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Richard Bachman

Updated on August 12, 2014

Books by Richard Bachman

This lens is dedicated to the Bachman Books, written by Stephen King under the penname of Richard Bachman. The first four are often sold together as a collection simply titled "The Bachman Books." The photo is not of King, but is the fake author's photo provided for Thinner. The original paperback versions of Richard Bachman's early books are valuable now and widely sought by book hounds. The first four were re-released in a very popular collection in the 1990s that rekindled interest in these sharp early works. Among many horror and dystopian science fiction fans, the early Bachman books remain some of the favorites written by Stephen King.

The Official Biography of Richard Bachman

From Stephen King himself.

Born in New York, Richard Bachman's early years are somewhat of a mystery.

As a young man Bachman served a four-year stint in the Coast Guard, which he then followed with ten years in the merchant marine.

Bachman finally settled down in rural central New Hampshire, where he ran a medium-sized dairy farm. He did his writing at night (he suffered from chronic insomnia), after the cows came home.

Bachman and his wife, Claudia Inez Bachman, had one child, a boy, who died in an unfortunate, Stephen King-ish type accident at the age of six. He apparently fell through a well and drowned.

In 1982, a brain tumor was discovered near the base of Bachman's brain; tricky surgery removed it.

Bachman died suddenly in late 1985, of cancer of the pseudonym, a rare form of schizonomia.

At the time of his death, Bachman had published five novels:

Rage - 1977

The Long Walk - 1979

Roadwork - 1981

The Running Man - 1982

Thinner - 1984

The first four novels were published as paperbacks, but as Bachman had been gaining quite a constant readership his last novel, Thinner, was published in hardcover and was well received by the critics.

At the time of his death, he was toying with an idea for a new novel, a rather gruesome suspense novel which would have been titled Misery, had he lived to write it. (Note: This title was later plagiarized by a well-known horror writer.)

Bachman fans received a bit of good news recently. In 1994, while preparing to move to a new house, the widow Bachman discovered a cardboard carton filled with manuscripts in the cellar. The carton contained a number of novels and stories, in varying degrees of completion. The most finished was a typescript of a novel entitled, The Regulators.

The widow took the manuscript to Bachman's former editor, Charles Verrill, who found it compared well with Bachman's earlier works. After only a few minor changes, and with the approval of the author's widow (now Claudia Eschelman), The Regulators will be published posthumorously in September of 1996 by Dutton.

As of this time, no other information has been forthcoming as to the possibility of the remaining unpublished cartonworks being published.

As a brief side note, Charles Verrill also happens to edit the works of Stephen King, a writer whose works have been compared to the late Richard Bachman's. When asked his opinion of Bachman, King replied, "A nasty man....I'm glad that he's dead."

Richard Bachman - The Man and the Legend

The story behind Stephen King's alter ego, and his ousting

At the beginning of Stephen King's career there was a fad perception among many of the big publishers that an author should only publish a single book a year. Stephen King was an extremely prolific writer, and didn't want to be pigeon-holed.

King argued with his publisher, and finally convinced them to allow him to write under a penname, allowing him to publish one book a year as Stephen King and one as Richard Bachman.

King chose "Richard Bachman," in tribute to crime author Donald E. Westlake's long-running pseudonym Richard Stark, and his favorite band of the time: Bachman Turner Overdrive. The name Stark was used in King's novel The Dark Half, a novel about an author with a pseudonym.

King dedicated Bachman's early books to people close to him, and worked in obscure references to his own identity.

These clues, as well as the similarity between the two authors' literary styles, aroused suspicions.

King steadfastly denied any connection to Bachman and, to throw fans off the trail, dedicated Bachman's 1984 novel Thinner to Claudia Inez Bachman, Bachman's wife.

There was also a phony author photo of Bachman on the dustjacket. He also has one of the characters describe how the strange happenings are like "something out of a Stephen King novel."

Thinner was Bachman's first title to be published in hardback. It sold 28,000 copies before it became widely known that the author was really Stephen King, whereupon sales went up tenfold.

The link became undeniable when a persistent bookstore clerk located the publisher's records at the Library of Congress naming King as the author of a Bachman novel.

This led to the press release annoucning Bachman's death - from "cancer of the pseudonym, a rare form of schizonomia." At the time of the announcement in 1985, King was working on the highly successful novel Misery, which he had planned to release as a Bachman book.

After Bachman's Death

Two novels were found after Richard Bachman's death

Posthumous Bachman Releases:

In 1996, Bachman's The Regulators came out, with the publishers claiming the manuscript was found among Bachman's leftover papers by his widow.

