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The Jaunt

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"The Jaunt" is a horror short story by Stephen King first published in The Twilight Zone Magazine in 1981, and collected in King's 1985 collection Skeleton Crew.

The story takes place early in the 24th century, when the technology for teleportation, referred to as "Jaunting", is commonplace, allowing for instantaneous transportation across enormous distances, even to other planets in the solar system. The government, which learned of the Jaunt through its inventor's use of a computer database in his experiments, soon took control of the project, demoting the scientist to a figurehead in the program. After the introduction of the Jaunt to the public in 1991, the country experienced a strong economic boom, and the price of oil declined to such an extent that OPEC disbanded. Due to environmental pollution, water became a more expensive and profitable commodity than oil by 2006.

25 pages

First published January 1, 1981

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About the author

Stephen King

1,968 books828k followers
Stephen Edwin King was born the second son of Donald and Nellie Ruth Pillsbury King. After his father left them when Stephen was two, he and his older brother, David, were raised by his mother. Parts of his childhood were spent in Fort Wayne, Indiana, where his father's family was at the time, and in Stratford, Connecticut. When Stephen was eleven, his mother brought her children back to Durham, Maine, for good. Her parents, Guy and Nellie Pillsbury, had become incapacitated with old age, and Ruth King was persuaded by her sisters to take over the physical care of them. Other family members provided a small house in Durham and financial support. After Stephen's grandparents passed away, Mrs. King found work in the kitchens of Pineland, a nearby residential facility for the mentally challenged.

Stephen attended the grammar school in Durham and Lisbon Falls High School, graduating in 1966. From his sophomore year at the University of Maine at Orono, he wrote a weekly column for the school newspaper, THE MAINE CAMPUS. He was also active in student politics, serving as a member of the Student Senate. He came to support the anti-war movement on the Orono campus, arriving at his stance from a conservative view that the war in Vietnam was unconstitutional. He graduated in 1970, with a B.A. in English and qualified to teach on the high school level. A draft board examination immediately post-graduation found him 4-F on grounds of high blood pressure, limited vision, flat feet, and punctured eardrums.

He met Tabitha Spruce in the stacks of the Fogler Library at the University, where they both worked as students; they married in January of 1971. As Stephen was unable to find placement as a teacher immediately, the Kings lived on his earnings as a laborer at an industrial laundry, and her student loan and savings, with an occasional boost from a short story sale to men's magazines.

Stephen made his first professional short story sale ("The Glass Floor") to Startling Mystery Stories in 1967. Throughout the early years of his marriage, he continued to sell stories to men's magazines. Many were gathered into the Night Shift collection or appeared in other anthologies.

In the fall of 1971, Stephen began teaching English at Hampden Academy, the public high school in Hampden, Maine. Writing in the evenings and on the weekends, he continued to produce short stories and to work on novels.

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5 stars
1,384 (42%)
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3 stars
468 (14%)
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34 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 301 reviews
Profile Image for Jamie.
1,197 reviews115 followers
February 19, 2021
"It's eternity in there..."

What an absolutely chilling piece of sci-fi with a dash of existential horror! With nods to sci-fi greats Alfred Bester and Ray Bradbury, King recounts the tale of the amazing scientific breakthrough that leads to planetary and interplanetary teleportation technology. It becomes a ray of hope in a despairing world in the midst of severe energy crises and environmental devastation, but has the potential for some deeply disturbing side-effects that have become the stuff of legend. Highly recommended to sci-fi fans, even those, like me, that have only a limited affinity for King's works (mainly The Dark Tower series).
Profile Image for Dennis.
658 reviews276 followers
March 18, 2021
Classic SF with a horror twist.

In the 24th century teleportation, called Jaunting, has become commonplace. Mark Oates and his family are about to jaunt from the Port Authority Terminal in New York City to the colony on Mars where he will be working for the next two years. While they are waiting for the stewardesses to put them under, he entertains his kids by telling them about the creation of the Jaunt and its inventor, the eccentric scientist Victor Carune.

Carune had been unsuccessfully working on teleportation and was strapped for cash when one day, working on the project in his barn, he made a breakthrough. He accidentally teleported two of his fingers across the room.

