Run, Logan, Run

Today’s the day that I take a look at science fiction and tell you there is no such thing as a free lunch (TINSTAAFL Tuesday).

If you’ve read anything new recently, there is a good chance there’s a utopian/dystopian society involved.  Dystopias have a great deal to teach us about human behavior.

This week’s novel was written by William F. Nolan and George Clayton Johnson in 1967: Logan’s Run.  That’s a little before my time, but the movie was made in 1976 and made an impression on my young mind.  Since most people stare at me blankly when I mention it, I’m giving it some attention today.

Michael York (Logan) and  Jenny Agutter (Jessica) starred.  Farrah Fawcett had a role (the poster shows her rather prominently).  In the 23rd Century, a computer controls all living conditions and resources in a domed city that protects the inhabitants from the destroyed world outside.  The citizens do whatever they want and live decadently, because they don’t have to work or worry about anything (or wear much clothing, either).

Sounds boring…  But wait, there’s a price.  There is no such thing as a free lunch.

The price is that no one can live beyond the age of 30.  Each person has a life crystal, which indicates age by color, embedded one hand.  When it goes dark, he or she must be culled in the ritualistic killing called the Carrousel with the promise of rebirth.  I remember this scene more than any others in the movie.

{On a side note, In Logan’s Run, the novel, the age limit was 21. This is also the cutoff date for most people in the movie In TimeMarcy Kennedy addressed the question about life and death in that movie.  You should check them both out (the movie and her blog).}

Those who don’t want to die this horrible death escape beyond the dome.  Logan is a skilled Sandman (police assassin), who prevents Runners from escaping to find the mythical Sanctuary.  The computer gives him into an undercover operation.  His life crystal goes dark four years early to force him to find and destroy Sanctuary.  He escapes and meets Jessica, who is also on the run.

I won’t give away the endings.  The novel and the movie have differences.  Read the summaries on Wikipedia (which also explains the novel that I must now read) and iMDb.

The young people in the domed city were complacent and quite happy to let a computer tell them that the rest of the world was uninhabitable.  They were conditioned to go willingly into the Carrousel on their “lastday” to die a public and fiery death because they outlived their allocated resources and it was their time to start over.  *shiver*

One of the things I love about science fiction is that it presents a problem (dark, twisted, and scary sometimes) to make us think for ourselves and to live.

At lunch yesterday, a friend mentioned a country that rules in such a manner that the people don’t know that life beyond their land is different–they’ve been told the outside world is dangerous.  They believe the government will take care of them even while many of them live in conditions that we would find unlivable.  People are hunted down who try to escape.  Since this is not a political blog, that’s as far as I’ll go.  You get the picture.  The similarities were startling to me, perhaps because I’d already written the draft for this post about Logan’s Run.

Digging deeper, the conversation made me think about what Logan’s Run can teach us about our own lives.  Have we already grown complacent about certain things?

We go to the grocery store to buy packaged food.  We don’t produce or butcher our own food, for the most part, anymore (although home gardening is on the rise).  It has become second nature to use the internet for instant and constant communication.  We don’t think about it, but we expect the technology to work and are always plugged in.  Things to ponder…

Now it’s your turn. Did you see Logan’s Run the movie or read the novel?  What do you think about the story?  What happens when we rely too heavily on technology to keep us safe?  Who gets to say at what age a person is no longer viable to society? 

8 comments on… “Run, Logan, Run”

  1. It’s pretty crazy how far a movie can drift from a book. When I was adapting some of my books to script, I looked at a lot of adaptations. Some were better than others.

    • Yes, it is. A friend told me that he disliked the novel but loved the movie.

      The first Percy Jackson movie is very different, much to my daughter’s disappointment.

      When will we see one of yours on the big screen? Did you have input into the adaptations? I’m really curious now.

      • I will give you the short version of my long, sad story. LOL! I adapted three or four and optioned one. It was in production when the funding fell through. The production company never could get the momentum going again. I wearied on pitching to Hollywood. They actually call to reject you and give you notes. LOL! But I did my own adaptations. That’s how I came to write my handbook on the topic. Because the few books out there on adapting, aren’t about adapting your own work.

        My son wasn’t wild about the Percy Jackson movie either.

        • It was pretty crazy. I had another script win a competition and this particular script did well in a couple of others, but it is pretty crazy. I learned that the only way to get your own material produced is to become a producer. Mostly scripts are calling cards to rewrite other peoples’ scripts. I didn’t want to do that and didn’t have the time or money to become a producer. LOL! So I write books now. But I think several of my books would make awesome movies and they have great roles for women.

  2. Logan’s Run is the movie I insisted on seeing on my 30th birthday! My son was only a month old, and hubby and I rented the DVD and watched the film. Great classic. I also enjoy sci-fi movies that ask these questions about governments, science, and technology. Control of information is a big red flag in societies that begin to lock their citizens down. Interesting post, Diana!

    • That was an interesting way to spend your 30th birthday but absolutely appropriate. Perhaps everyone should watch it on that birthday.

      Yes, we do need to be alert to what is going on in the rest of the world. Thanks for the comments.

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