Roller Ball Murder

by William Harrison

The game, the game: here we go again. All glory to it, all things I am and own are because of Roller Ball Murder.
       Our team stands in a row, twenty of us in salute as the corporation hymn is played by the band. We view the hardwood oval track which offers us the rewards of mayhem: fifty yards long, thirty yards across the ends, high-banked, and at the top of the walls the cannons which fire those frenzied twenty-pound balls—similar to bowling balls, made of ebonite—at velocities over 300 miles an hour. The balls careen around the track, eventually slowing and falling with diminishing centrifugal force, and as they go to ground or strike a player, another volley fires. Here we are, our team: ten roller skaters, five motorbike riders, five runners (or clubbers). As the hymn plays, we stand erect and tough; eighty thousand sit watching in the stands and another two billion viewers around the world inspect the set of our jaws on multi-vision.
       The runners, those bastards, slip into their heavy leather gloves and shoulder their lacrosse-like paddles—with which they either catch the whizzing balls or bash the rest of us. The bikers ride high on the walls (beware, mates, that’s where the cannon shots are too hot to handle) and swoop down to help the runners at opportune times. The skaters, those of us with the juice for it, protest: we clog the way, try to keep the runners from passing us and scoring points, and become the fodder in the brawl. So two teams of us, forty in all, go skating and running and biking around the track while the big balls are fired in the same direction as we move—always coming in from behind to scatter and maim us—and the object of the game, as if you didn’t know, is for the runners to pass all skaters on the opposing team, field a ball, and pass it to a biker for one point. Bikers, by the way, may give the runners a lift—in which case those of us on skates have our hands full overturning 175-cc motorbikes.
       No rest periods, no substitute players. If you lose a man, your team plays short.
       Today I turn my best side to the cameras. I’m Jonathan E, none other, and nobody passes me on the track. I’m the core of the Houston team and for the two hours of play—no rules, no penalties once that first cannon fires—I’ll level any bastard runner who raises a paddle at me.
       We move: immediately there are pileups—bikes, skaters, referees, runners, all tangled and punching and scrambling when one of the balls zooms around the corner and belts us. I pick up momentum and heave an opposing skater into the infield at center ring; I’m brute speed today, driving, pushing up on the track, dodging a ball, hurtling downward beyond those bastard runners. Two runners do hand-to-hand combat and one gets his helmet knocked off in a blow which tears away half his face; the victor stands there too long admiring his work and gets wiped out by a biker who swoops down and flattens him. The crowd screams and I know the cameramen have it on an isolated shot and that viewers in Melbourne, Berlin, Rio and L.A. are heaving with excitement in their easy chairs.
       When an hour is gone I’m still wheeling along, though we have four team members out with broken parts, one rookie maybe dead, two bikes demolished. The other team, good old London, is worse off.
       One of their motorbikes roars out of control, takes a hit from one of the balls, and bursts into flame. Wild cheering.
       Cruising up next to their famous Jackie Magee, I time my punch. He turns in my direction, exposes the ugly snarl inside his helmet, and I take him out of action. In that tiniest instant, I feel his teeth and bone give way and the crowd screams approval. We have them now, we really have them, we do, and the score ends 7-2.

The years pass and the rules alter—always in favor of greater crowd-pleasing carnage. I’ve been at this more than fifteen years, amazing, with only broken arms and collarbones to slow me down, and I’m not as spry as ever, but meaner—and no rookie, no matter how much in shape, can learn this slaughter unless he comes out and takes me on in the real thing.
       But the rules: I hear of games in Manila, now, or in Barcelona, with no time limits, men bashing each other until there are no runners left, no way of scoring points. That’s the coming thing. I hear of Roller Ball Murder played with mixed teams, men and women, wearing tear-away jerseys which add a little tit to the action. Everything will happen. They’ll change the rules till we skate on a slick of blood. We all know that.

