Hi everyone! I hope you’re all well! It’s Friday, and time for another review. Today I’m reviewing one of my favourite short stories by one of my favourite writers: The Jaunt by Stephen King.
The Jaunt by Stephen King was first published in Twilight Zone Magazine in 1981 and is included in the short story collection Skeleton Crew published in 1985 by Putnam. It runs 25 pages.
The Jaunt follows a family awaiting their journey through The Jaunt, a technology that enables teleportation, as they head off on a two-year-long business trip to mars. Upon their arrival on the red planet, the family comes face to face with an unexpected horror.
Mark has used The Jaunt many times, and as he and his family await their turn to be anaesthetized (a necessary step to use the Jaunt safely), he tells his children how the technology came to exist, sparing them the horrific story of the first human to be fully conscious while using it. We, the readers, however, get to know all about the awful effects.
Marylis is Mark’s wife and the mother of Ricky and Patricia. She’s nervous about using The Jaunt because this is her first time. She relaxes, listening to her husband telling the children about The Jaunt’s invention.
After listening to his father’s story about the invention of The Jaunt, 12-year-old Ricky is curious to find out what happens when you don’t breathe in the anaesthetic gas. He wants to find out what happens if you don’t go to sleep for the journey, and he most certainly does find out. Poor Ricky.
Patricia ‘Patty’ Oates is the Oatse’s 9 years old daughter. She is nervous about using The Jaunt for the first time, though she is calmed when she sees the attendants place the gas mask over her father’s face first; he shows that it’s really no big deal. Out of all the characters in this short story, I related to Patty the most. I got ‘fear of flying’ vibes from her, and I’ve been in that situation a few times when you’re waiting to board a flight, and the nerves start to ramp up. I could also relate to her concern for the mice used in the early Jaunt experiments.
In around 1987, Victor Carune, an eccentric scientist, invented The Jaunt, a machine enabling teleportation. He discovers the technology after years of research and ends up accidentally teleporting two of his fingers 50 yards across the barn he’s working in. After more research, he discovers that the technology works very well when he tests it on objects made of inorganic material, but it’s a different story when he sends mice through; they either die instantly or behave strangely and erratically before dying moments later. Eventually, he learns that the technology will work for living things, but only if the subjects are unconscious during the journey. Ultimately, after holding onto it for as long as he can, Victor loses control of The Jaunt to the government.
Even though the story jumps back and forth between the mid-21st century and 1987, it’s an easy read, and the jumping isn’t at all jarring. It’s written in King’s typically effortless style, and he does a great job of weaving the description of the technology and the family’s dialogue, helping to build tension and suspense along with the world in which the story takes place.
The story’s primary theme of technological advancement is an interesting one. In particular, King explores the idea that humans can often give themselves freely to technology without fully understanding how it truly works or its long-term effects.
The Jaunt is probably my favourite among Stephen King’s short stories, and it’s a perfect read for anyone who enjoys science fiction with a dash of horror and those who might appreciate stories dealing with ethical issues relating to new technologies in our society. This story gave me chills and, at times, genuinely made me think about some of the technology we use today and where it might lead in the future.
I rate The Jaunt 8/10.
Have you read The Jaunt by Stephen King? Are you a Stephen King fan?
As always, thanks for reading my review!
Until next time,
© 2023 GLT
Categories: Book Reviews, Reading
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