It surprised me as I read The Running Man that although the author is listed as Richard Bachman, all his fans know that this is Stephen King writing under his pseudonym. What I find amazing is the style, the characterization and everything that is familiar to me about SK is totally absent from this story. Is this meant to be? Is this to be read as a 3rd rate novel about a man Ben Richards trying to escape is meagre poor surroundings with one shot at the big pay off? I know that King can write great stand alone crime (Joyland, Mr Mercedes) and yet if I had not know that this was written by SK I would never have guessed.
It is not a bad story. Ben Richards lives with his wife Sheila and daughter Cathy, impoverished residents of the fictional Co-Op city. His gravely ill daughter Cathy needs medicine, and his wife Sheila has resorted to prostitution to bring in money for the family. In desperation, Richards turns to the Games Network, a government-operated television station that runs violent game shows. After rigorous physical and mental testing, Richards is selected to appear on "The Running Man" the Games Network's most popular, lucrative, and dangerous program. His task is keep ahead of The Hunters and by doing so he will earn cash...survive 30 days and the big billion dollar jackpot will be his! The story is fast and pleasant but devoid of any real depth and feeling...perhaps that is the purpose of the author but having enjoyed so many brilliant King novels I cannot help feel a little disappointed. Having said that it is an ok story with a nice conclusion, one I did not see coming and suited the overall structure very well.