Tuesday, November 02, 2010

"UR" by Stephen King

by Stephen King
Read by Holter Graham
Produced by Simon & Schuster Audio, 2010
approx 2 hours

It is a running joke that Stephen King can take any inanimate object and turn into a vassal of evil, and in this short story King seems to perpetuate that bit of humor. In the past he's had a possessed car, lawnmowers, household appliances, and more, now King has turned the latest form of literature, the e-book, or more specifically Amazon's Kindle, into a bringer of evil.

Stephen King wrote this story specifically for the Amazon Kindle e-reader and was previously only available as a Kindle download, now Simon and Schuster have released the book in audiobook form. Being a huge King fan, I almost bought a Kindle just to have this story but I'm still a hold out for buying an e-reader. So, when it came out in audiobook form I jumped at the chance to listen.

Holter Graham does a great job performing the book. He captures the eeriness in the story and does a great job voicing the different characters. His voice is very captivating and keeps the listener in the story. In a very interesting not, Holter Graham is not a stranger to King's work, he starred in the film "Maximum Overdrive" which was written and directed by Stephen King. Graham played the kid, Deke.

In "UR," a Midwestern English instructor, Wesley Smith, has recently broken up with his girlfriend and is haunted by her parting shot, "Why can't you just read off the computer like everyone else?" In trying to create an atmosphere that could lead to reuniting with his girlfriend, the coach for the college's ladies basketball team, Wes logs on to his Amazon account and orders a Kindle. The Kindle arrives the next day via "One Day Delivery" which Wes did not request. The other odd thing is that the Kindle comes out of the box with no instructions and is pink in color (at the time the Kindle only came in white).

Once Wes powers up the Kindle he finds a menu for UR functions. The UR functions seem to be various alternate realities. At this point, King does one of the things I love about his books and stories, he ties in this story to his Dark Tower Mythos. Each reality is a different level in the tower. In one reality Wes and colleagues discover that the Bay of Pigs conflict led to nuclear annihilation of the Earth. Wes' colleagues are another English teacher and a student.

Wes decides to look at UR Local, which is stated to be under construction. UR Local will only download local papers from future dates and is governed by Paradox Laws which are enforced by the "low men in yellow coats" (remember "Hearts in Atlantis"?). When Wes and his student explore this function they discover that the Lady's Basketball team is involved in a tragic accident with a drunk driver. Can they stop this drunk driver? Can they avoid the low men? You'll have to find out for yourself.

As to purchasing a Kindle...well I'm still undecided...probably so, as long as it's not pink.

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