Mar 2 2011 6:32pm

Stephen King’s Next Book is a Time Travel Epic

New Stephen King novel 11-22-63

Today, Stephen King and his publishers announced that his next novel will be titled 11/22/63... and yes, that date does mean what you think it means. The book summary released on begins as follows:

On November 22, 1963, three shots rang out in Dallas,
President Kennedy died, and the world changed.

If you had the chance to change history, would you?

Would the consequences be worth it?

Jake Epping is a thirty-five-year-old high school English teacher in Lisbon Falls, Maine, who makes extra money teaching adults in the GED program. He receives an essay from one of the students—a gruesome, harrowing first person story about the night 50 years ago when Harry Dunning’s father came home and killed his mother, his sister, and his brother with a hammer. Harry escaped with a smashed leg, as evidenced by his crooked walk.

Not much later, Jake’s friend Al, who runs the local diner, divulges a secret: his storeroom is a portal to 1958. He enlists Jake on an insane—and insanely possible—mission to try to prevent the Kennedy assassination. So begins Jake’s new life as George Amberson and his new world of Elvis and JFK, of big American cars and sock hops, of a troubled loner named Lee Harvey Oswald and a beautiful high school librarian named Sadie Dunhill, who becomes the love of Jake’s life—a life that transgresses all the normal rules of time.

According to, among other sources, 11/22/63 will be another “1,000 page tour-de-force,” following the similarly hefty Under the Dome. Given that Under the Dome was one of my favorite King novels in years, I’m plenty excited for this next tome; actually, this concept seems like it would more obviously support the length. On the other hand, it also has shades of King’s classic The Dead Zone, which also told an ambitious tale involving presidential assassination, and did just fine with the standard 400 pages or so.

As for questions raised by this announcement, I’m having a little bit of trouble figuring out the relevance of the first paragraph in the summary—is Harry Dunning’s father going to play a villain’s role?

Anyway, what do you think? Ready for another King epic?

Joshua Starr’s storeroom is mostly a portal to old board games.

Tocks Nedlog
1. Tocks Nedlog
The idea is not new. Anyone who has read William Shatner's memoirs knows that Gene Roddenberry was practically obsessed with the idea of doing a Star Trek movie with this theme. That being said, ideas are easy -- it's what the author does with them that gives a story life and resonance.
Lawrence Lawson
2. rpcvlawson
YAYAYAYAYAY! My favorite 'retired' writer.
Jeff LaSala
3. JLaSala
Huh. Well, this could be really great or really not great. Probably nowhere in between. Under the Dome was a good (if long) read, but I admit I prefer my time travel to be a little bit less...mainstream. Still, a storeroom portal is pretty cool.
Tocks Nedlog
4. reaeverywhereelse
"A storeroom portal is pretty cool"

C. S. Lewis had the idea first . . . Phillip Jose Farmer , too.
Tocks Nedlog
5. Tocks Nedlog
Note the release date. It could be released on the anniversary of the assassination: the 22nd (that's a Tuesday) but instead it's coming out on the 8th -- Election Day.
Tocks Nedlog
6. Smaug's Li'l Brother Puff
@4: My. GOD. You're right. The storeroom door to Narnia in the back of the Professor's roadside diner is a one-of-a-kind milestone in fantasy literature. No one was ever supposed to use portals to other worlds and times again. NEVER EVER.

You lead the boycott, reaeverywhereelse, and I'll subscribe to your newsletter.
Bob Gallo
7. StormbringerGrey
The opening lines remind me of the 1986 Twilight Zone episode Profile in Silver:
Joshua Starr
8. JStarr
@5: Ha, that's great that it ended up being election day. I suspect they deliberately did not want to release on the anniversary: if they had, some people would almost certainly have felt it was disrespectful/a cheap publicity stunt.

@1 & @3: yeah, "preventing Kennedy's assassination" is a classic of the "what would you do if you could travel back in time?" game... but I think that's a big part of why King's characters would choose to do it. It's an obvious idea their thoughts would turn to. I think the interesting thing here is that, in order to do it, the character(s) are going to have to live through 5 years of the past. They can't just set their machine to mid-November, 1963.
Greg Morrow
11. gpmorrow
Every spec-fic writer eventually decides they have one great time travel story in them.
Greg Morrow
12. gpmorrow
Or, perhaps more accurately, it is never surprising when a spec-fic writer decides they have a great time travel story in them.
Tocks Nedlog
13. Mike D in TN
I would have rather prevented the deaths of C.S. Lewis and Aldous Huxley, both of whom also died that day. Kennedy had far less influence on the world than either of those minds, though I grant they had more of their life to contribute.

I have thoughts of also writing a book titled 11/22/63 but it rather be a triple biography of these three men and their relative legacies on the world.

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