Logan’s Run vs. Logan’s Run

Logan Book


Logan Movie

I listened to an audiobook of the classic science fiction novel “Logan’s Run” with the intention of reviewing it. However, I couldn’t evaluate the story on its own; I could only think of it in terms of the “Logan’s Run” movie, or more accurately, my decades-old memories of the movie. So, instead of issuing a rating, I will simply compare and contrast. The two stories have significant differences, but both feature Logan, a law enforcement officer who hunts “runners” – fugitives fleeing a mandatory euthanasia program.

The Spoiler DragonThe Spoiler Dragon

The dystopias of both the book and the movie solve the problem of resource scarcity by killing their citizens who reach a certain age: 21 in the book, 30 in the movie. These are sort of “happy” dystopias, the people have food, clothing, shelter, and entertainment; the only downside being death at the specified age. I prefer the movie version; the recent political controversies surrounding healthcare in the USA make it easy to imagine a society that kills its people as they begin to need medical treatment. I’ve also done some teaching in the past few years, and feel that a society run by those under 21 would collapse within months. However, both dystopias are managed by artificial intelligences, so perhaps either could work.

In the movie, the people going to their deaths have a religious belief that they can “renew” (be reborn in a new body). In the book, the euphemism “sleep” is used for the deaths, but I got the impression the people knew it was really death; the characters talk about it as a civic obligation. At first, I thought they were putting the people into some sort of cryo-stasis to be unthawed in a better future, this would have been an interesting sci-fi twist; an even better one might have been if people had been told there were cryo chambers, but there weren’t. Again, I prefer the movie version; maybe it’s my recent experience with the age group, but I imagine a large percentage of 21 year olds would run if all that motivated them to stay was their civic duty.

In both stories, Logan is hunting for “Sanctuary”, the place runners try to escape to. In the book, Logan just takes off independently on his 21st birthday, trying to accomplish one last mission. The movie version is much more interesting: Logan (who is not yet 30) is sent on a covert mission to pose as a runner and locate sanctuary. The AI changes his hand-chip from red to black (the color used to visually identify 30-year-olds). In one of the best scenes of the movie, Logan asks the AI if he will get his years back at the end of the mission, and receives no answer – only silence.

I also enjoyed the flow of the movie more than that of the book. In the book, Logan seems to encounter a series of homicidal characters more or less at random, while the movie seems much more structured. One example is the encounter with the robotic/cyborg character named Boggs or Box (I only heard the name, didn’t read it). In the book, a rail system malfunction sends Logan to a prison, where he must first fight a prisoner in a duel to the death, then encounters the sociopathic cyborg killer while trying to escape. In the movie, the cyborg is a food processor; he used to clean and freeze fish, but when the fish stopped arriving, he began freezing the other protein that was delivered to him: the runners seeking sanctuary. It is a powerfully sad moment when you realize that the entire sanctuary movement was only sending runners to a different kind of execution. Logan is the first runner to carry a gun, and thus the first to survive.

There was only one element I liked better in the book than the movie: the “cubs”. These are some younger kids, who in both stories represent a deadly threat and occupy a separate area of the city where sane people do not venture. In the book, the cubs are dangerous because they take drugs which make them incredibly fast and strong. I don’t remember any rationale in the movie, but it’s possible I’ve just forgotten, or that there was some drug reference I was too young to comprehend.

The book and movie have radically different endings, but I don’t think I need to introduce any further spoilage; I clearly enjoyed the movie more than the book. I was quite surprised at this outcome; with no evidence or reasoning to back me up, I tend to automatically assume that the book will be better than the movie. Does anyone else feel this way, either with or without a reason? I also suspect I might have a psychological characteristic which causes me to prefer the first version of something I’m shown to the second version; do you think you have a bias one way or the other?

There are two sequels to the novel:

Logan's World Logan's Search

The movie spawned a TV series:

Logan TV


  1. I own the DVD of the film. I felt it dated rather poorly, particularly the art direction. I think it’s funny how Farrah Fawcett was on all the posters but she has a small (almost a walk-on) part. Listening to the director’s commentary is fun, it’s clear that Michael York would rather have it forgotten that he was in it, and he struggles to explain why he took the job without actually using the phrase “I needed the money”.

