Thursday, January 25, 2018

Logan's World (Logan's Run #2)

Logan's World, by William F. Nolan
December, 1977  Bantam Books

Ten years after Logan’s Run, William Nolan returned to the character he had created in July, 1963 (per the Author’s Afterward of this book); this time he wrote the book without a co-author, and picked up hero Logan 3’s life ten years after the events of the previous book. My assumption was Nolan was trying to catch fire, what with Logan’s Run the film coming out the year before and Logan’s Run the TV series (which was very short lived) coming out the same year as this book. But it does not appear that Logan’s World resonated as strongly as its predecessor did.

The original book was almost two halves; the first was about Logan in his psychedelicized future world, playing Sandman and slowly gaining a conscience. The second half was a series of mostly disconnected adventures, with Logan and new “pairmate” Jessica 6 running around their strange post-nuke world, being chased by other Sandmen and encountering a host of bizarre “outcasts,” all of whom wanted to kill them. Of the two halves, I vastly preferred the first, even more so in the film version, which as I stated in my review I also preferred to the source novel. So you can imagine my dismay that, for the most part, Logan’s World follows the vibe of the second half of Logan’s Run, with Logan running around a post-nuke Earth and encountering a variety of bizarre “outcasts” and former Sandmen, all of whom are out for his blood.

Nolan has published many, many novels, and is well respected in the sci-fi field, but I’m having a hard time connecting with his writing. I’m not the type of reader who needs every little thing spelled out for me, but boy, Nolan really expects his readers to do a lot of heavy lifting. Hardly anything is described, and what is described is done so in the vaguest manner possible. Most characters and items aren’t described at all – for example, Logan spends the first half of the book flying around the country in a “paravane,” and I had no idea what the thing was supposed to look like. But then it seems description would’ve made the book longer, and Nolan appears to have been going for speed, and thus brevity; the novel is filled with single-line paragraphs and in many ways comes off more like an outline than an actual completed novel.

Another hindrance to my enjoyment: the reader can’t help but feel, through the first quarter or so of Logan’s World, that he has missed an earlier sequel. It’s ten years on and all kinds of stuff has happened – Logan and Jessica escaped to the moon colony Argos, where they had a son, Jaq, but over the years the ships bringing the food stopped coming and famine has resulted in most all of Argos being dead, and now Logan and family have come back to Earth, ten years after the last novel, to survive. And six years ago Ballard, the guy who got Logan to the sanctuary of Argos and saved so many others, came down to Earth, destroyed the AI construct “the Thinker,” and thus broke down the entire roboticized civilization of America, sacrificing himself.

But all the above is slowy eked out in the fast-moving narrative, to the point that nothing has any impact. We’re caught up on important things almost in hindsight. For example, we’re told Logan and Jessica have a son, and the next page we’re told he’s already dying of an Earth-borne virus his Argos-raised body has no natural defenses against. For that matter, Jaq has like a line or two in the book, and makes no connection with the reader, and thus his fate, while terrible, doesn’t have the impact it should. We don’t even know for sure what happened to Ballard until midway through. But anyway all the stuff I liked so much about the first half of Logan’s Run is gone; when Ballard killed the Thinker and shut down the mechanisms that ran society, all that stuff like the “hallucimils” and the domed cities and whatnot ceased to be. Indeed, the city people are now known, goofily enough, as “the Wilderness people.”

Logan when we meet him is squatting in an old colonial mansion on the Potomac, fretting over his rapidly-dying son. Logan is not re-introduced to us with much fanfare, however he is consumed with guilt over his Sandman past. There are many scenes throughout where he will flash back or dream about a past Sandman kill, constantly reminding himself that he had no choice at the time. Local Wildnerness People leader Jorath tells Logan that a certain serum could cure young Jaq, but it’s a hot commodity on the black market; Logan will have to venture into the crime-ridden area of “the Arcade” to find any.

So Logan pulls the first of many dumb stunts in the novel, plumb leaving Jessica and Jaq to their own defenses, without even a weapon – Logan we learn threw away his own “Gun” (ie his Sandman Gun, always capitilized), and he himself goes into Arcade on his “paravane” with nothing to defend himself. Right on cue, a gang of “outcasts,” dressed in lace and Florentine styles and dubbing themselves “the Borgias” move in on the colonial mansion, abduct Jessica, kill Jaq (the cardinal pulp rule broken in like the first twenty pages – ie a kid is killed), and make off with their booty. We will later learn that Jessica is repeatedly raped and gang-raped and even lez-raped, given Borgia leader Lucrezia’s sapphic impulses. Gee, I wonder why this one wasn’t made into a movie, too?

Logan, after being chased by various thugs, gets the serum, only to get back home and find the corpse of his son. A harrowing moment, but one that is ruined by the terse, outline-esque treatment the novel receives. Worse yet, Logan hardly even reflects over the boy, and when he does occasionally think of him, it is to fuel his rage. Folks, my son turns a year old tomorrow, and if something God forbid were to happen to him, I don’t think I’d be capable of rushing into action for revenge, at least not as promptly as Logan does. I mean, you’d think the dude would be just a little upset. But then Logan is just a cipher, really. He’s out for blood and wants to get Jessica back, too. So he does what any other former Sandman would do, finds an old Runner named Andar who happens to be a seer, and who looks into his mind and tells Logan that Jessica has been taken to the Florida Keys!

