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Riding the Bullet

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Title: Riding the Bullet  
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Subject: Everything's Eventual, Stephen King, Stephen King short fiction bibliography, Motion Picture Corporation of America, Ur (novella)
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Riding the Bullet

"Riding the Bullet"
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. That year, 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. In 2002, the novella was included in King's collection Everything's Eventual.


  • Publication 1
  • Plot summary 2
  • Film 3
  • Reception 4
  • See also 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7


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 & Noble gave free downloads.[4]

In 2009, Lonely Road Books announced the impending release of Riding the Bullet: The Deluxe Special Edition Double, by Stephen King and Mick Garris,[5] as an oversized slipcased hardcover bound in the flip book or tête-bêche format (like an Ace Double) featuring the novella Riding the Bullet, the original script for the eponymous 2004 film by Mick Garris, and artwork by Alan M. Clark and Bernie Wrightson. The book was 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

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 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

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

One day Alan 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.


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


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]

In contrast, The New York Times '​ Christopher Lehmann-Haupt, who read the book in both available online formats (computer download and an e-book supplied by the publisher, neither of which permitted a user to print out a copy), was more critical. He disliked reading digital content on a backlighted monitor ("I was also restlessly aware of the unusual effort it was taking to read onscreen") and the book's content ("after getting off to such a strong start, Mr. King writes himself into a corner that makes Alan's scary adventure seem something of a shaggy dog story"). He concludes: "reading 'Riding the Bullet,' I sorely missed the solidity of good old print on paper. And who knows, maybe old-fashioned print would have made Mr. King's story seem a little more substantial?"[9]

See also


  1. ^ De Abrew, Karl (April 24, 2000). "eBooks are Here to Stay". Retrieved 2009-12-15. 
  2. ^ "The Business of EBooks". News Hour with Jim Lehrer transcript (PBS). March 16, 2000. Retrieved December 15, 2009. 
  3. ^ "What is Stephen King trying to prove?". New York Times Magazine. August 13, 2000. Retrieved December 15, 2009. 
  4. ^ Ferguson, Kevin Ferguson (December 26, 2000). "For Softlock, the Rights Stuff Wasn't Good Enough". Business Week. Retrieved December 15, 2009. 
  5. ^ "Riding the Bullet". Lonely Road Books. 
  6. ^ Lehmann-haupt, Christopher (March 20, 2000). "Click if You Dare: It's the Cybercrypt". The New York Times. Retrieved December 15, 2009. 
  7. ^ Lehmann-haupt, Christopher (March 20, 2000). "Click if You Dare: It's the Cybercrypt". The New York Times. Retrieved December 15, 2009. 
  8. ^ "Books to Look For". SFsite. August 2000. 
  9. ^ Lehmann-Haupt, Christopher (March 20, 2000). "BOOKS OF THE TIMES - Click if You Dare: It's the Cybercrypt". 

External links

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