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Logan's Run (SF) - William Nolan and George Clayton Johnson ****

If you've only ever seen the rather pallid and denatured 1976 movie, the original 1967 novel of Logan's Run will come as a sensory overload. Sometimes when I re-read a book of this vintage it's a let-down, but Logan's Run has really held up well (with a couple of small exceptions). It's pleasantly short - not a wasted page - and drags the reader from glittering set piece to set piece with a relentless power that makes it obvious that this could be made into a much better movie these days.

Having said that, even 21st century Hollywood would struggle with the sexuality and brutal shortness of the lives of the characters who are required to submit to euthanasia on their 21st birthday (the film opted for the less controversial 30) - however the sheer fact that all the 'adults' here are aged between 14 and 21 adds to the visceral nature of the plot - especially in a sequence where the main characters are attacked by the sub-14 'cub scouts.'

It's hard to believe this book didn't influence Blade Runner, if anything more than the Dick story that the movie was just about based on. Our central character here is a sandman, responsible for tracking down (and killing with a big gun) runners who don't give themselves up age 21. And, like the Deckard character in Blade Runner, Logan comes to question his own position, finding himself on the run with a female who should be a target, isolated on the wrong side of the law.

It's worth mentioning those small areas that haven't aged quite as well. Although some of the stronger characters are female, the relationship between male and female still has enough 60s bias not to quite work for a 22nd century setting. And while most of the technology is suitably futuristic, the mainframe computer that runs the world is very 70s. However, these are forgivable in a book that really zings along as it's chapter numbers count down from 10 to 0. If I'm going to be picky, the authors are rather over-aware of their cleverness with language, and there is so much action packed in that sometimes getting out of a problem amounts to 'with one bound he was free.'

I've put off coming back to this book for several decades, as I though it might disappoint - but it certainly doesn't. Packed with memorable scenes and a will-they-won't-they survive tension, it's great fun.


Kindle:  I'm highly suspicious of the apparent Kindle version listed on Amazon, as the synopsis is that of the film, not the book...

Review by Brian Clegg


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