From the outset, The Dark Tower series is a story about stories. Drawing on a tradition that includes Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories and Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, King folds the narrative of the first book in The Dark Tower series, The Gunslinger, back over itself. This layers tension on the plot while simultaneously providing an introduction to a self-reflexive theme that will prove essential to the series as a whole. Spoilers for the majority of The Dark Tower series follow the jump.
Few things are hotter these days than the extended universe model of storytelling. With the advent of the Marvel Cinematic Universe – and the wild box office success of movies like the Avengers – it seems like every studio in Hollywood is scrambling to establish their own “extended universe.” But what, exactly, defines an extended universe? Is it just a fancy name for a series of movies, or are there additional qualifications? Where did Marvel get the idea, and what aspects are worth being stolen by the competition? This brand new multi-installment column, Other Worlds Than These, will provide the answer to all these questions and more. First, let’s take a look at some of the literary antecedents that helped build the foundation for the extended universes of today.