Book review: Logan’s Run

Yup, I’m getting to this one really late. The movie was a sci-fi classic, the TV series … not so much. Having seen both when I was a kid, I didn’t think there was much point in reading the book, until it won the Alternative Booker Prize held by the Reading Writers Group. I’d made one of those private vows you see: to read every entry before Christmas. The first one was Perfume, and now, Logan’s Run …

The story is set in the distant future. After an uprising by the world’s youth, the old order finds itself overthrown, and in most cases, executed. Recognising that they still need to tackle the problem of overpopulation, the teenagers running the planet hit on a rather novel solution: there is enough for everyone, as long as no one lives past the age of twenty-one.

And so we meet Logan. Logan is a Sandman, and his job is to hunt down ‘runners’: that despised section of the population who don’t agree with being put to sleep before they’ve even lived, and so try to escape to a place called Sanctuary.

Logan’s very good at his job, right up until the day he hits twenty-one …

Now those of you who’ve seen the film may be thinking, ‘Twenty-one? I thought LastDay came when you hit thirty.’

Yes, that was for the movies, and there was a reason why the studios changed it.

If society deems you’ve outlived your usefulness at twenty-one, then society also seems that you need start living at a much younger age. So what we have here is children taking drugs, having sex, and killing each other. There’s no way that was going to fly in the seventies, and I think it’d probably stand less chance of getting off the ground now. Still, that’s how it’s written, and I have to admit it’s pretty shocking, especially when, since it’s the norm, the author presents it in a matter-of-fact kind of way. In fact, I’d say the book is casually-written for the first part, taking time to describe this sad new world, before suddenly leaping from the starting blocks and blazing through several environments and groups of feral children living outside society but still sticking to the ‘no oldies rule’, towards its conclusion.

The writing is very good: tight with little left for the imagination, but a satisfying read nonetheless. I did feel that the female characters weren’t as well defined as the males. Perhaps this was just Logan’s viewpoint, or perhaps it’s just the time it was written. We never got to know much about Jessica even though she suffered more than Logan during their escape. Would’ve liked to have seen a bit more fight in her, but again, I think it was just how female characters were written back then.

Aside from that quibble, the story has a great feel about it. It’s imaginative, well-placed, and given the times we’re living in, well-worth a read if you haven’t already.

A respectable eight out of ten.

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