Firestarter (Stephen King)

Pyrokinesis is an alleged psychic ability allowing a person to create, manipulate and control fire with the mind. It’s an awesome super-power created by Stephen King for his Charlie McGee character in the action packed psychic adventure called “Firestarter”. The book was so good, they even made a movie starring Drew Barrimore in the 80’s:

It all started in the 1970’s when two poor students wanted to make a little extra cash by taking part in a student experiment that studied the effects of hallucinogens like LSD on the human body. The money was attractive – $200 for just being a test subject in a group of 12 – with a 50-50 chance of getting the drug.
What the students did not know was that the doctor running the experiment belonged to a covert governmental agency called “The Shop” and that they were experimenting with altering the chromozome structure of ALL of the 12 subjects and changing the way the pituitary gland worked.
The subjects injected started displaying a range of abilities, from mild telekinesis (the ability to move objects with the mind) to telepathy (being able to communicate without words).
Andy McGee found his future wife Linda among the subjects and after the experiment was long over and forgotten, they got married and had a wonderful baby called Charlie.
They were still kept under surveillance as they had a few “gifts” and the rest of the subjects were dead (suicides or worse).
Andy’s gift was the ability to “push” – to plant an idea in someone’s head as their own. The guys from “Inception” would have loved to have him on their team! He run a moderately successful “boost your confidence/loose weight” seminar where he gave mild “pushes” to his pupils. The problem was, every time he used his gift, he would have terrible headaches and if he used it for long periods, he would get tiny ruptures on his brain causing small paralysis spots on his face and migranes.
His wife, Linda, could turn the TV on or off and close doors. She wasn’t even aware of doing it!
Their daughter, though, was truly special. She could start fires! She could push objects – like telephone machines and get the coins out. When she was 8, she went to a girlfriend’s house for a sleep-over when she returned from camp and the people from “The Shop” went into panic mode thinking that the parents finally figured out that they were under surveillance.
They attacked Linda and killed her to find out where the girl was.
Having a strong feeling of dread, Andy returns home from work to find his wife murdered and then goes to get his daughter only to find out she was already taken.
He’s using all he’s got to get her back and they stay on the run from “The Shop” for nearly a year.
They finally get captured but not until Andy makes Charlie promise she will never light another fire.
This is where the book is really good and got me thinking a little. The doctors are saying that child up-bringing is very much like “shame” conditioning. You shame the child when he does something bad (like wetting the bed) and then he will know not to do it again. And unless the parental figure of control is destroyed, the child will always feel the “wrongness” of doing something bad.
The scientists are trying to coax the child into lighting small fires but it’s not working and they decide to send an undercover operative that can earn the girl’s trust and make them work with them. He becomes her new father image and she starts listening to him.
It all seems to be going well until a blackout makes Andy realize that he has not worried about his daughter ever since he was captured because he was drugged out most of the time. He decides to “push” himself out of being an addict and decides to save his daughter.
By the power of suggestion, he gets the colonel to pass a note to his kid saying that the man she trusted was evil and they hatch an escape plan.
0175385_23233_MC_Tx360Unfortunately, the Indian finds out about the plan and foils it – killing Andy in the process.
Andy manages to tell his daughter to run and kill everyone who stands in her way.
She escapes in a blast and manages to get to safety.
The book ends as she gets to an independent newspaper in New York, with a mass american audience, not affiliated with any political party – The Rolling Stones – where she tells her story.
Rating: 4/5
Favourite part: Explanation of the pituitary glands
Least favourite part: The oddly infatuation of the Indian with the girl.

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