From that point on we and Mark’s kids hear how Carune tries to figure out how his invention works, which gets a little tricky when he starts teleporting living things, before at the end of the story we witness the Oates’ own jaunt to Mars.

From a technology standpoint this story feels very dated. Frankly, it probably did so already at the time of publication. It reads more like 50s SF than something that had been written in 1981. Which actually makes me think that King has done this on purpose. Perhaps as a homage to stories he loved as a kid. Personally, I enjoyed the old school vibe the story gives off. But if you are here for the science, this is not the story for you.

The general idea of how the Jaunt works is still interesting, though, and King also gives some thought to ecological and economic issues. What makes this story great, however, is how the suspense builds up during Carune’s experiments, and the twist-ending. It still sends shivers down my spine. It’s not so much what’s on the page, but rather its implications. He really managed to get into my head there.

Freaked me out.

4 – 4.5 stars
Profile Image for Joshua Joyce.
Author 1 book5 followers
September 21, 2020
Whoa! I’d found a subreddit all about the best short horror stories and after digging through the most famous of King’s, Lovecraft’s, Poe’s, Jackson’s, and Barron’s stories...I found the Jaunt. Comment after comment of people saying it was the scariest Stephen King story they’d ever read, but no one said WHY.

Thank God for that.

I just read it. I found it as an audiobook on YouTube. 53 minutes long. That’s like one episode of a TV show and this is a guaranteed terror.

5/5, very surprised by this story and it did live up to the hype.
Profile Image for Stephen  Alff (AlffBooks).
164 reviews54 followers
May 9, 2016
Chilling. I can't think of another word now that I finished the story. Well written and scary. The story uses our fear of time, death and the unknown, quite interesting.

I might come back to this review at some point in the future because it feels like my brain hasn't fully processed the story.
Profile Image for Brian .
415 reviews5 followers
July 29, 2015
There's a rumor The Jaunt will be a movie soon. I have to see it. What if scientists discovered how to teleport from one place to another. What if a conscious mind will realize that from one place to another "it's an eternity in there?" One of the scariest I've read.
Profile Image for kingboycar.
90 reviews
May 9, 2022
stephen king will write about manmade horrors beyond our comprehension but will still find a way to mention an underage girl's boobs
Profile Image for Robert Reiner.
323 reviews6 followers
January 3, 2023
Read this story on my lunch break today in one sitting. This was written decades ago as part of SK's collection Skeleton Crew. I read Skeleton Crew back when I was a teenager and did not recall this one at all. What a gem. It feels like it could've been written today and involves a future time where teleporting has been invented (which is known as Jaunting). We have this father who's taking his family on a Jaunt to Mars for the first time. Apparently, the only side effects of Jaunting occur if you're awake and not sedated during the process. I'm going to stop right there. Read this if you get a chance. It's pretty terrifying actually....
Profile Image for 🥀 Rose 🥀.
1,142 reviews38 followers
December 22, 2016
Just a snapshot of a story that gives a reader a sampling of how great a horror author Stephen King truly is. There are times when is stuff can fall flat on its face and other times when no one other than the Master can creep you out and have a story stick to your forever. Revival is one of this and THIS little slice is one of those times as well. Well done!
Profile Image for Dan.
8 reviews
September 16, 2019
It's longer than you think.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Gagan.
26 reviews1 follower
November 7, 2012
I read this story about a year back and it still give me creeps, literally. No, I am not trying to exaggerate at all. Even I used to wonder, how can reading a horror story scare you but I am really glad(or scared), I came across it!

Profile Image for Sandhya.
233 reviews12 followers
September 10, 2020
Booooooooi!! Heard it read aloud by a half decent reader but ughhhh sometimes this book put me to sleep. TMI where I didn’t need it and not enough where I wanted. Also the only takeaway was that this man is a gross dad like eeewewww why you like at women and girls like that smh
Profile Image for Amy.
266 reviews3 followers
December 30, 2020
Just like most of Stephen King’s short stories for me: meh.
Profile Image for Charlie.
505 reviews23 followers
August 4, 2021

This was definitely an interesting short story! I enjoyed it overall, especially the ending. I had expected something like the ending to happen but it was still different than I'd thought.

