I said in my review of Logan’s Run that its pacing made it readable, but what put it over the top was its science fiction. To prove that, I submit Logan’s World.
In an Afterword to the novel, Nolan tells us that Logan was his creation, as was the basic premise of Logan’s Run. This, I suppose, to account for the fact that he wrote this book on his own. He does, though, credit his earlier co-author, George Clayton Johnson, with having “contributed a great deal to the world of Logan and Jessica.” If I were to judge based solely on these two books, I’d have to agree. For it seems that Johnson contributed the part that, ultimately, made it so good.
But the pacing may have come from Nolan. Logan’s World, while not the rocket-car of its predecessor, moves swiftly enough to keep you turning the pages, the way any competent thriller will. But something is missing in all the excitement: the thrill of discovery. This time, Logan’s world is too much like our own. Nolan adds virtually nothing to the world-building of the first book, and instead actually tosses a great deal of it out the window.
When this book opens, the Sandmen have already destroyed the Sanctuary line and Ballard, the leader of the resistance, has in turn destroyed The Thinker. The Thinker is the colossal computer system that kept the cities — and the death-age system — in place. Without it, the people leave the cities and return to a more primitive life on the land. When his family is attacked while he’s away gathering much-needed supplies and his pair-mate, Jessica, is kidnapped, Logan is off and running again, with Gun in hand and hate in his mind.
Logan, of course, isn’t so much a character as a force, a fantasy — an action hero. If you like that kind of thing (and I guess I do), he’s a good one. He likes killing the bad guys and I have to admit I like watching them die. I don’t want to give the wrong impression, though. Logan doesn’t torture them and Nolan doesn’t linger on it. He kills them and moves on, the world a slightly safer place without them.
This is a violent story, make no mistake about it. It’s a primitive world. You can guess what happens to Jessica. But Nolan treats all the violence equally, as do the characters. No long descriptions, no excuses — just a sentence usually, a few words, and it’s done with.
This part of the book works. Up until the end, anyway, when Logan faces one of those antagonists for whom his enemy’s death is such a personal thing that he simply must devise some special means to destroy him. Then it gets a little silly. But this, after all, is the stuff of any ordinary thriller — gangs, drug dealers, maniacal cops. Without the science, the fiction is lacking. It’s interesting to note that Nolan’s one contribution to the world his characters inhabit is a fantastical one: telepathy.
Mr. Johnson, you are missed.