Nolan also isn’t much for paying off on reader expectations; we want to see Lucrezia and her sadistic underlings pay, and pay bloodily. But when Logan sows his vengeance, wielding a newly-acquired Sandman Gun and blasting away with undescribed rounds like “Flamers” and “Rippers,” it’s merely rendered as: “It was over very quickly. In a pain-blurred rage, Logan killed them all.” That’s it, folks. I mean, I would’ve liked to have seen a few “Rippers” to the crotches of the rapists, and maybe some special torment for the bastard who killed Jaq. But it’s this very outline-esque vibe that undermines the novel throughout. Oh, and Lucrezia, before meeting her own quickly-rendered fate, informs Logan that Jessica is dead.

Well, we’re not even a quarter of a way through the novel yet, so that’s not good – I mean Logan’s already lost his wife and his kid. So eventually he hits on the idea of dosing himself with R-11, a drug that, in the old days, was used in special “Re-Live” parlors. R-11 allows users to re-live their lives, but the parlors gave exact doses that allowed specific moments to be re-lived; Logan wants to take a heroic dose and lose himself in the past, forever. He has to go all the way to “the New York Complex” to find any of the expensive and rare stuff; it’s in the hands of a woman named Lacy 14, who runs a black market empire from a building that still functions, given that it was not connected to the Thinker in the old days and thus didn’t shut down when Ballard destroyed the AI.

The novel is a bit more spicy than its predecessor, not that we get much detail or anything – Logan just gets laid a lot more. Lacy’s demanded “payment” for the R-11 is to watch Logan screw two sexy black women; Logan decides, what the hell, to “lose himself in flesh” and complies. The act happens off-page. In return, Lacy gives Logan a “full dex” of the drug, as well as a room to occupy for his trip. The novel takes a psychedelic turn as we get fractured moments from Logan’s past, presented wily-nily, from his childhood to his Sandman days to finally his time with Jessica and Jaq. But meanwhile Lacy has decided to kill Logan for his Gun (not sure why she can’t just take it, as he’s comatose from the drug), and poisons the room.

Logan’s ass is saved by the telepathic aid of Dia, beautiful blonde daughter of Andor. He gets his Gun, maybe kills Lacy (he shoots her with a “Tangler,” which I guess is maybe a net?), and escapes. But the reader questions why Logan even wants to live. His goal with R-11 was to escape this horrible new world without his wife and kid, and to live in the past. So why should he be concerned he’s going to die? Actually, he would die while in the re-live grip of the R-11, ie with his family again, so wouldn’t death be exactly what he’d want at that moment? But Nolan hopes the reader won’t think of this.

Instead, Logan goes and lives in a coral castle along the sea with Dia and her equally-beautiful sister. I mean why not?? More off-page sex for Logan, who is so consumed with the telepathic women that he’s about to give in to their requests that he deny his actual sight and join them in full telepathy, blinding himself via a large mirror(!?). Once again someone shows up just in the nick of time to save Logan’s ass; Wildnerness leader Jorath, who brings word that Jessica is alive, after all. Lucrezia Borgia was lying, in a vain attempt to save her life.

The final quarter of the novel is comprised of Logan freeing Jessica from the grip of Gant, a former Sandman who has gathered together an army of former Sandmen, all of whom still hate Logan for his treachery in the first book. And Gant, we’re told, has long been Logan’s archenemy. Gant might be black; I’m not sure, again due to Nolan’s vague descriptions, which merely inform us that Gant is almost seven feet tall and has “dark, burnished skin,” whatever that means. He also has replaced his teeth with rubies. He makes his base on Crazy Horse mountain, in the Dakotas, a familiar setting from the previous book, as here was the home of the Thinker, which sprawled across entire acres. Now Gant is repairing the computer with the intent of taking over the world anew.

Meanwhile he has purchased Jessica, from Lucrezia Borgia of course, and uses her to taunt Logan. Our hero again comes off poorly, captured promptly and thrust into a “stormroom,” where he is battered by artifcially-controlled elements to the point of insanity and incontinence. Gant tosses the near-vegetable Logan into a cave with Jessica, who tends to him, and periodically shows up to force Jessica to whip Logan for his amusement. Weird, wild stuff, as my man Johnny Carson would say. 

But Logan’s saved again, this time courtesy Mary-Mary, a teen girl who apparently once met Jessica, back when the City was still alive. She’s part of a resistance movement dedicated to stopping Gant. The finale sees an incredibly drawn-out sequence in which a healed Logan marshals a strike force against Gant’s men, with the intent of destroying the Thinker (again). Meanwhile various characters are captured anew, forcing periodic rescue attempts. The finale goes down as expected, with Gant’s plot foiled and the Thinker again destroyed – blown up real good.

“I intend to keep [Logan] running for a long time to come!” Nolan assures us in the Author’s Afterward, but as it turns out, only one more novel was forthcoming: Logan’s Search, in 1980. Perhaps the failure of the TV series, coupled with the failure of this novel to attain the fame of its predecessor, soured him on the idea of doing much more.


Jerry House said...

there was another story, "Logan's Mission," which appeared last year in an anthology, NEVER FEAR: THE APOCALYPSE. I understand there were several more stories planned as e-Books, but they never appeared.

Invisible Customers by Earl Pilkington said...

I have all 3 volumes of the Logans Run universe - very weird, especially the last book which was like a LSD trip with aliens and more!
Absolutley LOVE this series, and haven't re-read them for about 15 years - I will have to dig them out and have a re-read.
Thanks for the review - rekindled my love for the series.