, and after his car accident, became more pessimistic and used his books merely to express his lack of faith in the morality of humans. The supernatural or science fiction were just the pale vehicles to get us there.

Comments on these are appreciated, and also wondering who is your fav horror author, if not one of these two? I mean someone who has a history of success, not just one book you happened to like

Posted on Jun 7, 2012 3:16:00 PM PDT
I can't really pick one over the other.
I love King for his characters. I don't think there is anyone else that can make me feel the way he does about his characters. (I have to disagree with you regarding King after his accident. I found both Full Dark No Stars and 11/22/63 to be some of King's best work.)
I love Barker for his imagination and his sensual descriptions. He also can be very graphic with his gore and the man knows how to string words together.

Sometimes King gets too wordy and needs some editing. Sometimes Barker can be over the top in his gore and sexual situations.
I can't pick just one. Some horror authors I like are Robert McCammon (older works), Jeff Strand, Greg Gifune, Lee Thompson, Tim Curran, Briane Hodge, Scott Nicholson, J. A. Konrath, and Blake Crouch.

Posted on Jun 7, 2012 6:26:23 PM PDT
Lao Tzu says:
I will look into King's newest stuff, I could not get into that one with the alien dome - it was just too sad.

Posted on Jun 8, 2012 5:03:52 AM PDT
Rick G says:
Mostly mirroring what Charlene said. Overall, though, I'd pick King, especially his earlier stuff.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 8, 2012 5:17:14 AM PDT
Angelus1967 says:
I kind of think this is like comparing apples to oranges since their writing is so different.
I still love King's books, I've read them all and have seen no real drop-off in talent where he is concerned.
I've loved Barker's work since I first read "Books of Blood". So I can't really choose.

Posted on Jun 8, 2012 10:26:36 AM PDT
Fortunately there's no need to pick one or the other.

I think King has just become a better and better writer as the years go by--his early stuff was scarier but his recent stuff is beautifully written, moving and powerful. Clive's early stuff was scarier, too--the Abarat books don't scare me, though I'm amazed by the wonder and vision. They're too different writers with their own gifts, and two of the best.

Posted on Jun 8, 2012 10:37:48 AM PDT
Oh, and speaking of Clive:

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 8, 2012 11:19:29 AM PDT
Ooooh, Jeff-thanks for the link!

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 9, 2012 2:51:40 PM PDT
Between the 2 i think Stephen King is the best. But neither of them are as talented as Graham Masterton is. He's the real horror master!

Posted on Jun 9, 2012 5:46:29 PM PDT
[Deleted by the author on Jun 9, 2012 5:59:07 PM PDT]

Posted on Jun 9, 2012 5:57:37 PM PDT
Note: That post above from Jyd was actually from me. Have been using another computer.

Here is the post, am deleting it from previous user name:

Barker came on to the horror fiction scene in the 1980's like a house on fire. I was in college, and remember. He was a bit brash, visceral, and new. It was fun seeing this guy's imagination oozing all sorts of ghastly stuff. Rarely does a talent come along and 'wow' the literature world a little like that. Everyone was enthralled, it seemed, with this young Brit who smoked cigars, painted horrific stuff, and wrote gruesome tales (and fantasy too).
He also did a children's story that I tore through (The Thief of Always). Sort of like Roald Dahl meets Stephen King and Ray Bradbury.)

King is so beloved, and often criticized. I like some of his stuff, and find some too lengthy or plodding. But he is the horror icon of the past four decades. I will always adore "Salem's Lot".
I liked "Carrie", "Misery", and "The Shining", and more. His short fiction was often terrific ("Skeleton Crew" is a must collection). Have not read his recent stuff yet.

Peter Straub's "Ghost Story" won me over. It's my favorite supernatural novel. I think it's from the late 1970's. (The 1980 movie could only tackle like one third of the plot.) I have a worn out paperback. I should get a nice, used hardcover. I love hardcover.

I also enjoy Poe, want to read some Lovecraft, and like McCammon, John Farris, and Dan Simmons.

Bottom line: Barker was fresh and bloody, but King is royalty.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 9, 2012 7:15:21 PM PDT
King by a mile. Barker is clearly more graphic and outrageous, but King is actually a world-class novelist. Like Peter Straub, at his best he's right up there with Bram Stoker and Poe. Also like Straub, he's had his share of serious misfires ("Christine" and "Kujo," anyone?). But these are more than made up for by such unique masterworks as "The Stand" and "Salem's Lot."

Posted on Jun 9, 2012 7:20:34 PM PDT
I actually liked Cujo. Of course I read it when I was still a teenager but I liked the story, the parts from the dog's POV, and I liked the ending. The movie totally screwed up the ending, IMO.
I was just reading somewhere that there going to make two movies for the book IT.

Posted on Jun 10, 2012 3:57:58 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jun 10, 2012 7:20:23 AM PDT
King by a landslide.

