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7 Stories Stephen King Refuses to Publish

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Legendary horror writer Stephen King has sold over 300 million books, and while his prolific output might lead you to believe he publishes every page he produces, that’s not exactly true. Here are seven tales that King fans are highly unlikely to ever see.

1. The Aftermath  

King completed his first novel at just 16 years old, and at 50,000 words, it’s just a fraction of some of the doorstoppers he would later publish. In a post-nuclear war landscape, a young man attempts to sabotage the Sun Corps, a military force that’s secretly a race of aliens called the Denebians. King considers it a highly juvenile piece of work that he’s content to let rest at the Fogler Archive at the University of Maine: you can read it there, provided you get permission from King.

2. I Hate Mondays

While King has collaborated with Peter Straub and X-Files producer Chris Carter, he’s generally a solo act. Exceptions can be made, however, if you happen to be related: He’s co-written works with sons Joe and Owen as a way of fostering their interest in writing. As a child, the latter helped King—or rather, King helped Owen—on I Hate Mondays, a short story about two misfits who are kidnapped by a goon named Doctor Mindbender and forced to give up the combination to a safe. It also resides in the Fogler Archive.  

3. Squad D

In the late 1970s, King contributed a short story for Harlan Ellison’s anthology, Last Dangerous Visions. The collection was never published, and King has never bothered to find another home for Squad D, his tale about the only survivor of a Vietnam platoon who missed the battle that killed them all because he was in the infirmary for hemorrhoids. Guilt-ridden, the soldier contacts the families of the deceased to apologize, with a Twilight Zone-ish result. The story has found its way into margins of the Internet, where one could find it if so inclined.

4. The Cannibals

Before writing Under the Dome—about a town suddenly inhibited by a giant sphere—King played with the concept in other incarnations. He took two passes at a similar premise titled The Cannibals, which was nearly completed in 1981 and clocked in at around 500 pages before he wound up losing the manuscript. It turned up in 2009, leading to Dome. Owing to fan curiosity—and to put to bed rumors Dome was lifted from the plot of The Simpsons Movie, which saw Springfield encased in a giant bubble—King allowed excerpts to be posted on his official website.

5. The House on Value Street

After King had established himself with the success of Carrie and ‘Salem’s Lot, he attempted to write a fictionalized account of the Patty Hearst kidnapping. Never quite able to get a handle on the story, he set it aside, unfinished. With the Hearst story no longer a contemporary reference, whatever remains of Value Street has likely outdated itself. (King fans are probably thankful: Abandoning Value Street led to work on The Stand.)

6. Phil and Sundance

King started work on this novella circa 1987 and never completed it. Its existence was unknown until 2013, when a French Stephen King fansite pulled it out of obscurity courtesy of a man who claimed he obtained it after meeting King via the Make a Wish Foundation. According to Cemetery Dance, the publisher that acquired the original, King has no plans to revisit it.  

7. Sword in the Darkness

King completed this 150,000 word novel while he was a senior at the University of Maine in 1970. In it, a gang plans a race riot to mask their plan for a series of heists. Twelve publishers rejected it, including Doubleday, which would later prove to be a lucrative partner for King. Disappointed at the time, King later reflected that it was "tawdry" and that he never bothered to have it critiqued in his literature class.

Additional Sources: Stephen King: Uncollected, Unpublished.

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12 Facts About Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness
George C. Beresford/Getty Images
George C. Beresford/Getty Images

Joseph Conrad’s 1899 novella about venturing into the moral depths of colonial Africa is among the most frequently analyzed literary works in college curricula.

1. ENGLISH WAS THE AUTHOR’S THIRD LANGUAGE.

It’s impressive enough that Conrad wrote a book that has stayed relevant for more than a century. This achievement seems all the more impressive when considering that he wrote it in English, his third language. Born Józef Teodor Konrad Korzeniowski in 1857, Conrad was a native Polish speaker. French was his second language. He didn’t even know any English—the language of his literary composition—until age 21.

2. HEART OF DARKNESS BEGINS AND ENDS IN THE UK.

Though it recounts Marlow's voyage through Belgian Congo in search of Kurtz and is forever linked to the African continent, Conrad’s novella begins and ends in England. At the story’s conclusion, the “tranquil waterway” that “seemed to lead into the heart of an immense darkness” is none other than the River Thames.

3. THE PROTAGONIST MARLOW IS CONRAD.

The well-traveled Marlow—who appears in other Conrad works, such as Lord Jim—is based on his equally well-traveled creator. In 1890, 32-year-old Conrad sailed the Congo River while serving as second-in-command on a Belgian trading company steamboat. As a career seaman, Conrad explored not only the African continent but also ventured to places ranging from Australia to India to South America.

4. LIKE KURTZ AND MARLOW, CONRAD GOT SICK ON HIS VOYAGE.

Illness claimed Kurtz, an ivory trader who has gone mysteriously insane. It nearly claimed Marlow. And these two characters almost never existed, owing to their creator’s health troubles. Conrad came down with dysentery and malaria in Belgian Congo, and afterwards had to recuperate in the German Hospital, London, before heading to Geneva, Switzerland, to undergo hydrotherapy. Though he survived, Conrad suffered from poor health for many years afterward.