Before this century began, before the Great Asian war of the 1990’s, before the corporations replaced nationalism and the corporate police forces supplanted the world’s armies, in the last days of American football and the World Cup in Europe, I was a tough young rookie who knew all the rewards of this game. Women: I had them all—even, pity, a good marriage once. I had so much money after my first trophies that I could buy houses and land and lakes beyond the huge cities where only the executive class were allowed. My photo, then, as now, was on the covers of magazines, so that my name and the name of the sport were one, and I was Jonathan E, no other, a survivor and much more in the bloodiest sport.
       At the beginning I played for Oil Conglomerates. Then those corporations became known as ENERGY. I’ve always played for the team here in Houston; they’ve given me everything.
       “How’re you feeling?” Mr. Bartholemew asks me. He’s the head of ENERGY, one of the most powerful men in the world, and he talks to me like I’m his son.
       “Feeling mean,” I answer, so that he smiles.
       He tells me they want to do a special on multi-vision about my career, lots of shots on the side screens showing my greatest plays, and the story of my life, how ENERGY takes in such orphans, gives them work and protection, and makes careers possible.
       “Really feel mean, eh?” Mr. Bartholemew asks again, and I answer the same, not telling him all that’s inside me because he would possibly misunderstand; not telling him that I’m tired of the long season, that I’m lonely and miss my wife, that I yearn for high, lost, important thoughts, and that maybe, just maybe, I’ve got a deep rupture in the soul.

An old buddy, Jim Cletus, comes by the ranch for the weekend. Mackie, my present girl, takes our dinners out of the freezer and turns the rays on them; not so domestic, that Mackie, but she has enormous breasts and a waist smaller than my thigh.
       Cletus works as a judge now. At every game there are two referees—clowns, whose job it is to see nothing’s amiss—and the judge who records the points scored. Cletus is also on the International Rules Committee and tells me they are still considering several changes.
       “A penalty for being lapped by your own team, for one thing,” he tells me. “A damned simple penalty, too: they’ll take off your helmet.”
       Mackie, bless her bosom, makes an O with her lips.
       Cletus, once a runner for Toronto, fills up my oversized furniture and rests his hands on his bad knees.
       “What else?” I ask him. “Or can you tell me?”
       “Oh, just financial things. More bonuses for superior attacks. Bigger bonuses for being named World All-Star—which ought to be good news for you again. And talk of reducing the two-month off-season. The viewers want more.”
       After dinner Cletus walks around the ranch with me. He asks if there’s anything I want.
       “Something, but I don’t know what,” I tell him truthfully.
       “Something’s on your mind,” he says, watching my profile as we trudge up the path of a hillside. The Texas countryside stretches before us. Pavilions of clouds.
       “Did you ever think about death in your playing days?” I ask, knowing I’m a bit pensive for old Clete.
       “Never in the game itself,” he answers proudly. “Off the track I never thought about anything else.”
       We pause and take a good long look at the horizon.
       “There’s another thing going in the Rules Committee,” he finally admits. “They’re considering dropping the time limit—at least, god help us, Johnny, the suggestion has come up officially.”
       I like a place with rolling hills. Another of my houses is near Lyon in France, the hills similar to these although more lush, and I take my evening strolls there over an ancient battleground. The cities are so uninhabitable one has to have a business passport to enter such immensities as New York.
       “Naturally I’m holding out for the time limit,” Cletus goes on. “I’ve played, so I know a man’s limits. Sometimes in that committee, Johnny, I feel pretty clumsy, sitting there and insisting there should still be a few rules.”

The statistical nuances of Roller Ball Murder entertain the multitudes as much as any other aspect of the game. The greatest number of points scored in a single game: 81. The highest velocity of a ball when actually caught by a runner: 176 m.p.h. Highest number of players put out of action in a single game by a single skater: 13, world’s record by yours truly. Most deaths in a single contest: 9, Rome vs. Chicago, December 4, 2012.
       The giant lighted boards circling above the track monitor our pace, record each fact of the slaughter, and we have millions of fans—strange, it always seemed to me—who never look directly at the action, but just study those statistics.
       A multi-vision survey established this.

Before going to the stadium in Paris for our evening game, I stroll under the archways and along the Seine.
       Some of the French fans call to me, waving and talking to my bodyguards as well, so I become oddly conscious of myself, conscious of my size and clothes and the way I walk. A curious moment.
       I’m six foot three inches and weigh 255 pounds. My neck is eighteen and a half inches. Fingers like a pianist. I wear my conservative pinstriped jump suit and the famous flat Spanish hat. I am thirty-four years old now, and when I grow old, I think, I’ll look a lot like the poet Robert Graves.

