Just read: Logan's Run by William F. Nolan & George Clayton Johnson

The first edition cover by Mercer Mayer, 1967

The first edition cover by Mercer Mayer, 1967

"Logan's Run" was published in 1967, one year before I was born. Due to the circumstances I grew up in, I became more familiar with movies and television adapted from books than the books themselves! This is one of the more prominent examples. I enjoyed the 1976 movie and the following television series in 1977 as science fiction movies and television exploded. As is most often the case, the book is superior to the movie. Though I will admit that this is one novel ripe for a remake, there's plenty of material that was reinterpreted or omitted from the film. "Logan's Run" follows Logan 3, a "Sandman" police officer (Deep Sleep Operative) tasked with killing "Runners"—people who try to escape their inevitable death sentence once they reach 21 years of age. The future is a dystopian ageist society that copes with Earth's limited resources by ensuring that no one ages beyond 21. The entire system is administered by "The Thinker," a massive and complex, world-wide computer system. Children are raised by machines and encouraged to take advantage of unlimited, hedonistic pleasures. Their time is delimited by a crystal embedded in the right palm that changes color over time until black indicates the time of "Lastday" when a citizen is to report to a "Sleepshop" where a toxic and pleasureful gas is to be administered.

Logan is nearing his "sleep date" when he tracks down a Runner named Doyle 10 and witnesses his murder by near-feral children called "cubs." Before dying, the man hands a key to Logan that will grant access to "Sanctuary," a safe harbor for Runners. Logan decides that since he's running out of time, the greatest service he can perform is finding Sanctuary and destroying it. He manages to connect with Jessica 6, the Runner's brother.


The novel is a fun, scifi thriller and presents an intriguing, dystopia brought about by dwindling resources for an overcrowded planet—a recurrent theme in science-fiction since the 1960s. As much as I enjoyed the movie, I was struck by the richness of the novel's world. The twists and turns, the details of daily life, the various environments, and how the Deep Sleep Operatives are organized. One of the ideas introduced that seemed familiar was the DSO's weapon of choice, simply called "Gun." It's a six-shooter with various loads such as needle, explosive, and "homer"—a heat-seeking bullet. (The weapons struck me as impossibly similar to those used by Judges in the comic 2000 A.D.) "Omnite," the martial art of choice for Sandmen, reminded me of Krav Maga with it's malleable and hybrid nature. Certain political aspects which clearly materialized in the 1960s are prescient and seemingly immutable, compared to our current political climate. One line that stood out and showed what might be a conservative warning against liberal excess:

...with the death of the Republican Party in 1988
the Crazy Horse bill was passed without opposition.”

Later in the book, it becomes clear that the future relies on youth, but not on the utter destruction of aged wisdom. One political reality presented as unchanging in the future is delivered with unequivocal directness. In Logan's reality, the current dystopia has been brought on by a powder keg event referred to as "The Little War." At the time, the young had multiplied beyond easy capacity and challenge the comfortable existence of the older, fatter, selfish political leadership. Policy is enacted that creates far too many restraints on common life among the world's youth. The young rise up and, as the majority, crush the ruling class.

By morning, half of Washington was in flames. Senators
and congressmen were dragged in terror from their homes and hanged
like criminals from trees and lampposts.”

As satisfying as the fiction may be, it also serves as a warning for the young to remain engaged and not to trust the future to an aging leadership. Disengagement equals ruin.