The Running Man: A Novel Info

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A desperate man attempts to win a reality TV game where the
only objective is to stay alive in this #1 national bestseller from
Stephen King, writing as Richard Bachman.


“Tomorrow
at noon, the hunt begins. Remember his face!"


Ben Richards
is a desperate man. With no job, no money, no way out, and a young
daughter in need of proper medical attention, he must turn to the only
possibility of striking it rich in this near-future dystopian America:
participating in the ultra-violent TV programming of the
government-sanctioned Games Network. Ben soon finds himself selected as a
contestant on the biggest and the best that the Games Network has to
offer: “The Running Man,” a no-holds-barred thirty-day
struggle to stay alive as public enemy number one, relentlessly hunted
by an elite strike force bent on killing him as quickly as possible in
front of an audience all-too eager to see that happen. It means a
billion dollars in prize money if he can live for the next month. No one
has ever survived longer than eight days. But desperation can push a
person do things they never thought possible—and Ben Richards is
willing to go the distance in this ultimate game of life and
death....

Average Ratings and Reviews
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4.22

92424 Ratings

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Ratings and Reviews From Market


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Reviews for The Running Man: A Novel:

4

Nov 27, 2017

English (The Running Man) / Italiano

While I am enjoying the sci-fi / dystopia of acclaimed TV series such as "Black Mirror" or "The Handmaid's Tale", the novel "The Running Man" falls into my lap. The fact is that this novel inspired the 1987 movie of the same name. And the fact is that I am one of the few that loved that movie. Therefore, I immediately buy the novel. Stephen King wrote it in his "Bachman" phase, maybe it's a minor novel. No matter, I bought it... and thank God!

The concept of

English (The Running Man) / Italiano

While I am enjoying the sci-fi / dystopia of acclaimed TV series such as "Black Mirror" or "The Handmaid's Tale", the novel "The Running Man" falls into my lap. The fact is that this novel inspired the 1987 movie of the same name. And the fact is that I am one of the few that loved that movie. Therefore, I immediately buy the novel. Stephen King wrote it in his "Bachman" phase, maybe it's a minor novel. No matter, I bought it... and thank God!

The concept of reality shows is exacerbated, and actual life live turns into death live in the future that King presents us. Future in which there are sadistic TV prize contests, such as "Treadmill to Bucks", where the unfortunate individuals (usually with cardiac disease) must answer some questions as they run on a rotating cylinder. But the crown jewel of the prize contests on live TV is the "The Running Man", a manhunt that practically pushes you against everyone, against the world. Need to hide. Prestigious hotels, decadent motels, sewer. One place as good as the next, the important thing is that you never stop in the same place for more than one day. Otherwise you're fucked.

Hell of a ending, direct, essential, minimal. Hell of a future.

Vote: 8




Mentre mi entusiasmo per la fantascienza / distopia di acclamate serie TV quali "Black Mirror" o "The Handmaid's Tale", mi ritrovo per le mani "L'uomo in fuga", che scopro aver ispirato il film "L'implacabile". Il fatto è che io sono probabilmente uno dei pochi fan di questo film del 1987. Quindi compro immediatamente il libro. Stephen King lo ha scritto in fase "Bachman", forse si tratta di un libro minore. Non importa, lo compro. E meno male: minore il caspito!!

L'idea dei reality show viene esasperata, e la vita in diretta del nostro presente diventa morte in diretta nel futuro che ci presenta King. Futuro in cui vi sono sadiche trasmissioni TV a premi, come "Il macinadollari", dove i malcapitati (tendenzialmente cardiopatici) devono rispondere a delle domande mentre corrono su di un cilindro rotante. Ma la vera punta di diamante dei concorsi a premi in diretta TV è "L'uomo in fuga", una caccia ai concorrenti che praticamente ti mette contro tutti, contro il mondo intero. Bisogna nascondersi. Alberghi, motel decadenti, fogne. Un posto vale l'altro, l'importante è non fermarsi mai nello stesso luogo per più di qualche giorno. Altrimenti sei fottuto.

Gran bel finale, diretto, essenziale, minimale. Gran bel futuro.

Voto: 8

...more
4

Oct 06, 2017

I ended up reading this book in one day!

Fast-paced action pack book that will keep you on adrenaline. Would recommend!
4

Aug 23, 2019

The future for Mr. Ben (Benjamin ) Richards is not grand, not bright in the year 2025 it's dreary, the economy has sunk the poor are poorer, the harsh government doesn't care they just want to rule. Stephen King writing in 1982 under the pen name Richard Bachman in order to have unbridled freedom from his reputation makes this novel as hopeless as possible for the sake of the plot, a not very accurate forecast of coming events yet entertaining, it remains be warned however, a no holds barred of The future for Mr. Ben (Benjamin ) Richards is not grand, not bright in the year 2025 it's dreary, the economy has sunk the poor are poorer, the harsh government doesn't care they just want to rule. Stephen King writing in 1982 under the pen name Richard Bachman in order to have unbridled freedom from his reputation makes this novel as hopeless as possible for the sake of the plot, a not very accurate forecast of coming events yet entertaining, it remains be warned however, a no holds barred of brutality and cruelty which dominates...the action. Who knew the author has such venom. Ben has a sick daughter maybe dying, Cathy and a plain looking wife Sheila, he is frequently fired for not being able to follow instructions by his superiors , full of hate to any in authority, consequently no money and living in a squalid slum the mother of the child walks the streets... he only loves his little family. Lately Richards has been glued to the television set viewing the most watched show on the air, The Running Man, big prizes for anyone that survives for 30 days while hunters try to eliminate the contestants they never fail. Cathy needs medicine and the depressed father is willing to sacrifice himself for their well- being. After a long process the desperate gentleman admittedly stretching the term gets the job, an anti-hero unlike the popular Scifi film, obviously with a much changed story line . The anger against all the well- off explodes and I'm not writing about Mr. Richards but the sleazy people who work for the government sponsored television program they pay the price. Planes, numerous cars , hapless victims, and buildings evaporate as the eager hunters track down the fleeing fugitive all over the country, red liquid spills frequently . The ending will surprise and bring back bad memories to many a similar occurrence happened in the recent past, Stephen King will in the succeeding years ease the throttle there was no choice...If he wanted to continually be read.The traveling contestant shows unusual cunning, escaping seemingly demoralizing situations and the audience begins to change their opinion of Ben, from criminal butcher to an icon. The government does not tolerant this for long and the heavy hitters are brought in to finish the task of making Richards obsolete and be liquidated. A novel which is quite different from the usual books from the famous author...much more pessimistic in atmosphere yet still a good read for some. ...more
4