The most powerful men in the world are the executives. They run the major corporations which fix prices, wages, and the general economy, and we all know they’re crooked, that they have almost unlimited power and money, but I have considerable power and money myself and I’m still anxious.
       What can I possibly want, I ask myself, except, possibly, more knowledge?
       I consider recent history—which is virtually all anyone remembers—and how the corporate wars ended, so that we settled into the Six Majors: ENERGY, TRANSPORT, FOOD, HOUSING, SERVICES and LUXURY. Sometimes I forget who runs what—for instance, now that the universities are operated by the Majors (and provide the farm system for Roller Ball Murder), which Major runs the universities? SERVICES or LUXURY? Music is one of our biggest industries, but I can’t remember who administers it. Narcotic research is now under FOOD, I know, though it used to be under LUXURY.
       Anyway, I think I’ll ask Mr. Bartholemew about knowledge. He’s a man with a big view of the world, with values, with memory. My team flings itself into the void while his team harnesses the sun, taps the sea, finds new alloys, and is clearly just a hell of a lot more serious.

The Mexico City game has a new wrinkle: they’ve changed the shape of the ball on us.
       Cletus didn’t even warn me—perhaps he couldn’t—but here we are playing with a ball not quite round, its center of gravity altered, so that it rumbles around the track in irregular patterns.
       This particular game is bad enough because the bikers down here are getting wise to me; for years, since my reputation was established, bikers have always tried to take me out of a game early. But early in the game I’m wary and strong and I’ll always gladly take on a biker—even since they put shields on the motorbikes so that we can’t grab the handlebars. Now, though, these bastards know I’m getting older—still mean, but slowing down, as the sports pages say about me—so they let me bash it out with the skaters and runners for as long as possible before sending the bikers after me. Knock out Jonathan E, they say, and you’ve beaten Houston; and that’s right enough, but they haven’t done it yet.
       The fans down here, all low-class FOOD workers mostly, boil over as I manage to keep my cool—and the oblong ball, zigzagging around at lurching speeds, hopping two feet off the track at times, knocks out virtually their whole team. Finally, some of us catch their last runner/clubber and beat him to a pulp, so that’s it: no runners, no points. Those dumb FOOD workers file out of the stadium while we show off and rack up a few fancy and uncontested points. The score: 37-4. I feel wonderful, like brute speed, but, sure, the oblong ball is a worry.

Mackie is gone—her mouth no longer makes an O around my villa or ranch—and in her place is the new one, Daphne. My Daphne is tall and English and likes photos—always wants to pose for me. Sometimes we get out our boxes of old pictures (mine as a player, mostly, and hers as a model) and look at ourselves.
       “Look at the muscles in your back!” Daphne says in amazement as she studies a shot of me at the California beach—and it’s as though she never before noticed.
       After the photos, I stroll out beyond the garden. The brown waving grass of the fields reminds me of Ella, my only wife, and of her soft long hair which made a tent over my face when we kissed.

I lecture to the ENERGY-sponsored rookie camp and tell them they can’t possibly comprehend anything until they’re out on the track getting belted.
       My talk tonight concerns how to stop a biker who wants to run you down. “You can throw a shoulder right into the shield,” I begin. “And that way it’s you or him.”
       The boys look at me as though I’m crazy.
       “Or you can hit the deck, cover yourself, tense up, and let the bastard flip over your body,” I go on, counting on my fingers for them and doing my best not to laugh. “Or you can feint, sidestep uphill, and kick him off the track—which takes some practice and timing.”
       None of them know what to say. We’re sitting in the infield grass, the track lighted, the stands empty, and their faces are filled with stupid awe. “Or if a biker comes at you with good speed and balance,” I continue, “then let the bastard by—even if he carries a runner. That runner, remember, has to dismount and field one of the new odd balls, which isn’t easy—and you can usually catch up.”
       The rookies get a studious look on their faces when a biker bears down on me in the demonstration period.
       Brute speed. I jump to one side, dodge the shield, grab the arm and separate the bastard from his machine in one movement. The bike skids away. The biker’s shoulder is out of socket.
       “Oh yeah,” I say, getting back to my feet. “I forgot about that move.”

