First published: 1982 | Takes place: 2025
When Stephen King prognosticates the future, it's never pretty — his brain swirls with visions of plague, pestilence, and apocalyptic ruin. And while he always saves a special place in hell for Maine, the author takes care not to spare Boston from his scythe of affectionate destruction.

His 1982 novel The Running Man fast-forwards 43 years, to a time when unemployment is rampant and Boston is a hopelessly polluted mess. On a good day, breathing the air is like "smoking four packs of cigarettes"; a bad day makes "old dudes drop dead all over town." And in this dystopia, pretty much the only way the nation's underclass can escape poverty is to win big on bloodsport reality-television game shows. The Free-Vee gets more than it bargained for in contestant Ben Richards, who outruns his pursuers by blowing lots of stuff up — including the YMCA on slummy Huntington Ave.

Shaula Clark

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