Mar 04, 2014

After The Most Dangerous Game, there was The Running Man

Before The Hunger Games, there was The Running Man

After 1984, there was The Running Man

Before reality TV, there was The Running Man

This is a disturbing and enthralling cautionary tale predicted by our fore fathers, seen in new dystopian novels, and becoming all too real in this age of political turmoil, social media, and reality overload.

One of King’s early novels under his Pseudonym Richard Bachman, he mentions in the foreward that it has After The Most Dangerous Game, there was The Running Man

Before The Hunger Games, there was The Running Man

After 1984, there was The Running Man

Before reality TV, there was The Running Man

This is a disturbing and enthralling cautionary tale predicted by our fore fathers, seen in new dystopian novels, and becoming all too real in this age of political turmoil, social media, and reality overload.

One of King’s early novels under his Pseudonym Richard Bachman, he mentions in the foreward that it has a darker tone that he tended to use when writing as Bachman. The foreward is a very interesting addition to the story and was updated from the foreward included in the original Bachman Books (which is where I first read this story).

Oh, and that jogs another memory. Not only did I read this in the original Bachman Books, it was the first Stephen King book I ever read! I was probably 12 at the time – likely too young to be reading this, but, hey, I did it anyway! I had seen the move The Running Man, which, while it is not much like the book is, in my opinion, a fantastically campy and entertaining 80s action flick. Some people think it is awful – I think King even believes that – but I am not ashamed to say that I loved it! Anyway, I knew my dad was into Stephen King and had all his books up to that point so I figured that I should give it a go. I was not disappointed at the time and I was not disappointed this time either.



If you like cautionary dystopian tales, I think you have to read this. There is just too much going on here for dystopian fans that you do yourself a disservice if you do not read it. ...more
4

Nov 01, 2017

Relentless.

Stephen King’s 1982 novel, published under the pen name of his darker alter ego Richard Bachman, describes a feral dystopian landscape where over population, under employment, financial segregation of society along cultural and class lines and woefully deficient in fundamental healthcare has led to an almost Roman decadence of survival games and cheap entertainment for the pitiful masses. King’s malnourished and desperate Ben Richards is nothing like the character played by Arnold Relentless.

Stephen King’s 1982 novel, published under the pen name of his darker alter ego Richard Bachman, describes a feral dystopian landscape where over population, under employment, financial segregation of society along cultural and class lines and woefully deficient in fundamental healthcare has led to an almost Roman decadence of survival games and cheap entertainment for the pitiful masses. King’s malnourished and desperate Ben Richards is nothing like the character played by Arnold Schwarzenegger in the 1987 Paul Michael Glaser film. King’s protagonist signs up for the games to get money to assist his family when pneumonia threatens the life of his infant child.

Told with an inevitable countdown to the brutal end, King portrays Richard’s plight as he is a contestant on The Running Man, a nationally viewed show where the hunted has to stay alive as long as possible to earn more money. All the while he is pursued by professional hunters and his whereabouts are televised in a surreal man hunt, carnivalesque in it's absurdity.

Published 26 years before Suzanne Collins’s The Hunger Games, there is no flash or Hollywood style heroism, King depicts an ugly, frantic fight to live in a world made brutal and dreadfully harsh.

...more
4

Nov 07, 2016

Well now........This was not what I expected. AT. ALL.

THE RUNNING MANis not only different from the movie (with Arnold Schwarzenegger) but has a much deeper storyline and greater sense of desperation and hopelessness among the very interesting characters.

THE RUNNING MAN is still a TV Reality Show (broadcast on the Free-Vee) that survives by ratings and is still corrupt in its methods of revealing less than the truth to further incite wrong-doing by the participants and gain a greater audience.

Well now........This was not what I expected. AT. ALL.

THE RUNNING MANis not only different from the movie (with Arnold Schwarzenegger) but has a much deeper storyline and greater sense of desperation and hopelessness among the very interesting characters.

THE RUNNING MAN is still a TV Reality Show (broadcast on the Free-Vee) that survives by ratings and is still corrupt in its methods of revealing less than the truth to further incite wrong-doing by the participants and gain a greater audience.

THE RUNNING MAN contestant hopefuls, as our Ben Richards are all miserable, hungry and filled with despair knowing the only way left to survive in their dark world is to qualify for the game of death and outrun the hunters for as many days as possible to earn the much needed New Dollars for their families.

This intense and suspenseful sci-fi thriller does have a few graphically expressed gross-out moments that are hard to stomach but is filled with "crazy" good non-stop action all the way and worth the read!

...more
5

Jul 12, 2017

Let me give you the most important information you need before you read this book:

Do not read the forward by Stephen King before you read the story!! He spoils his own book's ending in it!

