Stephen King leaped aboard the digital reader revolution back in 2009 when he wrote this tale that was available only online as a download for said readers.
The story follows an English teacher, Wesley, at a mediocre college. His relationship with Ellen, one of the college’s coaches is on the rocks, caused by a lack of communication and literacy. She asks why he can’t read things on screens like everyone else. Why does he have to have a book?
In an attempt to get back in her graces he orders a kindle. Miraculously it arrives the next day, except, it’s pink. At the time Kindles only came in white.
While he is interested in the gadget, things really take off when he finds the Ur functions on the device. Exploring this strange feature he discovers other worlds, worlds where authors died earlier or later, their output changed, and Wesley discovers unheard of novels and works by such names as Hemingway.
He explores this, with two friends, and things take a stunning turn when they explore the Ur news functions, and even more so, when they consult the Local News Ur.
This one is a quick enjoyable read, fun, fast-paced, with King’s touch. While not horrifying it is undeniably King, and feels like a Twilight Zone episode – and that’s a good thing.
There is also a tie-in with King’s Dark Tower series as the novella comes to its conclusion, and I, honestly, love little nods like that. It makes many of his stories part of a larger cohesive whole, a tapestry that is by turns, thrilling and terrifying, It’s also almost impossible to put down, much like the stories Wesley discovers in his strange kindle.
I like the shift three-quarters of the way through the book, it changes from a sort of creeping thrilling wonder to one of excitement and terror as events play out.
The encounter at the end of the story is especially disconcerting, but the last few lines of the story are a true joy to read. What can I say, I’m a sucker for a happy ending.
Of course, as soon as I hit the Dark Tower references in the story, the need to revisit that tale again came upon me, and I think somewhere in the very near future, I will ride out with Roland, be part of his Ka-Tet again, and I will pursue the Man in Black.
In the interim, I will heartily recommend downloading this story to your e-reader, and enjoy.