At the close of the 20th Century, the "Little Wars" broke out, resulting in a worldwide ban on all adults. Before you reached your 21st birthday, you were required to turn yourself in for "Deep Sleep" in which a pleasure-inducing poison gas sang you gently to your grave. If you ran away from this responsibility, a "life clock" embedded in your right palm would turn black and alert the local Deep Sleep Men (euphemistically called "Sandmen") to hunt you down and kill you — by shooting you with the Homer, the most gruesome, vicious, pain-inducing weapon ever devised by man.
Now, in the year 2116, Logan 3 is one of these Deep Sleep Men. When he chases down a Runner named Doyle 10, the man screams the mysterious word "Sanctuary!" right before he dies. Logan has heard rumors of the mysterious Ballard, the man who's allegedly led a "double lifetime" and runs the Sanctuary Line to help Runners escape their mandated destiny — possibly even by leaving Earth itself. When Logan's own lifeclock begins blinking red-black-red-black, indicating that he's on his Last Day before he has to turn himself in for Deep Sleep, he resolves to spend his final 24 hours hunting down Ballard and wiping out the Sanctuary Line once and for all. Meanwhile, a mysterious D.S. Man names Francis 7 watches Logan from the shadows.
Adventures on a post-apocalyptic Earth ensue.
William F. Nolan went on to write two sequel novels, titled Logan's World and Logan's Search. The novel caught the attention of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, who eventually turned it into a movie that while successful for its time, had few things common with its source material.
Then there's ebook novella Logan's Return in 2001, more than 20 years after the last book.
Logan's Run provides examples of the following tropes:
- Abnormal Ammo: The Guns carried by the DS Men are 6-chambered revolvers, where each chamber carries a different specialized round. The arsenal of a Sandman resembled the Green Arrow, with rounds named Tangler, Ripper, Nitro, Vapor, Needler, and the dreaded Homer.
- Ancient Keeper: Box. Also, the computer hidden within Crazy Horse Mountain, which takes care of all the young people littering the Earth and which is slowly, inevitably breaking down.
- Badass Pacifist: Jessica, so very much. Though she does knock Ballard unconscious when he tries to kill Logan.
- Children Are a Waste: Very young children are raised by robotic nursemaids, a la Brave New World, until they're old enough to strike out on their own — which in this dystopian future happens at age 7.
- Death of a Child: Logan and Jessica's son is killed in Logan's World.
- Death's Hourglass: The life clocks. They're yellow from age 0-6, blue from 7-13 (green in the movie), red from 14-20, blink red-black-red-black on Lastday, and finally turn black when you hit 21. Ballard was able to start and run the Sanctuary movement because his life clock malfunctioned, keeping him permanently on red. He uses New You parlors and appropriated identities to keep hiding in plain sight as a Sandman.
- Defector from Paradise: The automated city is described as idyllic, wherein most residents live a life of leisure. However, to sustain the masses, the city has instituted a population cap called "Sleepshop" that terminates anyone over the age of 21. An underground society of "runners" seeks to subvert this age cap, which protagonist Logan 3 initially joins as The Mole before his Heel–Face Turn.
- Dystopia: Since no-one lives past 21, few people ever get the chance to learn how to fix and maintain the world's infrastructure. Cities are falling apart left and right, and many areas have decayed into outright lawlessness.
- Failed Future Forecast: The most obvious being that the Little War took place around the year 2000. The construction speed of the Crazy Horse monument recounted in the novel is also extremely optimistic, as in the real year of 2014 the monument is decades of work behind the way it is described by the end of the book's Little War.
- Free-Love Future: Nobody gives orgy houses with transparent walls and floors between the beds a second thought.
- Happy Ending Override: By the time of Logan's World, Ballard has been killed while taking out the master computer, which is a death sentence for the people on Sanctuary, as without the resistance, no more supplies can be flown in. On top of that, the destruction of the computer means an end of civilization on Earth. On top of THAT, Logan and Jessica's son Jaq is killed when they return to Earth.
- Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: "Logan's [Noun]": Logan's Run, Logan's World, Logan's Search, and Logan's Return.
- Mad Doctor: "Doc" in New You takes a sadistic thrill from trying to kill Logan. His assistant, Holly, takes a sadistic thrill in watching Doc work.
- Morality Chain: Logan is a nasty piece of work in the book, an Anti-Hero. Jessica is armed only with her conscience and will to live. It's enough to make an impression on him.
- New Neo City: Both Doc and Logan refer to New Alaska.
- No Party Like a Donner Party: The residents of the Hell Hole Prison at the North Pole reverted to cannibalism.
- Only Fatal to Adults: The DS Men deliberately hunt down and kill anyone who turns 21. They're little more than street cops when it comes to anybody younger, though.
- The Outside World: Having undergone a Heel–Face Turn, "sandman" Logan 3 escapes the rigidly controlled city with renegade Jessica 6 to explore the abandoned but habitable colony on Mars. This was later adapted into the film Logan's Run by MGM studios in 1976, changing the outside world to the overgrown but habitable Washington, DC. A television series follows the further adventures of Logan and Jessica, plus the android Rem.
- Phantom Limb Pain: In Logan's World, a sequel to the original novel, Logan meets with an informant while trying to track down the people who kidnapped his wife. The informant is missing both legs, and loudly complaints to Logan about how he can still feel pain in his missing left leg, but feels nothing from his right leg.
- Rape as Drama: Logan and Jessica with the Pleasure Gypsies.
- The Reveal: Multiple:
- Francis is Ballard!
- Learning at the end why the chapters of the novel count down instead of up.
- The Promised Land: Sanctuary, in actuality an old abandoned space station orbiting Mars.
- Raging Stiffie: The Pleasure Gypsy women gives Logan a dose of "Everlove" and gang-rape him.The first orgasm was good.
The second orgasm was all right.
The third orgasm was bad.
The fourth orgasm was painful.
The fifth orgasm was agony.
The sixth orgasm was damnation.
- Teenage Wasteland: The world is dotted with the remains of once-great cities that now house lawless roving gangs, some of whom are possessed of questionable sanity.
- Terminally Dependent Society: The planet is secretly controlled by a giant computer located inside Crazy Horse Monument ... and that computer is slowly falling apart. In the backstory for the first sequel novel, Ballard, in his final act of defiance, destroys this computer to end the tyranny of the 21-year age limit — but in so doing he destroys the last vestiges of civilization and the whole planet descends into barbarism.
- Trilogy Creep: William F. Nolan published the ebook novella Logan's Return in 2001, more than 20 years after the last book.
- Unusable Enemy Equipment: Sandman guns use palmprint recognition to make them unusable to anyone else.
- We Will Have Euthanasia in the Future: The Deep Sleep chambers.
- You Are Number 6: Characters are named "Name X", as in Logan 3, Jessica 6, Francis 7, Doyle 10.