    1. I don’t usually like to watch a movie more than once, but perhaps I’ll have to rent the movie one day and see how it compares to my memories.

      1. Great idea, BTW. I would love to see more comparisons of book vs. movie. Rollerball (the first film–the second was nonsense) vs. the original short story, Soylent Green vs. Make Room, Make Room, The Planet Of The Apes.. Lots of good possibilities.

        1. I caught both Rollerball (Heston version – I agree, some interesting stuff there, but I wasn’t motivated to see the more recent version) and Soylent Green on TV, and only caught the last halves, so I’ll have to watch the full flicks.

          Ender’s game springs to mind for recent films, and I would say World War Z, but you might as well compare that film to Moby Dick as to the WWZ book, you’d probably find more similarities.

    2. You know, I think the art direction’s the part of the movie I like the best. But that may reflect that it’s an era and style that I happen to particularly enjoy.

      1. I really like the set designs and costumes from this time period; maybe it’s nostalgia, or maybe just my personal preferences.

  2. I imprinted on the movie, too. I saw it in Berkeley at the UA Theatre in 1976. There was no one in the theatre except my husband and I, which was sort of spooky but seemed appropriate somehow.

    1. That does sound like a great way to watch the movie!

  3. Jenny Agutter. Enough said.

  4. I didn’t imprint on the movie as strongly as others my age — probably because I saw it years later than most of my peers — who saw it in its theatrical release.

    I have fond memories of the tv series, especially of the last episode I saw. It was “Man Out of Time” — the fifth episode aired according to IMDB. I hadn’t read a lot of time travel stories so the ending paradox was novel. And the series inspired me to try writing my own science fiction. (It was dreadful and derivative.)

    The first novel of the trilogy is the only one I’ve read. I recall it being a ramshackle affair, but, having grown up in the area, it was thrilling to have Mount Rushmore and Deadwood show up as settings.

    There’s a funny homage to the movie in the film Free Enterprise.

    1. I think I only saw one episode of the TV show, and I can’t remember anything about its content. Maybe it’s worth watching to see if it sparks any sci-fi ideas.

  5. I used to assume the book version of something would always be better than the movie, but then I read the book version of The Princess Bride… Since then, I’ve read other books that were not as good as their movies. It’s uncommon, but it does happen.

    I haven’t read the novel Logan’s Run (although my clone-sibling has, which is almost the same thing), but I’ve seen the movie more than once. Based on everything I’ve heard about the novel, the movie is definitely better, pretty much for the reasons you describe: the movie makes more sense all the way around.

  6. I do have Logan’s World. I thought it would be a sequel to the movie and wasn’t quite what I expected. I do love the movie and the TV series was good.

    1. That’s understandable due to the radically different endings.

      I haven’t read Logan’s World, what did you think of it?

      1. It was over 25 years ago that I read it so I can’t really remember much. It was ok. Nothing stands out in my memory except that it was way different than the movie.

  7. http://bit.ly/1EOZ4nn (If you would like a refresher on the movie.)

    Though I have not read the novel(s) yet, I have seen the celluloid multiple times. I, in fact, have it on DVD. It has long been one of my favorite sci-fi movies.

    As you stated, I have found more often than not, that the books are more informative than the films, if only because the directors add their own visions to make them more marketable. There are some adaptations which stay close to the original, but they are few and far between.

    Thank you for giving me the knowledge of the book. I honestly hadn’t considered there might be one for Logan’s Run.
    — John

    1. Thanks for the link to the movie. I think I’ll wait to watch it, though, until I can get together with some relatives in front of a big-screen TV and a giant bucket of popcorn.

  8. […] The Gift of the Ob-Men by Schuyler Hernstrom. An outcast wanders across a post-apocalyptic landscape. Mushroom men give him a third eye, which keeps him alive by letting him see into the past and future. Portions of the story remind me of Logan’s Run. […]

  9. I rather like Box the crazed movie robot better than the crazed artist who puts Jessica in a Perils-of-Pauline situation in the book.

    And doddering Peter Ustinov was interesting with his cats in the Library of Congress, but I also like the novel’s twist with Ballard and Francis.

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