Yeah, that really sucked because I knew what would eventually happen and it was so suspenseful that it would have been awesome to be kept wondering if this poor shlub would actually make it. But, even knowing what I unfortunately knew, I was still on the edge of my seat for the entire book. That Stephen King Let me give you the most important information you need before you read this book:

Do not read the forward by Stephen King before you read the story!! He spoils his own book's ending in it!

Yeah, that really sucked because I knew what would eventually happen and it was so suspenseful that it would have been awesome to be kept wondering if this poor shlub would actually make it. But, even knowing what I unfortunately knew, I was still on the edge of my seat for the entire book. That Stephen King always gets me. He's the master.


Okay, maybe I don't like him THIS much. But, he's damn good.

So, this book was written in the 1980's and basically shows that SK was a psychic or something because he predicted reality television shows would rule the world by now. Granted, they are a little more brutal than what we have right now, but within the next few years, when the book is set, I'm sure we'll have advanced to this level of evil entertainment.

Here are the names of some of the reality shows that are popular:

Swim with Crocodiles
Fun Guns
How Hot can You Take it?
Dig your own Grave
and Treadmill to Bucks (you have to have a heart condition to play this one)

In some of these shows, you are just maimed or end up in a hospital, but the biggest show, "Running Man", is the most popular. The contestant in that one ends up dead. But, hey, they rack up $100. for every hour they survive for their family, so unless dad is a selfish ass, he will do it for his family.


Sometimes you just have to take one for the team.

Our MC is on Running Man. His goal is to stay alive as long as possible while there is a nationwide man-hunt for him. He's given money and a head-start, and then there are hunters looking for him. Viewers get $100. if they spot him and call in, and $1,000. if it leads to capture/death. The contestants are always portrayed as horrible criminals, so the public generally wants to see them killed and feel it is justified.

The funny thing is that there was a real reality show that had this same premise, but without the killing part. It wasn't very interesting to me. Maybe if they had added in the killing I would have watched. So, in other words, we are totally ready for this. And, with our new president and most-likely entry into our own dystopia, maybe it will be soon.



It's either the Hunger Games or the Apes. Maybe we can have another vote on which one we prefer?


Or, you can write-in Ants.

This book was non-stop action and I really couldn't put it down. You are rooting for him, but he's not likable. You are disgusted by the society, and there is also a feeling of despair and depression. It's not hopeful, but it's hard not to hope that he will somehow topple the powers that be. If I hadn't been spoiled, I'm not really sure how I would have handled the ending, but it was a helluva ending.

Trigger warnings: everything. There is so much offensive crap in this book that you might not even want to try it if you are sensitive in any way. There is racism, homophobia, offensive language, and gruesome violence. ...more
3

Dec 09, 2013

When Ben Richard's daughter gets pneumonia, he turns to the Network for help and becomes a contestant on the deadliest of reality shows, The Running Man. Can Richards run long enough to earn the money for his daughter's medicine? And what will he learn as he runs for his life for the amusement of the public watching The Running Man?

This is the best book made into a movie starring Arnold Schwarzenegger I've ever read. Actually, apart from a couple character names, the dystopian setting, and the When Ben Richard's daughter gets pneumonia, he turns to the Network for help and becomes a contestant on the deadliest of reality shows, The Running Man. Can Richards run long enough to earn the money for his daughter's medicine? And what will he learn as he runs for his life for the amusement of the public watching The Running Man?

This is the best book made into a movie starring Arnold Schwarzenegger I've ever read. Actually, apart from a couple character names, the dystopian setting, and the concept of a reality show where the contestants will likely die, it has very little resemblance to the Arnold flick.

Richard Bachman really liked his dystopias, didn't he? This one bears a startling resemblance to our current reality tv situation. Funny, Bachman predicting the rise of reality tv decades before it came to pass.

Ben Richards is an unemployed loser with a wife that occasionally turns tricks to make ends meet. In order to make some money, he winds up on The Running Man, running for his life in a polluted world that's falling apart.

The suspense in this thing builds and builds as Richards gets deeper into the game. Can he trust anyone? How is the Network tracking him? Will his daughter still be alive when the much needed money gets to her? Things start falling apart for him near the end and the tension is almost unbearable.

Richards is a much deeper character than the Arnold version. As his sense of desperation grows, one can't help but imagine him or herself in Richard's situation.

Like a lot of people, I think The Running Man is likely one of the parents of the Hunger Games, along with The Long Walk.

That's pretty much all I can say. It's a gripping, breezy read, far from the bloated gargantuas of Stephen King's Richard Bachman's later books. 3.5 out of 5 stars. ...more
4

Jan 22, 2012

WARNING: Do NOT read the author foreward. It totally gives away a climactic ending. Thanks to the GoodReads community for warning me.

I feel like I just ran a marathon with a heart condition. As soon as I opened the book, I was swept up in the story and couldn't stop until the fiery, breathless end. I don't say this often. It takes a while for me to feel comfortable in a new book. I like to feel things out, come to my own conclusions. But Stephen King, in his insidiously masterful way, lured and WARNING: Do NOT read the author foreward. It totally gives away a climactic ending. Thanks to the GoodReads community for warning me.

I feel like I just ran a marathon with a heart condition. As soon as I opened the book, I was swept up in the story and couldn't stop until the fiery, breathless end. I don't say this often. It takes a while for me to feel comfortable in a new book. I like to feel things out, come to my own conclusions. But Stephen King, in his insidiously masterful way, lured and cocooned me from the first page like spider pouncing on a hapless little moth stuck in a web.

