->''Who is going to take responsibility?''

[[DividedStatesOfAmerica America has been left in ruins]] in the wake of the [[DoomyDoomsOfDoom Doomwar]], a conflagration of various doomsday scenarios. Seventeen years later, Gordon Krantz, who was a college sophomore before it all came down, struggles to survive in a harsh environment where scavenging and violence is the norm and the [[RightWingMilitiaFanatic vicious, fanatical Holnists]] reign supreme. He has been searching and searching for a place, anywhere, where "someone is taking responsibility." When he is robbed of most of his possessions, Gordon takes the uniform of a long-dead postman for warmth. The simple act of taking up this symbol soon [[SnowballLie snowballs]] into an elaborate tale casting Gordon as an agent of the fictional Restored United States. At first, he maintains this lie only to survive, but as hope springs up in his path, the lie becomes something more.

This 1985 novel by Creator/DavidBrin is most famous for [[TheFilmOfTheBook an adaptation]] made 12 years later [[StarDerailingRole that nearly killed]] Creator/KevinCostner's career.

!!This book provides examples of:
* ANaziByAnyOtherName: Holnists, who firmly believe that the strong should rule the weak, the only possible law is the law of jungle and idealism is only good for retarded kids.
* ActionGirl: Dena and her Scouts
* ActionSurvivor: Gordon, who most of the time just barely survives.
* AndTheAdventureContinues: The book ends with the Postman departing to find and make contact with [[spoiler: The Republic of California.]]
* AfterTheEnd
* AmazonBrigade: Dena's Army Scouts. [[spoiler: They are almost entirely wiped out after a failed plot to infiltrate and sabotage the Holnists.]]
* AmericaSavesTheDay: In a sense. [[spoiler:In that the Restored United States of America ultimately becomes very much real.]]
* ApocalypseHow: Continental/Societal Collapse. Unusually, there was not one single cause of the Doomwar. In fact, humanity probably could have weathered the nukes, the electromagnetic pulses, and the bioengineered diseases if not for the predatory, hypersurvivalist Holnists who took advantage of the situation.
* TheApunkalypse: The rule of law has collapsed AfterTheEnd, and bands of toughs roam the countryside roughing people up.
* ArcWords: "''Who will take responsibility?''"
* ArtisticLicenseGunSafety: Averted. [[CombatPragmatist Gordon]] never holds more than four bullets in his revolver, unless it's an emergency or it appears he's doomed. His gun is always secured in its holster. He takes a good care of it and always uses it with an accurate' two-hand grip.
* BadassNormal: One of Gordon's comrades is a former [[SemperFi Marine]], and when both of {{The Dragon}}s are killed off-page while hunting him, the BigBad assumes that he is responsible. [[spoiler: The second Dragon actually killed the Marine, and was killed in turn by [[BigDamnHeroes George Powhattan.]]]]
* BandOfBrothers: Gordon's fellow militiamen. [[spoiler: They have been dead for more than a decade when the story starts]].
* BasedOnAGreatBigLie / LiesToChildren: Gordon the Postman and his Restored United States of America [[spoiler: and Cyclops]].
* BecomingTheMask: Gordon and his Postal Inspector persona. He's ''very'' aware of that.
* BlackComedy: The only comedy allowed. [[TropesAreNotBad And it works]].
* BoringButPractical: Gordon's bow. But before he learned how to use it, it was CoolButInefficient.
* CelibateHero: Inverted. Gordon wasn't with any women not because he didn't want to be, but because there was no opportunity or suitable woman for a ''long'' while. [[spoiler: When he's with Dena, he's more annoyed with her than aroused]].
* ChekhovsGun: The diary Gordon loses in the beginning shows up toward the end in the hands of [[spoiler: the Holnists]], as does the person who stole it.
* {{Cincinnatus}}: George Powhatan. And Gordon pities the person who tries to make him a king.
* ComesGreatResponsibility: A recurring theme, even if that power is the position of postman.
* ConspiracyTheorist: Nathan Holn, a bat-shit insane nutcase. Everyone, including people born after the Doomwar (and thus lacking any serious education), wonder how he could get any support for his ideas.
* ContrivedCoincidence:
** Gordon finding the postal van while trying to catch up with robbers who just mugged him. It helps in both the short and long term - first providing shelter and clothes, then giving him a perfect U.S. Postal Carrier disguise.
** Gordon finding [[spoiler: Dena after being recaptured by Holnists, moments before she expires in his arms]].
* CrazyHomelessPeople: Gordon ''percieves himself'' as such, since he can find no other logical explaination than insanity for his optimism in this CrapsackWorld.
* CrazySurvivalist: The "Holnist Survivalists"; it's explicitly noted that after everything fell apart, Holn himself was dragged out and lynched for getting them started. And that the Holnists forever tainted the term "survivalist".
