Logans Run’s George Clayton Johnson has died

lr1I’ve read today of the death of George Clayton Johnson, who passed away on Christmas Day aged 86. Johnson was the co-author of the 1967 novel Logans Run, which will be remembered by any geek who grew up in the 1970s due to the MGM film, the Marvel comic and short-lived tv series that were all inspired by it. It was the last major sci-fi property prior to Star Wars the following summer, and the film is a fascinating insight into how much sci fi changed when Star Wars arrived (these days the film is most famous for its fine Jerry Goldsmith score- Goldsmith had a talent for writing superb scores to lesser films).

lt2I didn’t see the Logans Run film itself until years later (although as I recall, plenty of footage from it was used in the pilot episode of the tv show) but I read the original novel (re-released with the films gorgeous poster art) and enjoyed the comic adaptation (its brilliant how they turned the film into an action title- typical 70s Marvel).

The film was a big budget, high profile production but looks so old and inferior to Lucas’ film, its like something from some other decade rather than the year before. The film bore little resemblance to the original book- I recall reading the book and being curious at how much the Marvel comic deviated from it, but of course the comic was based on the film which had itself changed so much of the story. In the novel ‘lastday’ was reached at the age of 21, while in the film it was age 30: this was likely amended to enable casting older, more seasoned/tested leads but in this day and age of ever-younger leads targeting ever-younger demographics I could see the ‘proper’ age of 21 being adopted in any future film version.

Johnson earlier wrote several episodes of Rod Serling’s Twilight Zone series; these would include some of the shows most successful tales, perhaps most notably the episode ‘Kick the Can’ which was later adopted as a segment directed by Steven Spielberg for the big-screen Twilight Zone Movie in 1983. The Twilight Zone led to further work in television, including an episode of the original Star Trek series (‘The Man Trap’– not one the show’s finest hours but it does have the distinction of being the first episode broadcast).

 

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