Can I make a confession here. I’ve never seen the movie version of "Logan’s Run."
I know, I know. I should probably turn in my geek card at this point. Either that or I should dust off the DVD version I picked up for a low price and put the shiny disc into the player and cross it off my list of shame.
For a long time, my excuse has been that I’d never read the book. And once I found out that the book came first, as a book-a-holic, I could at least say that I wanted to read the book first. So, finally after years of searching used book stores and various books swapping sites for a reasonably priced copy of the book, I finally got one. And then it promptly sat on my to be read shelf for a long period of time.
Then, I actually promised the book to a friend who loved the film but hadn’t read the book. So, it was that I finally found myself at a point in time that I felt like it was time I should sit down and finally crack the cover of "Logan’s Run."
Was it worth the wait, the build-up and the hype?
Yes and no.
As with all books that are made into movies, it’s nice to see what the authors originally intended for the world and characters to be on the printed page. The edition I acquired is an old one from the when the movie was out, so I had to resist the temptation to look at the 16 pages of full color photos from the film. Part of it was curiosity to see how my mental image of characters and settings was different and part of it was curiosity to see which parts of the books might be included and which might be dropped. Thankfully, I was able to resist the siren call of full color stills from the movie until after I’d read the final page.
The story itself starts off fairly well. The concept of a future society in which overpopulation means everyone submits to death at the age of 21 is intriguing. Logan is part of the police force that hunts down those who don’t want to die and become "runners." Logan is very good at what he does and doesn’t really question his place in things. That is, until the crystal on his hand begins to blink red, indicating he has 24 hours to live.
At times, the concept of people lining up for the death machines to terminate their lives reminded me a lot of classic Star Trek‘s "A Taste of Armageddon." But where that society was fighting a war via computers and counting up deaths to meet quotas and not violate a treaty, the society here is trying to curb overpopulation.
At this point, some interesting ideas begin to crop up, including why this society chose 21 as the cut-off point for its people and what kind of impact it was having on the world. Is part of the future world of "Logan" that people mature faster? And how does the society function when run by the younger set without the older group there to guide them and offer wisdom and/or insight?
Unfortunately, the novel never really delves into any of these questions. It also never delves much into how anything runs with any efficiency since it seems like there’s not a lot of time to train people on how to do things or to give them time to learn new skills. How Logan becomes a great Sandman isn’t really delved into and it’s a question that could and should be addressed.
Instead, the story is more of a straight-forward chase and adventure narrative. In many ways, it reminded me of 24 with characters chasing about from location to location geographically without any consideration for how long it might take people to get from here to there in the real universe. The story also could have used a lot more development in Logan as he goes from a man who decides if he’s going out, he’s going to take out the rebel sanctuary known as "Sanctuary" in his final day to being a guy who is on the run and could be a leader of the new rebellion. As far as I can tell, the book seems to say all you need is love and you’ll become a revolutionary.
It all ends up feeling like the novel is being written to be quickly and easily adapted as a screenplay.
And it may work better as a movie. Looks like it’s time to dust off that DVD and find out.