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"To Reach Hell, Press #": Stephen King's CELL hits soon

Peter Rojas

Engadget pal Joe Hutsko contributes this heads-up about CELL, Stephen King's latest novel. Look for his full review later this week here on Engadget:

Though best-selling scare-monger Stephen King doesn’t own a cellphone himself (he disdains the little monsters), a voicemail message encouraging recipients to buy his new book, CELL, hits more than 100,000 mobile phones of his most ardent fans today. In the book, a mysterious phenomenon referred to as “The Pulse” infects the brains of anyone who happens to have their ear to the phone when the spike hits. A power-suited businesswoman turns into a biting and screaming banshee who tries to tear the throat from a Mr. Softee ice cream truck driver, and a bodybuilder is spotted running starkers down the block and whipping shorn car antennas in both fists to and fro. The story’s hero, Clay Riddell, a comic book creator in Boston who has just signed a breakthrough deal with a publisher, luckily ducks the antenna-whipper, but it isn’t long before he and a pair of fellow “normies” – those who weren’t zapped by the Pulse – must face hordes of zombies as they attempt to survive and makes sense of what the hell’s going on. King’s publisher Simon & Schuster is also selling downloadable ringtones and wallpaper on the novel’s official site: “VIP” members will also be treated to a podcast by King on the creation of the novel on the 31st, and the same ’cast can be had by the general public the following week on Simon & Schuster’s, which has gone on record stating that the first-ever sale of cellphone ring-a-ling tones by a novelist may potentially defray some of the cost being thrown behind the ad campaign to promote the 1.1 million copy first printing of its brand- name author’s latest tome. While song-byte ring tone sales are the norm, it’s anyone’s guess whether King’s voice uttering “Beware. The next call you take may be your last,” or “It’s OK, it’s a normie calling,” will find an audience. Yet with rock star-like celebrity status among his fans, King may have the last laugh as digital duplicates of his words orate from the very devices he makes no bones about disliking. Yet for all of its tie-in tech-trickery, perhaps Cell’s most gratifying surprise is the delightfully non-digital one found at the end of the novel, where King treats his readers to a 12-page, hand-written facsimile excerpt of his next novel, Lisey’s Story, to be published in October. This time, the pen truly is mightier than the send-up.

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