* DeadpanSnarker: Who else but Gordon? It often borders on SadClown, as he's fully aware how miserable the situation is or can get.
* DividedStatesOfAmerica: So much that there are ''no'' states to divide; a small hamlet is considered quite a big deal.
* DoubleMeaningTitle: Postman, as a mail carrier and a person living after some event. Gordon is both.
* [[spoiler: DoubleStandardRapeFemaleOnMale]]: [[spoiler: Dena is quite forcible on Gordon]]. It seems to keep on going for a while and he's forced to simply endure her.
* TheDrifter: Gordon's ultimate role, after he finally embracess The Call.
* DumbMuscle: Survivalists in general. So dumb that a brick is brighter.
* {{Eagleland}}: Curious case - Type I with all it's liberty, equality and peaceful ways is contrasted with Type II for its paranoia, gung-ho attitude, over-the-top individualism and extremism.
* EqualOpportunityEvil: Holnists, but only if you are male.
* EvilCannotComprehendGood: BIG time; Holnists are completely unable to comprehend anything that is not made or achieved by brute force or how men are supposed to be equal.
* EvilGloating:
** The robbers from first few pages do it for extra [[KickTheDog dog-kicking]] points.
** Holnists are generally prone to this; the higher their rank, the more they gloat.
* FakeRealTurn: Gordon made up the Restored United States and its postal services, but as he travels and recruits more postmen to his cause, the lie becomes more and more real.
* FirstPersonSmartass: Gordon's consciousness works this way.
* GoodColorsEvilColors: True-blue postal carriers vs. camouflaged Holnists.
* TheGreatPoliticsMessUp: It's hinted that the Soviet Union survived until the Doomwar or was topped by violent revolution right before it. The war took place in the mid-90's.
* HalfwayPlotSwitch: From a loner faking a postal system to [[spoiler: a war involving superhuman experiments]]!
* TheHerosJourney: The book uses this plot structure to great effect in a post-apocalyptic setting.
* HeroicNeutral: George Powhatan feels he's done his share of fighting before, and it's up to Gordon to persuade him to take on the Holnists.
* HopeBringer: The Postman himself.
* HopeSproutsEternal:
** The seasons in which the action takes place [[RuleOFSymbolism are related with this trope]]. In the first section, it's autumn, where everything is dying. Then the action fast-forwards toward early spring, when Gordon starts setting his Postal Service and things are going smooth. Then the Holnists show up - right when autumn is about to start. The war against them takes place mostly in the winter, when nature is dead and animals struggle to survive. In the end, when [[spoiler: Holnists are defeated and Gordon heads toward California]], it's the beautiful spring of 2012.
** Gordon's dream in the postal car, about a [[{{Eagleland}} giant]] [[ThePhoenix bird]] building itself a pyre and burning on it, after which the surrounding plants starts to sprout new leaves.
* InLoveWithTheMark: Subverted. It's speculated that this could be the reason why [[spoiler: Dena and the Scouts']] plan to infiltrate the Holnists failed.
* KnowWhenToFoldEm: The main reason Gordon managed to exceed the current life expectancy of thirty years old.
* MundaneLuxury: You know how bad the situation is when a handfull of wild berries and a few short gulps of whiskey are considered as a celebration-worthy delicacy.
* NoodleIncident: The events before and right after the Doomwar are a long series of those. Things like "Slavic Resurgence", "Cuban problem", "Kenyan front", "Slavic-Turkic War" or "One-Week War" are only mentioned and never truly discussed. [[TropesAreTools Because past is not important - the present and future are]].
* NotTooDeadToSaveTheDay: Although they don't take direct action, all of Gordon's "ghosts" - [[spoiler: Cyclops, Johnny Stevens, the Army Scouts, dream-Ben Franklin and his chess-playing stove, etc.]] - appear to encourage him toward the end.
* OnlyOneName: It's very easy to miss the fact that Gordon's surname is Krantz. Outside of Pine View, barely anyone addresses him with it.
* PrecisionFStrike: As Gordon is about to [[spoiler: [[RefusalOfTheCall leave Corvallis]] ]]
-->"Survivalists!"
-->He had one word to offer in reply.
-->"Shit."
* ProperlyParanoid: Gordon blesses his paranoia in the beginning, which prevents the thieves from getting his gun at least.
* ProudWarriorRaceGuy: The Holnists, who base a person's worth on his (emphasis on ''his'') strength. This leads them to be a cult of hyperviolent, luddite lunatics who kill without hesitation and enslave anyone weaker than them.
** It's also implied that they and their kind are the reason why civilization ultimately collapsed, having gunned down any attempt at reconstruction they came across.