Toward mid-season when I see Mr. Bartholemew again, he has been deposed as the chief executive at ENERGY. He is still very important, but lacks some of the old certainty; his mood is reflective, so that I decide to take this opportunity to talk about what’s bothering me.
       We lunch in Houston Tower, and there’s a nice Beef Wellington, a good Burgundy. Daphne sits there like a stone, probably imagining she’s in a movie.
       “Knowledge, ah, I see,” Mr. Bartholemew replies in response to my topic. “What’re you interested in, Jonathan? History? The arts?”
       “Can I be personal with you?”
       “Sure, naturally,” he answers uneasily, and although Mr. Bartholemew isn’t especially one to inspire confession, I decide to blunder along.
       “I began in the university,” I remind him. “That was—let’s see—more than seventeen years ago. In those days we still had books and I read some, quite a few, because I thought I might make an executive.”
       “Jonathan, believe me, I can guess what you’re going to say,” Mr. Bartholemew sighs, sipping the Burgundy and glancing at Daphne. “I’m one of the few with real regrets about what happened to the books. Everything is still on tapes, but it just isn’t the same, is it? Nowadays only the computer specialists read the tapes and we’re right back in the Middle Ages when only the monks could read the Latin script.”
       “Exactly,” I answer, letting my beef go cold.
       “Would you like me to assign you a specialist?”
       “No, that’s not exactly it.”
       “We have the great film libraries: you could get a permit to see anything you want. The Renaissance. Greek philosophers. I saw a nice summary film on the life and thought of Plato once.”
       “All I know,” I say with hesitation, “is Roller Ball Murder.”
       “You don’t want out of the game?” he asks warily.
       “No, not at all. It’s just that I want—god, Mr. Bartholemew, I don’t know how to say it: I want more.”
       He offers a blank look.
       “But not things in the world,” I add. “More for me.”
       He heaves a great sigh, leans back, and allows the steward to refill his glass. I know that he understands; he is a man of sixty, enormously wealthy, powerful in our most powerful executive class, and behind his eyes is the deep, weary, undeniable comprehension of the life he has lived.
       “Knowledge,” he tells me, “either converts to power or it converts to melancholy. Which could you possibly want, Jonathan? You have power. You have status and skill and the whole masculine dream many of us would like to have. And in Roller Ball Murder there’s no room for melancholy, is there? In the game the mind exists for the body, to make a harmony of havoc, right? Do you want to change that? Do you want the mind to exist for itself alone? I don’t think you actually want that, do you?”
       “I really don’t know,” I admit.
       “I’ll get you some permits, Jonathan. You can see video films, learn something about reading tapes, if you want.”
       “I don’t think I really have any power,” I say, still groping.
       “Oh, come on. What do you say about that?” he asks, turning to Daphne.
       “He definitely has power,” she answers with a smile.
       Somehow the conversation drifts away from me; Daphne, on cue, like the good spy for the corporation she probably is, begins feeding Mr. Bartholemew lines and soon, oddly enough, we’re discussing my upcoming game with Stockholm.
       A hollow space begins to grow inside me, as though fire is eating out a hole. The conversation concerns the end of the season, the All-Star Game, records being set this year, but my disappointment—in what, exactly, I don’t even know—begins to sicken me.
       Mr. Bartholemew eventually asks what’s wrong.
       “The food,” I answer. “Usually I have great digestion, but maybe not today.”

In the locker room the dreary late-season pall takes us. We hardly speak among ourselves, now, and, like soldiers or gladiators sensing what lies ahead, we move around in the surgical odors assuring ourselves we’ll survive.
       Our last training and instruction this year concerns the delivery of death blows to opposing players; no time now for the tolerant shoving and bumping of yesteryear. I consider that I possess two good weapons: because of my unusually good balance on skates, I can often shatter my opponent’s knee with a kick; also, I have a fine backhand blow to the ribs and heart, when wheeling side by side with some bastard who raises an arm against me. If the new rules change removes a player’s helmet, of course, that’s death; as it is right now (there are rumors, rumors every day about what new version of RBM we’ll have next) you go for the windpipe, the ribs or heart, the diaphragm, or anyplace you don’t break your hand.
       Our instructors are a pair of giddy Oriental gentlemen who have all sorts of anatomical solutions for us and show drawings of the human figure with nerve centers painted in pink.
       “What you do is this,” says Moonpie, in parody of these two. Moonpie is a fine skater, in his fourth season, and fancies himself an old-fashioned drawling Texan. “What you do is hit ’em on the jawbone and drive it up into their ganglia.”
       “Their what?” I ask, giving Moonpie a grin.
       “Their goddamned ganglia. Bunch of nerves right here underneath the ear. Drive their jawbones into that mess of nerves and it’ll ring their bells sure.”

