Riding the Bullet

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"Riding the Bullet"
Riding the Bullet.png
Cover of the original e-book release
Author Stephen King
Country United States
Language English
Genre(s) Horror short story
Published in Everything's Eventual
Publication type Online
Media type e-book, Print (Hardcover)
Publication date March 14, 2000

Riding the Bullet is a novella by Stephen King. This work marks King's debut on the Internet. Simon & Schuster, with technology by SoftLock, first published Riding the Bullet in 2000 as the world's first mass-market electronic book, available for download at $2.50. In 2002, it was collected in King's collection Everything's Eventual. In 2000, the novella was nominated for the Bram Stoker Award for Superior Achievement in Long Fiction and the International Horror Guild Award for Best Long Form.

Publication[edit]

During the first 24 hours, over 400,000 copies of "Riding the Bullet" were downloaded, jamming SoftLock's server.[1] Some Stephen King fans waited hours for the download.[2]

With over 500,000 downloads, Stephen King seemed to pave the way of the publishing future. The actual number of readers was unclear because the encryption caused countless computers to crash.[3]

The total financial gross of the electronic publication remains uncertain. Initially offered at $2.50 by SoftLock and Simon & Schuster, Amazon and Barnes and Noble gave free downloads.[4]

A movie adaptation of the story, starring Jonathan Jackson and David Arquette, was released in 2004.

In 2009, the Riding the Bullet: The Deluxe Special Edition Double by Stephen King and Mick Garris was announced by Lonely Road Books.[5] It is scheduled to be released as an oversized slipcased hardcover that is bound in the flip book or tête-bêche format (like an Ace Double). It will feature the novella Riding the Bullet, the original script for the film with same name by Mick Garris, and artwork by Alan M. Clark and Bernie Wrightson. It will be available in three editions:

  • Collector's Gift Edition: limited to just 3000 slipcased copies (not signed)
  • Limited Edition of 500 copies (signed by Mick Garris and the artist)
  • Lettered Edition of 52 copies (signed by Stephen King)

Plot summary[edit]

Alan Parker is a student at the University of Maine who is trying to find himself. He gets a call from a neighbor in his hometown, Lewiston, telling him that his mother has been taken to the hospital after having a stroke. Lacking a functioning car, Parker decides to hitchhike the 120-miles south to visit his mother.[6]

His first ride is with an old man who continually tugs at his crotch in a car that stinks of urine. Eventually frightened, and glad to escape the vehicle, Alan starts walking, thumbing his next ride. Coming upon a graveyard he begins to explore it, Alan notices a headstone for a stranger named George Staub (Staub is German and means dust): "Well Begun, Too Soon Done." Sure enough, the next car to pick him up is George Staub, complete with black stitches around his neck where his head had been sewn on after being severed and wearing a button saying "I rode The Bullet at Thrill Village, Laconia." [7]

During the ride, George talks to Alan about the amusement park ride he was too scared to ride as a kid: The Bullet in Thrill Village, Laconia, New Hampshire. George tells Alan that before they reach the lights of town, Alan must choose who goes on the death ride with George: Alan or his mother. In a moment of fright, Alan saves himself and tells him to "Take her. Take my Mother."

George shoves Alan out of the car, where he reappears alone at the graveyard, wearing the "I Rode the Bullet at Thrill Village" button. Alan eventually reaches the hospital, despite his guilt and the impending feeling that his mother is dead or will die any moment, his mother is fine.

Alan takes the button and treasures it as a good (or bad) luck charm, his mother returns to work and to smoking, he graduates and takes care of his mother for several years and another stroke.

One day he loses the button and knows what the phone call was about.... He finds the button underneath his mother's bed, and after a final moment of sadness, guilt, and meditation, decides to carry on.

Reception[edit]

F&SF reviewer Charles de Lint praised the novella as "a terrific story, highlighting King's gift for characterization and his sheer narrative drive."[8]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "eBooks are Here to Stay", by Karl De Abrew, Adobe.com 2000-04-24. Retrieved on 2009-12-15
  2. ^ "The Business of EBooks", News Hour by Jim Lehrer transcript, PBS 2000-03-16. Retrieved on 2009-12-15
  3. ^ "What is Stephen King trying to prove?" New York Times Magazine, 2000-08-13. Retrieved on 2009-12-15
  4. ^ "For Softlock, the Rights Stuff Wasn't Good Enough", by Kevin Ferguson,Business Week, 2000-12-26. Retrieved on 2009-12-15
  5. ^ http://www.lonelyroadbooks.com/books/ridingthebullet/about.html
  6. ^ "Click if You Dare: It's the Cybercrypt" by Christopher Lehmann-haupt New York Times, 2000-03-20. Retrieved on 2009-12-15.
  7. ^ "Click if You Dare: It's the Cybercrypt" by Christopher Lehmann-haupt New York Times, 2000-03-20. Retrieved on 2009-12-15.
  8. ^ Books to Look For, F&SF, August 2000

External links[edit]