* RefusalOfTheCall: George Powhatan. [[spoiler: Well, he tried]].
* ResignedToTheCall/ TenMinuteRetirement: [[spoiler: see RefusedTheCall. Poor George.]]
* TheReveal:
** [[spoiler: Cyclops is dead]].
** Towards the end of the book, the Postman discovers why the Holnists have been pushing so hard into Oregon. [[spoiler: They are retreating away from an army in the Republic of California]].
* RevolversAreJustBetter: Gordon's most trusted companion and precious possesion is a snub-nose .38 revolver.
* RuleOfThree: Gordon got three letters for Oakridge. You can guess which one opened the gates to the village to him.
* ScavengerWorld: To the point where only bare essentials are scavenged and anything more complex is left behind.
* SchmuckBait: Only that [[GenreSavvy Gordon is not baiting]]. After being robbed ''again'', he is hidding in the attic and the looters knows he's somewhere in the vicinity.
--> "Sure was nice of that fellow, findin' this for us. Wish we could thank him. Ought to get to know him so we don't shoot first if we ever see him again".
* SexyDiscretionShot: Right before Gordon and Abby are about to get busy, the chapter ends. The next one starts after their last encounter. [[TropesAreNotBad It works]], [[ParentalSubstitute given the nature of their deal]].
* SillyRabbitIdealismIsForKids:
** Gordon really ''tries'' to believe that cynism is an answer, treating idealism as a luxury he can't afford. Yet he's a genuinely good person, who keeps on doing the right things and eventually proves himself that idealism is all what's left to firmly believe in.
** Holnists ideology runs on this trope taken UpToEleven.
* SnowMeansDeath: Third segment starts this way, with bodies of the fallen being burried by the snow.
* SlidingScaleOfIdealismVsCynicism: Despite all the horrible things that happen, the message of the book is hopeful.
* SnowballLie: In the process of covering his ass, the Postman accidentally invents a "Restored United States." The myth becomes so widespread that even the Holnists can't stomp it out.
* SoMuchForStealth: When approaching [[spoiler: what he thinks is]] a bandit hideout, Gordon is trying to do it as silently as possible, looking for each of his steps. The moment he turns his gaze from the ground, he instantly steps on a dry twig. [[SelfFulfillingProphecy Right after lampshading this very trope]].
* SortingAlgorithmOfEvil: First robbers, then [[EvilArmy Holnists]], then [[{{Cyborg}} augments]].
* StrawFeminist: Dena, [[ZigZaggedTrope sort of]]. She's very heroic despite her possibly-crazy outlook, however. More - she's quite aware that she might misinterprated many facts about pre-war world because of SmallReferencePools she has access to.
* SuperSoldiers: The Augments, who were chosen for their violent tendencies, modified [[BodyHorror freakishly]], and deployed several times before the government wised up to what that sort of soldier does during peacetime. Post-Doomwar, they hold the top positions among the villainous Holnists. [[spoiler: George Powhatan is a second generation augment, chosen because he is an ActualPacifist and forcibly transformed with more subtle implants focusing on [[MasterOfYourDomain biofeedback]].]]
* SurvivorGuilt: Gordon doesn't feel too good about the fact that [[spoiler: all his fellow militiamen are dead]]. It's more than a decade and he still labours under the burden of being last man standing.
* TakingYouWithMe: When tracking the muggers in first chapter, Gordon notes that he will most likely die in the process... but at least the surrounding area will be a bit more safe for future travellers.
* TechnicalPacifist: George Powhatan, a man who is a living legend from his fights against Holnists, yet is very reluctant to enter any conflict. Gordon himself usually is stopped by his "oldfashioned scrupules".
* UnstoppableMailman: The title character.
* UtilityBelt: Downplayed. Gordon's military belt holds his most important belongings: canteen, Swiss army knife, tube of iodine, compass and [[TheLastOfTheseIsNotLikeTheOthers holster with his gun and bullets]]
* WackyWaysideTribe: Gordon recalls all the small communities he had visited in his years of wandering - quite brutal and closed to outsiders, unless [[ARealManIsAKiller equally brutal acts were committed to gain entry]].
* WalkingTheEarth: What Gordon is doing since [[spoiler: his squad of militiamen was wiped out]].
* WhatHaveIBecome: The Chairman of Public Safety from Curtin, after realising how barbaric the life has become. Bonus points for being a former member of [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ASPCA ASPCA]], now organising dog fights. [[ManlyTears He starts to weep over this]].
* WithThisHerring: Gordon starts the book with his UtilityBelt, in torn clothes and a lame excuse for shoes.
* WorthlessYellowRocks: After finding a secret stash in a physician's house, Gordon is praying for it not to be "gold or other useless crap".
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