In this corner, from 1967, written by William F. Nolan & George Clayton Johnson, weighing in at 148 pages we have…
It’s the story of Logan 3, a Deep Sleep man, who is unhappy with his life. All around him are things for his pleasure, “Come here and get some drugs!” “Over here you can have sex with any of these girls!” That sort of thing. But something inside him is gnawing away at him, he feels unfulfilled, he’s almost twenty-one and has yet to do anything truly spectacular with his life.
In the year 2000, there was the Little War. The population of the world had become too much to bear, so in answer to the ever increasing epidemic of children, Congress passed Amendment Thirty-nine, the Compulsory Birth Control Act. President Curtain implored young people to show some restraint. He pointed at the food shortages of having to support 6-billion and the necessity of the Act. The young people couldn’t stand listening to an overfed, father of nine, politician, who didn’t want for anything. Naturally, there were protests, at one, in particular, an onlooker said the wrong thing at the wrong time. On March Third, the Little War took its first casualty. One thing led to another, and by the morning half of Washington D.C. was in flames, Senators and Congressmen were hanged from trees and lampposts. The military was called, but many of the servicemen were under the age of twenty-one, and they sympathized with the young rebels, so they defected.
Within the intervening two weeks, fearful politicians around America deserted their posts, and the Little War was over.
After the young had control of the government, they proceeded to tackle the problem of overpopulation. One man had the answer, he was sixteen, and so charismatic he was able to convince the entire world to embrace final slumber at twenty-one. And so by 2072, there was no one over the drinking age.
Logan chases Runner, Doyle, to Cathedral, a neglected part of Los Angeles where cubs do what they please, and at this moment they want to kill the Runner who crossed the bridge. Logan is eventually able to recover the body and hear the man’s last words, “Sanctuary.”
Logan realizes, this is it, this is his mission in life. Find and destroy Sanctuary. Good thing he found this out in time too, because he’s on Last Day, and now has twenty-four hours to complete his mission.
He learns the next step on the path and makes his way to see Doc. Doc discovers this “Runner” is actually a Sandman and tries to kill him. Logan gets away with the help of Jessica, Doyle’s twin sister, and soon they find themselves deep under the ocean.
Jessica discovers Logan is a DS man and, in fear of her life, runs from Logan when they meet the next contact on the road to Sanctuary. The man, upon learning of Logan’s occupation he locks him a flooding room and gives Jessica the key to the next destination. She rescues Logan, and they hop on board a mazecar which takes them to Hell instead.
Hell is the subzero prison where the pair meets Box, the insane half man half machine who makes ice sculptures. They learn how to leave, and Logan has the epiphany to visit the machine in charge of all humanity, the Thinker.
They head for South Dakota and learn about the three dead spots the Thinker has no power over. The next stop on the list seems to be Washington, D.C. After some shenanigans involving some gypsies, a hovercraft chase, and a pit stop in the Nursery, they head for D.C.
Of course, they’re stopped before they get there and end up hiding in an all android Civil War reenactment scene. They make it to D.C. finally, only to learn it’s a jungle now, and they find Ballard, the oldest man in the world, and the person who set up Sanctuary.
After a scuffle, Logan is unconscious, and Ballard tells Jessica the final destination is Cape Steinbeck and to leave the Sandman. She then declares her love for Logan and sucker punches Ballard.
Logan and Jess get to the Cape, but Francis, a fellow DS man, is close on their heels. Logan says something in his exhausted state that comes out as disjointed words, and Francis reveals that he is Ballard, and he can now trust Logan. The two Runners board a rocket to Sanctuary, which is on the dark side of the Moon.
A happy ending for all.
And our second contender, from 1976, weighing in at 118 minutes.
In the year 2274, Logan, played by Michael York, is content in his life, he’s got four years before his turn on Carrousel, and he enjoys succumbing to his pleasures.
Upon attending the Last Day ritual of Carrousel, he’s called to his Sandman duty, which his friend and coworker, Francis, played by Richard Jordan, joins him on the hunt of a Runner.
After toying with the Runner for a bit, they finally kill the man and find an ankh on him. The next day Logan turns it in to the computer, which tells him there are 1,056 Runners unaccounted for and sends him on a mission to find a destroy Sanctuary. It makes his life-clock blink, thus putting him on Last Day, and giving him a cover story for why he is Running.
