Saturday, 20 April 2013
The Running Man
The Running Man is a science fiction novel by Stephen King. It was originally published in 1982, under his Richard Bachman pen name. It was one of few novels to be published under that name (before its association to his more popular brand was leaked to the general public), all of which were collected into an omnibus titled The Bachman Books. It was later adapted into a 1987 movie starring Arnold Schwarzenegger as the main character, Benjamin Richards.
Ben Richards is a man running out of options. He is out of work and unable to fend for his family. His 18-month-old daughter is sick, and his wife has been forced into prostitution. He is just one of many citizens living in the slumlike Co-Op City, the dregs of a dystopian USA where the economy is in shambles. For such people, there is only one hope for a better life: by becoming a contestant in one of the violent game shows aired by the Games Network.
After a grueling application process, Richards is one of two contestants selected for the network's highest rated show, The Running Man. It is a show wherein contestants are hunted down like fugitives. For each hour he manages to stay one step ahead of the authorities, Ben (or more precisely his family) would receive a hundred dollars. He would also receive a hundred dollars for each "hunter" or law enforcement officer he kills. And if he somehow manages to last the full thirty days duration of the show, he would win the grand prize of one billion dollars.
The Running Man is yet another book that bears considerable similarities to The Hunger Games. It is a comparison that has been drawn by even the King himself. With an ending that is worthy of a Quentin Tarantino screenplay, it is no wonder why fans of the latter are always quick to point out the former's negative outlook. Personally, I enjoyed reading both titles, but would probably give The Running Man the one-up, if only because its story wasn't built around silly love triangles.