It's not just a game when you're running for your life.
Every night they tuned in to the nation's favourite prime-time TV game show. They all watched, from the sprawling slums to the security-obsessed enclaves of the rich. They all watched the ultimate live death game as the contestants tried to beat not the clock but annihilation at the hands of the Hunters.
Survive 30 days, and win the billion-dollar jackpot - that was the promise. But the odds were brutal and the game rigged. Best score so far was eight days. And now there was a new contestant, the latest running man, staking his life while a nation watched.
©1982 Richard Bachman (P)2010 Penguin Audio
I've been listening my way through the Stephen King back catalogue for ages now and I was getting a bit disheartened - Gerald's Game was a dirge, The Talisman was illogical nonsense, the Dark Tower was patchy. I'd come to the conclusion that I'd not hear another 11.22.63 or a Salem's Lot or a Joyland again. But this was an excellent story: compelling and well paced - thanks, Stephen King: right back on form!
well upon reading this after seeing the film I can't help but think the movie did not require a change of story, although I'm crushed and feel for the character Ben Richards I just feel this is how it should be portrayed! a real eye opener, just wish for a little more.
The Running Man was written and first published in 1982 by Stephen King’s alter ego Richard Bachman. There was no particular reason why I picked the book, other than that it was in my Audible library. By chance I mentioned this book a couple of days ago in another review. So I guess that makes two good reasons to pick it as the first book of 2017.
Just as a side note, with less than eight hours long The Running Man is one of the shorter books of his Greatness himself. It being quite a short meant that I finished the book in about a day and a half. Well, that was helped by the fact that it is a great story.
The future is here
We find ourself in the year 2025 and it seems Utopia is upon us. As in right now. It's so funny. Seeing that we are now in 2017 and with that a lot closer to 2025 than we are to 1982 (when the book was first published) it is interesting to see how people viewed our future back then. Although, we still have a few years to go, anext you never know what will happen in the next eight years.
Incidentally, the movie The Running Man, which was loosely based on he book, plays in 2017/19. I am more than glad that our current reality does not compute with the future pictures and imaginations of the past.
Anyways, Benjamin Stuart Richards sits at home in the impoverished part of Co-Op City town somewhere in the Midwest. His little daughter is sick and they don't have the money to get medicine for her. His wife is earning money for groceries turning tricks because he is blacklisted from working. Things are pretty dire in the Richards household.
America has turned into a totalitarian society, where lives don't count for much and the gap between rich and poor is larger than it has ever been. Bachman paints a rather dark and desolate picture of the future.
Ben is watching game shows all day on the Free-V, large television screens that are installed in every household in the US of the future. TV has turned macabre; they show people compete for money to wrong way. Guys with heart disease take up treadmill challenges, swim with alligators and other such things. The tastes in entertainment have turned weird in 2025.
Richards decides to go onto on of those shows in order to get enough money to take his daughter to the doctor and get her the help she needs. It's the only way he can think of to get his hands on a few dollars and in his desperation he is willing to try his luck the only way left open to him.
This next part of the book is written in such an excellent way. The story is told completely out of Richards’ view and the reader is offered no explanation around that. Which makes you feel just as clues less and disoriented as the character himself. Which is brilliant if you ask me.
He heads out to the game centre and joins the endless queue of people. They all hope to be picked for one of the many shows. Richards goes through a series of tests, while watching other potential candidates being dropped one by one along the way. After every rounce those who made the cut are ushered on to the next part of the building. In the end there are only a handful of people left in his group.
The Running Man
Richards is chosen to be part in a show called The Running Man. In a nutshell, he will get a lot of money in exchange for certain death. The game show network will give him a 12 hour head start before sending out the professional hunters. These hunters have only one job: to find him and to kill him. He can use his money and go anywhere he wants. Leaved town, the country. Whatever works for him. The longer he survives he more money he gets. If he survives 31 days he wins the ultimate prise and gets to live.
However, the game keepers made clear to him that this is not going to happen. Still, he takes his chances and goes on the run. For his daughter.
Richards meets all kinds of people on his way across the country. He 3gets confronted with truths and realities of the time that he had closed his eyes to, as did so many people. There are people who help him and people who betray him.
The hunters draw closer all the time, but at least for some time Richards manages to outsmart and outrun them. He kills several in the process.
And so it continues until it all comes down to a big showdown at the end.
Each chapter of the book is part of a countdown, although towards the end the countdown gets faster all the time. It starts a minus 100 and counting. Until minus zero and counting.
Never read the Backman books when they were first published, wish I had great story a million miles away from the hammy Arnold film of the 80s, thought its unlikely that anything this antiestablishment, rage fill book could have been filmed. Great vocal performance just skip the prologue by King as he blabs the ending!
Cat lover heavy metal lady. Bolton, UK.
I thoroughly enjoyed this one. Lean, very exciting story and the narration by Kevin Kenerly was excellent. He puts so much feeling into it that you become totally involved. However please take note that there is an introduction by the author before the book starts that is interesting but gives away the ending! This was a shame but I still really enjoyed it even though I knew what was coming.
I drive a lot and a good book can help the miles fly by!
A bleak and absorbing book from King's darker alter ego. Very little in common with the 80's movie. Very well narrated. Highly recommended.
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