Plot Summary

Our main character is Ben Richards. He's an average Joe type of guy, eking out a life in a vastly dystopian future US of A. In this version of our future, the disparity between the poor and rich is greater than ever. The wealthy have access to luxury cars, groceries, and top notch medical care. The poor...well, you can imagine when we read Richards' home situation: his wife is a prostitute and the main breadwinner of the family, and his baby girl is bedridden with influenza because they can't afford legitimate medicine. As his daughter's condition worsens, Richards enters himself in a live TV game show called Running Man. For as long as he can survive, Richards will flee across the country and earn 100 New Bucks for every hour he is alive. That is, if he can evade professional Hunters hired to track and kill him, and also disguise himself from the locals who are given money rewards if they report a sighting.


This concept should hearken to other familiar works of popular fiction:



And even another King novel with a similar concept,




There are probably many more that I haven't read or even heard about. But at the same time, THE RUNNING MAN was, even to my Hunger Gamed-out mind, an adrenalin rush.

In essence, THE RUNNING MAN is an example of pure action driven storytelling that is done in a compelling way. You don't really get to understand why the world is the way it is, why the people enjoy watching human beings being treadmilled to death or being hunted like rats for a little cash, or why no one can muster up sympathy for children dying from cancer. There's just not enough time to sit back and absorb the people and the environment. When you think you can stop to breathe, someone shoots a gun or sirens blare in the background, and you're off and running again.

Granted, the characters Richards meets on the run are an interesting assortment of people. But again, though I sympathized with them, I couldn't bring myself to care for them more than resolving that burning question, what happens next. (view spoiler)[The one exception may be Bradley, but I felt satisfied enough to know he was alive and just on the run. (hide spoiler)]

Consequently, Richards doesn't lend himself to deep, solemn questioning of the morality of the government or his own actions. He's a good guy, but he shoots and kills and blows things up because it's what he needs to do to survive and make enough money for his family. He's a likeable character, sure, but he's three dimensional in a flat way. He has motives and moments of moral ambiguity, (view spoiler)[especially when he kidnaps the woman, though even then, he's a supremely decent guy given the situation, (hide spoiler)] but overall he's a wildly functioning cog in the dream machine that is the story. It's the story, I think, that gets the spotlight this time around.

Overall, THE RUNNING MAN was a fantastic read that is dark, action-packed, and a little wonky, if you will. The prose is littered with some anachronistic slang. The world building, while physically stark, is thematically hazy because explanations are sparse and far in between. But the story itself is fantastic and definitely well worth the read.

3.5 to 4.0 stars and highly recommended, especially for fans of gritty, dystopian fiction. ...more
3

Sep 29, 2018

Yeeeeeeah I don't know. Not his best work.

I was bored most of the time and I feel like a lot of things just worked out for the protagonist out of luck (or simply because of our beloved plot device "deus ex machina" - which is kind of funny because King talks about that in his book "Misery").

I actually liked the ending though, which he sucks at most of the time so that's good lol - and I'll forever adore his writing style!
3

Jun 15, 2018

Read for Popsugar's 2018 Reading Challenge #28: a book with song lyrics in the title

This was a pretty fun ride, but didn't leave a huge impact on me. The concept of the story was INCREDIBLE, but I feel like the execution wasn't quite there. It was a fast-paced action ride, but I wanted a bit more. However, it was very ~cool~ and I feel like if you enjoy Black Mirror (particularly "Fifteen Million Merits") or the movie Gamer this will be right up your alley.
4

Apr 11, 2016

The Running Man completes my read of the four early Bachman Books. What a fine way to go out. We’ve all seen the movie (well, maybe only us older GR folk). Schwarzenegger uses some wit and the muscles to survive the death match game show that is The Running Man. Once again, the movie is the reason I never bothered to read the book, and once again I made a mistake by not doing so. Hint: They changed the story.

Some aspects of the book found their way into the movie. A bit of the persona that is The Running Man completes my read of the four early Bachman Books. What a fine way to go out. We’ve all seen the movie (well, maybe only us older GR folk). Schwarzenegger uses some wit and the muscles to survive the death match game show that is The Running Man. Once again, the movie is the reason I never bothered to read the book, and once again I made a mistake by not doing so. Hint: They changed the story.

Some aspects of the book found their way into the movie. A bit of the persona that is Ben Richards; His wry humor with a forbidding undertone; The Network and a version of Free-Vee (great term by the way); and finally a near-constantly moving plot in a dystopian future. Aside from that, the book is very different. King’s original version has more to offer because beneath the run there is a pensive story. It’s one man risking his life for his family because nothing else remains. Along the way he reveals a dividing line between the haves and the have-nots in this future place where a game show and the Free-Vee are devices used to advantage by the rich and a totalitarian government. While reading, I was surprised to find that this novel brought about an emotional response. Not in an overwhelming way. It is still an action ride more than a book about feelings, but the emotion is there.

Released in 1982, this may be the closest King has come to writing a pure Science-Fiction story. King described himself in 1971, when he wrote the The Running Man, as "a young man who was angry, energetic, and infatuated with the art and the craft of writing". In The Bachman Books, he says that the book was written during a period of 72 hours and published with virtually no changes. What?!...is it safe to say, “He was in the zone”? I'm pretty sure it took me 71 hours to write my last review. :) One last tidbit: At one point, Ben Richards crosses through Derry, Maine! I couldn’t believe my eyes. This is Stephen King’s famous, yet quite fictional town included in books like IT and Insomnia. That strikes me as a big red flag for the Bachman identity, but so very cool to see in print.
...more
0

Sep 23, 2019

DNF @ 45%

I do not know why but this was such a torture to read. This is not a terrible book, but on the other hand, I had a really hard time concentrating on it. The plot didn't intrigue me enough to actually know the story and be invested in it. Plus, I didn't like the main character, he was boring for me.
I hope this book will find its readers, but it's surely not me.
4

Jan 06, 2017

With rumours of real Hunger Games being played out in Siberia, I found this sickeningly scary in its implications.


