The year is 2116. To deal with the world’s booming population problem, no-one is allowed to live beyond the age of twenty. At birth, a flower shaped crystal is embedded into everyone’s right hand palm. It changes color every seven year, until it finally turns black at 21. Then you either visit a Sleepshop to end it all, or you try to avoid your faith by escaping to Sanctuary. If you choose the latter option, a Deep Sleep Operative - also known as a Sandman - will come for you.
Logan is a Sandman who hunts down and kills Runners for a living. When his palm flower starts blinking red and black on his own Lastday, he devises a cunning plan: To find Sanctuary and disclose its secret location, thus, at least in his own mind, justifying his existence. But getting to Sanctuary doesn’t go as smoothly as Logan thought. Nothing ever really does. And now he himself is the Runner being chased.
Logan’s Run is a relatively short book, weighing in at about 170 pages. The authors have a lot to tell, and don’t waste much time getting the story started. There isn’t much room for elaborate descriptions of the scenery or deep dives into character personalities when you only have 170 pages at your disposal. And that’s my kind of book - many authors waste a lot of page estate and readers time with unnecessary amounts of rambling descriptions of everything and everyone.
The book starts off in a futuristic city with a cyberpunk feel to it. Not the gang-war, nuclear-powered hoverboard cyberpunk of Neal Stephenson’s Snow Crash, more a combination of Ridley Scott’s amazing Blade Runner and the wonderful Akira. At least that’s the idea I got in my head while reading the first few pages of Logan’s Run, and it was an image I felt very comfortable with.
Nolan and Johnson had me hooked and I was ready for more. Unfortunately, the book went a bit off the rails shortly after that. As it turns out the authors have too much to tell and everything feels a bit like Logan’s Run is a result of a late night, alcohol-induced, brainstorming session: Nolan and Johnson sat down, shared a bottle of cheap Bourbon, and came up with tons of different locations they could put Logan and his adversaries in for the book. But, in the end, they didn’t manage to agree on the main location where their story to unfold, so they decided to use every single one of them, from an abandoned city on the bottom of the ocean, to a inhospitable prison on the North Pole.
I’m a simple man with a simple mind, and to me, the vast amount of different locations feels unnatural somehow. I get the sense that everything is random and unplanned. I can’t quite put my finger on why. From the first few pages of Logan’s Run, I had an image of a fantastic cyberpunk city in my mind. So great was that image, that I was disappointed when Logan suddenly leaves the city. I can’t, of course, tell Nolan and Johnson how to write their book, but if they’d kept Logan in the city, this might have been a much better book.
Logan’s Run isn’t a bad science fiction novel, bit it’s not a particularly good one either. Had it not been for book’s length, there’s a good chance I would have abandoned it around page 100. It did get a little more spicey towards the end again, though, but that might just have been me trying to convince myself that things were getting better just to get through the book.