THE SILENT CORNER - *Spoiler Discussion*

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THE SILENT CORNER - *Spoiler Discussion*

Postby WhiteWolf on Wed Jul 19, 2017 8:00 pm

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If you have clicked on this thread and didn't realize it says, "Spoiler Discussion," then it's your own fault. Here is your last chance to turn around and get out if you have not yet read the great 2017 Dean Koontz novel THE SILENT CORNER.

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Seriously, though, this is your last chance.

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:giggles: This one is my favorite. ^^^

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Re: THE SILENT CORNER - *Spoiler Discussion*

Postby WhiteWolf on Thu Jul 20, 2017 9:17 am

I loved it.

As the first entry in a series, it could have also worked well as a one-off. An array of protagonists were introduced and dealt with by books' end, but a couple of them were not, and the implication being that the "mad scientist" who initiated the whole Hamlet list wasn't really that important after other parties got involved and really got the ball rolling.

There are a lot of key Koontz elements and themes, things he has written extensively about over the years, and he brings them forth with a modern perspective, one that is realistic but also cautionary. One difference I liked from other books, (DARK RIVERS OF THE HEART, one of my all-time favorite Koontz books, for example) is that the isolation the main character is in while pitted against a vast and untold number of highly resourceful bad guys, is the great amount of good people that keep popping up. Koontz makes many references to all of the bad things that keep happening in the world, and how it can really confuse even an average person's moral compass, but the never ending appearance of Good People keeps reminding me, as a reader, that all is not lost, and even the deepest cynic can find some respect for those who are willing to risk helping other Good People at potentially great cost to themselves. It's a significant change from older Koontz books, when the characters are usually and essentially on their own, and a welcome change, given the bleak landscape of national news that this story inhabits.

Koontz has long had a habit of dropping thematic talismans along the course of a book, certain elements of the setting that evoke a distinct understanding of the book's main focus, as long as the reader is looking for those things. They are subtle enough, usually, to ignore, and missing them doesn't necessarily detract from the story in any way, but it's nice to know that popular authors are still capable of a little literary nuance now and again.

In THE SILENT CORNER, Koontz references various cultural art, particularly music, in specific instances to evoke a character's reaction and explore some greater depth of the character without bothering to blow through dozens of pages of verbose expositions like some other authors whose last name begins with a "K." The playing of certain songs early in the books are there for a reason, and worth contemplating. But more interesting to me are the complete misunderstandings and bad humor of Bertold Shenneck (whose name bears a striking resemblance to one Thomas Shaddack of another great Koontz book, MIDNIGHT, a throwback that I really enjoyed). Shenneck, who the lawyer describes as "liking his little jokes," is a pretty good depiction of the modern social media-obsessed wanker whose only use for great works like HAMLET and "The Man With The Blue Guitar" and even the classic film THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE is because he like to have his snarky, ironic little jokes. That an otherwise smart person like Shenneck would completely miss the point of HAMLET and be "inspired" not by the hero of THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE but by the brainwashers speaks largely of his (and society's) skin-deep and superficial value of great art.

This realization didn't really hit home for me until the very end of the book, when Shenneck uses the Wallace Stevens poem as an audio combination to open his safe for Jane Hawk. First, he completely misunderstands the point of the poem, and Jane notices but doesn't bother to mention it. What would be the point? He's a mass-murdering psychopath who wouldn't understand if it was spelled out for him. After finishing THE SILENT CORNER, I sat down to reread the poem, and found some great parallels with Jane's story. First, there is the unnamed "They," forces who question things being as they are and making demands of the guitar player. Then there is the guitar itself, an instrument of perception, used one way or the other could be construed as being used for evil or for good. Mostly, there are verses there have an unmistakable relation to Shenneck's nano-mind control, and how its misuse by the unnamed "They" has raised the stakes for everyone, not just Jane.

III
Ah, but to play man number one,
To drive the dagger in his heart,

To lay his brain upon the board
And pick the acrid colors out,

To nail his thought across the door,
Its wings spread wide to rain and snow,

To strike his living hi and ho,
To tick it, tock it, turn it true,

To bang it from a savage blue,
Jangling the metal of the strings…..