Beware of governments who will make it compulsory to watch dystopian TV

BBC report 6/12/2017

Description: The Running Man is set within a dystopian future in which the poor are seen more by the government as worrisome rodents than actual human beings. The protagonist of The Running Man, Ben Richards, is quick to realize this as he watches his daughter, Cathy, grow more sick by the day With rumours of real Hunger Games being played out in Siberia, I found this sickeningly scary in its implications.


Beware of governments who will make it compulsory to watch dystopian TV

BBC report 6/12/2017

Description: The Running Man is set within a dystopian future in which the poor are seen more by the government as worrisome rodents than actual human beings. The protagonist of The Running Man, Ben Richards, is quick to realize this as he watches his daughter, Cathy, grow more sick by the day and tread closer and closer to death. Desperate for money to pay Cathy’s medical bills, Ben enlists himself in a true reality style game show where the objective is to merely stay alive.




...more
4

Dec 01, 2011

The year is 2025. The world is a mess. The job market is virtually nonexistent. Unless, that is, you want to be on a game show run by the corrupt government.

This is exactly what Ben Richards does. His daughter is sick. Not just sick, but deathly ill. Tired of his wife having to whore herself out- quite literally- he decides to stand in line at the local welfare agency hoping to be selected for a gameshow.

Ben is an asshole, though. He says what is on his mind. He makes bold statements about the The year is 2025. The world is a mess. The job market is virtually nonexistent. Unless, that is, you want to be on a game show run by the corrupt government.

This is exactly what Ben Richards does. His daughter is sick. Not just sick, but deathly ill. Tired of his wife having to whore herself out- quite literally- he decides to stand in line at the local welfare agency hoping to be selected for a gameshow.

Ben is an asshole, though. He says what is on his mind. He makes bold statements about the government and its corrupt ways. He gives zero shits. And this is precisely why he gets selected for a very special game. A forespecial game if you will. Ben is selected to be one of the star contestants on The Running Man!

Ben is given a head start of 12 hours, $100 for each day he survives, and an additional $100 for every law enforcement agent he kills. But Ben is being hunted by some of the most elite forces on the planet. Cash prizes are given to anyone who spots him and calls the hunters to inform them of his whereabouts. He’s a man on the run….he’s the Running Man.

Ben has to try to trust someone to help him out every once in a while, and that is difficult. Especially when you consider that his life is on the line. Ben doesn’t want to hurt anyone, he just wants the 1-billion-dollar cash prize promised in the event that he lasts 30 days. There are special stipulations Ben must abide by- he is given a pocket camera and must mail in two videos per day. These videos are “untraceable” but Ben doesn’t buy that.

Ben soon realizes that he is playing against a stacked deck. His chances of survival are already slim, but he knows that even if he does win, he’d never see the payout. This plays out in a way I wasn’t expecting. I remember the first time I read this being “blown away” by it. But this time around, I wasn’t as impressed.

The audio was a nice change, and well done, but the whole “down with the man” bit is overdone and annoying to me. I don’t care much for political statements being shoved down my throat anymore. When I was young and impressionable these things didn’t get to me. Now you can’t go anywhere without hearing about politics. I’m not saying I don’t align most of my political views with Sai King, merely that I don’t care for it in my books much anymore. All that aside, it’s a good read. I miss King’s brutality. It seems more prominent in his earlier works.
...more
5

Sep 25, 2016

I loved this book. I know I saw the movie years ago, but I don't know if I ever read the book. It was a fast paced book full of action. I was feeling tense for the main character the whole time. The futuristic setting and societal make up was interesting to me. The ending was a surprise for me and it was a perfect end to the book. A 5 star read for me!
4

Jan 04, 2019

I read this Bachman Book years ago when it was released in a compilation edition called The Bachman Books (along with Rage, The Long Walk and Roadwork). I have never seen the movie version starring Arnold Schwarzenegger made in the 80s. But after finding a copy of this book with a movie tie-in cover, I've arranged to borrow a DVD of The Running Man. Before watching the movie, I decided to re-read the short book. I'm glad I did.

The Running Man is basically the story of a man desperate to bring I read this Bachman Book years ago when it was released in a compilation edition called The Bachman Books (along with Rage, The Long Walk and Roadwork). I have never seen the movie version starring Arnold Schwarzenegger made in the 80s. But after finding a copy of this book with a movie tie-in cover, I've arranged to borrow a DVD of The Running Man. Before watching the movie, I decided to re-read the short book. I'm glad I did.

The Running Man is basically the story of a man desperate to bring in some serious money for his family. His daughter is sick, and they live in squalor. The working class is kept poor and downtrodden in one area of the city....while others live in relative comfort. But, in return for competing in dangerous games that will be televised, they can bring in some cash. Unfortunately, many of the contestants die. Ben Richards decides the best way to help his wife and sick daughter is to go through the screening process and join a game. He competes as The Running Man, chased across the country by law enforcement, mercenaries and the general public. He is required to send in daily videos and will be paid for each day he survives. A lot of money is promised if he can last 30 days. But.....nobody has ever lasted that long. The record is 8 days and 5 hours. Killer Capitalism.

