Book Review: UR, Stephen King (2010)

May 2nd, 2013 12:52 pm by mad mags

All things serve The Tower (even Amazon!).

four out of five stars

A self-described “old schooler,” English professor Wesley Smith has finally decided to make the plunge and buy a Kindle tv now app serien downloaden. Not because he’s been seduced by its convenience, ease of use, or environmental friendliness; rather, Wesley’s purchase is one driven by spite. Recently dumped by girlfriend Ellen Silverman – a fellow faculty member at Kentucky’s Moore College and coach of the women’s basketball team – Wesley means to show his ex that he’s not nearly as inflexible and resistant to change as she thinks he is. Hence the new “gadget.” But what arrives in the mail – overnight delivery, nonetheless! – isn’t the white Kindle that all the kids are carrying around herunterladen. Wesley’s Kindle is pink.

The differences aren’t merely aesthetic. Poking around – “experimenting with new technology,” as it were – Wesley discovers a beta program called “Ur.” Through it, he’s able to access multiple worlds – millions of them – each stocked with its own unique library. In one Ur, Edgar Allen Poe lived well past the age of 40 and became a novelist; in another Ur, Wesley finds four “new” Ernest Hemingway novels, penned during the “extra” three years of the writer’s life movies for tablet. As jarring as Wesley’s weird pink Kindle may be, its expanded library’s main danger lies in its addictiveness, particularly to bibliophiles such as Wesley: in his quest to download and read his favorite authors’ “lost” works, Wesley transforms into an obsessed insomniac overnight. And who could blame him, really?

As Wesley continues to explore the Ur’s functions, the story takes a turn from the bizarre to the truly shocking teamviewer 14 kostenlos. The news archives show him countless different courses of history, many of them more violent and destructive than our own: realities in which plagues have all but wiped out humanity; a universe or two in which Sarah Palin, through some freakish turn of events, became President of the Unites States; and, perhaps most horrifyingly, a world in which the Cuban missile crisis was not averted, leading to all-out nuclear war and the end of civilization as we know it. (Indeed, in this Ur the news ceases to exist not long after October 1962.)

And yet the “better” worlds – those in which John F. Kennedy survived the attempt on his life, or Al Gore defeated George W herunterladen. Bush in the 2000 election – are equally unsettling: they provide a window onto what might have been, if not for a chance or confluence of events, making our own reality look that much bleaker in comparison.

But there’s one more Ur function left: the local section, which provides access to future as well as past news. Hoping to find out whether the Lady Meerkats will win an upcoming match, Wesley is horrified to learn that the bus on which they’ll be returning will be struck by a drunk driver, resulting in multiple fatalities – Ellen Silverman among them – in less than 48 hours free. Can Wesley save them and, if so, what punishment will he face for violating the Ur’s terms of service?

Intriguing, fun, and a quick read, UR is definitely one of King’s more memorable novellas. (According to the Wiki, he wrote it in all of three days. I love you! I hate you! I wish I was you!) I suppose it could read as an infomercial for Amazon, but the Kindle doesn’t come out all roses here; if anything, it highlights how instant access and an ereader seamlessly integrated with the Kindle store can make it all too easy to drop a small fortune on ebooks how to download minecraft on iphone for free. (Lucky for “our” Wesley Smith, it was a Wesley in another world paying for all his on-a-whim purchases.) Plus it’s rather charming to release a book about an “evil” Kindle exclusively on the Kindle, don’t you think?

As the title of this review suggests, UR is part of The Dark Tower universe – something I was delighted to discover, since The Dark Tower was the last King book I read (having just finished the series on audiobook after eight or so long months of listening! Now I’m tempted to revisit other King novels to see what I missed, re: their connection to The Dark Tower.) The low men make a cameo in the last pages of the story, and you won’t be disappointed.

Bonus points: Ellen is a vegan feminist with a penchant for tofu dogs and a desktop papered with the image of a BAMF female athlete; the caption on photo reads, “Play like a girl.” King takes a character that could easily become a caricature of her identities – vegan, feminist, ethnic Jew – and (somehow!) manages not to crack a joke at her expense or reduce her to a stereotype. Awesomeness.

(This review is also available on Amazon, Library Thing, and Goodreads. Please click through and vote it helpful if you’re so inclined!)

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