The Prize of Peril

Prix du Danger

The Prize of Peril is a science fiction short-story by Robert Sheckley, written in 1958 and first published in the collection ‘Store of Infinity’ in 1960 by Bantam Books. The short story is noted for its plot’s anticipation of Reality television shows such as Survivor and Fear Factor by several decades. The screenplay for the fake German reality show ‘Das Millionenspiel’ (‘The Million Game’) was based on the story, as was the French film version of ‘Das Millionenspiel,’ ‘Le prix du danger.’ The protagonist of the story is Jim Raeder, a man only notable due to his normality, who has been a participant in many reality television-shows (given the name ‘thrill shows’) and thus become a celebrity.

In all the shows the risk of dying has been a part of the concept; he has fought a real bull in Spain, he has driven a Formula 1-car, and fought with other divers while trying to escape sharks and other sea monsters. In the story he partakes in the greatest of all reality shows; he is to be hunted by professional gangland murderers. As he is hunted, his journey is shown all over the US on TV and he receives help from the viewers; the so called Good Samaritans and the commentator, Mike Terry, makes a point of this during the show: ‘All of America is ready to help Jim!,’ but Raeder soon finds out that things are not what he expected them to be and that maybe his survival is not the main priority among the public. The story ends with Raeder winning The Prize of Peril, but being dragged away after presumably having a mental breakdown, not being ‘himself’ at the moment according to Terry.


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