This book came out in the 80s, but it's set in 2024. I couldn't help but notice the uncanny resemblance to modern reality television. People aren't paid to run from law enforcement with extra money paid for each person they kill while running.....but there have been people injured and killed during publicity stunts for views on YouTube and while filming shows or stunts for reality television. One game in the book has infirm, ill or crippled people competing for money by running on a treadmill. They are asked trivia questions...if they answer wrong, it costs them money and the treadmill speed is increased. They are paid by the minute, with the game often killing contestants. Nobody died....but lots of people tuned in to Biggest Loser for years, watching overweight, ill people endure exercise and starvation to lose weight. Contestants later talked about peeing blood from dehydration, collapsing after hours of forced exercise and being ill afterwards all in an effort to win the $250,000 prize.....pretty close to Treadmills To Bucks. It's not that far a jump to think the trend could jump up a few notches to more dangerous games.....all for money and a magical chance for a better life.

I had forgotten a lot of this story over the years. I was still basically a kid when I read it. I read it Before. Before marriage, before kids, before a lot of things. Re-reading it at 50 years old brought a new perspective. Great action story....but also a cautionary tale. We can't allow ourselves to become so engrossed in cheap, violent entertainment that we lose sight of other more important issues -- unsafe work environments, unfair treatment of the working class, and growing belief that some lives are worth more than others. Killer capitalism isn't that big a jump from where we are today.

I enjoyed re-visiting this book! It's a great action story with a bit of moralizing added in the mix. I'm going to re-read more of the Bachman books this year. They are shorter than the novels the author published as Stephen King, and have a different vibe to them. Less horror....more darkness.

Now that I have read the book and have the story fresh in my mind, I'm going to watch the 80's movie. I wonder how badly they butchered the story? My husband says the movie has very little resemblance to the book. Not surprised. ...more
2

Jan 22, 2019

The only part of this book I enjoy is the final bit, aboard the...well, spoilers. But that's it. The entirety of this book is a bore up until that point. Typical of the Bachman books this one is bleak and nihilistic, which is usually my jam, but perhaps my view was changed by reading all four of these early novels back to back over three months. Was it too much despair too close together? Who knows? It's my third time through these four early novels and easily my least favorite experience of the The only part of this book I enjoy is the final bit, aboard the...well, spoilers. But that's it. The entirety of this book is a bore up until that point. Typical of the Bachman books this one is bleak and nihilistic, which is usually my jam, but perhaps my view was changed by reading all four of these early novels back to back over three months. Was it too much despair too close together? Who knows? It's my third time through these four early novels and easily my least favorite experience of the three. ...more
4

Nov 30, 2018

I know a lot of people have mixed feelings about King’s work as Bachman but I’ve quite enjoyed each one I’ve read so far. This one definitely isn’t my favourite out of the gang but it was excellent nonetheless! I really enjoy the rawness that you get when King writes as Bachman, it draws me in every time! My only minor complaint about this story is the ending, it’s not quite how I was hoping it would end but it was an intriguing ending anyways.
4

Jun 14, 2019

4.0 Stars
In this dystopian, King imagined a near-future society, filled with pollution and poverty, that felt terrifyingly possible. Before the age of reality tv, King accurately predicted a world where society is entertained by the desperation of people who need money. While the premise of this story was quite bleak, the narrative was fast paced and absolutely engaging. I was hooked in from the very first chapter. 4.0 Stars
In this dystopian, King imagined a near-future society, filled with pollution and poverty, that felt terrifyingly possible. Before the age of reality tv, King accurately predicted a world where society is entertained by the desperation of people who need money. While the premise of this story was quite bleak, the narrative was fast paced and absolutely engaging. I was hooked in from the very first chapter.    ...more
4

Jun 30, 2017

This was thumping good fun!

This is probably the fastest I've ever paged through a King novel. King said this is also the fastest he's ever written a novel. He wrote it in the space of a week-long vacation. Impressive.

I'd say The Running Man veers slightly away from the typical King novel. Most King novels are fleshed out, the characters really developed over time, and the novels themselves quite lengthy. But The Running Man is fast paced right from the beginning. Yet, even with that in mind, you This was thumping good fun!

This is probably the fastest I've ever paged through a King novel. King said this is also the fastest he's ever written a novel. He wrote it in the space of a week-long vacation. Impressive.

I'd say The Running Man veers slightly away from the typical King novel. Most King novels are fleshed out, the characters really developed over time, and the novels themselves quite lengthy. But The Running Man is fast paced right from the beginning. Yet, even with that in mind, you still somehow get a good sense of the man Ben Richards (MC). King has that uncanny ability of giving you information about the characters without your realising he's done it.

The thing I loved most about this novel is that I found the scenes incredibly vivid. While reading, I felt like I was watching down from a cloud above, hovering slightly above the action the entire way. It was like I was a silent observer. I could see the grungy, dark back alleys in which the very poor hustled. I could smell the smells.

It was interesting to me that King wrote this so many decades ago, for a few reasons. First, it was eerily reminiscent of The Hunger Games in many respects (the hunting of humans for sport, with a grand prize for the soul survivor and promise of a better life; the Games being played out on television for viewing; the totalitarian dystopia setting, etc). Second, it was oddly prescient, in hindsight. It shows us a world where the rich get richer and the poor are left to suffer at the expense of the rich. Sound familiar?

Something else of interest to me was the writing style. It isn't surprising to me that people caught on fairly quickly that King was the actual author of the Bachman novel. King has a few stylistic traits that pop up often that would have given it away for me. One thing King says often, regarding the telling of time is "It was quarter of nine" rather than "it was quarter to nine." Small, almost imperceptible, but something I notice he often does. Another thing, "Maggot" seems to appear in many of his novels, something King likes to use as a cursory name. There were others, but you get the point.

