Science fiction, Thriller

The Running Man written by Stephen King (as Richard Bachman)

300x300 I still cringe when people talk of Stephen King as a novelist exclusively of the horror or paranormal genre. It would seem that all the information deluge (or maybe because of the deluge) on the net is insufficient to wipe out the image carved out by popular media. This book is one which will not at all fit the stereotype. Set in a dystopian future (in 2025), this book owes its debt to Orwell rather than to Bela Lugosi…
 
I was lucky to start off on King by reading the novella – four seasons. There, in those four very different stories, you realize that above all, King is a master storyteller. And that is something that is common in all the books he has written. In fact I have liked his non-horror books more…
 
Ben Richards, the protagonist, is the classic quiet brooding angry man forced to play the part of the unwilling rebel in a world gone bad. And a world gone to extreme reality television. The proles in 1984 were kept in a state of zombification by lottery and sex magazines. Here the citizens are kept in a state of permanent television frenzy, with reality television becoming a permanent fabric of existence. The Games federation (which organizes the TV shows) is an unelected  quasi-government.

 

And the reality games have become actually that – a perverted terrifying reality. The greatest crowd puller over the centuries has been a public execution. The Games federation has just used this mob6a00d8345169e469e2011168c60571970c-250wi mentality and has come up with the “Running Man”, a game where men are hunted and killed- the longer the men stay alive, the more money they earn. And they have no shortage of takers. People are willing to put themselves on the show to earn money to feed their starving families, as Ben does.

Ben goes through the qualification process and finally proceeds to be selected for their star show, the ‘Running Man’, his often caustic comments and observations illuminating his world for us. He then has to find a way to stay alive and keep earning money for his wife and a sick daughter and somehow beat the system at the same time. Through his eyes, we begin to understand the world, its real nature and how it came to be as it is.
 
Like all King novels, this is a scorching page turner. And like all his novels, the characters come out well, especially Ben’s and all the people he meets along the way.
Stephen_King Though I would have liked a slightly less melodramatic ending, the book comes out very well in being both a great story and in setting out a bleak vision for a world that may very well be coming true in many shades today. This latter aspect, its relevant topicality, is what makes this book so interesting.
 
Looking at the world today, when big corporates have learnt that they need to control media and especially television for control (and control means money), when reality television seems to be getting weirder and weirder, a ‘Running Man’ may  not be far off…after all, a man getting killed in public is something that we have learnt to enjoy for many centuries. Its only a question  of bringing the beast out!!!
 
P.S- they made a movie out of this, with the same name, which leaves out the best elements of the book; made it into a typical mindless action flick. Avoid!!

 

 

 

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Book Review, Horror

Carrie written by Stephen King

Just for my own record, this is the first book I finished on my e-book reader (the Infibeam Pi)!!!

n697 “Four Seasons” was the first book by King that I read and contrary to what people around me have been telling me about the author’s genre, the first thing that had struck me about King was that he was one of the finest storyteller I have read and all of his stories were not of the macabre. It did not matter whether he wrote about paranormal or macabre activities, spine chilling stories or whether he was talking about the art of writing, there is a magnetism about his writing that simply hooks you.

I mean few people I knew then knew that Shawshank Redemption was actually written by Stephen King and for once the movie version did justice to the written material.

Carrie is a typical King novel. A typical sleepy American suburb is unknowingly home to a terror that would be unleashed on them soon. Carrie has the TK gene or in other words she is telekinetic and she is also the butt of every joke in school – a dangerous concoction just waiting to explode.

But like every King story, its not a simple horror story. There are stories within stories and there are lots you can identify with – thatCarrie-Stephen-King_l make the stories almost believable. And as always it draws you in before giving the KO.

However when it comes to authors who are prolific and who have penned numerous stories, there is a tendency to rank novels. So having read a dozen King novels, where would I put this one? Somewhere in the middle. Though it is neither epical like “The Stand” nor immersive as “Hearts in Atlantis”, it is still a harrowing and tragic tale of a girl who is forced to turn into a monster.

The imagery, as always, can be frighteningly vivid and the words as always are gripping. And you get it, yet again, why film-makers just love Stephen King. He has already done all the work for them!!!

 

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