Stephen King's New JFK Assassination Novel Is Sorta Exactly Like Quantum Leap Episode

Categories: Books, WTF?

quantumleap1.jpg
Stephen King's plausible inspiration for 11/22/63. No word if the Dark Tower series was based on the roof of a church near King's office window.
Reading Stephen King's IMDB profile is like scrolling a Hollywood Greatest Hits & Misses list. The speed in which Hollywood is adapting these stories is nearly becoming a parody of itself, as if Hollywood is buying King's wild horror pitches straight from his mind. The Dark Tower series is already headed for TV, the big screen, iPads, Smell-O-Vision and cereal boxes at some point in 2012-2013, but the more recent news that's making ripples is his now-Jonathan-Demme-helmed JFK assassination movie-book.

A friend of Mixmaster tipped us off yesterday that King's to-be-released novel, entitled 11/22/63, is about a teacher who travels back in time to stop the John F. Kennedy from being shot.

Which, at this point, is when we ask: oh, hey dude, isn't that the exact plot from an episode of Quantum Leap?

Oh, OK, yeah it pretty much is. In 1992, Quantum Leap debuted an episode called "Lee Harvey Oswald," (a two parter) where, as IMDB puts it....

Sam finds himself leaping back and forth in assassin Lee Harvey Oswald's life while retaining part of his personality.
Don't take our (or IMDB's) word for it. The whole thing's on Hulu. All those years of King watching Scott Bakula's jump around must have leaked into his brain. Oh well, at least we still have this.

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Stacy Anderson
Stacy Anderson

I'm just curious, have any of you actually read the book?  Because it doesn't sound like it...

Bruce Armstrong
Bruce Armstrong

Also sounds a lot like an episode from the first revival of "The Twilight Zone." In the episode "Profile in Silver", a history professor goes back in time and prevents the assassination of JFK, or tries to. (Won't give all the spoilers in case someone, somewhere hasn't seen it!) Side note: JFK is played by Andrew Robinson, better known as "Scorpio" from the original Dirty Harry movie.

Yolanda Washington
Yolanda Washington

Actually, King's book sounds awfully similar to Stanley Shapiro's 1986 novel "A Time to Remember," in which a man travels back in time to save JFK from assassination and thus his brother from dying in Vietnam. I wonder if King will give a Shout Out to Stanley Shapiro?

Jhempel32
Jhempel32

I just read the preview from the back of Mile 81....and Quantum Leap was the first thing that popped into my mind....here's a quote:

"Al had written in his notes: If Oswald was on his own on the night of April 10th, 1963, chances that there was another gunman involved in the Kennedy assassination seven months later drop to almost zero"

So not only is there AL....but the whole thing about the chances of something happening get changed around based on other circumstances....I'm going to have Scott Bakula as the image of the main character I think LOL

ERIC THE RED
ERIC THE RED

HEY BRYANT HOW DOES IT FEEL LIVING INSIDE STEPHEN KING'S ASS

Bryant Burnette
Bryant Burnette

It feels good.  Warm, not as smelly as you might think; just generally pleasant.  How does it feel to type everything in caps?  I've never tried that, 'cause it always seemed like something really stupid people do; clearly, though, I was mistaken.

Bryant Burnette
Bryant Burnette

Even if King sat down and watched the Quantum Leap episode and said to himself, "Hmm, that's a good idea, I should steal it," and then rubbed his mustache and cackled evilly, it's unlikely that "11/22/63" would end up being similar to that episode in any meaningful sense.

I might argue that this plot is at least vaguely similar to a conversation two characters have in King's novel "The Dead Zone," wherein one asks another if he would kill Hitler if he had the opportunity to go back in time and do so.  And since that novel was published years before "Quantum Leap" hit tv screens, it's clear that King had considered time travel as a concept way before the series existed.

Also, check out this Wikipedia page (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/J... and you'll see that there are a few other similar stories, some of which existed before the "Quantum Leap" episode!  Which one of these do you REALLY want to accuse King of ripping off?  And while you're at it, which one do you want to accuse Don Bellisario of ripping off for the "Quantum Leap" episode (which is clearly not original in its own right)?

It might be more sensible to state the truth, which is that in this novel, King seems -- I say "seems" because I haven't read it yet, so all I can do is assume based on the evidence at hand -- to be working within a sci-fi tradition, i.e., the tale of the time-traveler on a mission.

This was some exceptionally lazy writing, Nick.  I feel lazy for having visited only Wikipedia in crafting a rebuttal, but you don't appear to have done even that much legwork.

Well done.

Nick R.
Nick R.

Well, at least it was exceptional. 

Bryant Burnette
Bryant Burnette

By the way, don't get me wrong: I love Quantum Leap.  I would've bought all the DVDs years ago if not for the fact that a lot of episodes had some of the songs removed.  I haven't seen the JFK episode in a long time, but I remember it being pretty good. 

You might also recall that there is a Halloween episode of Quantum Leap which features a very Stephen King-like character, and includes multiple allusions to King novels like Carrie and Christine and Cujo.  That's one of my favorite episodes.

Bryant Burnette
Bryant Burnette

It's also worth mentioning that King described the idea for 11/22/63 in an interview around the time the Dark Tower comics began. He was talking about an idea he wanted to do as a graphic novel, and even says how he imagines the story ending! And if he's kept the ending to the novel the same, trust me: it's not AT ALL similar to the Quantum Leap episode.

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