Ultimately, this novel was big ol' metaphor. Aren't we all the Running Man? Aren't we all running under the false pretence that, if we just try hard enough, push a little further, we will achieve great riches and freedom...? Doesn't the government already suppress the poor for the benefit of the wealthy? Yet, the reality is that the cards are stacked against us, just as the odds were always stacked against Ben Richards in The Running Man. I know, that's a morbid and depressing view of life, but it is our current reality. If this book says one thing, it says that we can defeat the powers that seek to suppress our voices. It just takes enough courage.

This was a true page turner, and a fun book you can take with you to demolish on a long flight or perhaps a warm day on the beach. ...more
4

May 28, 2013

When I was young and not quite so jaded, I still believed that film adaptations were a good idea. I am pretty sure The Running Man was the book/movie that changed my mind about that.

I'd seen the movie more times than I care to admit before I read the book for the first time (my dad was/is a HUGE fan of all things Schwarzenegger [wow, really spellcheck, you recognize that name?]) and I almost DIDN'T read it because I thought the movie was TERRIBLE and that meant the book had to be, too, right?

When I was young and not quite so jaded, I still believed that film adaptations were a good idea.  I am pretty sure The Running Man was the book/movie that changed my mind about that.

I'd seen the movie more times than I care to admit before I read the book for the first time (my dad was/is a HUGE fan of all things Schwarzenegger [wow, really spellcheck, you recognize that name?]) and I almost DIDN'T read it because I thought the movie was TERRIBLE and that meant the book had to be, too, right?

Wrong.

I think it's funny that the wikipedia page for the movie admits that it's only "loosely based" on the book of the same name (thankfully, they also include that caveat on the page for Blade Runner, or I'd be smacking some heads together), because they took the names and then twisted everything else to make a movie that almost (but not quite) completely effs up the entire story.

If you've not read the book yet, but seen the movie - throw all of your preconceptions out the window.

The Running Man is super bleak and doesn't have any of the faux-Hollywood-Happy-Ending you'll find in the movie.

Ben Richards is unemployed with a sick daughter and a wife that's willing to turn tricks to buy the groceries.  In an attempt to earn enough money to buy the medicine his daughter needs (and to keep his wife off her back), he heads down to the Games Commission one day to see if he can make it onto one of the Free-Vee shows that all the poor saps watch to see the other poor saps humiliate themselves.

He passes all of the tests with flying colours and finds himself the newest contestant on The Running Man (dur), a show where he will attempt to evade professional hunters for 30 days.  He (or his family, because no one actually makes it the full 30 days) will be paid in New Dollars for every hour he manages to keep from being killed/caught/turned in (capture and being turned in will both result in death, though, so it all amounts to the same thing).

Richards proves to be the most resourceful contestant the Games Commission has ever seen, and while this book isn't the best I've ever read - the ending makes up for whatever other flaws it may have (and it has them).

Really, you could just read the first few chapters and then skim til the end, but even then it'd still be a four star book.  Is it an excellent waste of time?  No.  But it's more than decent.  And the last page will have you pumping your fist and shouting "Fuck.  Yes."

So there's that. ...more
3

May 16, 2015

Halt! If you have yet to read this Stephen King as Richard Bachman book, let it be known that the introduction should be cordoned off with ‘spoiler warning’ tape…but it's not. I would chalk it up to King's beef with the outing of Bachman (which I totally respect), but the same thing happened to me with Pet Sematary, so that theory's a bust. (Shoutout to Richard for attempting to save me from myself after that first debacle.)

Wasn't my favorite King or Bachman adventure, perhaps because Halt! If you have yet to read this Stephen King as Richard Bachman book, let it be known that the introduction should be cordoned off with ‘spoiler warning’ tape…but it's not. I would chalk it up to King's beef with the outing of Bachman (which I totally respect), but the same thing happened to me with Pet Sematary, so that theory's a bust. (Shoutout to Richard for attempting to save me from myself after that first debacle.)

Wasn't my favorite King or Bachman adventure, perhaps because these “dystopias” are starting to feel all too familiar (and, an argument could kind of be made that we're already there). Nevertheless, like all of Uncle Stevie's work, it's well-worth the read. And, just in case you have yet to figure out that the story doesn't center on the early-90s dance move, I'll leave you with this little hint.

...more
4

Feb 25, 2011

It’s the year 2025 and society is very different then what we know today. Unlike those that claim today the United States is the land of the free and that the ultimate “American Dream” is attainable by anyone, the system is now designed to keep those who are below the poverty line to stay just where they are. However, there is a way out, sign up as a participant in “The Games”. Yes, you can compete on a variety of dangerous game shows in an effort to obtain large cash prizes and get you and your It’s the year 2025 and society is very different then what we know today. Unlike those that claim today the United States is the land of the free and that the ultimate “American Dream” is attainable by anyone, the system is now designed to keep those who are below the poverty line to stay just where they are. However, there is a way out, sign up as a participant in “The Games”. Yes, you can compete on a variety of dangerous game shows in an effort to obtain large cash prizes and get you and your family out of the gutter.

The novel follows Ben Richards, a man whose daughter has recently become quite sick. Without the means to hire a doctor to help her regain her health and tired of his wife having to turn to prostitution as an income, Ben signs up as a contestant. The only problem is that Ben has been cast in the most dangerous show of all, “The Running Man”. In the competition, you need to stay alive for a period of 30 days. Sound easy? Oh yeah, you need to hide from “The Hunters”, people whose job it is to find you and cut your time on the show short. You also need to avoid exposure to the masses as people can receive cash awards if spotting and reporting you. If that report leads to your death, they are eligible for an even higher cash reward.

Constantly on the move, Ben travels all around the United States in search for a place to hide, if only for a little while. He limits his stay for only a day or two at a time, fearful that his spot will be exposed as he mails in the required tapes day to day. Attempting to stay on the run for as long as possible, the final prize of $1 billion dollars is quite alluring. While he does receive some help from a few disgruntled members of society, it does little to help as he has to fight his own paranoia in resisting the urge to distrust everyone.

