The book is set in a future America that's ruled by a totalitarian government. Once a year the nation holds a grueling contest in which 100 male teenagers must literally walk until they die, with the last remaining contestant deemed the winner and bestowed a great prize: anything he wants for the rest of his life (shades of The Hunger Games, only penned 40 years earlier).
The walkers cannot stop and must maintain a speed of at least four miles an hour -- if they dip below that, they are given a warning by the soldiers monitoring the walk. If you slow down again after three warnings, you are shot dead. Walkers also cannot leave the road, attack the soldiers or each other, and they can only receive food and water from the soldiers. Help from the people watching along the route is not permitted.
Although King had already published six novels by the time The Long Walk saw print (including a previous one, Rage, under the Bachman name), it's actually the first novel he ever wrote: He started it during his freshman year at college in 1966.
It's also a rare foray into genres he's only occasionally dipped into: sci-fi (or in this case, speculative fiction) and what we refer to nowadays as the young adult or Y/A genre.
New Line has commissioned a script from James Vanderbilt (The Amazing Spider-Man), who has apparently been working with one of the producers, Bradley Fischer, to make The Long Walk for more than a decade. But one thing stood in their way: Frank Darabont, who wanted for a long time to add The Long Walk to his own personal resume of King adaptations that includes The Shawshank Redemption, The Green Mile, and The Mist.
But Darabont never got this one off the ground, and when the rights became free again, Vanderbilt, Mischer, and New Line seized the opportunity.
Now Vanderbilt will write a fresh screenplay as we await news on a director and cast, but it seems like The Long Walk will join the list of upcoming King film and TV adaptations that includes Pet Sematary, The Tommyknockers, The Talisman, Revival, Castle Rock, and others in development in the wake of It's astonishing success.
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