April 9th, 2005

Whale fluke

“Not real,” “Yeah, right,” and so on and so forth

First, an update: I missed it, but on Sunday the 3rd a former church building was rolled up Milwaukie Ave. to S.E. 10th, just south of Powell. I went walking a few evenings ago and found the place, after tracing its path (remembering which roads had been cleared of parking last weekend). It’ll be a recital hall for the piano store near the Aladdin Theater and the Original Hot Cake and Steak House, for those of you who know Portland geography.

I read the original, 1967 novel version of Logan’s Run this week, the one that inspired a film I found both cheesy and strangely compelling (and which may inspire a kick-ass new movie, as Bryan Singer hopes to make a new Logan’s Run after Superman Returns). I found the book, um, less than compelling, not as idea-thick as I thought it could have been. (The story, nutshelled: 200 years from now, society is run by young people, most of whom willingly die at age 21 to keep the population under control. A state-sanctioned manhunter named Logan, under the pretense that he is searching for a “sanctuary” where people flee to avoid death, becomes a “runner” himself and a wanted fugitive, along with a girl named Jessica. Love and explosions follow.)

For such a short novel (148 pages), the focus seems to be on the unlikelier aspects of a world run only by young people. Example: a scene of a robot recreation of a Civil War battle seems to have been written because It Looks Cool, but it doesn’t feel like part of the story, instead becoming scenery for Logan and Jessica to run past. I imagined briefly that the Disney Animatronic-like battle recreation was a relic, built before the novel’s so-called Little War where young people took over the world, but that’s doubtful based on the rest of the book. Would people be able to learn enough and get enough experience to be able to start running the world as teenagers? Yes, machines help (in another part of the story that I found unlikely, the master computers that keep America functioning are in giant caverns under South Dakota’s Crazy Horse Mountain – why not have used NORAD in Colorado, where there really is much buried equipment? And for that matter, has war been stopped? Is it even an issue any more? Wow, this parenthetical is getting long), but this doesn’t seem like a society that could work for even a day, let alone two hundred years. And for that matter, what is work like in such a world? How do people make their living? Stephen King has said how surprised he is that people like to read about work, which also partly explains the appeal of procedural shows like CSI. For me, too many unanswered questions rose up, and became annoying.

I do admire the segment, however, where Logan ducks into a Re-Live parlor that lets him re-experience his memories as if they were physically happening to him again. That’s the best part of the book, I feel, where the world the authors created feels most organic, most real, most likely. Hey, if the remake of Dawn of the Dead can have verisimilitude, can really feel like what would happen if zombies took over the world, then this story could have had that, too.