The Running Man
By Richard Bachman
First printing May 1982
This is one of those cases where the book is very different than the film. The film was made in 1987, five years after the first printing of the novel itself. King disliked the drastic differences so much that he demanded that his name not be used in the marketing of the film at all. This demand was adhered to and we were given what is often touted as one of Arnie’s best movies of that era, alongside with films like Total Recall (1990). However, if you know the true meat of the real story, honestly, he’d be one of the last people that you would cast for this role.
In the novel, Ben Richards is still the main character. But he is a broke man in his late twenties with a wife and an infant child of eighteen months. Times are very hard as the societal setup is very dystopian indeed. The regular people are poor and suffering in ways that one would never want to imagine.
For Ben Richards, he’s going through a particularly rough time. He’s been blacklisted from his own profession, leaving his wife to prostitute herself to try to make ends meet, as he’s unable to find employment. The cost of living is unfairly high and the work and pay are disproportionately unavailable and low to the average man in this idea of 2025. He’s barely able to keep himself together as they scrape by and then their baby girl, Cathy, becomes increasingly ill with the flu. With no money for medication or doctor visits Ben and his wife are forced to watch their baby suffer, unable to provide help or comfort.
The Running Man is a game show on the Games Network. The grand prize is one billion new dollars. There are two kinds of currency, old dollars and new dollars. Old dollars are easier to get but aren’t worth as much as new dollars. It also identifies you as poor when you spend it. Richards decides that with as bad as things are, they can’t really get much worse. He decides to sign up to be a contestant on The Running Man. But the rules are very different than what you might be familiar with.
First of all, the contestant is declared an enemy of the State. He gets a twelve-hour head start before the Hunters, which are skilled assassins (and called Stalkers in the film), are unleashed on him. For every hour that Richards remains alive, avoiding capture or death, he wins one hundred new dollars. He is awarded an additional one hundred new dollars for every Hunter or law enforcement officer he kills while on the run. He is let loose in the city, named Co-Op City, with his twelve-hour head start, $4800 new dollars and a pocket video camera. He is required to send in two video tapes each day of recordings of himself to the Games Network. He can say or do whatever he wants in these messages but if he doesn’t send them in, he’s disqualified.
He gets the one billion new dollars if he can make it an entire thirty days.
But it’s not just the Hunters after him, there is a penalty for being a citizen that helps a Runner and there is an enticing reward for turning him in. Once he signs up and the timer starts, it’s just Ben Richards against the world. An average man running for his life, for money on the hour, just to get out of poverty and get medical treatment for his daughter. And he’ll do whatever it takes.
The way this novel was written is so much more emotional and effective as a novel rather than a movie. While the film was an entertaining movie and I enjoy it very much, when I read this book, I found it was easy to get very emotionally invested in the outcome for Ben. King writes with such expert description the trials and tribulations, the injustices and the crimes, the hardship and suffering endured by Richards and his family, you can’t help but want to take a stand with him and root for him from beginning to end. King creates a classic every man character that is willing to sacrifice anything for his wife and daughter.
The novel still contains the much-enjoyed action and excitement that the film makes you expect, but it is so much better because the novel is incredibly more intense and dramatic. This plot is a genuine underdog story with the main character as the normal average joe trying to be a hero.
The novel is much more psychological, much more intense, darker, more dangerous, realistic violence and realistic characters. This creates a very personal aspect to this story that you don’t get in the movie. This is where the liberties taken by Hollywood not only disappointed Stephen King, but also take away the very essence of what this story is really all about. King wanted to write a story in which the main character was a common man. Not someone who is super athletic and the body builder type like Arnold Schwarzenegger. Ben Richards is supposed to be the kind of character that could be any one of us. Just a regular average citizen struggling to make ends meet and tired of not being able to have access to basic needs like food, water and medical attention. It’s the daily strains of regular life that drive this man to his edge. In the film, even though Ben Richards is presented as the victim and the underdog he definitely doesn’t look like the underdog. However, in the novel, it is plain as day that Ben is no ex-military specialist with unique skills and training allowing him to overtake his few opponents. Instead, he is just a guy that needs money so badly that he is willing to have the whole multi-metro area of Co-Op City on his tail. In the movie, Ben goes through the game with friends. In the novel Richards is on his own from the start. Alone and on the run, trying to avoid death and being hunted down like a vicious rabid dog.
This is a story one could believe could actually happen, with the way this country keeps going, citizens giving up their rights one at a time for the illusion of security and safety. It brings into question how far a parent is willing to go for their child, how far a husband is willing to go for his wife. Now remember, in the novel, this story takes place in 2025. We aren’t quite there with how bad things have gotten. However, in oh, 500 years, if we are still around, life could be like this dystopian tragedy. After years and years of destroying ourselves, lying to each other, hating each other, giving away our rights to the government. We could one day end up in a world where things could be similar to anywhere from Demolition Man to Mad Max to The Running Man.
