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Replay by Ken Grimwood

A book by Ken Grimwood.

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Haven't I met you somewhere before?

  • Jan 25, 2010
  • by
Rating:
+4
Jeff Winston, a 43 year old radio journalist of (at best) modest accomplishments going through the motions of a lack-luster marriage, dies of cardiac arrest in 1988. To his shock, he opens his eyes and returns to consciousness in 1963 in the very healthy young male body of his former 25 year old self. Without ever knowing the reason it has happened, he comes to grips with his situation and realizes that all of his adult experience, his adult wisdom and his awareness of events to come remain intact.

Of course, with that advance knowledge of the outcome of major sports events and the growth of companies such as IBM, Apple and Sony, Jeff finds it simple, through strategic gambling and investments, to quickly amass a spectacular fortune and become one of the wealthiest men in the world. After his attempts to "re-meet" his wife fail, Winston simply opts for a life of sexual decadence with someone he meets in one of the Las Vegas casinos. Despite the high life he is now enjoying, Jeff clearly recalls the pain of his "death" by heart attack and so he is also most careful to hold himself to the highest standards of cardiac health. But, like the events around which he accumulated his wealth, Jeff discovers that the event of his death in 1988 is also unavoidable and he again dies with a painful heart attack.

Awakening again in 1963, Jeff realizes that he is trapped in an endless cycle of death and re-birth and that, yet another time, he is faced with the choice of how to live the next 25 years of his truncated and ever-repeating life. In his second life (or was it his third or fourth cycle?), he meets Pamela Phillips, a world-acclaimed film-maker. Because of certain anachronisms that don't fit with his knowledge of how world history unrolls in the turbulent decade of the 1960s, Jeff realizes that Phillips is also a "re-player", another person trapped in her own cycle of death and re-birth. Pamela and Jeff discover their love for one another, re-discover that love in one "replay" after another and attempt to make the best of the opportunities offered them to improve their lives and the lives of those around them!

The subjective moral of Grimwood's text in "Replay" is clear enough! Strike an appropriate, comfortable balance between a purely hedonistic self-centered life focused on the present and a life focused on what might be, what is yet to come and the benefit of family, friends and the world around you. The difficulty with this balance rests with the realization that life is both tenuous and finite. We never know when the ending will arrive. The objective message, much easier to understand but perhaps equally difficult to implement in a real world setting is to twist your knickers only around those issues over which you actually have control. Nothing else is worth dwelling upon in terms of mental or physical stress and effort!

There has been much debate over whether it is more appropriately labeled "sci-fi" or "fantasy". Personally, I'll opt for fantasy as Grimwood made no attempt to discuss or hypothesize a mechanism for the re-playing phenomenon. At the same time, I'm going to deduct one star from its rating for a sci-fi quibble. Grimwood chose to fix Winston's and Phillip's baseline of experiences, knowledge and history at the level of their first life. As a sci-fi fan comfortable with the multi-worlds concept, I didn't see any reason to favour one world over another. As both Phillips and Winston re-played their lives in a linear fashion, there was no obvious fundamental reason to suggest that, of necessity, they would be re-born in their "first" universe. Why not their second, third or indeed a universe that they had yet to experience?

Small potatoes worry about a wonderful story! "Replay" is a heart-warming thought-provoking morality tale that will resonate with any thinking reader. Highly recommended.

Paul Weiss

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More Replay (book) reviews
review by . May 02, 2010
I first read this back in September 2006. It has always stuck with me so I chose it for a book club selection recently. I'm interested to hear what the others think about it. For me, it made me think a lot more on second reading. What would it be like to "come back" at the age of 14 knowing everything I do now? Would I do my life over again? Would I choose a different path?    That's not to say the book doesn't have a few holes if you really wanted to nitpick it. I've heard a …
review by . March 05, 2009
The plot is so intriguing. Jeff Winston dies and then goes back in time to relive his last 25 years but with all his memories intact. Winston does all the things I would do if I were him. That is; bet on sporting events, which I already know the outcome and play the stock market for stocks, that I already know made a fortune. With his overall confidence he easily woos the women. However, the same confidence and inflated ego proves to be a turnoff to the woman who was originally his wife. Everything …
review by . April 11, 2009
Book Cover
REPLAY, by Ken Grimwood, is a miraculous journey through time and the human spirit. Grimwood wonderfully exposes the possible outcomes of having advanced knowledge while leading life. What happens when you live the same thirty years over, and over, and over? What makes a life worthwhile? Is it a lifetime of money, fame, or positive interactions with others? What does anything matter if at the end of the "replay" everything just gets erased, except in your memory?      REPLAY …
review by . December 03, 2008
Replay by Ken Grimwood
What a great read! I haven't read a book that made me think about consequences and opportunities so much since James Halperin's 'The Truth Machine'. In some cases where he has been with a person for one of his "lifetimes" and "replays" again only to meet that person young and unaware of the lifetime they just spent together, you can understand and feel just how creepy that would be. Ken Grimwood tells a story that entertains with a unique plot and realistic, lifelike characters, and you find yourself …
review by . October 05, 2008
Prior to having my recent bypass surgery, I bought a copy of my favorite book, Ken Grimwood's REPLAY, to re-read. [...], but I thought it would be especially interesting to re-read now in light of (a) I am now past the age of Grimwood when he wrote the book, (b) I am roughly the age of its main protagonist, Jeff Winston, and (c) I was in some small danger of dying, either through a heart attack before I ever got on the operating table or there itself.    Even though I knew the …
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Paul Weiss ()
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   A modern day dilettante with widely varied eclectic interests. A dabbler in muchbut grandmaster of none - wilderness camping in all four seasons, hiking, canoeing, world travel,philately, … more
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About this book

Wiki

Product Description
Jeff Winston, forty-three, didn't know he was a replayer until he died and woke up twenty-five years younger in his college dorm room; he lived another life. And died again. And lived again and died again -- in a continuous twenty-five-year cycle -- each time starting from scratch at the age of eighteen to reclaim lost loves, remedy past mistakes, or make a fortune in the stock market. A novel of gripping adventure, romance, and fascinating speculation on the nature of time, Replay asks the question: "What if you could live your life over again?"

About the Author
KEN GRIMWOOD (1944-2003) was a radio journalist in California. He was the author of Breakthrough, Elise, The Voice Outside and Into the Deep. He won the World Fantasy Award for Replay.
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Details

ISBN-10: 068816112X (pbk.)
ISBN-13: 9780688161125 (pbk.)
Author: Ken Grimwood
Genre: Science Fiction, Time Travel
Publisher: Harper Paperbacks (July 22, 1998)
Date Published: (July 22, 1998)
Format: Paperback: 320 pages, Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.4 x 0.9 inches
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