Audiobook Review: Logan’s Run by William F. Nolan and George Clayton Johnson

29 08 2012

Logan’s Run by William F. Nolan and George Clayton Johnson

Read by Oliver Wyman

Audible Frontiers

Length:5 Hrs 31 Min

Genre: Dystopian Science Fiction

Quick Thoughts: I never really found myself comfortable in the world of Logan’s Run. While the plotting and voice were a bit uneven, and the novel was definitely a reflection of it’s time, overall I have to say I’m glad I experienced it. While together there was some unevenness, each microcosm experienced by Logan offered a fascinating look at the worlds the authors extrapolated from the youth uprising of the 60’s.

Grade: B

Recently, there seems to be a big push to bring some of the older dystopian and post apocalyptic tales to audiobook. I’m not so sure if this is a result of the reemergence of the genre through Young Adult hits like The Hunger Games, or simply because the digital age of audiobooks and rights issues have made it easier to bring older science fiction tales to this format. More than likely it’s a combination of them both. Over the past 12 years of so, I have been making a push to find more classic post apocalyptic tales. It’s not as easy as it may seem. Many titles have gone out of print, and used copies have become exorbitantly expensive.  I have spent many an hour, with tattered lists of out of print books in my hands searching through stacks of disorganized paperbacks in used book stores. I have found some great finds there, including early editions of Wyndham classics being sold for under a buck. Yet, some titles I haven’t been so lucky with. So, I’m always excited when I see a title like Logan’s Run come to audiobook. Despite is spawning television and movie adaptations, I was never able to find a reasonably priced copy. The strange thing is, there has been many times where I actually have had more fun hunting down a lost classic then I did actually reading it. I have talked before about how I have often struggles with older science fiction. I think science fiction, more so that fantasy or even horror, is often a product of its time. Author’s will extrapolate future cultures based on existing trends, that when played out, often won’t match up with reality. This is OK, for a contemporary novel, but many times with a novel written outside of my life span, I find trouble connecting with the author’s voice and vision. This was a major concern of mine, entering into my listening of Logan’s Run, which was written in 1967.

Logan is a Sandman, a hunter tasked with bringing in those who run, instead of willingly turning themselves over to be put to sleep on their Last Day, Yet, as Logan get’s closer and closer to his final day, he spends it looking for meaning in his life. He can’t find it in drugs or women, or even his work. Then one day, hunting down a runner, he discovers a key to Sanctuary, a legendary home for those who escape The Sleephouses and the Sandmen. Now, on his last day, he has a mission., find Sanctuary and the oldest man on earth, and turn them into the authorities, thus giving his final moments meaning.  In order to do this, he must become a runner. I have to admit, Logan’s Run wasn’t exactly what I expected. Nolan and Johnson have created an interesting dystopic and ageist society which pushed the idea of “Don’t Trust anyone over 20” to an almost absurdist level. While I was expecting either a extreme regressive society typical to what you may see in a Post Apocalyptic tale, or a highly futuristic society full of pristine walls and jump suits, instead the authors create  a series of fractured microcosms ranging from an almost frontier, yet modernized Los Angeles, to cultures of roving criminals and gypsies. Like the World itself, the voice of the narrative is quite inconsistent, yet I don’t think this was necessarily a bad thing. As Logan moves from society to society looking for Sanctuary, the landscape often matches his fractured psyche as tries to reconcile his search for meaning with his desire to live. Of course, to make matters tougher for Logan, there is a girl. Isn’t there always a girl? I never really found myself comfortable in Logan’s World. While the plotting and voice were a bit uneven, and the novel was definitely a reflection of it’s time, overall I have to say I’m glad I experienced it. While together there was some unevenness, each microcosm experienced by Logan offered a fascinating look at the worlds the authors extrapolated from the youth uprising of the 60’s. I think if you look at it as more a series of interconnecting vignettes, you can appreciate the story more. It may not be a book I ever place high on my list of favorites, but it was definitely one I am glad I got the chance to experience.

Luckily, to make the ride a bit smoother, we have one of my favorite narrators, Oliver Wyman. Wyman gives another wonderful reading as he guides us through the various stops that Logan makes on his search for Sanctuary. There are a lot of chances for Wyman to show his chops and he doesn’t disappoint. From the gangs of “cubs” to the sing songy patois of the gypsies, Wyman helps build on what the author’s create by bringing the various cultures and groups to life. Particularly, the language of the Gypsies, which was reminiscent of Russell Hoban’s Riddley Walker, was wonderfully performed. There would be a temptation to sacrifice some level of authenticity of the style in which it is written in order to make it more accessible, but Wyman doesn’t do this, making it a highlight of the audiobook experience for me. I think another challenge, for both the narrator and the listener, is to remember that, despite the roles the characters in this novel are, they are by our standards, children. Wyman never lets us forget this, making the realities of the novel that much starker for the listener. All in all, I found it to be a wonderful performance that stayed true to the essence of the novel.

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5 responses

30 08 2012
Tanya/ dog eared copy

When I was a little girl, I loved the movie! The voice of the Carousel? Still the epitome of female voice-overs as far as I’m concerned! Dated Sci-Fi aside, I found the premise very interesting and a certain comparison to Bladerunner inevitable 🙂 Still, we’re supposed to talk about the audio, yes? I haven’t listened to it; but I might in the future. I admit that I’m a little disappointed that, despite the charms of Oliver Wyman, Michael York didn’t narrate Logan’s Run. Even though York is an older narrator now, York could have lent the work a certain panache and novelty for having played the lead in the film.

30 08 2012
Elle

just wanted to say i love audiobooks and i love your blog…keep it up x

30 08 2012
russell1200

“The strange thing is, there has been many times where I actually have had more fun hunting down a lost classic then I did actually reading it.”

LOL- That is so true!

30 08 2012
Redhead

just recently watched this movie for the thousanth time. Happy to hear there is an audio, and that it’s not too long. I could listen to the whole thing in a weekend, which is a huge plus.

31 08 2012
Dave

Very cool, although now I’m left wondering if the book will hold up in audio to that initial reaction I had as a reader. I remember being a bit shocked at how much more dark and twisted the novel was than the movie (and I really enjoyed the movie). But the book was way more wicked, and way more fun. Looking forward to getting back to it!

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