(Critical Survey of Science Fiction and Fantasy)

Logan’s Run provides fast, enjoyable reading. It was produced early in the authors’ careers. William F. Nolan went on to write two sequels, Logan’s World (1977) and Logan’s Search (1980). A film of the first book was made in 1976. In the film, the cutoff age was raised to thirty. A television series was presented in 1977.

As a thriller, the novel closely approaches graphic fictions, in that some of the action is far from credible, such as the use of plastiflesh to cure large wounds promptly. The two-page dedication list of “all the wild friends we grew up with” includes a number of cartoon and popular genre characters, as well as a few classical writers, such as Dante Alighieri, but not such obvious influences, for example, as Homer, Yevgeny Zamiatin, Aldous Huxley, and George Orwell.

The plot of this short novel is brilliantly controlled. Information is presented rapidly, but the mysteries arouse curiosity rather than the dismay fostered by many highly praised science-fiction writers. Characters and ideas that occur in early sections later appear at appropriate times. For example, the young woman who dies in great pain from a homer in the opening sequence is identified one hundred pages later at a time when Logan has been shown as a sympathetic character who has lost the urge to kill and has himself undergone frequent agonies.

Logan’s Run, though intended to be read for enjoyment rather than deep meaning, is not a children’s book because of its 1960’s vogue of voyeuristic eroticism, which made filming the work difficult. Its popularity doubtless stirred the imaginations of many later writers. The Little War, which provoked the book’s dystopian conditions, is attributed to the enormous percentage of youth among the population, who use an American Compulsory Birth Control Act as an excuse to riot and take control of the government. Characterization is minimal but varied, from the sweetness of Mary-Mary 2, who escaped her Huxleyan nursery to live in the maze tunnels and traps rats for food, to the thieving, deceitful Rutago, who will poison Jessica to rape her but withholds the antidote from Logan. In his preface, Nolan identifies the hero he created as a rebel with whom readers can identify, who fights against death and a “coldly mechanistic society.” Nolan is a prolific writer of thrillers, science fiction, and criticism, but the Logan series is regarded as his best work.