It’s the 23rd Century and, no surprise here, we’ve fucked up the planet beyond repair. Humanity has retreated into the safety of a self-contained habitat, like so many sorry hamsters.
The good news is that everyone is pretty happy and gets to spend their lives on fun and frolic.
The bad news is that on your 30th birthday, when the life-clock crystal embedded in your palm at birth starts to blink — you are expected to participate in a ritual called carousel in which you explode in a ball of flame and die. Some say you are renewed, that is born-again, but no one can say for certain.
Logan’s Run is a dystopian science-fiction story featuring young adults long before The Hunger Games was a twinkle in its seed mother’s eye.
The Logan of the title is a sandman — tasked with hunting down and killing those who refuse to sacrifice themselves when their time is up. When the city gets wind of a refuge for runners, a place called Sanctuary, Logan is charged with finding the safe-haven and destroying it. Like all good heroes, Logan has a change of heart and instead of posing as a runner actually becomes one. Jessica, who is connected with a sort of underground railroad for runners, helps Logan escape the city’s seals to seek out sanctuary.
Together Logan and Jessica ascend out of the city via an ancient rusty elevator into the very domain of our featured Monday robot.
Our robot’s name, as the frozen-seagull-art installation in his freeze-cave allegedly sings at night when the wind blows, is Box.
Horrifyingly, at times you can still see a human mouth flashing behind that metal jaw. As Box says, he is “more than machine, or man, more than a fusion of the two”. I have nightmares of a man being fused to bits of chrome and forced to plod on through eternity, never truly living and unable to die. Like disco.
Box has one job. He gets sent food, he freezes it.
What kind of food, you didn’t ask?
Fish, plankton, sea greens, and protein from the sea.
Box loves to intone his inventory list as if he were reciting the poems of Shakespeare. An amazing creation, Box appears to be constructed of mirrored glass, dryer-vent hose, oyster gloves and left-over jaw parts purloined from tinsmith’s workbench in Oz.
The problem for Box is that the food stopped coming long ago — presumably after the world ended. Humanity simply forgot or was too busy doming themselves in.
But another source of protein eventually appeared.
People. Runners. To Logan and Jessica’s horror, they realize that Box has been dutifully freezing people and it turns out he’s quite good at it. None of the runners who escaped the city before Logan and Jessica ever made it past the freezer section of the Box cave.
And Logan and Jessica are about to join them.
He’s not evil, he’s just programmed that way. Like so many robots before him, Box is tragically mistreated for merely doing his job and doing it diligently.
- in the book you didn’t live past your teens, but adjustments were made for the movie when even Hollywood couldn’t pass off Michael York as a teen [↩]