The Running Man, The Gunslinger, Different Seasons

The Running Man (1982)

This is the 4th book that King published as Bachman. It is a nicely paced dystopian thriller, that has very little in common with the Arnold Schwarzenegger film adaptation. At the center of the narrative is Ben Richards, a down on his luck man in his late 20s desperate to earn money for his family in a mid-21st century America in economic collapse. He enters as a contestant on the nation’s most popular game show, The Running Man. On the show, he is declared an enemy of the state and hunted by law enforcement as well as an elite team of hitmen. Contestants earn money for each hour they stay alive and each of their pursuers they kill. Richards quest to stay alove long enough to earn money for his family and take the system down makes for fun reading. While King is know for horror, his thrillers are proving just as masterful.

The Gunslinger (Dark Tower book 1), 1982

This is the first volume in King’s The Dark Tower series. I was excited for this one. I have heard about how great this series is from a lot of people, but never dove into them myself. This first entry is good. King blends elements of western fiction, sci-fi, horror, and fantasy into a damn intriguing story. In the first entry, we follow Roland Deschain, the gunslinger of the title, as he follows his enemy The Man In Black acros a vast desert and into the lands beyond. It is a promising beginning of an epic quest that spans several more novels. I look forward to continuing the journey.

Different Seasons (1982)

This is a colllection of 4 novellas (3 of which have been adapted into films) and all of them are great reads. The Breathing Method is the weakest of the 4, but it is still a great bit of body horror. The plot involves a pregnant woman who has a car accident while in labor and her decapitated body still manages to deliver the baby. Apt Pupil is an intriguing and twisted coming of age tale involving a young boy manipulating his Nazi war criminal neighbor into spinning tales of the holocaust as the boy himself becomes a budding serial killer. There is a decent film adaptation, but the novella is much nastier and has a much better ending. The Body is another coming of age novel involving 4 young friends on a quest to see a deas body that they have heard rumors of. It is a fun read, capturing the banter, bullies, and friendship of childhood with King’s distinctive blend of horror and violence. The novella was adapted as Stand By Me, a damn fine film in its own right. The best story of the collection is Rita Hayworth and The Shawshnak Redemption. It tells the story of Andy Dufresne, a banker wrongly (perhaps?) convicted of killing his wife and her lover and sentenced to life in Maine’s Shawshank Prison. Andy navigates the dangers of prison life, makes friends with Red, an inmate known for smuggling goods inside the prison, and becomes involved in the illegal dealings of a corrupt warden. Andy is also secretly working towards his escape and new life on the beaches of Mexico. It is masterfully written and a great story. It also doesn’t hurt that the film adaptation starring Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman is fantastic as well.

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