Saturday, 14 November 2009

Reject sleep! Run!

Like most people I like the film Logan's Run. I loved the tv series as well when I was a kid, though I can't remember any of the details now. Better than the film or the series though is the novel. I hadn't realised it was based on a book until I found it in a secondhand bookshop when I was on holiday years ago.

It's only 144 pages long and I think I read it in a day (holidays with my parents were like that). What surprised me at the time was how different it was from the film. For such a short book the authors have deftly sketched one of the most convincing nightmare future worlds I've ever read. The backdrop of a revolution by the young and their society's highly permissive attitude to sex and drugs no doubt stem directly from the book having been written (or at least published) in 1967. Not surprisingly the film makers chose to concentrate more on the cinematic potential of the free lovin' rather than the hallucimills and the Little War. One of the most quietly impressive things about the story is the language or slang used by the characters. Whilst none of the words have exactly come into use they don't seem clunkingly ridiculous - often the fate of sci fi neologisms.

Each and every one of the situations in the film is dealt with with more subtly and/or detail in the book. But that's just films and books for you I suppose. Some of the changes were probably dictated by budget, the robot sculptor Box for instance. In the film he has all the lethal grace of a tin plate wheelie bin, while in the book he's a very plausibly psychopathic cyborg. Other changes though are less forgivable. Francis, Logan's fellow Sandman: his death in the film is easily the most egregious example of how crude the film is in comparison to the book.

One last point - the guns that Logan and all the other Sandmen use in the book are old fashioned pearl handled revolvers rather than the (admittedly very cool) blasters wielded in the film. An interesting twist to the revolvers though was that each of their six chambers is filled with a different type of bullet: Nitro is a high explosive, Homer is a heat seeker, etc. Oh, and the handles are programmed to recognise their user's palm print and to explode if handled by anyone else. All very familiar to readers of Judge Dredd but never in all my years of reading 2000AD did I ever hear an acknowledgement.

A remake is meant to be on the cards - if they want it to stand apart from its predecessor they could always go a bit mad and follow the novel more closely.


  1. I've often wondered what the book was like. Must investigate.

  2. More than happy to return your Ubik favour – had a quick look on Amazon and it’s a bit on the pricey side (I do like that yellow cover though).