Insomnia (novel)

Infobox Book |
name = Insomnia

image_caption = First edition cover
author = Stephen King
illustrator =
cover_artist =
country = United States
language = English
series =
genre = Horror, Fantasy novel
publisher = Viking Press
release_date = October 1994
media_type = Print (Hardback & Paperback)
pages = 663
isbn =
preceded_by = Dolores Claiborne
followed_by = Rose Madder

"Insomnia" is a novel written by Stephen King and first published in 1994. Like "It" and "Dreamcatcher", its setting is the fictional town of Derry, Maine.

Plot summary

The novel deals with Ralph Roberts, a retired widower who begins to suffer from insomnia. As the condition worsens, he begins to see things that are invisible and intangible to others: colorful manifestations of life-force surrounding people (auras), and diminutive white-coated beings he calls "little bald doctors", due to their appearance. Roberts becomes perceptive of other planes of reality and their influence upon the "real" world. He finds that his new sweetheart, Lois Chasse, is also a sufferer. They eventually discover that their insomnia has in fact been induced by the two little bald doctors, who represent the Purpose (Order, Good), to enable them to defeat the agents of the Random (Chaos, Evil) - namely the third doctor and the Crimson King.

Lois and Ralph name the doctors Clotho and Lachesis (the good guys) and Atropos (the rogue doctor), after the Moirae of mythology. Ralph overcomes Atropos and forces him to promise to stay out of their business, the doctors all being bound by their word, but Atropos has his revenge by showing Ralph a glimpse of the not too distant future in which he claims the life of the innocent Natalie Deepneau.Ralph is able to counterbalance this however, by striking a deal with Clotho and Lachesis whereby he trades his own life for Natalie's.

The background for the story is an approaching confrontation between women's rights groups and pro-life activists.

The story climaxes with Ed Deepneau, a deranged maniac and former neighbor of Roberts and Chasse, attempting to crash a light plane containing C4 explosives into the Derry Civic Center during a heavily-attended rally while under control of an entity called The Crimson King. At first Ralph and Lois think Ed's intention is to kill thousands of people in the immediate area; they discover however, that Ed has been possessed by the Random and brainwashed into becoming a kamikaze to help fulfill The Crimson King's true motive. The Crimson King wishes to kill a boy named Patrick Danville. The boy, Danville, is the focus of a prophecy concerning the salvation of The Dark Tower (and indeed returns with a key role in the seventh book in The Dark Tower series).Patrick cannot, for undisclosed reasons, be killed directly by anyone born under either the Random or the Purpose. However, from time to time a being is born who is "undesignated". An undesignated person is described as being like a blank card, and is up for grabs by either side.Ed Deepneau is one such person, in fact the only person on earth at that time of undesignated status.Ralph defeats the King and forces the light plane to crash into the parking lot; killing Ed and sparing Patrick's life, allowing him to fulfill his destiny and setting the path for the Dark Tower series.

Derry's mystical nature

Of interest to those following King's body of work is the fact that this tale goes some way in explaining the mystical nature of Derry (see, for example, "It"). Also, some of the metaphysical concepts underlying the Dark Tower series, and background story of Patrick Danville are discussed.

Connections with other King novels

*Both Ralph Roberts and Joe Wyzer reappear in "Bag of Bones".
*The Crimson King is the main villain of The Dark Tower.
*King's novel "Pet Sematary" is referenced when Lois and Ralph are in Atropos's lair, they find the shoe of Gage Creed, "run down by a speeding tanker-truck on Route 15 in Ludlow." "Pet Sematary" takes place in Ludlow, Maine and Gage is killed by a speeding tanker-truck whose driver was not paying attention. In this book, however, it is implied that his death was caused by the power of Atropos.
*Early in the book, Ed Deepneau accuses a truck driver, John Tandy, of carrying aborted fetuses in the fertilizer barrels on his flatbed truck. When no fetuses are found, Tandy snarls, "I ain't Ray Joubert or that guy Dahmer after all!" Joubert is the deformed and insane multiple murderer and necrophiliac who terrorizes Jessie Burlingame of "Gerald's Game".
*Ralph catches a glimpse of The Dark Tower from Clotho's mind whilst he is attempting to explain about the different levels of perception to Ralph.
*Ralph Roberts dreams about his wife having been buried up to the head at the beach, below the high-tide line. This is the same way that Harry and his girlfriend were buried in Something to Tide you Over, one of the segments of Creepshow.
*We discover Mike Hanlon, a key character from "It", is still working as Head Librarian at the Derry Public Library. He also becomes Helen Deepneau's boss.
*Several times, events of "It" are recalled; the murder of Adrian Mellon at the Canal Days festival, which signalled It's return in 1985. The storm of '85 is recalled by various characters, and of course being in Derry many key landmarks from It are revisted, including the site of the old Standpipe.
*While escaping from the Crimson King's presence, Ralph sees the deadlights. In "It", the deadlights were simultaneously It's true form and the place where It resided.
*During one of his experiences of witnessing auras, Ralph sees an aura erupting from a manhole. As It resided in the Derry sewers, this seems to suggest that Ralph briefly witnessed It, suggesting that It didn't actually die in "It."
*Patrick Danville returns in "The Dark Tower VII". In "Insomnia" he describes both the Crimson King and "another king" named Roland being in his dreams. The continuity present in "Insomnia", however, is different. The most obvious examples include the Crimson King not being trapped at the top of the Dark Tower (when he is actually trapped on a 2nd floor balcony) and Patrick Danville, while ultimately defeating the Crimson King, not dying while saving two men. This is acknowledged in "The Dark Tower" when the Tet Corporation give Roland a copy of Insomnia. But he chooses not to read it, thinking it feels tricksy and reminiscent of a thinny.
*During the Susan Day Speach in which Ed Deepneau is Kamikaze'ing using a plane; Patrick Danville is drawing a picture of the Dark Tower in a field of red roses, with Roland Deschain standing off to one side and the Crimson King looking down on him from the top of the tower, with a look of mingled hate and fear. [ Page 614 of Insomnia ]


"Insomnia" was nominated for a Bram Stoker Award for Best Novel in 1994. [ [ Horror Writers Association page on Past Stoker Nominees and Winners] ]

Possible film

According to interviews with Director Rob Schmidt (Wrong Turn), he stated that "I'm doing the film mainly because King was such a big fan of Wrong Turn!". IMDb hasn't confirmed the beginning of production as of yet.



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