As most of you know, I have a novel coming out in November called Under the Dome. My first effort to write it came in 1978, or thereabouts. That seventy-page manuscript (actually titled Under the Dome) was lost, but after reviewing the stuff I said about it in Douglas Winter’s book, The Art of Darkness (1989), I got thinking about my second effort to write that story, which, as you will find out, deals with people trapped in an increasingly lethal environment.
That second try was mostly written in Pittsburgh, during the filming of Creepshow. I spent two months in a depressing suburban apartment complex that became (with the usual fictional tweaks) the setting for the story. It was called The Cannibals, and this time I got a lot further—almost five hundred pages—before hitting a wall. I assumed the manuscript was lost. Long story short, it turned up—battered, and with some pages missing, but mostly complete—in the summer of 2009. So, for your amusement, and as an appetizer to Under the Dome, here are the first sixty pages or so of The Cannibals, reproduced, warts and all, from the original manuscript which was dredged up by Ms. Mod from a locked cabinet in a back room of my office. I’m amused by the antique quality of the typescript; this may have been the last thing I did on my old IBM Selectric before moving on to a computer system.
There’s another reason for publishing this on the website. Several Internet writers have speculated on a perceived similarity between Under the Dome and The Simpsons Movie, where, according to Wikipedia, Homer’s town of Springfield is isolated inside a large glass dome (probably because of that pesky nuclear power plant). I can’t speak personally to this, because I have never seen the movie, and the similarity came as a complete surprise to me…although I know, from personal experience, that the similarity will turn out to be casual. Unless there’s deliberate copying (sometimes known as “plagiarism”), stories can no more be alike than snowflakes. The reason is simple: no two human imaginations are exactly alike. For the doubters, this excerpt should demonstrate that I was thinking dome and isolation long before Homer, Marge, and their amusing brood came on the scene.
I hope you enjoy this. As always, Ms. Mod and I welcome your comments.
For the first time ever, you can now read an excerpt from The Cannibals. This is the story which originally inspired Under the Dome.
The Cannibals is available for download in PDF format from The Cannibals page.