Around the same time of The Regulators release, King said that there might yet be another Bachman novel left to be "found."

That "found" book turned out to be Blaze, released in the summer of 2007. While it is certainly possible more books will be found, there has been no further indication that there will be more to follow.

The full relationship between Stephen King and Richard Bachman is outlined in an introduction essay that was included with The Bachman Books, titled "Why I Was Bachman."

Rage by Richard Bachman

The controversial book that King himself has demanded go out of print

After the Columbine High School massacre, King announced that he would allow Rage to go out of print, fearing that it might inspire similar tragedies.

This fear has haunted King since one time when it appeared a school shooting was inspired by the book. King wrote specifically of this in the introduction to The Bachman Books, putting in clear words "If you're even thinking about this, don't be an asshole. Pick up a pen and write."

Bachman's other novels are now available in separate volumes, although Rage is available in The Bachman Books, which is still in print in the United Kingdom, but not in the United States.

This was a popular but controversial book, written at a time where school shootings were not as sadly common as they are now.

Rage - Out of Print, but Still Available

The Bachman Books: Four Early Novels by Richard Bachman, author of The Regulators
The Bachman Books: Four Early Novels by Richard Bachman, author of The Regulators

This book has been discontinued by the author, but it's still available in "The Bachman Books" collection.

 

The Long Walk by Richard Bachman

The Long Walk is an incredible psychological novel, one of King's/Bachman's best.

The Long Walk is a dystopian science fiction novel set in the near future. The story centers on and around the contestants of a walking contest that is held once a year by a vaguely totalitarian version of the United States.

One hundred teenage boys picked from a large pool of applications participate in "The Long Walk" which is televised and is the biggest event of the year in this military state. The prize for the winner is anything they want. Anything other than first place means death.

Everyh Walker must maintain a constant speed of at least four miles per hour, or he receives a warning. Warnings are also given for attacking other walkers or getting off the approved course. A fourth warning means death, but a Walker can lose a warning for every hour that goes by without a warning.

The executions are done by soldiers who march along with the Walkers, and also have armored vehicles to make sure no one escapes. The event is run by "The Major," a character who seems to be the head of whatever military despotic government is left in what was the United States.

There are no stops, rest periods, or established finish line during a Long Walk, which ends when only one Walker remains. The march starts at the Maine/Canada border and heads south, often times making it through more than one state.

The winner receives "The Prize" - anything he wants for the rest of his life. Bachman takes special pains to note that many (possibly most, or even all) winners of The Long Walk have died soon after the walk due to the incredible trauma.

The protagonist of the novel is Ray Garraty, a 16-year-old boy. He is followed as he talks to the other walkers, and a strong sense of the psychological takes over in this novel as the characters are all set against each other and the inevitable spectre of death.

The Long Walk: A Dystopian Classic

One of Richard Bachman's finest works.

The Long Walk
The Long Walk

This Richard Bachman novel is one of the finest that Stephen King has ever written, and is character driven dystopian science fiction at its best.

 

Roadwork by Richard Bachman

Roadwork is a modern version of the tragic Western anti-hero!

Roadwork is a story that takes place in an unnamed city in the 1970s. Barton George Dawes, a nearly broken man grieving over the death of his son and the falling apart of his marriage, is pushed off the deep end when he finds that both his home and his business will be condemned and demolished to make way for a new highway.

The novel starts with a news interview where Barton gives his scathing opinion of the extension to the highway. Barton then begins, almost unconciously, to prepare his road to an armed stand off under the vague thought of preparing to defend himself.

He is willing to go this far because he ties all good memories of his dead son to the house and refuses to separate the two. His wife leaves him when he refuses to sell the house, and he quits his job after his grief causes him to make terrible decisions.

Barton purchases explosives and firearms, and begins his defense by launching an attack on the construction equipment that will be used to destroy his house, using Molotov cocktails.

When the police come to remove Barton from the house, he fires on them with a hunting rifle, damaging a police car and attracting the attention of the media.

Barton eventually agrees to leave the house after a reporter is allowed to enter the house and speak to him. After the reporter leaves, Barton tosses out his guns and sets off explosives he has bought, destroying the house with him inside it.

Stephen King stated in an introduction to the new Bachman Books that although he was originally disappointed in Roadwwork, as time went on it became his favorite of the early Bachman books.

Roadwork from Amazon

Roadwork, A Novel of the First Energy Crisis
Roadwork, A Novel of the First Energy Crisis

Roadwork - an underrated dystopian novel that seems even scarier now that Wal-Mart can use eminent domain...

