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I read The Long Walk, written by Stephen King under the pseudonym Richard Bachman (The Bachman books, I believe a collection of four stories in one volume? correct me if I'm wrong, it was over twenty years ago). Anyway, the storyline of The Long Walk is memorable.

When my son saw The Hunger Games, he was telling me about it and I instantly recognised the plot, as that of The Long Walk.

There has been some discussion about this on the internet, what amazes me is this:

Has there been any definitive acknowledgement from either author of the similarities between these stories, has there been some kind of settlement or contractual agreement allowing the use of such a similar and unique storyline, or am I just thinking they are alike and Stephen King is not?

  • I am not sure if this is ontopic for this site, but I figure there would be people who would know the answer knowing Stack Exchange – user62892 Nov 30 '13 at 11:31
  • This is interesting; tadleckman.wordpress.com/2011/09/02/… – user62892 Nov 30 '13 at 12:56
  • I agree there are some interesting similarities. However, I thought there might be one important difference. Though it has been a long time since I read the Long Walk, I believe I am recalling correctly that the participants had the option to backout up to a certain point if their name was drawn correct? – beichst Nov 30 '13 at 20:39
  • @bei good question. I can't remember. I read it over 20 years ago. – user62892 Nov 30 '13 at 23:04
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There are many dystopian novels that feature elements similar to both 'The Hunger Games' and 'The Long Walk' (see the helpful link provided by Skippy in her comment under the question).

According to the Wikipedia article on The Hunger Games -

Collins has said that the inspiration for The Hunger Games came from channel surfing on television. On one channel she observed people competing on a reality show and on another she saw footage of the invasion of Iraq. The two "began to blur in this very unsettling way" and the idea for the book was formed. The Greek myth of Theseus served as a major basis for the story, with Collins describing Katniss as a futuristic Theseus, and Roman gladiatorial games provided the framework. The sense of loss that Collins developed through her father's service in the Vietnam War was also an influence on the story, with Katniss having lost her father at age 11, five years before the story begins.

The footnote indicates that information was obtained in an interview with Suzanne Collins in late 2008.

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  • Yeh thanks, I have not been able to find out definitively what Stephen King's stance is on the topic, but I think this is a good answer, good quote, it explains the author's thinking and defines a difference. cheers ps I would have loved to have stolen the diagram from the link for here - didn't think it was a good idea :) – user62892 Nov 30 '13 at 13:22
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Most such stories trace back to historical events, namely the Gladiators of Rome. It was a fairly common practice to allow essentially death row inmates to fight to the death, with the survivor being allowed to go free.

In fact, in this extensive analysis on the subject of comparing Gladiators to Hunger Games. I won't quote it all, but there's quite a bit of evidence, such as this:

But the Hunger Games, like the Roman gladiatorial fights of old, are also meant as entertainment, the ultimate reality programming.

The bottom line is, all such stories are loosely based off of history, and thus they have a common ancestor. But while there does seem to be some similarities with The Long Walk and Hunger games, they stop at being based off of this single historical act.

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  • Yes I am realising this, as I have done more investigating. Very much like the days of the gladiators, seems so obvious now that you point it out. ty +1 – user62892 Nov 30 '13 at 13:27

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