While in the movie the action is confined to the four quadrants, in the novel the action runs rampant through the city in every direction with every kind of person. Instead of presenting the novel in chapters we have a rather interesting countdown. We start at “Minus 100 and Counting…” and as we go through each scene or “chapter” it counts down to zero. This adds a lot of anticipation. Some chapters are less than a page. Some are several pages long. But, there’s action almost everywhere you turn. Something to make your jaw drop or your mouth utter “No way”, always keeping you on the edge of your seat, eager to turn the page before you have even finished reading it.
In my opinion, although the film is entertaining and a great action flick, The Running Man novel is by far better than the film. This is a novel that is a slightly different side of Stephen King, as he is writing as Richard Bachman, but the essence of King and his style is still very apparent and still makes the novel what I would consider one of his best and most classic pieces of work.
Nothing Good Happens After Midnight
Edited by Jeffrey Deaver
This was an altogether fantastic horror anthology sent to me by Blackthorn Book Tours. It is comprised of 13 stories all from different authors. Each author has their own unique style and take on what horror is. Some are what horror fans would consider true horror while a few others would be more considered maybe, drama/thriller.
As always, I scored this anthology the way I do all collections of this nature. I read and rate each story individually and then I take the average of ALL of those ratings to get the total rating for the book itself.
In the case of this collection, the ratings broke down like this (this is not in any particular order of the stories):
1/5- 1 story
2/5- 1 story
2.5/5- 1 story
3.5/5- 1 story
4/5- 3 stories
5/5- 6 stories
This gave me a total rating of 51/65 which is about 78%. A 4/5 rating is 80%. So, I have rounded up, like I usually do, to get to the 4/5 rating I have given this anthology.
The stories are very well written and cover all aspects of the horror genre. This assures that there is most likely something in this book for everyone. The subject matter of the tales includes police drama, intolerance, creepy midnight train rides, a very whacked out night shift at a local newspaper, cemeteries, precious artifacts, annoying neighbors and so much more. This is definitely one of the reasons I think this was so well put together.
I think one of my favorite things about this collection actually has nothing to do with the composition of the material. It’s the fact that the anthology is thirteen stories. Thirteen generally being thought to be an unlucky number, I find this a very nice and subtle yet effective touch.
I could easily recommend this anthology to any horror reader. While not every story will give everyone chills and goosebumps, there is certainly enough of both to keep one horror fan satisfied.
About the Authors
JOSEPH BADAL grew up in a family where storytelling had been passed down from generation to generation.
Prior to a long business career, Joe served for six years as a commissioned officer in the U.S. Army in critical, highly classified positions in the U.S. and overseas, including tours of duty in Greece and Vietnam, and earned numerous military decorations.
Joe is an Amazon #1 bestselling author, with 16 published suspense novels. He has been recognized as “One of The 50 Best Writers You Should Be Reading.” His books have received two Tony Hillerman Awards for Best Fiction Book of the Year, been top prize winners on multiple occasions in the New Mexico/Arizona Book Awards competition, received gold medals from the Military Writers Society of America, the Eric Hoffer Award, and Finalist honors in the International Book Awards.
He writes a regular column titled “Inspired by Actual Events” in Suspense Magazine.
To learn more, visit his website at http://www.josephbadalbooks.com/.
LINWOOD BARCLAY, a New York Times bestselling author and with nearly twenty novels to his credit, spent three decades in newspapers before turning full time to writing thrillers. His books have been translated into more than two dozen language, sold millions of copies, and he counts Stephen King among his fans. Many of his books have been optioned for film and TV, a series has been made in France, and he wrote the screenplay for the film based on his novel NEVER SAW IT COMING. Born in the US, his parents moved to Canada just as he was turning four, and he’s lived there ever since. He lives near Toronto with his wife, Neetha. They have two grown children.
RHYS BOWEN is the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and USA Today bestselling author of two historical mystery series, as well as three internationally bestselling standalone novels. Her books have won multiple awards and been translated into over twenty languages. A transplanted Brit, Rhys now divides her time between California and Arizona, where she escapes from those harsh California winters.
New York Times and USA Today bestselling author, HEATHER GRAHAM, majored in theater arts at the University of South Florida. After a stint of several years in dinner theater, back-up vocals, and bartending, she stayed home after the birth of her third child and began to write. Her first book was with Dell, and since then, she has written over two hundred novels and novellas including category, suspense, historical romance, vampire fiction, time travel, occult, and Christmas family fare.