 

The Running Man by Richard Bachman

The Running Man is top notch dystopian science fiction!

The Running Man (1982) is a great dystopian science fiction novel written under the pseudonym Richard Bachman. The novel is about a man who competes in a deadly game show to earn much needed money and medical care for his family.

The protagonist, Ben Richards, needs money to get medicine for his gravely ill daughter Cathy. Richards can't afford the money, and is broken up about his wife turning to prostitution in a desperate and hopeless attempt to pay the bills.

Richards turns to the "Games Federation," which runs several violent TV game shows seen on the Network. Contestants win money by surviving challenges such as "Treadmill to Bucks," where a person with a heart or respiratory condition runs on a treadmill, or "Swim with the Crocodiles."

After rigorous testing, both physical and mental, Richards is selected for the most deadly and popular game: "The Running Man."

Richards will be deemed an enemy of the state and then released with a twelve hour head start before an elite group of "Hunters" set out to kill him.

The contestant earns $100 per hour they remain alive, an additional $100 for each law enforcement officer or Hunter he kills, and $1 billion if he should survive for 30 days. The current record when the game starts is eight days and five hours.

To stack the deck against the fugitives, "The Network" pays civilians for confirmed sightings of the fugitive.

The runner is given $4,800 cash before he leaves the studio. He can go anywhere in the world, and each day he must send two videotape messages and courier them to the TV show. Without a videotaped message, he defaults the prize money but the Hunters will continue their search.

Despite the producer's claims to the contrary, as soon as the Network receives a videotaped message, the Hunters immediately know from the postmark the runner's approximate location. When the runner is caught, he is killed live on TV.

Richards eludes the Hunters long enough to break the previous survival record, first traveling through New York to Boston. In Boston, he is tracked down by the Hunters and only manages to escape by setting off a fire in the basement of a YMCA that kills five police officers before he escapes through a sewer pipe.

Next he hides in the impoverished Boston ghetto, where he learns that the air is polluted on a massive scale, and that the poor live in appalling almost post apocalyptic conditions. The Network serves as a propaganda machine to keep them from open revolt against the government.

Richards continues to travel, using a variety of ingenious disguises and he figures out how to throw off the hunters by having his tapes sent through a re-mailing service so they can't hunt him down directly.

The novel progresses as the realization of how the show works fully dawns on him, and the ending is one of the best in any Richard Bachman or Stephen King work.

Great Stuff on Amazon

The Running Man
The Running Man

The book is much much better than the movie. So much so, in fact, that I think someone could make a lot of money if they remade this film to follow the book more closely.

 

Running Man Video - Movie loosely based on Richard Bachman's book

The movie wasn't bad - but the book is still much better. Both are worth owning.

Thinner by Richard Bachman

The last book released before Bachman's "death."

Thinner was the only original Bachman book to appear in harcover, and was the last published before Richard Bachman was revealed to be Stephen King's pen name.

Set in 1980s New England, the novel focusses on an obese lawyer named William "Billy" Halleck, who fought a court case where he was charged for vehicular manslaughter after he ran over an old woman who was part of a group of traveling Gypsies.

Halleck is acquitted thanks to the judge, who happens to be a close friend of Billy's. As Halleck leaves the courthouse where he was tried in his affluent Connecticut town, the old woman's ancient father whispers only one one word: "Thinner." The word turns out to be a curse.

From this point on, Halleck slowly loses weight, losing what seems a mere two pounds a day. The loss becomes more and more rapid as he realizes the Gypsy man has cursed him. He also learns that his buddy the judge was also cursed, causing scales to grow over all his skin.

A starving and desperate Halleck tracks the Gypsy band north to Maine, where the stage is set for a confrontation between him and the Gypsy leader.

Grab a copy of the only original Bachman book to appear in hardcover!

The original is in hardcover, though there have been several paperback reprints since.

Thinner (Signet)
Thinner (Signet)

An intriguing old style horror novel from the master of horror.

 

The Regulators by Richard Bachman

Released the same time as Stephen King's "Desperation"

The Regulators was a book by Richard Bachman published in 1996, at the same time as its "mirror" novel, Desperation. The two novels are supposed to represent parallel universes relative to one another, and most of the characters present in one novel's world also exist in the other novel's reality, although in different circumstances.

On the book's dust jacket, and in a tongue-in-cheek introduction by the book's editor, it was revealed that this 1996 work was written by Bachman years earlier, but the manuscript was only recently discovered by his widow, who found it in a trunk.

