I don’t know that I’ve ever yearned from something as terrifying as Wesley’s pink Kindle.
“A crazy certainty had arisen in his mind: a hand – or perhaps a claw – was going to swim up from the grayness of the Kindle’s screen, grab him by the throat, and yank him in.”
Imagine a world ten years in the past. Electronic books and e-readers are just beginning to take the world by storm. Wesley Smith is a college English literature professor who, after a nasty breakup partially over his distaste for the new trend of reading on a device, has decided to bite the bullet and purchase his first ever Kindle from Amazon. It arrives sooner than it should, sans instructions and sporting an odd pink color instead of the white of all other Kindles. Also unusual is the fact that, under the ‘Experimental’ section is a handful of subsections called Urs. Ur is evidently representative of alternate realities in which authors lived longer or died younger, attached themselves to different genres or penned more and greater works than are present in our reality. If this doesn’t sound like an incredible and awe-inspiring addition to the Kindle store, you and I view the world very differently.
“He also dreamed. No images; only words. Titles! Endless lines of titles, many of them of undiscovered masterpieces. As many titles as there were stars in the sky.”
Unfortunately, there is more information about these other worlds available, and Wesley (along with a student and a fellow professor) plumbs the depths of how these other worlds differ from ours, and what events led to those variations. This information is enough to fracture even the strongest minds. But what really sets Wesley on a collision course with destruction is his discovery of information that will impact his own world, and the decisions he makes with that information could come back to bite him.
“Most people are optimists, although they may claim they are not. People who call themselves realists are often the biggest optimists of all.”
One of the most fun aspects of this little story, besides the amazing pink Kindle, is how it relates to other works from King. There’s a strong nod to 11/22/63, but the deepest link is with The Dark Tower. I’ve only ever read The Gunslinger, but this story rekindled (see what I did there?) my interest in the series. I’m now insanely curious and will hopefully get back to the Tower in the near future.
“The Tower trembles; the worlds shudder in their courses. The rose feels a chill, as of winter.”
Surprise of surprises, I actually loved the ending to this little story. While there are elements of the concept that are undeniably scary, there was a level of happiness to the climax that left me feeling content. I just really wish I could find this magical Kindle. I think I could stay away from looking into the happenings of the other realities if I could just read new works from favorite authors. Isn’t that a literary daydream held by countless bookworms?
“Because sometimes longshots came in. Both for good and for ill.”
A final note: I love that this wasn’t available in a physical form for the first nearly six years of its life. First published as an ebook in 2009, UR didn’t make its first physical debut until its publication as part of King’s 2015 short story collection, The Bazaar of Bad Dreams. Isn’t that poetic?