Watchers Critical Essays

Dean Koontz


(Critical Survey of Science Fiction and Fantasy)

Watchers’ focus on the dangers of biological engineering continues a long tradition in science fiction. In the nineteenth century, for example, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein: Or, The Modern Prometheus (1818) and H. G. Wells’s The Island of Dr. Moreau (1896) offered surgically created monsters. It was no coincidence, therefore, that Koontz selected a passage from Wells for his first epigraph in Watchers. Notable works exploring aspects of biological engineering and artificial life-forms, often by writers trained in biology, include Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World (1932) and Isaac Asimov’s robot novels and stories.

In the 1960’s, after the genetic code carried by DNA molecules was deciphered, interest in genetic engineering expanded. Stephen King’s The Stand (1978) presented a post-holocaust world caused by an accidentally released germ-warfare virus, and Stephen Gallagher’s Chimera (1982) depicted a monstrous apeman created by government DNA research. Robin Cook (Mutation, 1989), Geoff Ryman (The Child Garden, 1989), and Michael Crichton (Jurassic Park, 1990) also built stories based on this technology.

Koontz began to establish himself as a science-fiction writer in 1967 and, in the span of a decade, produced dozens of novels including his first, Star Quest (1968), Time Thieves (1972), and Nightmare Journey (1975)....

(The entire section is 401 words.)