Logan remembers a girl he saw the night before, Jessica, played by Jenny Agutter, and recalls that she was wearing a necklace with the same symbol on it. He gets in contact with her and tells her he’s going to Run and asks for her help. She’s doubtful because “No Sandman’s ever Run.” so she sets him up.
On their way to the ambush, they’re sidetracked by a Runner in Cathedral, and to prove his loyalty to Sanctuary, he lets the woman go. However, he didn’t know that Francis had followed him and seen the whole exchange, so when the pair leaves, Francis kills the Runner.
Jessica, now willing to believe Logan, tells him of the ambush and takes him to Doc, Michael Anderson Jr., to get a face change. Farrah Fawcett hits on Logan, while Doc gets the call to kill the Sandman. Technology runs amok, and Doc gets sliced up, leaving Jessica and Logan to make a run for it.
They make it to a secret base that Logan believes is Sanctuary. Farrah Fawcett shows up and tells them Doc is dead, and that Logan killed him. With some witness leading that would make an attorney blush, everyone is convinced Logan is okay, and he can go on.
Little did they know he’d sent out a call to headquarters upon entering, and now there’s a gun battle taking place. Logan and Jessica run through the maze-like underbelly of the domed city and end up on an elevator that takes them to a freezer.
The machine made out of mirrors, Box, is in charge of food for the city and informs them that the sea life stopped coming. His solution? Store the people who come up to his lair in ice, for later consumption.
Logan and Jessica escape and step outside for the first time in their lives when they realize there is no Sanctuary. They travel for days through a jungle before the come upon a large domed building. Inside they met a man, played by Peter Ustinov, older than they thought anyone could be.
He starts quoting Cats! when Francis shows up and attacks Logan. They fight to the death, bury Francis and decided they need to go back to the city and let the people know they’re needlessly throwing away their lives.
The city blows up, and the people make it out and see the old man.
I found the book easy to put down; it moves too quick, Logan is super-awesome-mc badass at everything, so he comes off a bit flat. Jessica is much the same way, except instead of being awesome, she just kind of fell, and whined a lot, and I’m genuinely tired of the “damsel in distress” character type. And then there’s the Francis/Ballard twist, it felt unnecessary and almost like an afterthought. Oh, and the love. They knew each other for twenty-four hours, and half that time, Jessica was distrustful of Logan. “You’re a Sandman.” “You just like to kill.” And then out of the blue, “But I love him.” I’m sorry, you’re mistaking gratitude for love. I understand sometimes that’s a hard thing to distinguish, but damn lady, you’ve known him for a day, and I get that you’ve gone through a bit together, but that’s not love. If this is your first date, how are the others going to compare? “Logan, you haven’t saved my life in a while, so I’m taking the kids and leaving. All you do now is farm the moon, and help to maintain this decaying, abandoned, space station. You’re just not the same man I fell in love with that day we were running for our lives.”
It does have its moments, and I can see why it was picked up to be adapted.
The movie, while dated by now, and a little slow at times is the clear winner in my opinion. It didn’t try to shove everything the book did into it, and for that I’m grateful.The world is much smaller, keeping it to the single city dome thing they have going on, so people are oblivious to any other life. And I’d like to think that as a species, humans wouldn’t opt to kill themselves at twenty-one. I mean what the hell have you done by then? If you’re only getting a two-year degree, you can finish school. You’ve barely begun to grow, and discover who you actually are. I like the age thirty life-clock better because that seems a little more plausible. Also, the Carrousel hides the true nature of the act, you know you’re going to die, but the lie of Renewal was perpetuated so much that you believe anytime someone dies on the Carrousel, they don’t truly die. I also like this ending much better. While everyone made their escape to “Outside” they’ll be understandably confused, and they’ll have a lot to learn. But it gives the same hope that you get when you watch the people get off the spaceship at the end of Wall-e. I also like that Logan was forced on his quest to find Sanctuary, instead of him just having a vendetta against Runners. They did well with what they had to work with, and while it seems over the top at times, it’s a fun movie that I don’t mind sitting down to watch.