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Saturday, January 31, 2009

John Updike 1932-2009

The Vault of Horror mourns the passing on Tuesday of John Updike, who--along with Norman Mailer--was one of the most important American literary figures of the late 20th century.

Prior to being homogenized by Harvard, the young Updike was particularly interested in science fiction, gravitating toward hard sci-fi writers like Isaac Asimov who displayed a solid knowledge of science, much like himself. Despite moving into the literary "mainstream" post-Harvard as a columnist for the New Yorker, Updike always retained a certain affection for the genre, incorporating it into several of his works, most notably the 1975 novella The Chaste Planet.

Updike's only foray into horror was a heavily diluted one, namely the 1984 horror/fantasy/comic novel The Witches of Eastwick. The tale of three witches who conjure up a mysterious demonic seducer was such a popular one that it has enjoyed several adaptations, most notably the 1987 film starring Jack Nicholson. It was also turned into two different TV movies and a 2000 stage musical, and a new ongoing series based on the novel is set to premiere on ABC in the fall.

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