I am trying to find a SciFi story I read years ago. I thought it was by Philip K Dick but cannot find it among his stories. In the story, a man who is down on his luck decides to apply for a game show. He is accepted and is a contestant in a survival game -- if he lasts long enough, he wins but he is more likely to die because everyone is after him. In the end he hijacks a plane and flies it into the game show producer's building. Anyone recognize that plot?

  • Can you recall any other details that might be helpful? – Adamant Aug 27 '16 at 4:01
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    Running man? – Mark Rogers Aug 27 '16 at 4:04
  • Definitely the Running Man, the book version. – starpilotsix Aug 27 '16 at 4:09

This is almost certainly:

The Running Man by Stephen King published in 1982 under the pseudonym Richard Bachman.

The Running Man novel cover

The story has the game show you describe (from wikipedia):

The contestant is declared an enemy of the state and released with a 12-hour head start before the Hunters, an elite team of Network-employed hitmen, are sent out to kill him. The contestant earns $100 per hour that he stays alive and avoids capture, an additional $100 for each law enforcement officer or Hunter he kills, and a grand prize of $1 billion if he survives for 30 days. Viewers can receive cash rewards for informing the Network of the runner's whereabouts. The runner is given $4,800 and a pocket video camera before he leaves the studio. He can travel anywhere in the world, and each day he must videotape two messages and mail them back to the studio for broadcasting. If he neglects to send the messages, he will be held in default of his Games contract and stop accumulating prize money, but will continue to be hunted indefinitely.

Culminates in a plane hijacking (again wikipedia):

Richards takes McCone and Amelia as hostages and has the plane fly low over populated areas to avoid being shot down by a surface-to-air missile. However, Killian calls Richards aboard the plane and reveal that he knows Richards does not have any explosives, as the plane's security system would have detected them.

Ends with that plane crashing into the TV tower:

The book ends with the plane crashing into the tower, resulting in the deaths of Richards and Killian. The novel closes with the description, "... and it rained fire twenty blocks away."

As @starpilotsix notes in the comments to the question, your description is most likely the novel version. The movie version is different in some ways.

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    Definitely different, yes. Richards doesn't say "I'll be back" in the novel. – Mr Lister Aug 27 '16 at 5:25
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    Also the book was dire whereas the film was a work of towering genius. – Valorum Aug 27 '16 at 15:55
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    Note that originally The Running Man was published under King's pen name "Richard Bachman" and was anthologized in the 80s in a volume called The Bachman Books (which also included Thinner, IIRC). – Todd Wilcox Aug 28 '16 at 3:04
  • Added a linked mention of the pen name. – Mark Rogers Aug 28 '16 at 4:36

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