I know you need to suspend your disbelief for someone else’s vision of the future, especially when you’ve past a lot of the eras in which King has pinpointed specific events (i.e. a major outbreak in 2005) to occur. However, there really are no specifics into how society degenerated so rapidly in the 90s and the early part of the 2000s, which I dislike. Maybe it’s the crime fiction fan in me that needs to know so much in regards to details (thanks a lot, John Connolly) but I find myself craving that – especially in a dystopian society. I NEED TO KNOW WHY. *

Overall, I enjoyed the novel – not quite to the extent that I enjoyed other King books but it was entertaining nonetheless. As I said earlier, my need to know how society had changed to what it was sort of ruined my enjoyment. Obviously, that’s no fault of King’s as he clearly intended it to be that way. Supposedly, the man wrote it in a week so detail was not something he was going to dwell on.

I will say this - the ending (the very final chapter) was awesome. I'm not sure if I've giving anything away but it's the ultimate act of rebellion. I actually laughed out loud. I'm not sure if that's supposed to be a good thing or not, either way, it was outstanding.

*** Reviewers Note *** Yes, I’m aware that I still loved “A Long Walk” despite its lack of details surrounding society’s turn towards “The Long Walk” itself. I felt that this book suffered more considering society appears to be in far, far worse shape.

Also posted at Every Read Thing ...more
4

Feb 05, 2019

**The Stephen King Goodreads Discussion Group is doing a re-read of his works from the beginning to the end. It’s been a long time since I have really immersed myself in Uncle Stevie’s world, but a rate of a book a month, I am all in. My goal is to read and review each one with as much honesty and reflection that I can give. **

Background – “The Running Man” was originally published under his well-known pseudonym of Richard Bachman as a paperback original in 1982. My paperback copy of “The **The Stephen King Goodreads Discussion Group is doing a re-read of his works from the beginning to the end. It’s been a long time since I have really immersed myself in Uncle Stevie’s world, but a rate of a book a month, I am all in. My goal is to read and review each one with as much honesty and reflection that I can give. **

Background – “The Running Man” was originally published under his well-known pseudonym of Richard Bachman as a paperback original in 1982. My paperback copy of “The Bachman Books” omnibus is 160 pages and my Kindle lists it as 412 pages. My omnibus has a lot more words per page than the paperback.

Plotline – Short description: “Futuristic Game Show of Death”. The more complete description is it involves a science fiction setting in a dystopian society of the United States in the year of 2025, when the nation’s economy is in a ruined state and full of violence throughout the world.

The story is focused on husband and father, Ben Richards, whose daughter is sick and may be facing death. In order to save her, Ben is forced to apply to be a participant in a popular game show – The Running Man – where contestants can run anywhere primarily in North America. However, they are chased by Hunters who are rewarded for hunting them down and killing them. The prize includes a hundred dollars for every hour the contestant lives. The big payoff is if the contestant can find a way to survive for 30 days - then their family gets a billion dollars. The bad news is that no one has made it past five days. But then Ben Richards has never been the contestant…

Thoughts and Reflections – There are a couple of important points to make about this book.

The first is something I talked about in my review of “Rage” (another King “Bachman” book), and it’s true in this case too. I personally believe that one of King’s greatest strengths is when he lets his “inside” voice come out in his writing. He says the things we think but never say or admit out loud. I also think that King has an even angrier and more sarcastic deeper voice, which I will call his “inside inner” voice. I really feel that when he wrote books under the pseudonym of Richard Bachman, he was letting that “inside inner” voice (the one where we would never admit things to ourselves) come out full force like a fully pressured firehose. When he wrote as Bachman, King was dark, satirical, and downright angry and pissed off about several things that are unfair in life. I would even venture to say these books might have been a cathartic and cleansing experience for him.

The other important thing to note is that he wrote this when he was a younger writer. Several of his “Bachman” books were written in a very raw and coarse style, bringing up social issues that were left hanging and unresolved (like the racial inequality and poisonous air problems in “The Running Man”), and often full of extreme psychological and violent endings. Again, I refer to that as Uncle Stevie’s “inside inner” voice which can be on the hard-to-take side for some readers. His “Bachman” books are definitely not for the feint of heart, but for those whole like seeing someone’s innards sticking out, come join the fun.

Having made those two points, there is still a creative dystopian plotline that moves the reader forward and provides several good moments of high tension and scenes involving the proverbial – “How is he going to get out that jam?” It would be very interesting to see how King could develop this story if he was writing it now, as a more skilled writer full of experience and wisdom (and maybe even some optimism). For the most part, I was going to give this book three-out-of-five stars, but after reading the multi-surprise and multi-twist ending, I find myself having to give it four-out of-five-stars for delivering such a powerful and thought-provoking ending. It was downright crazy and ingenious at the same.

Other Notes – King uses a countdown approach in labeling the chapters, starting with the first, which is titled "Minus 100 and Counting " and each chapter thereafter decreasing by one, until the last chapter, which is titled "Minus 000 and Counting". The counting down helped create an extra layer of tension to the story’s ending.

This book was also adapted into a film in 1987 starring Arnold Schwarzenegger in the lead role. However, the movie veered away from the book quite a bit.

Overall – I realize this book is not for everyone for the reasons I have already stated. If you find yourself not liking this book (and trust me, there are good reasons…), I fully understand. Let it go and move on to something else that’s more enjoyable. But for those who do find it interesting, I think they will find some real thought-provoking themes behind the raw and overly violent activity, that provide strong fodder for honest, social discussion and debate. Readers – make your choice and good luck. ...more

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