The Gunslinger

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The Gunslinger is a novel by American author Stephen King, and is the first volume in the Dark Tower series, which King considers to be his magnum opus.[1] It was first published in 1982. The story centers upon Roland Deschain, the last gunslinger who has been chasing after his adversary, "the man in black", for many years. The novel follows Roland's trek through a vast desert and beyond in search of the man in black. Roland meets several people along his journey, including a boy named Jake Chambers who travels with him part of the way.

Contents

Background and publication

The novel was inspired by the poem "Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came" by Robert Browning, which King read as a sophomore at the University of Maine. King explains that he "played with the idea of trying a long romantic novel embodying the feel, if not the exact sense, of the Browning poem." King started writing this novel on a ream of bright green paper that he found at the library.[2]

The five parts that constitute the novel were originally published in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction:

It took King twelve and a half years to finish the novel. The finished product was first published by Donald M. Grant, Publisher, Inc. as a limited edition in 1982. In 1988, Plume released it in trade paperback form. Since then, the book has been re-issued in various formats and included in boxed sets with other volumes of the series.

In 2003 the novel was reissued in a revised and expanded version with modified language and added and changed scenes intended to resolve inconsistencies with the later books in the series.

It is dedicated to Ed Ferman.

Synopsis

It tells the story of the gunslinger, Roland of Gilead, and his quest to catch the man in black, the first of many steps towards his ultimate destination - the Dark Tower.

The main story takes place in a world that is somewhat similar to the Old West but exists in an alternate time frame or parallel universe to ours. Roland exists in a place where "the world has moved on." This world has a few things in common with our own, however, including memories of the song "Hey Jude" and the child's rhyme that begins "Beans, Beans, the Musical Fruit". Vestiges of forgotten or skewed versions of real-world technology also appear, such as a reference to a gas pump that is worshipped as a god named "Amoco", and an abandoned way station with a water pump which is powered by an "atomic slug".

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