Stephen King fans probably are aware that Carrie was the first novel the popular author had published, back in 1974. But what they might not know is that this wasn’t the first novel he wrote. That honor resides in The Long Walk, which was written between 1966 and 1967 during his freshman year at the University of Maine. Also, the pseudonym Richard Bachman was used to sign the book.
Set in a future dystopian America, ruled by a militaristic dictator, the plot revolves around the contestants of a grueling walking contest, held annually by a totalitarian version of the United States of America. One hundred boys must keep a steady pace of four miles per hour without ever stopping with the winner being awarded “The Prize”—anything he wants for the rest of his life. There are some harsh rules that the contestants, called “Walkers” must adhere to in order to beat out the rest. There is no finish line, the winner is the last man standing. Competitors cannot receive any outside aid whatsoever. If one slows down under the speed limit for 30 seconds he’s given a warning. Three warnings and you’re “ticketed”, which means to be shot dead by soldiers riding in half-tracks along the roadside. Walkers may be shot immediately for certain serious violations, such as trying to leave the road or attacking the half-track, and are given warnings for minor violations such as interfering with one another.
Filmmaker Frank Darabont, popular for being the creator of The Walking Dead TV series (2010– ) as well as director of other Stephen King movie adaptations The Mist (2007), The Green Mile (1999) and The Shawshank Redemption (1994), had first secured the rights to the film adaptation of the novel. His vision of a low budget “weird, existential, and very self-contained” film stayed on hold for years. Also, George A. Romero was approached to direct the film adaptation, but that neither happened. Now, after Frank Darabont’s rights for the adaptation have expired, New Line Cinema has greenlit the production of The Long Walk’s adaptation. James Vanderbilt, writer of titles like Zodiac (2007), The Losers (2010), The Amazing Spider-Man (2012) or Independence Day: Resurgence (2016), will be in charge of the production and the screenplay.
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