The book is set in North America in the year 2025, in Co Op city (Not the real Co Op city) in the Fictional state of Harding west of Detroit, with the state being an Authoritarian police state, the Book follows Benjamin Richards, a Working class man from ‘South of the Canal’ which is Shown in the book to be the bad and Crime ridden section of the City, Ben himself is not a Criminal but that doesn’t change his social status at all, The Book is laid out in a 1st person Format with Ben being the Narrator.
In the beginning of the Book, Ben is talking with his Wife about his sick and dying 3 year old daughter while watching the 2025 era televisions called ‘Free Vees’, these TVs are much like the Telescreens in George Orwell’s 1984 Except the Free Vees were allowed to be turned off and weren’t watching the citizens, however it was compulsory for every household in North America to have one.
Ben and his family(wife and Daughter) are poor, and the only way to get a decent amount of money in the film was to compete in Game shows run by the Government/Telecommunications company known as the Network, these Game could range from simple Treadmill Time Trials to the Ultra Dangerous Hide and Seek(Kill) Style game show called ‘The Running man’.
Ben makes the decision to Go to the Network Headquarters, which is based in his own city to take part in the games, The lines of people hoping to get chosen are tested Physically and Mentally, Ben Richards is intelligent by Co Op city standards and also quite physically fit despite(as stated later in the book) being exposed to large amounts of radiation from a past employment, Out of the many hundreds, Ben and another man are chosen for the Legendary but Equally Dangerous and Lethal game show, ‘The Running Man’, although the President of the Network is not mentioned in the book, it is clear that ‘The Running Man’ Producer Dan Killian has quite a lot of Authority in the Network.
Ben is told about ‘The Running Man’, it’s prize and how to ‘Play’. At the Game start, Ben is Given a 12 hour head start to Leave the building and hide wherever he wishes(Any part of the World), While the Game Show’s host, Bobby Thompson Slanders his name across North America through the Free Vee(which is always tuned to Game Show Channels, ‘The Running Man’ being the most watched by the population), Ben must survive as long as he can and is awarded 50 New Dollars(New Dollars are worth around 300 Normal or ‘old Dollars) Every Hour he survives, During this time, he is hunted by Elite Assassins known as ‘Hunters’, If ben is killed before the 30 day period in which the Game show runs, his winnings will be given to his family, if He survives a month, he will win the Grand Prize of ‘N$1,000,000,000′(I Billion New Dollars).
When the game starts, Ben Wastes no time, because if a Civilian Sees him they can report him, a Confirmed sighting is worth N$100, a Sighting that results in a kill is worth N£1000, he makes his way South of the Canal and get’s Fake ID and a Crummy Disguise from a Pawnbroker, He travels by Shuttle(Low Capacity Jet) to Boston and stays in the YMCA, Ben has a Camera and has to Post 2 tapes to the Network Headquarters each day or he forfeits his payment, while in the YMCA, he becomes increasingly paranoid and believes that everyone is watching him, after 3 days staying in the Hotel in the Disguise of a Blind Priest , he comes into contact with the Hunters and the Local Police, who raid the hotel in an attempt to Capture and kill him him, he evades them by climbing through pipes in the Basement and blowing up the Power Generator and Oil Supply in the Basement with Newspaper and Matches.
After escaping the YMCA and walking through the Suburbs of Boston, he meets a 7 year old African American boy who agrees to take Ben in(in return for New Dollars), when Ben meets the boy’s older brother, he discovers a National Conspiracy to kill off the Poor Population of North America(Or rather, save the rich) by letting the rich buy nose filters to save them from the Unimaginable scale of Pollution and let the poor who can’t afford it die off.
Ben Decides that he needs to do something and Records himself on tape talking about the Pollution, but the Network edits his voice out and in place of it makes Ben seem to swear and spread hate to the Viewers.
He Decides that it is unsafe to stay in Boston and get’s Bradley, the boy’s older Brother to take him Out of Boston and into Maine, where Ben makes his own way, Ben, having got his hands on a Revolver from Bradley Hijacks a Car with a women inside, telling her to take him to the airport where he Makes it publicly known that he has a Hostage, soon enough, News crews arrive and a Large crowd gathers near the airport, to Keep the Police and Hunters from shooting him, he states that he has a Very Volatile and Large Explosive called ‘Black Irish’ which could destroy the Entire airport if it went off, but he was bluffing and had only stuffed the woman’s purse into his Pocket, After gaining access to a Large jet where he demands that the Chief Hunter come with him along with the Pilots and his Hostage, After take off, Dan Killian Contacts Ben through a Free Vee and congratulates him on his Record Breaking Survival time and offers Ben the chance to take the Current Chief hunters place, He also tells ben that he knows that he only has the woman’s purse, and how his wife and daughter were slaughtered by a Biker gang a few days before, Ben Tells Dan that he wants to think and Switches the Free Vee off.
Ben uses his gun to kill the Crew and the Hunters that were aboard the Jet and Throws his hostage out of the plane with a Parachute, After the shoot out, Ben Realizes that he is Fatally Wounded and takes control of the Jet, He turns the Jet around and Flies into the Network Headquarters(Skyscraper) much like the Terrorist attacks of 9/11, this would kill many inside the tower and bring and end to the Network.
Clearly, Ben has tried and failed to Tell the Population about the Pollution Conspiracy but after failing to do so, he realizes that the only way to at least stop the Network was to Destroy them, Although we don’t see what happens after he Crashes into the Tower We can Tell that Ben had Nothing to lose and wanted to do his last greatest deed, the book clearly supports my theme Idea of ‘1 man changing the world’.
Ben was Almost Entirely on his own During the Game show, and After uncovering the Pollution Conspiracy, acted alone to remove the Leadership of the Network, the Masterminds behind this conspiracy.