Denver Science Fiction & Fantasy Book Club

Replay cover 1992 Ace

Replay (1987)
1988 World Fantasy Award winner

1992 Ace books paperback
313 pages (left)

1998 William Morrow
trade paperback
310 pages (right)

Replay cover William Morrow

From the inside cover of the US trade paperback
       A time-travel classic in the tradition of Jack Finney's Time and Again, Ken Grimwood's acclaimed novel Replay asks the provocative question: "What if you could live your life over again, knowing the mistakes you'd made before?"  Forty-three-year-old Jeff Winston gets several chances to do just that.  Trapped in a tepid marriage and a dead-end job, he dies in 1988 and wakes up to find himself in 1963, at the age of eighteen, staring at his dorm room walls at Emory University.  It's all the same...but different: Jeff knows what the future holds.  He knows who will win every World Series...every Kentucky Derby...even how to win on Wall Street.  The one thing he doesn't know is: Why has he been chosen to replay his life?  And how many times must he win - and lose - everything he loves?

From the back of the older paperback
     Jeff Winston didn't know he was a replayer.  Until he died.  Then he woke up twenty-five years younger.  And lived another life.  And died again.  And lived another life.  Again and again and again . . .
     Maybe one of these lifetimes, he'll get it right.

Read for group discussion on September 8, 2004

Amy's summary  Ken Grimwood - Replay
(Warning! Some spoilers)

In October, 1988, Jeff Winston, unhappily married to Linda and working a unrewarding job, dies of a heart attack.  Next thing Jeff knows, it's 25 years earlier, and he is somehow inhabiting his 18 year old body!  The year is 1963, and he's back at Emory University with all of his memories intact.  Jeff bets on a longshot in the Kentucky Derby and wins big.  Forsaking college, he heads to Las Vegas and takes up with Sharla, a "party girl" attracted to his new-found wealth.  Over the years, Jeff parlays his "foreknowledge" into great wealth, and tries, unsuccessfully, to change history, notably the JFK assassination.  His social life is not quite a success.  He eventually pays off Sharla to leave him and unintentionally alienates his "other life" wife, Linda.  In October, 1988, despite the best medical care money can buy, Jeff dies again.

And suddenly finds himself back in 1963, a few days after his "arrival" in the first replay, his previous life's accomplishments gone.  This time, he stays with his college sweetheart Judy, completes college, and makes more conservative investments.  They live a happy, comfortable family life, but when October, 1988, rolls around, in spite of all efforts to avoid it, Jeff dies again.

Jeff loses it when he finds himself back in 1963 again, a few weeks past his first return.  This time he looks for Sharla and spends the '60s in a life of sexual and pharmaceutical excess.  Eventually leaving Sharla, he retreats to a cabin in rural Northern California and leads a hermit's life.  A movie called Starsea, that had never appeared in his previous lives, brings him out of isolation.  Seems the producer of Starsea, Pamela Phillips, is a replayer too.  Pamela, like Jeff, is also replaying the years between 1963 and 1988.  But she is younger, and, unfortunately, has to repeat high school.  Instead of getting married and having kids, as in her original life, Pamela becomes a doctor, a movie producer, and artist in her replays.  After a rocky start, Jeff and Pamela build a successful relationship.  And then Jeff dies, again.

Jeff seeks out Pamela in their next replay, causing her parents some consternation, since their "returns", and ages, are not in sync.  Once finally together, they place ads hoping to find others like themselves.  Eventually they find another replayer, but he's a sociopath.  In yet another replay, they go public with their "future predictions", and the government takes them into protective custody with frightening results.

Jeff and Pamela are starting each replay later.  As they "return" later and later in the 1960s, then the '70s, and, finally, in the '80s, it becomes progressively harder for them to spend time together, even though they care deeply for each other.  Altering their former lives also becomes progressively harder, since they are further into them, but Jeff finally has a fulfilling life with wife Linda.  As their replays end in 1988, Jeff and Pamela find an ending and discover a new beginning.

summary written by

How we each rated this book
Dan - Amy 8 stack of books 10   Wow! Don't miss it
8-9  Highly recommended
7    Recommended
5-6  Mild recommendation
3-4  Take your chances
1-2  Below average; skip it
0    Get out the flamethrower!
U    Unfinishable or unreadable
-    Skipped or no rating given
Cheri - Barb -
Aaron - Cynthia -
Jackie 7 Ron 9
Christine 9.5 Deb 8
Mike - Stephanie 9
Gary 7    

Ken Grimwood (1944-2003) was a US radio broadcast journalist and novelist.

1988 World Fantasy Award for novel Replay

Ken Grimwood is best known in within the genre for his novel Replay (1987), a literary fantasy time travel book about replaying your life.  The book predates the movie Groundhog Day (1993) to which it's sometimes compared.  Grimwood was reportedly working on a sequel to Replay when he died.

Other books
His first three novels, written before Replay, were mainstream, nongenre.  Breakthrough (1976) is a romance novel of "a woman in another time and place".  Elise (1979) is a romantic novel about a woman who stops aging.  The Voice Outside (1982) is, according to a cover blurb, "a terrifying novel about the ultimate cult, mind control and murder".

Grimwood's last novel, Into the Deep (1995), is a New Age thriller, metaphysical sf, featuring dolphins.

Steven Wu's Book Reviews: Replay (Ken Grimwood)
Steven Silver's Reviews: Ken Grimwood: Replay
Lost Books - Replay by Ken Grimwood Replay by Ken Grimwood

Return to Home Page - Denver Science Fiction & Fantasy Book Club

This page was last updated October 14, 2008