Shenneck deliberately changes a line in the poem for his combination to say "my" blue guitar, instead of "the" blue guitar. He clearly believes, as he wrongly understands the poem, that his nano-mind control is the titular blue guitar from the poem, to be played as he sees fit and to make the world as he wants it, rather than see things as they are.

I was about to go through the whole thing like I was writing a college paper back in the old days. And that might have been kind of fun, but it might be better if you read the poem for yourself. I have a link for it right here. I'll I will say is that the poem is a meditation on art and culture, with the unnamed "they" missing the point, and the main question being how to use the instrument.

When Koontz dropped that reference in at the end, it really coalesced the whole book and brought all of those other little instances leading up to it into greater focus. It really made the story for me, even though I would have been happy with the book if the reference wasn't there. I'm happy to know Koontz gives it greater thought than just trying to construct a good suspense novel. It is, in fact, a great suspense novel, by a great writer, and what could be better than to know there are more on the way?

Jane Hawk has made quite a first impression.
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Re: THE SILENT CORNER - *Spoiler Discussion*

Postby WhiteWolf on Thu Jul 20, 2017 12:31 pm

"Play Manchurian with me."

"Yes, all right."


This exchange between Booth Hendrickson and Nate Silverman near the end of the book is what really reminded me of similarities to NIGHT CHILLS, with the "I am the key" "I am the lock" thing going on.

The fate of Nate Silverman was terrible. I was really hoping he would get through it somehow. But not all of Jane's allies can escape unscathed.
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Re: THE SILENT CORNER - *Spoiler Discussion*

Postby Schrijvertje on Sun Jul 23, 2017 12:18 pm

Great analysis. Glad you got more out of it than I did. Also glad you noticed the same elements from older works too, I agree using nano-bots to achieve that goal is a more modern approach but they have been used before, as in "77 Shadow Street" I think? Perhaps I shouldn't be so hung up on the recycling of elements, I think I was just bummed out to have guessed the explanation so early on. Okay, I didn't guess the motive behind the Hamlet list, but still...

I wonder, was Nathan himself strong enough of mind to rebel against his new programming, or was it a fault in the programming itself allowing him to do so? I'd like it to be the first, since the latter reminds me of how the Builders in the Frankenstein books broke down by themselves.

I was expecting the plane crash in the news to turn out to be related to the nano-minds as well, that "They" made the pilots to do it. I was very aware of small details at the start of the novel to play a pivotal role at the end, as was the case with "Innocence" and "Velocity", and I thought this would be something like that.
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Re: THE SILENT CORNER - *Spoiler Discussion*

Postby WhiteWolf on Mon Jul 24, 2017 9:26 am

Nathan's psychological enslavement was the most distressing part of the book for me, in part because I had the sense he might have been able to defeat the control on his own, given a little more time and a little help perhaps. Good call on the similarity to the Frankenstein books. I had forgotten about that. Koontz threw in an allusion to there being some failing with the mind control concerning the coyotes on Shenneck's property cannibalizing each other, which only added to my hope that Nathan could beat it, if not avoid becoming some sort of cannibalistic zombie himself.

Knowing that there will be sequels, I expect that those plot points involving the plane crash, and the briefly mentioned "400 people killed in Seattle" would all come up as part of the larger story arc in later books. That whole scenario does remind me of the psychological problem with most conspiracy theorists, however: they really just don't want to admit that there are bad people in the world who do crazy, chaotic bad things to other people, and most of us are powerless to stop it. Giving credence to massive conspiracies does offer some people comfort in knowing that somewhere, someone is in control of everything, even if it is all terrible and horrific. They just can't wrap their heads around the chaos, so they would rather submit to far-fetched theories of intricate plots hatched by diabolical governments and corporations.

I guess what I'm saying is, Koontz went out of his way to mention the craziness of the world, and part of it could be a motive for the people who hatched their Hamlet List plan, rather than the symptoms or results of their machinations. At least, not being much of a conspiracy theorist myself, that's the way I'm hoping it goes.
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