She is pleased to have been published in approximately twenty-five languages. She has written over 200 novels and has 60 million books in print. She has been honored with awards from booksellers and writers’ organizations for excellence in her work, and she is also proud to be a recipient of the Silver Bullet from Thriller Writers and was also awarded the prestigious Thriller Master in 2016. She is also a recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award from RWA. Heather has had books selected for the Doubleday Book Club and the Literary Guild, and has been quoted, interviewed, or featured in such publications as The Nation, Redbook, Mystery Book Club, People and USA Today and appeared on many newscasts including Today, Entertainment Tonight and local television.
Heather loves travel and anything that has to do with the water, and is a certified scuba diver. She also loves ballroom dancing. Each year she hosts the Vampire Ball and Dinner theater at the RT convention, raising money for the Pediatric Aids Society, and in 2006 she hosted the first Writers for New Orleans Workshop to benefit the stricken Gulf Region. She is also the founder of “The Slush Pile Players,” presenting something that’s “almost like entertainment” for various conferences and benefits. Married since high school graduation and the mother of five, her greatest love in life remains her family, but she also believes her career has been an incredible gift, and she is grateful every day to be doing something that she loves so very much for a living.
ALAN JACOBSON is the award-winning, USA Today bestselling author of fourteen thrillers, including the FBI profiler Karen Vail series and the OPSIG Team Black novels. His books have been translated internationally and several have been optioned by Hollywood. Jacobson’s debut novel, FALSE ACCUSATIONS, was adapted to film by acclaimed Czech screenwriter Jirí Hubac.
Jacobson has spent over twenty-five years working with the FBI’s Behavioral Analysis Unit, the DEA, the US Marshals Service, SWAT, the NYPD, Scotland Yard, local law enforcement, and the US military. This research and the breadth of his contacts help bring depth and realism to his characters and stories.
For video interviews and a free personal safety eBook co-authored by Alan Jacobson and FBI Profiler Mark Safarik, please visit www.AlanJacobson.com. You can also connect with Jacobson on Facebook (Facebook.com/AlanJacobsonFans), Instagram (alan.jacobson), Twitter (@JacobsonAlan), and Goodreads (alan-jacobson).
PAUL KEMPRECOS is the author of eight novels in the Aristotle “Soc” Socarides private detective series, including COOL BLUE TOMB, winner of a Shamus award from the Private Eye Writers of America for Best Paperback, and SHARK BAIT, nominated for a Shamus in the same category. Grandmaster of Adventure writer Clive Cussler blurbed: “There can be no better mystery writer in America than Paul Kemprecos.” Paul became the first fiction co-author to work with Cussler when they created and wrote the New York Times bestselling NUMA Files series. After collaborating with Cussler on the first eight books in the NUMA Files, Paul wrote two adventure novels including THE MINOAN CIPHER, nominated for a Thriller award by the International Thriller Writers. Paul lives on Cape Cod with his wife Christi, a financial advisor.
To learn more about Paul Kemprecos, check out his website at http://www.paulkemprecos.com/.
SHANNON KIRK is the international bestselling and award-winning author of METHOD 15/33, THE EXTRAORDINARY JOURNEY OF VIVIENNE MARSHALL, IN THE VINES, GRETCHEN, VIEBURY GROVE, and short stories in four anthologies: THE NIGHT OF THE FLOOD, NOTHING GOOD HAPPENS AFTER MIDNIGHT, and BORDER NOIR. Shannon is also a contributor to the International Thriller Writers’ Murderers’ Row. Growing up in New Hampshire, Shannon and her brothers were encouraged by their parents to pursue the arts, which instilled in her a love for writing at a young age. A graduate of Suffolk Law School in Massachusetts, Shannon is a practicing litigation attorney and former adjunct law professor, specializing in electronic-evidence law. When she isn’t writing or practicing law, Shannon spends time with her husband, son, and two cats. To learn more about her, visithttp://www.shannonkirkbooks.com/.
JON LAND is the USA Today bestselling author of more than 50 books, including the award-winning, critically acclaimed Caitlin Strong series, the most recent of which is STRONG FROM THE HEART. He has also penned six novels in the MURDER, SHE WROTE series and has recently taken over Margaret Truman’s CAPITAL CRIMES series as well. He’s a 1979 graduate of Brown University, lives in Providence, Rhode Island, and can be reached at http://jonlandbooks.com/ or on Twitter @jondland.
JOHN LESCROART is the author of twenty-nine novels, nineteen of which have been New York Times bestsellers. Libraries Unlimited places him among “The 100 Most Popular Thriller and Suspense Authors.” With sales of over twelve million copies, his books have been translated into twenty-two languages in more than seventy-five countries, and his short stories appear in many anthologies.
