Skip to main content

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.


Paperback:  


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

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Bits to Bitcoin - Mark Stuart Day ***

When I saw the title of this book, I got all excited - at last we were going to get an explanation of bitcoin for the rest of us, who struggle to understand what the heck it really involves. There certainly is an explanation of bitcoin, but it comes in chapter 26 - in practice, the book contains far more. Almost every popular computer science title I've read has effectively been history of computer science - this is one of the first examples I've ever come across that is actually trying to make the 'science' part of computer science accessible to the general reader.

I don't mean by this that it's an equivalent of Programming for Dummies. Instead, Bits to Bitcoin takes the reader through the concepts lying behind programming. If we think of programming as engineering, this is the physics that the engineering depends on. This is a really interesting proposition. Many years ago, I was a professional programmer, but I never studied computer science, so I was only fa…

How to Speak Science - Bruce Benamran ***

I can't remember a book where my mental picture of what the star rating would be has varied so much. At first glance, it looked like a solid 4 star title. It looks fun (despite the odd title - it sounds like it's a book on public speaking for geeks) and a flick through showed that it covers a huge amount of science topics, mostly physics - so it was promising as a beginner's overview. There is one small issue to be got out of the way on the coverage side. There's a whole lot of physics, with a gaping hole that is quantum theory. More on that later.

After reading a few pages, I had to downgrade that score to 3 stars because of the writing style. It oozes smugness. All became clear when I read the words 'For those of you who aren't familiar with my YouTube channel.' How to Speak Science reads like a transcript of a YouTube rant. The reason I love reading books and can hardly ever be bothered to watch videos is to get away from this kind of thing. However, I ac…

By the Pricking of Her Thumb (SF) - Adam Roberts *****

Sometimes a sequel betters the original - think Terminator 2 - and Adam Roberts has done this with his follow-up to The Real-Town Murders. (It's sensible to read the first book before this: while it's not essential, there are plenty of references you will miss otherwise.)

Ostensibly this is a murder mystery, or, as Roberts tells us, a combination of a howdunnit and a whodunnit-to, as the central character Alma is called on to work out how someone found with a needle stuck through her thumb was killed and which of a group of four super-rich individuals is dead when all claim to still be alive - though one of the group who hires Alma is convinced that the death has occurred. 

However, this is anything but a conventional murder mystery - far more so than the strange crimes suggest. Alma and her partner Marguerite (the latter still trapped by an engineered polyvalent illness that requires treatment every 4 hours and 4 minutes) don't do a lot of detecting. In fact Marguerite hard…