Stephen King is undoubtedly the most famous horror author alive, but he does occasionally stray into other genres, such as fantasy with The Eyes of the Dragon and The Gunslinger. He has also tried his hand at science fiction. As a science fiction fan who has recently rekindled a reading relationship with Stephen King, I couldn't resist checking out some of King's science fiction.
I’ll concentrate on three books that I argue have strong science fictional elements, but which in my estimation fail to live up to their SF potential: IT, The Tommyknockers, and Under the Dome. (I’m not dealing with The Stand, because, while it has SF elements, it’s fundamentally more fantastic. I also haven’t read it in over 20 years. I’m not dealing with 11/22/63, The Running Man, or many others simply because I haven’t read them. Please recommend other books in the comments!)
My favorite definition of science fiction comes from literary theorist Darko Suvin, who says that science fiction is the “literature of cognitive estrangement.” That is, SF stories happen in a world that is not our own (the “estrangement”), but they could happen without violating too many known scientific laws (the “cognitive” part). In other words: no magic or supernatural stuff allowed! Although Stanley Kubrick’s film of The Shining could be taken as either supernatural or psychological, King’s novel is pretty obviously a supernatural tale. The three books I’m discussing here, however, proceed with little, if any, supernatural aspects. Like Alien, they seek to mix the genres of horror and science fiction.