Daphne is gone now, too, and in this interim before another companion arrives, courtesy of all my friends and employers at ENERGY, Ella floats back into my dreams and daylight fantasies.
       I was a corporation child, some executive’s bastard boy, I always preferred to think, brought up in the Galveston section of the city. A big kid, naturally, athletic and strong—and this, according to my theory, gave me healthy mental genes, too, because I take it now that strong in body is strong in mind: a man with brute speed surely also has the capacity to mull over his life. Anyway, I married at age fifteen while I worked on the docks for Oil Conglomerates. Ella was a secretary, slim, with long brown hair, and we managed to get permits both to marry and enter the university together. Her fellowship was in General Electronics—she was clever, give her that—and mine was in some pre-executive courses and Roller Ball Murder. She fed me well that first year, so I put on thirty hard pounds and at night she soothed my bruises (was she a spy, too, I’ve sometimes wondered, whose job it was to groom the killer?) and perhaps it was because she was my first woman ever, eighteen years old, lovely, that I’ve never properly forgotten.
       She left me for an executive, just packed up and went to Europe with him. Six years ago I saw them at a sports banquet where I was presented an award: there they were, smiling and being nice, and I asked them only one question, just one, “You two ever had children?”
       Ella, love: one does consider: did you beef me up and break my heart in some great design of corporate society?
       There I was, whatever, angry and hurt. Beyond repair, I thought at the time. But the hand that stroked Ella soon dropped all the foes of Houston.
       I take sad stock of myself in this quiet period before another woman arrives; I’m smart enough, I know that: I had to be to survive. Yet, I seem to know nothing—and can feel the hollow spaces in my own heart. Like one of those computer specialists, I have my know-how; I know what today means, what tomorrow likely holds, but maybe it’s because the books are gone—Mr. Bartholemew was right, it’s a shame they’re transformed—that I feel so vacant. If I didn’t remember my Ella—this I realize—I wouldn’t even want to remember because it’s love I’m recollecting.
       Recollect, sure: I read quite a few books that year with Ella and afterward, too, before turning professional in the game. Apart from all the volumes about how to get along in business, I read the history of the kings of England, that pillars of wisdom book by T. E. Lawrence, all the forlorn novels, some Rousseau, a bio of Thomas Jefferson, and other odd bits. On tapes now, all that, whirring away in a cool basement someplace.

The rules crumble once more. At the Tokyo game, we discover there will be three oblong balls in play at all times.
       Some of our most experienced players are afraid to go out on the track. Then, after they’re coaxed and threatened and finally consent to join the flow, they fake injury whenever they can and sprawl in the infield like rabbits. As for me, I play with greater abandon than ever and give the crowd its money’s worth. The Tokyo skaters are either peering over their shoulders looking for approaching balls when I smash them, or, poor devils, they’re looking for me when a ball takes them out of action.
       One little bastard with a broken back flaps around for a moment like a fish, then shudders and dies.
       Balls jump at us as though they have brains.
       But fate carries me, as I somehow know it will; I’m a force field, a destroyer. I kick a biker into the path of a ball going at least two hundred miles an hour. I swerve around a pileup of bikes and skaters, ride high on the track, zoom down, and find a runner/clubber who panics and misses with a roundhouse swing of his paddle; without much ado, I belt him out of play with the certain knowledge—I’ve felt it before—that he’s dead before he hits the infield.
       One ball flips out of play soon after being fired from the cannon, jumps the railing, sails high, and plows into the spectators. Beautiful!
       I take a hit from a ball, one of the three or four times I’ve ever been belted. The ball is riding low on the track when it catches me and strikes my calf and skate boot, so it’s not too tough although I tumble like a baby. One bastard runner comes after me, but one of our bikers chases him off. Then one of their skaters glides by and takes a shot at me, but I dig him in the groin and discourage him, too.
       Down and hurting, I see Moonpie killed. They take off his helmet, working slowly—it’s like slow motion and I’m writhing and cursing and unable to help—and open his mouth on the toe of some bastard skater’s boot. Then they kick the back of his head and knock out all his teeth—which rattle downhill on the track. Then kick again and stomp: his brains this time. He drawls a last groaning good-bye while the cameras record it.
       And later I’m up, pushing along once more, feeling bad, but knowing everyone else feels the same; I have that last surge of energy, the one I always get when I’m going good, and near the closing gun I manage a nice move: grabbing one of their runners with a headlock, I skate him off to limbo, bashing his face with my free fist, picking up speed until he drags behind like a dropped flag, and disposing of him in front of a ball which carries him off in a comic flop. Oh, god, god.