There were a few things in here thought, that made me stop and questions whether that small detail really made such a big difference to leave it in. One I noticed and which definitely seemed unnecessary was the mention of the daughter likely going through puberty and "developing breasts" when they'd return to Earth. I think that detail wouldn't have needed to be explicitly mentioned in this story. Another instance was comparing the Jaunt scientists with the Nazi scientists who experimented with Jewish women. I don't really understand the need for that comparison.
Profile Image for Dhara Parekh.
Author 1 book16 followers
September 30, 2021
So many stories flashed in front of my eyes as I finished The Jaunt. The White Christmas (Black Mirror), Dark Matter by Blake Crouch, certain episodes of Doctor Who. I agree with the people who are categorizing this story as Existential Horror. This is one of those stories that goes plain and smooth and then leaves you with a dark aftertaste that lingers for days.

The only issue I have, not just with this story, but with most of Stephen King's writing, is his inability to describe women (and girls) without mentioning their 'bosoms'. What kind of father thinks of his daughter's growing breasts when he laments over the passage of time? And why would a writer pass that as something normal?
June 4, 2014
I'm not much of a time-travel book fan, but this one made me interested because it has a touch of horror in it. This book was set at a time wherein innovation is prominent and gas is at its lowest price. People are fascinated with JAUNTING.

Jaunting is a way of teleportation. It also has something to do with time travel. People go crazy when put in such a machine. The horrors could be endless and SK managed to show me just that.

I recommend this to people who are looking for a short, good scare.
Profile Image for Lisa.
227 reviews44 followers
December 12, 2016
An entertaining short story with an interesting subject - namely (space) teleportation. What if we could travel through space? How would that work? And would there be any dangers? A family is ready to get sent to another planet, but first the two children have a few questions for their dad.

I especially liked how King interwove the past (the discovery of teleportation) with the 'now', it really added to the story. Perhaps the ending was a little predictable, but still an interesting concept nonetheless.

And no 'it wuz the aliens!'-ending. Thank God.
Profile Image for Gregory Eakins.
710 reviews20 followers
August 28, 2017
Stephen King masterfully builds a fascinating, spooky, history surrounding a teleportation device in less than the number of pages in an Ikea instruction manual. Almost nothing major happens in this short story, as most of it is a retelling of history, but all of the little details add up to a thought exercise that is as mysterious as it is chilling.
Profile Image for Matt Chester.
71 reviews5 followers
February 6, 2017
Read this short story after randomly coming across it online. I can see this being a full novel or a movie someday-- very gripping, chilling, and gets inside your head. But what else do you expect from Stephen King-- only enhanced by the fact that he squeezed all the impact in 16 short pages.
1 review
January 30, 2017
You know what is coming long before the end, but it doesn't make the conclusion any less chilling. I wish it was a full length novel because I feel like I have to know what happened to the woman whose husband pushed her in!
110 reviews
December 31, 2018
King in his prime. Fantastic build up and SAVAGE ending. Simply great.
Profile Image for Emma.
21 reviews4 followers
July 2, 2022
Nån skrev att den var läskig, den var inte läskig.
4 reviews
February 14, 2021
This is, to me, one of King's most frightening short stories. It's much easier to imagine ourselves in a scenario that we don't know now, but could one day be real as technology advances. Stephen King takes a concept that we already understand and pushes it to the extreme: Each advance in transportation technology gets us to our destination faster but the danger is greater. Plane crashes are more deadly than car accidents are more deadly than bicycle crashes are more deadly than tripping while walking. All of these activities are incredibly safe and some people engage in all of them them almost daily. We accept that the faster and higher we want to go the longer and more deadly the fall. If this correlation is true then what could be the most deadly technology besides instantaneous teleportation. The idea that we could one day achieve such awesome power and yet that it should become so commonplace that the inherent risk is ignored is easily imaginal.

Though the specifics of its utility and the exact danger are an unlikely prediction, the terror of advancing technology is very real. And Stephen King is a scary man!
Displaying 1 - 30 of 301 reviews

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