UR, Stephen King
Storyville, LLC, Kindle edition, 2009
Unknown number of pages
How utterly prescient of me to find this piece of crap just a few days after I reviewed the Kindle! (See A Bibliophiliac and His Kindle if you give a rat’s patootie.) Hawked by Amazon.com as a novelette that will not be included in any print collection, I think it is a fine idea now that I have read it.
I fell for the hype because I am just as curious as any other idiot is, and I parted with $2.99 of Martha’s hard-earned money to download it—a perfectly good waste of 3 bucks, as it turns out.
I have been a fan of King since he published Carrie in 1974. The man who wrote The Stand (the original version) and the incredible Sci-Fi-fantasy-horror epic The Dark Tower has become, I am sorry to say, a story whore. He has long been a book cover blurb whore, but UR really takes the Kindle.
Which brings me to the story about a Kindle (nice segue, Charlie) and its owner, Wesley Smith. Wes is a Professor of English at a small college and, during a lecture, he spots a student fiddling around with a Pong game machine. When Wes confronts the student, the kid shows the Prof a Kindle! After class, the suck-up student extols all the features and virtues of his new e-reader.
Thus begins a “story” that is a blatant advertisement for the Kindle. I recognized much of the wording directly from Amazon’s hype shop: size, portability, wireless download-ing—even battery life, which, like, I could care less about, like, you know? What I do care about is I spent three dollars for an advertisement! According to P.T. Barnum, I am one of those suckers he was so fond of . . .
There is a Kingish-type story weaved through the hype when Wesley receives a pink Kindle from the UPS guy. Weird, man. Pink. Bad juju, pink. The books Wes downloads are from parallel universes (ala The Dark Tower) by authors like Shakespeare and Poe—except they are books unknown in our universe. Smith becomes addicted to these new books, especially an unknown Nancy Drew (I’m kidding), but then things take a turn for the worse in our own universe.
Suddenly, Pinkie is showing Wes newspapers from the future—or future newspapers—whatever. One is the local rag, dated two days hence. **SPOILERS** Wes is aghast at the headline because the college’s women’s basketball team and their coach, Wes’s girlfriend, are all killed when a drunken driver plows into the bus carrying the team home from a tournament. With two days notice, Wes vows to stop the event from happening, and he does!
Life is good for Wes—until the men in yellow raincoats (ala Hearts in Atlantis) show up and give him a mere tongue-lashing for changing the future. C’mon, Steve—every durn fool knows that past and future history cannot be fooked with. How many of those females will produce generations of people who are not in the Master Scheme of Stuff? What then? Huh? **END OF SPOILAGE**.
To the astute reader of this review, I am somewhat biased and non-objective. Where I differ from many book reviewers is I call ‘em as I see ‘em; a piece of advertising trash deserves a fair and honest trashing.
PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT: For those who are Kindleless, UR will be available February 16, 2010 as a Simon & Schuster audio CD. For $10.11 US. Jeff Bezos, my friend, you must have a pair that you trip over when you are unclothed.