Before the All-Star Game, Cletus comes to me with the news I expect: this one will be a no-time-limit extravaganza in New York, every multi-vision set in the world tuned in. The bikes will be more high-powered, four oblong balls will be in play simultaneously, and the referees will blow the whistle on any sluggish player and remove his helmet as a penalty.
       “With those rules, no worry,” I tell him. “It’ll go no more than an hour and we’ll all be dead.”
       We’re at the Houston ranch on a Saturday afternoon, riding around in my electro-cart viewing the Santa Gertrudis stock. This is probably the ultimate spectacle of my wealth: my own beef cattle in a day when only a few special members of the executive class have any meat to eat with the exception of mass-produced fish.
       “You owe me a favor, Clete,” I tell him.
       “Anything,” he answers, not looking me in the eyes.
       I turn the cart up a lane beside my rustic rail fence, an archway of oak trees overhead and the early spring bluebonnets and daffodils sending up fragrances from the nearby fields. Far back in my thoughts is the awareness that I can’t possibly last and that I’d like to be scattered out here—burial is seldom allowed anymore—to become the mulch of flowers.
       “I want you to bring Ella to me,” I tell him. “After all these years, yeah: that’s what I want. You arrange it and don’t give me any excuses, okay?”

We meet at the villa near Lyon in early June, only a week before the All-Star Game in New York, and I think she immediately reads something in my eyes which helps her to love me again. Of course I love her: I realize, seeing her, that I have only a vague recollection of being alive at all, and that was a long time ago, in another century of the heart when I had no identity except my name, when I was a simple dock worker, before I ever saw all the world’s places or moved in the rumbling nightmares of Roller Ball Murder.
       She kisses my fingers. “Oh,” she says softly, and her face is filled with true wonder, “what’s happened to you, Johnny?”
       A few soft days. When our bodies aren’t entwined, we try to remember and tell each other everything: the way we used to hold hands, how we fretted about receiving a marriage permit, how the books looked on our shelves in the old apartment in River Oaks. We strain, at times, trying to recall the impossible; it’s true that history is really gone, that we have no families or touchstones, that our short personal lives alone judge us, and I want to hear about her husband, the places they’ve lived, the furniture in her house, anything. I tell her, in turn, about all the women, about Mr. Bartholemew and Jim Cletus, about the ranch in the hills outside Houston.
       It would be nice, I think, once, to imagine that she was taken away from me by some malevolent force in this awful age, but I know the truth of that: she went away, simply, because I wasn’t enough back then, because those were the days before I yearned for anything, when I was beginning to live to play the game. But no matter. For a few days she sits on my bed and I touch her skin like a blind man.
       Our last morning together she comes out in her traveling suit with her hair pulled up underneath a fur cap. The softness has left her voice and she smiles with efficiency. She plays like a biker, I decide; she rides up there high above the turmoil, decides when to swoop down, and makes a clean kill.
       “Good-bye, Ella,” I say, and she turns her head slightly away from my kiss so that I touch her fur cap with my lips.
       “I’m glad I came,” she says politely. “Good luck, Johnny.”

New York is frenzied with what is about to happen.
       The crowds throng into Energy Plaza, swarm the ticket offices at the stadium, and wherever I go people are reaching for my hands, pushing my bodyguards away, trying to touch my sleeve as though I’m some ancient religious figure, a seer or prophet.
       Before the game begins I stand with my team as the corporation hymns are played. I’m brute speed today, I tell myself, trying to rev myself up; yet, adream in my thoughts, I’m a bit unconvinced.
       A chorus of voices joins the band now as the music swells.
       The game, the game, all glory to it, the music rings, and I can feel my lips move with the words, singing.

William Harrison (1933-2013) was an American novelist and short story writer. He also wrote the screenplay when Roller Ball Murder was adapted for a Hollywood movie in 1975. Entitled Rollerball, it starred James Caan, John Houseman, and Maud Adams. Another version/remake of Rollerball was released in 2002 starring Chris Klein, LL Cool J, Jean Reno, and Rebecca Romijn Stamos.