Logan's Run by George Clayton Johnson, William F. Nolan
Published by Vintage on July 7th 2015 (first published 1967)
Series: Logan's Run #1
Genres: Apoctalyptic, Classics, Dystopia, Fiction, Post-Apoctalyptic, Science Fiction
Length: 167 pages Source: Amazon
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The bestselling dystopian novel that inspired the 1970s science-fiction classic starring Michael York, Jenny Agutter, and Richard Jordan.
In 2116, it is against the law to live beyond the age of twenty-one years. When the crystal flower in the palm of your hand turns from red to black, you have reached your Lastday and you must report to a Sleepshop for processing. But the human will to survive is strong—stronger than any mere law. Logan 3 is a Sandman, an enforcer who hunts down those Runners who refuse to accept Deep Sleep. The day before Logan’s palmflower shifts to black, a Runner accidentally reveals that he was racing toward a goal: Sanctuary. With this information driving him forward, Logan 3 assumes the role of the hunted and becomes a Runner.
Aaaaghhhh I have such mixed feelings about this book.
I remember watching Logan’s Run with my dad growing up and being fascinated by the dystopian world. I came across this book randomly on my classic dystopia spree last year and decided to add it to my collection. And in many ways, I’m glad I read it. But it’s all hot/cold, yes/no with this book.
1. Back in the 1960s, the world wasn’t brimming with dystopias. In fact, science-fiction mostly regulated itself to the B-rated films even then. Star Wars changed that in the 70s and Marvel again in the 2000s, but at the time, there wasn’t the populous overload of science-fiction that we have today. Logan’s Run is a fascinating and original dystopia way before its time.
2. But on the other hand, the era during which Logan’s Run was written is clearly visible in its pages. Sensitivity was far less important in the 1960s, and while this book is certainly not the strongest example of racism, Logan runs into a group of “gypsies”. This would be more tolerable if the word were just used, but the group strongly resembles the vision of Native Americans circa Disney’s Peter Pan and it’s pretty inexcusable. From the dialect to the drug-induced haze (requiring an antidote or you’ll die!) this story could have gone entirely without that scene.
3. The world building here otherwise is pretty good. Considering the fact that this is written 50 years ago, Logan’s world doesn’t feel old-fashioned or disjointed. Writing a futuristic science-fiction novel where the world building holds up half a century later is no small feat.
4. But I do have one nitpick with a world building choice – the way Logan’s Run works is that all individuals are euthanized at age 21. I understand that within this context, maturity is different and laws would be different… but we don’t live that way in our society, so looking in felt sort of uncomfortable at times. For example: very uncomfortable when Logan goes to a brothel and is propositioned by a thirteen-year-old. Again, within the laws of this world’s aging design, Logan would have been the equivalent of an 88-year-old and she would have been 52, in comparing to actual human life expectancies verses their controlled environment… but still… no.
5. The complexities of Logan’s character are interesting, and we get a great sense of his inner struggle between finding purpose and survival. This train of thought makes for a decent twist near the end, actually.
6. But in comparison, Jessica is a useless pile of dead weight that Logan carries along only because she was also running and had a key? Through the entire book, I couldn’t come up with a better reason for him to keep this character along. Johnson and Nolan certainly didn’t waste any time giving her depth or interest, so she might as well be a robot.
7. Considering the fact that this book is about a run – a journey – the pacing is incredibly fast and you are bulleted into a lot of different, fascinating worlds. This is awesome to keep interest to the story and further explore the world building. The zig-zag nature of their travels is also important to the falling structure of society. I personally enjoyed the Molly stop the best, and wanted to see more there.
8. But also because of this fast pacing, you barely have time to acclimate to one setting before – BAM! – you’re shot off across from the depths of the Pacific Ocean to the Black Hills of Dakota and I don’t really understand how the maze works or how the cars can move that quickly through the elements without danger when the platforms themselves are falling apart? I felt like I was on a rollercoaster ride and I just needed to breathe and unravel the threads but NOPE, off again.
9. At the end, the authors threw in three character twists and the best and my absolute favorite was that of Ballard’s identity. This was definitely not in the film and something I didn’t expect at ALL. Literally, the twist came in the last five pages and I was really, really pleased with it.
10. But the OTHER twist (I think this was supposed to be a twist) was so underwhelming that I’m simply going to reveal it to you. It was so inconsequential that I just sort of shrugged and shooed Jessica off to go do things somewhere else. Right at the end, while Logan is dealing with his twist, Jessica announces in a whine that she cannot leave because she loves Logan. So, um, I guess that was supposed to be a romantic subplot? The romantic subplot did not work.
So, can you see my dilemma? It was a good story, but it was hindered by the authors and the period in which it was written. The entire time I was reading this, all I could think was that it really needed to be rewritten in a modern voice with the same world and concept because the idea and the story were good, but there were ruinous moments and flat characters and I am all sorts of frustrated with how good/bad this was.
Aaghhhh I had such a hard time deciding what to do with this one.
I actually do want to reread this and absorb more of the story. I want to rewrite it. It’s literally on my list of story ideas: “Rewrite Logan’s Run but without the racism and with a better female character”. But I’m not sure it has properly earned a place on my shelf? Plus this edition is ugly. Actually all of them are ugly. What is it with classic sci-fi/fantasy and the absolute inability to release new printings with attractive covers?
I guess at the end of the day, I accept the fact that this book stresses me out for all the wrong reasons and I don’t need that kind of toxic relationship in my life.