John’s first book, SUNBURN, won the Joseph Henry Jackson Award for Best Novel by a California author. DEAD IRISH, THE 13TH JUROR, and THE KEEPER were nominees for the Shamus, Anthony, and Silver Falchion Best Mystery Novel, respectively; additionally THE 13TH JUROR is included in the International Thriller Writers publication “100 Must-Read Thrillers of All Time.” HARD EVIDENCE made “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to the Ultimate Reading List.” THE SUSPECT was the American Author’s Association 2007 Book of the Year. THE MOTIVE was an Audie Finalist of the Audio Publishers Association. THE MERCY RULE, NOTHING BUT THE TRUTH, THE SUSPECT, THE FALL, and THE RULE OF LAW have been major market Book Club selections. John’s books have been Main Selections of one or more of the Literary Guild, Mystery Guild, and Book of the Month Club.
“John Lescroart’s writing skills are a national treasure.”
—The Huffington Post
D. P. LYLE is the Amazon #1 Bestselling; Macavity and Benjamin Franklin Award-winning; and Edgar(2), Agatha, Anthony, Shamus, Scribe, and USA Today Best Book(2) Award-nominated author of 22 books, both non-fiction and fiction, including the Samantha Cody, Dub Walker, Jake Longly and Cain/Harper thriller series and the Royal Painsmedia tie-in novels. His essay on Jules Verne’s THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND appears in THRILLERS: 100 MUST READS, his short story “Even Steven” in ITW’s anthology THRILLER 3: LOVE IS MURDER, and his short story “Bottom Line” in FOR THE SAKE OF THE GAME. He served as editor for and contributed the short story “Splash” to SCWA’s anthology IT’S ALL IN THE STORY.
He hosts the Crime Fiction Writer’s Blog and the Criminal Mischief: The Art and Science of Crime Fiction podcast series. He has worked with many novelists and with the writers of popular television shows such as Law & Order, CSI: Miami, Diagnosis Murder, Monk, Judging Amy, Peacemakers, Cold Case, House, Medium, Women’s Murder Club, 1-800-Missing, The Glades, and Pretty Little Liars.
Learn more at http://www.dplylemd.com/.
Before his thrillers landed him on the New York Times bestseller list, KEVIN O’BRIEN was a railroad inspector. The author of 21 internationally-published thrillers, he won the Spotted Owl Award for Best Pacific Northwest Mystery, and is a core member of Seattle 7 Writers. Press & Guide said: “If Alfred Hitchcock were alive today and writing novels, his name would be Kevin O’Brien.” Kevin’s latest nail-biter is THE BAD SISTER.
HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN is on-air investigative reporter for Boston’s WHDH-TV, winning 37 EMMYs and dozens more journalism honors. A USA Today bestselling author of 12 thrillers, Ryan’s also an award-winner in her second profession—with five Agathas, three Anthonys, and the coveted Mary Higgins Clark Award. Critics call her “a master of suspense.” Her highly-acclaimed TRUST ME was an Agatha nominee and chosen for numerous prestigious “Best of 2018” lists. Hank’s book THE MURDER LIST is an Agatha, Anthony and Mary Higgins Clark Award nominee. Her newest standalone is THE FIRST TO LIE (Forge Books August 2020). The Publishers Weekly starred review calls it “Stellar.”
JEFFERY DEAVER is an international number-one bestselling author. His novels have appeared on bestseller lists around the world. His books are sold in 150 countries and translated into twenty-five languages. He has served two terms as president of Mystery Writers of America.
The author of forty-three novels, three collections of short stories and a nonfiction law book, and a lyricist of a country-western album, he’s received or been shortlisted for dozens of awards. His THE BODIES LEFT BEHIND was named Novel of the Year by the International Thriller Writers association, and his Lincoln Rhyme thriller THE BROKEN WINDOW and a stand-alone, EDGE, were also nominated for that prize. THE GARDEN OF BEASTS won the Steel Dagger from the Crime Writers Association in England. He’s been nominated for eight Edgar Awards.
Deaver has been honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award by the Bouchercon World Mystery Convention, the Strand Magazine’s Lifetime Achievement Award and the Raymond Chandler Lifetime Achievement Award in Italy.
His book A MAIDEN’S GRAVE was made into an HBO movie starring James Garner and Marlee Matlin, and his novel THE BONE COLLECTOR was a feature release from Universal Pictures, starring Denzel Washington and Angelina Jolie. Lifetime aired an adaptation of his THE DEVIL’S TEARDROP. NBC television is airing the popular prime time series, Lincoln Rhyme: Hunt for the Bone Collector.
His latest novel is THE GOODBYE MAN, a Colter Shaw thriller.
SUSPENSE MAGAZINE was founded in 2007 on the premise that every author in the genre needed a platform to have a voice. From that original concept, Suspense Publishing was born in 2010 to publish high quality books in the suspense/mystery/horror/thriller genre. Suspense Publishing’s goal is to be a leader in producing the highest quality books in the genre.