5. THERE HAVE BEEN MANY ALLEGED KURTZES IN REAL LIFE.

The identity of the person on whom Conrad based the story’s antagonist has aroused many a conjecture. Among those suggested as the real Kurtz include a French agent who died on board Conrad’s steamship, a Belgian colonial officer, and Welsh explorer Henry Morton Stanley.

6. COLONIZING WAS ALL THE RAGE WHEN HEART OF DARKNESS APPEARED.

Imperialism—now viewed as misguided, oppressive, and ruthless—was much in vogue when Conrad’s novella hit shelves. The "Scramble for Africa" had seen European powers stake their claims on the majority of the continent. Britain’s Queen Victoria was even portrayed as the colonies' "great white mother." And writing in The New Review in 1897, adventurer Charles de Thierry (who tried and failed to establish his own colony in New Zealand) echoed the imperialistic exuberance of many with his declaration: “Since the wise men saw the star in the East, Christianity has found no nobler expression.”

7. CHINUA ACHEBE WAS NOT A FAN OF THE BOOK.

Even though Conrad was no champion of colonialism, Chinua Achebe—the Nigerian author of Things Fall Apart and other novels—delivered a 1975 lecture called “An Image of Africa: Racism in Conrad’s Heart of Darkness” that described Conrad as a “thoroughgoing racist” and his ubiquitous short classic as “an offensive and deplorable book.” However, even Achebe credited Conrad for having “condemned the evil of imperial exploitation.” And others have recognized Heart of Darkness as an indictment of the unfairness and barbarity of the colonial system.

8. THE BOOK WASN’T SUCH A BIG DEAL—AT FIRST.

In 1902, three years after its initial serialization in a magazine, Heart of Darkness appeared in a volume with two other Conrad stories. It received the least notice of the three. In fact, not even Conrad himself considered it a major work. And during his lifetime, the story “received no special attention either from readers or from Conrad himself,” writes Gene M. Moore in the introduction to Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness: A Casebook. But Heart of Darkness managed to ascend to immense prominence in the 1950s, after the planet had witnessed “the horror”—Kurtz's last words in the book—of WWII and the ramifications of influential men who so thoroughly indulged their basest instincts.

9. T.S. ELIOT BORROWED AN IMPORTANT LINE.

Though Heart of Darkness wasn’t an immediate sensation, it evidently was on the radar of some in the literary community. The famous line announcing the antagonist’s demise, “Mistah Kurtz—he dead,” serves as the epigraph to the 1925 T.S. Eliot poem “The Hollow Men.”

10. THE STORY INSPIRED APOCALYPSE NOW.

Eighty years after Conrad’s novella debuted, the Francis Ford Coppola film Apocalypse Now hit the big screen. Though heavily influenced by Heart of Darkness, the movie’s setting is not Belgian Congo, but the Vietnam War. And though the antagonist (played by Marlon Brando) is named Kurtz, this particular Kurtz is no ivory trader, but a U.S. military officer who has become mentally unhinged.

11. HEART OF DARKNESS HAS BEEN MADE INTO AN OPERA.

Tarik O'Regan’s Heart of Darkness, an opera in one act, opened in 2011. Premiering at London’s Royal Opera House, it was reportedly the first operatic adaptation of Conrad’s story and heavily inspired by Apocalypse Now.

12. THE BOOK ALSO SPARKED A VIDEO GAME.

In a development not even Conrad’s imagination could have produced, his classic inspired a video game, Spec Ops: The Line, which was released in 2012.

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Design
A Cartographer Is Mapping All of the UK’s National Parks, J.R.R. Tolkien-Style
Peak District National Park
Peak District National Park
Dan Bell

Cartographer Dan Bell makes national parks into fantasy lands. Bell, who lives near Lake District National Park in England, is currently on a mission to draw every national park in the UK in the style of the maps in J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, Kottke.org reports.

The project began in September 2017, when Bell posted his own hand-drawn version of a Middle Earth map online. He received such a positive response that he decided to apply the fantasy style to real world locations. He has completed 11 out of the UK’s 15 parks so far. Once he finishes, he hopes to tackle the U.S. National Park system, too. (He already has Yellowstone National Park down.)

Bell has done various other maps in the same style, including ones for London and Game of Thrones’s Westeros, and he commissions, in case you have your own special locale that could use the Tolkien treatment. Check out a few of his park maps below.

A close-up of a map for Peak District National Park
Peak District National Park in central England
Dan Bell

A black-and-white illustration of Cairngorms National Park in the style of a 'Lord of the Rings' map.
Cairngorms National Park in Scotland
Dan Bell

A black-and-white illustration of Lake District National Park in the style of a 'Lord of the Rings' map.
Lake District National Park in England
Dan Bell

You can buy prints of the maps here.

[h/t Kottke.org]

All images by Dan Bell

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