If you’re bad with dates like myself, you’re lost. However, if you’re a history buff you know where this is going. J.F.K. was assassinated on November 22nd, 1963. This is the setting for 11-22-63 a novel by Stephen King. It’s not a documentary. It doesn’t investigate the crime. It does mention without exploring the conspiracy theories. The day is just the setting.
Time Travel in 11-22-63 A Novel:
This is the coolest time travel idea. Imagine this. There is a portal through which one can pass. On the “present” side, the year is 2011. On the “past” side, it’s 1958. Thus, when one travels backward in time, they always come out on a specific day at a specific time in 1958. However, when they travel forward through time they arrive back in the “present” precisely 2 minutes after they left.
Example. It’s June 5th, 2011 at 3:05 PM. You pass through the portal. On the other side, it’s 1958. You stay there for two days. Moreover, when you pass back through, you come out on June 5th, 2011 at 3:07 PM. 2 days passed on the 1958 side. However, only 2 minutes passed on the 2011 side. Therefore, you are 2 days older when you get back 2 minutes later.
When in 1958, you can change the past. However, the change will bring unpredictable results. Furthermore, the past is obdurate. It resists change. The amount of resistance is directly proportional to the size of the change. Thus, a minor tweak will have a few obstacles. However, a major change will have life or death roadblocks.
One last thing. Every trip through the portal resets the past. Therefore, if one doesn’t like the “new present” they can simply pass through the portal. This will erase all changes. The present will go back to the set timeline from before the portal was ever used.
The discovery of the portal.
Jake Epping is the main character. He’s a high school teacher in Maine. He eats at a diner where the food is cheap. Roadkill cheap. The diner is run by Al, with whom Jake is friendly but not friends. Thus, Jake is surprised when Al calls and the diner is closed. Al asks Jake to come by the diner. He does. However, when he arrives Al appears to have aged years in a couple of days.
Al tells Jake about the portal. Jake travels through it into 1958 and returns a few hours later. That’s when Al tells him his plan. Al wants to prevent the assassination of John F. Kennedy. However, the years he spent in the past took their toll. Al has terminal cancer. Thus, he won’t live long enough to do the job. He’s recruiting Jake.
After a test run, Jake agrees to do it. His timeline is rushed when Al commits suicide. Lose the diner, lose the portal. Thus, it’s now or never.
The story follows Jake into 1958 through 1962. He has to learn the past so he doesn’t stand out. Furthermore, he must make money to fund his adventure. He can’t take money with him because the dates will be off.
Armed with foreknowledge, he gambles. Sports wagers are a quick buck. However, he plays it safe. He wins some, loses some. Then he places a big bet on a stinking dog that he knows will win.
Remember, the past is obdurate. It knows the big change he is there to effect. It doesn’t want to change. The betting will be a problem. More specifically, disgruntled bookies.
Jake has a couple of years. Thus, he kills time in Florida before moving on to New Orleans and eventually Texas. There, he meets a woman. He falls in love. She becomes a pawn for the past to use in it’s resistance against change.
My thoughts on 11-22-63 a Novel by Stephen King.
I wasn’t expecting to love the audiobook. However, I did. I was mesmerized by the unique take on time travel. I was curious about the Yellow Card Man who guarded the portal. As always, Stephen King did a masterful job of developing the characters. Jake becomes your friend. You’re rooting for him to succeed.
The story is atypical Stephen King. It is at times a mystery, at others a romance. Mostly, it is a drama. Outside of the time travel, it is altogether earthly and normal. I highly recommend 11-22-63 A Novel by Stephen King from Audible. It is both well written and well read. An easy listen that’s hard to walk away from.