At that point of his career, it sounds a little bit ridiculous to negate King. Maybe for some people his books may have gone downhill; I just say King's plots have changed. He does not write outright horror and this is simply seen as a "fall". I strongly oppose: He is still, both statistically and literally, above his peers by a mile. His books still land on number one spot in NY Times. Some of his rivals are nowadays either struggling to see Top 15 or never become a bestseller. His last 11/22/63 was a top 3 bestselling book in 2011 in USA. He is still widely read by children, teenagers, adults, elderly, women, girls, men, boys etc, crossing boundaries, continents, religions and countries. Also he has returned to form and on a kind of renaissance since his excellent Duma Key, an atmospheric piece of excellence followed by Full Dark No Stars, Under the Dome, and his latest masterpiece, 11/22/*63

Literally, King is also quite a top novelist. Maybe he lacks Barker's viscerality or Koontz's original ideas but he makes up it more than enough with his impleccable atmopsphere, sense of place and setting and psychological writing. Next to Poe, he is rarely none to second when he offers psychological glimpses to human nature. The Shining, Pet Cemetary, the Long Walk may have the minimalistic blood but the ominious atmosphere and bad side of human soul elevate them to classic status more than any bloodfest by any other author. IMHO only Peter Straub achieves that sense of place and atmosphere.

Clive Barker...well yes everyone, including Stephen King, was very excited when he jumped into the scene but he failed to maintain that momentum and started to put a distance between him and his audience, almost writing for himself rather than for the readers, His Books of Blood and Damnation Game should be read by every horror fan and Coldheart Canyon and Great and Secret Show are good. I left Everville unfinished but many Barker fans love it. I rarely read hhim now because sexual aspects started to prevail the essence of the story. Unfortunately latest Barker books are finding less and less audience. Mr B. Gone was particularly bad. His movies are much better than SK related ones, though, Candyman is a great piece. I think he should focus on movies much more.

I read Masterton's Tengu and Mirror, his so-called best novels but I found him very by-the-numbers author, nothing great nothing too bad. He is better than John Saul, though. Instead I would suggest Rampsey Campbell and James Herbert when it comes to British horror. The former one is particularly great: Midnight Sun was very strong. But it is difficult to find his books.

Posted on Jun 10, 2012 6:48:55 AM PDT
Lao Tzu says:
Wow, I am enjoying all the comments. This is my first time on the horror forum, and I also enjoy the author recommendations.

I also loved King's early stuff, because I am very connected to the supernatural horror element. I mean, the book The Shining was so amazing.

When a horror novelist drifts away from horror (which many of them do) I get a little bored because..... I have enough reality in my life, I like the idea of good vs. evil, or the difficulty of figuring out the good vs evil in the supernatural realm. I want to understand the motivation of The Evil thing in the book - why is it there, and what should we do about it? How are we going to communicate with it?

I don't want to read about mortgages and job loss and divorce and other things because I already have things of that nature in my history. I am not looking for a novel by King to drag me back to reality, perhaps many of you would not be so strict about that.

That being said, I have not been following King closely for more than 8 years, I will go back and check out what he has written. For example, I really did enjoy Insomnia, it reminded me of IT. Thanks for author recommends, happy to see more of those on this thread, especially if you think they fit with my criteria of supernatural, scary, outrageous, visual, imaginative.

I know it is not horror, but I strongly recommend the Hyperion series (Scifi) by Dan Simmons, if all of you have not read it yet. It will absolutely put you on another world if you allow it.


Posted on Jun 10, 2012 9:36:49 AM PDT
From what I am reading here it seems that there is agreement on certain things. King rules the horror domain for the most part. He has added a lot to the landscape, as have Poe, Stoker, McCammon, Straub, Shelley, Jackson and so on. But Barker (at least in my eyes) is not a major icon of the horror fiction pantheon like those writers-- he belongs in the gang but he is not in the top echillon (now there's a word I rarely get to use, hee hee).

It's interesting to compare and contrast authors this way. I like some of Clive's creations ... but Stephen King to a greater degree has left indelible scenarios in my mind, as well as characters and places that haunt me.


Posted on Jun 12, 2012 7:13:12 PM PDT
W. Adams says:
Like it was previously said, apples and oranges. It's not as if these two authors are both writing the same books in differing styles. They tell very different stories. I don't know about favorites, but with the tons of reading I do, there are three books that I re-read more or less annually. One of them is Stephen King's 'It' and another is Clive Barker's 'Imajica.' I can't say if they are two of the 'best' I've ever read, but they just got personal with me and became a kind of sentimental. Sometimes a book just goes way beyond mere entertainment. Probably the same as how people who love mexican food will enjoy eating at many different restaurants, but there's always that one little hole in the wall that does just the right things to it's enchilada sauce or something and it stays closer to the heart.

Posted on Jun 12, 2012 7:16:28 PM PDT
W. Adams says:
Hmm, now I want some enchiladas code red.
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Discussion in:  Horror forum
Participants:  11
Total posts:  18
Initial post:  Jun 7, 2012
Latest post:  Jun 12, 2012

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