This story takes place in the fictional town of Wentworth, Ohio. On Poplar Street, an autistic boy named Seth has gained the power to control reality through the help of a being he knows as Tak.

It's not long before Poplar Street begins to change shape, the very reality changing as it transforms into a "Wild West" caricature based on what Seth has seen on his television.

Meanwhile, the other residents of the street are being attacked by the many beings that Seth's imagination is creating, due to Tak's control over them.

These residents are forced to work together to stop Seth and Tak from completely transforming the world around them into some unrecognizable monstrosity, and to stop Tak before he kills anyone else.

The Regulators was released simultaneously with Desperation (published by King under his own name). The two novels share many similarities, most notable the cast of characters which grace both books.

The original hardcover novels (Desperation & The Regulators) had cover artwork by Mark Ryden that formed one continuous image when the two books were placed side by side.

Find A Copy of "The Regulators" Here

This goes hand in hand with Stephen King's "Desperation," so reading the two in tandem can be an interesting experience.

The Regulators
The Regulators

The first Bachman book released after his recorded death.

 
Desperation
Desperation

The Stephen King novel that goes hand in hand with Richard Bachman, who more than once accused King of plagirizing him.

 
Desperation and The Regulators
Desperation and The Regulators

The two books go hand in hand, and this is a great way to get the best of both!

 

Blaze by Richard Bachman

The most recent, and maybe last, discovered manuscript of Richard Bachman.

Blaze was published in 2007 as a Bachman book that was "found" in an attic by Stephen King. Richard Bachman is, of course, a pen name that was used by King early in his career.

In fact the original manuscript of Blaze was written before Carrie, and King offered the original draft of the novel to his Doubleday publishers at the same time as "Salem's Lot." They chose the latter to be his second novel and Blaze became a "Trunk Novel."

King re-wrote the manuscript, editing out much of what he perceived as over-sentimentality in the original text, and offered the book for publication in 2007 as a Bachman book.

The novel follows Clayton Blaisdell (known as "Blaze" for short), a mentally challenged small-time con artist who kidnaps a millionaire's infant child. This is with the hopes of fulfilling the dreams of George, Blaze's deceased best friend and partner in crime.

The chapters alternate between Blaze's past and his current caper, in which he imagines that he is still guided by his friend, George. Despite the helpfulness of George's advice, Blaze's world begins to crumble during his kidnapping venture, especially as he bonds with the baby.

If you want an example of great early writing that can teach you how to write plot and pacing, then please feel free to visit my site on How to Become a Writer.

Blaze, Posthumously Published for Richard Bachman

Blaze: A Novel
Blaze: A Novel

The newest masterpiece by the long deceased Richard Bachman...how will it compare to the Bachman Books of Old?

 

Debate About the "True" Bachman Books

Old Bachman Books: The Long Walk, Rage, The Running Man, and Road Work

Bachman Book in Purgatory: Thinner

New Bachman Books: The Regulators, Blaze

What do you think of the new Bachman books?

They are fantastic gifts, like manna from heaven!

They are fantastic gifts, like manna from heaven!

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    • anonymous 8 years ago

      its kickass

    • anonymous 8 years ago

      i first came across bachman in the late 80's in school.about ten years later found out it was stephan kings pen name and pieced together why they seamed familier.so no matter who writes them i will still enjoy stephan king books.

    Blasphemy! The original Bachman Books are completely different and much better!

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      • EshanMonteath 8 years ago

        The originals were generally great. Not a huge fan of "Thinner," but it cleans up on The Regulators without question.

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      Richard Bachman from eBay

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      Richard Bachman and Stephen King Fans - Leave Me Your Comments!

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          DanishReader 3 years ago

          Does anyone know where The Official Biography of Richard Bachman first appeared? And when? Was it an online exclusive or did it appear first in a newsletter or something? Any help would be much appreciated.

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          anonymous 4 years ago

          Who is the person on the photo of thinner? That is the person I meet.

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          Shain73 5 years ago

          I must read Blaze. I have read all the other Bachman books and like all of king they are entertaining and enjoyable to read.

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          anonymous 6 years ago

          Good job on the lens.

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          anonymous 8 years ago

          im a big fan of stephen king read alot of his books fav. one is the dark half why because i also had a twin brother who died at birth sometimes not to sound crazy or nothing but i think hes watching over me like helping me get through in life. whichis the complete opp. of the book any way my mom got this book called the regulators and i just started reading it at the same time my fiancae got deperation i like how it has the same characters in them.I give this book a ***** stars all the way