Is Dean Koontz a Visionary Fiction Writer?

By Margaret Duarte

Dean Koontz is generally categorized as a writer of horror, and I’m not a fan of horror, so I’m not sure what possessed me to read one of his novels. Maybe someone gave it to me. Maybe I picked it up in a bargain bin somewhere.

What I do remember is that the book’s title was Watchers and, while reading it, I fell in love with a dog named Einstein and an author named Dean Koontz.

Then along came the Odd Thomas series. Again, I don’t know how I discovered it, but I do know that Koontz’s “odd” protagonist nabbed and bagged my heart before I even got to paragraph two. The series is written in first person, from the point of view of a short-order cook named Odd Thomas, who pulls you in with his wit and humility and then captivates you like a first crush with his concern for the underdogs of – and out of – this world.

“My name is Odd Thomas, though in this age when fame is the altar at which most people worship, I am not sure why you should care who I am or that I exist.”

Peculiar things happen to Odd Thomas that don’t happen to anyone else. He communicates with the dead, for instance. Not by choice, mind you. Odd Thomas is a reluctant confidant and can’t resist helping the quiet souls who seek him out for justice.

Almost every page of Koontz’s novels contains a line or phrase that teases and pleases the brain. I’m down right envious of Koontz’s ability to penetrate beneath the surface of things (the beautiful and ugly, humorous and sad, inspiring and depressing) and share observations that vibrate with truth.

  • “We are not, however, a species that can choose the baggage with which it must travel. In spite of our best intentions, we always find that we have brought along a suitcase or two of darkness, and misery.”
  • “A car can’t return the love you give it. but if you’re lonely enough, maybe the sparkle of the chrome, the luster of the paint, and the purr of the engine can be mistaken for affection.”
  • “Unlike the beasts of the wild, the many cruel varieties of human monsters, when at last cornered, seldom fight with greater ferocity. Instead, they reveal the cowardice at the core of their brutality.”
And so it goes page after page, bits of wisdom threaded within stories of suspense, horror, sci-fi and love in contemporary settings. It’s no surprise that he’s hard, if not impossible, to categorize. Koontz crosses boundaries. He does his own thing. He is an entertainer and a philosopher. Yet he doesn’t preach and he doesn’t bore. He’s the Emerson of genre fiction.

In a previous post, I described visionary fiction as a genre that not only tells a good story, but also enlightens and encourages readers to expand their awareness of greater possibilities. Visionary fiction helps readers see the world in a new light and recognize dimensions of reality they commonly ignore.

Dean Koontz does that and more. What can I say? The man’s a master. I’m not surprised that many visionary fiction authors claim Koontz influenced their writing. In fact, I would go as far as to say that Koontz is a visionary fiction writer. How’s that for crossing boundaries?

If you haven’t discovered Dean Koontz for yourself, I suggest you do so. Or see the movie, which comes out soon. You won’t regret it. And while you’re at it, check out some of the other visionary authors mentioned on this site. In a world riddled with fear, misunderstanding, and lost hope, you might just welcome fiction that heals, empowers, and bridges differences.


22 thoughts on “Is Dean Koontz a Visionary Fiction Writer?

  1. Admin - Eleni says:

    There are so many examples of Visionary Fiction that aren't labelled as such. I never read Dean Koontz, and now I'm interested to do so. The quotes alone make me want to read the book, especially the one about the car. Thanks for the suggestion.

    • margaretduarte says:

      Hi Eleni. I could go on forever with quotes from Koontz's books, since there are so many that make me catch my breath and smile. Here's one, for instance, from BROTHER ODD: "Or we yearn for yesterday, for what was or what might have been. But as we are yearning, the present is becoming the past, so the past is nothing but our yearning for second chances." How can he NOT be a visionary writer?

  2. visionaryfictionauth says:

    You've really spurred my interest in Dean Koontz's writing. And from your description, it sounds like he really fits the VF genre. I loved the quote about the baggage and suitcase, and admire how he manages to say something profound in a way most of us can relate to….VF artistry at its best.

    • margaretduarte says:

      Hi Jodine. Yes, exactly, Koontz manages to say something profound on every page. For me, it's like brain candy. That's why I dubbed him the Emerson of genre fiction. ONE DOOR AWAY FROM HEAVEN is another of his novels that I enjoyed. It's described as "…a story of redemption and timeless wisdom that will have readers cheering."

  3. Rosi says:

    This is a real revelation for me. Years ago I was a voracious reader of horror — Stephen King and Dean Koontz particularly — but grew tired of the genre and moved on to other things. I haven't read anything by either in many, many years with the exception of King's brilliant On Writing. It sounds as though I've missed a wonderful evolution in Koontz's work. I think I will have to revisit his section of the bookshelves. Thanks for the fine post.

    • margaretduarte says:

      Hi Rosi. I don't like horror, but Koontz manages to mix terror with hope and tragedy with joy. I suggest you start with the Odd Thomas series, especially BROTHER ODD. I think you'll also enjoy WATCHERS and ONE DOOR AWAY FROM HEAVEN. Thanks so much for stopping by.

  4. Susan Cooper/finding says:

    Like you, I have never been a fan of horror. Although I have read and enjoyed some of Anne Rice… go figure that one. After reading your review of this writer and his work "Odd Thomas" I may have to take another look. Thank you for that. 🙂

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  14. Robin Gregory says:

    I’m excited to get to know more about Dean Koontz’s work and his life. He sounds brilliant! That he is a visionary surprised me, but Margaret makes it clear that this is the case. I’ve never read his books before, and am anxious to now. Thank you for the fabulous, informative post.


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