Radio Run: Eddie Generous
Reviewed by Ben Walker
Depending on who you ask, the future is either so bright you gotta wear shades, or it’s a giant misery hole teeming with things that suck. Eddie Generous’ Radio Run takes the latter viewpoint as it follows a group of criminals, given one chance at freedom by navigating a radioactive, monster-filled stretch of America.
This is a delirious nightmare, a three-way collision between The Running Man, The Mist and the Fallout games. The titular Radio Run is a contest, broadcast across a partly ruined USA for the benefit of its dedicated audience, many of whom like to gamble on the outcome. It bears a few similarities to the original Bachman Running Man and the Schwarzenegger movie, down to the sleazy host and the contestants who are not all criminals. Unlike the movie, those forced to run hog the narrative spotlight, with a few brief glimpses at the commentary provided by the show’s cruel hosts.
Among the runners are a couple of innocent women, along with a bunch of real criminals. As the reality of their reality TV predicament sets in, despite the contestants being familiar with the messed-up survival show, their true natures bubble to the surface. Everyone wants freedom but not everyone deserves it, and as the group dynamics deepen, you’ll find yourself taking sides against the increasingly creepy bad elements. A trio of religious fanatics bring Mrs Carmody in The Mist to mind, especially when it comes to their leader’s constant preaching, along with the reader’s hope that they get stung to death by something nasty.
As well-realised ans engaging as the characters are, they’re often drowned out by the hugely imaginative and terrifying creatures occupying the wastelands. Giant birds peck open skulls like they’re shelling nuts, tentacles and tendrils pop out of many troubling places, and of course, there’s the sasquatch from that awesome cover. Generous gives each monster enough description to make you fear them, and uses them inventively enough to make you really fear them. And there are tons of them, giving each chapter a fresh threat and lending the book a genuine sense of surprise the whole way through.
As for that Fallout comparison, it’s in the little details – the constant popping of pills to prevent radiation poisoning, the dirty water, the mutants, scavenging for parts and food, robotic police and so on. There’s even a mute character who likes to get violent, who’s more or less controlled by one of the others. And as for the ending, well, you’ll probably choose one path only for the narrative to steer you in another direction, but it’s a heartbreakingly great one nonetheless.
While there’s a lot that’s familiar in this pacy, entertaining novel, there’s nothing that feels derivative. The pacing stutters at times during the opening third, but by then you’re well in with the characters and their predicament, and it’s easy to sit back and wait for the next killer setpiece, of which there are many.
Place your bets on who will survive, and “get ready for a surprise!” No, wait, that’s Total Recall. I mean “now that hit the spot!”
Eight criminals face a terrifying fight for survival as they try to make it to Alaska and freedom. Making it from A to be B is long and the elements are difficult as it is, but significantly multiplied by the cryptids that stand in their way. Giant bugs, mega whales, and huge Sasquatch are all hungry for their flesh. Survival is the name of the game, but the hostile North American wastelands might not play fair.
Ben Walker is a British reviewer/writer who had his tiny mind ruined by an illicit viewing of John Carpenter’s The Thing when he was a young lad, and his mind is still pretty tiny and ruined now. His past review credits include reviews & interviews on the sadly defunct UK Horror Scene website. Nowadays you can find him on YouTube talking about the weird books & movies that tickle his fancy.
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