Friday 21 September 2012

The Postman - David Brin

Title: The Postman
Author: David Brin
Genre: Sci-Fi
Published: 1985
Formats: Hardback/Paperback/Ebook

Available at:
The Book Depository
Amazon UK

"The Postman" by David Brin tells the story of Gordon, a man who is trying to survive alone in a post-apocalyptic United States. Over the last 16 years war, disease and famine has left the planet with little hint of a civilization beyond some tiny isolated communities that are trying to hold there own against gangs of savage outlaws known as "survivalists".

Whilst trying to recover some stolen belongings, Gordon stumbles upon the remains of a long-dead mailman and utilises the dead man's uniform to keep warm, and takes the un-delivered letters to use as paper for a journal. As he progresses across the country he begins to create the fiction of being a mailman in the "Restored United States" in order to make it easier to approach communities and trade. Soon though, his lie takes on a life of its own and communities, long without hope begin to believe in something again. So, when this new beginning he has helped to create is threatened, Gordon is forced to either finally admit the lie or become the leader he never wanted to be.

I have read some David Brin books before and enjoyed them all so I was looking forward to reading this, especially as one of my guilty pleasures is the Kevin Costner film that is based on the novel. For those of you have seen the movie and didn't really rate it you shouldn't be too worried as the film only really concentrates on the first 50-100 pages of the book. The book expands well on what was shown on the screen and it doesn't limit itself to just trying to tell some sort of epic in scope action story.

In fact, the level of action throughout the story is actually quite limited and the story itself wasn't technically epic in scale either. It was more about looking at the life of one man trying to survive and discover some form hope in a bleak and dangerous world. It may have been slow paced at times and did feel a little dated but I found myself thoroughly engrossed and entertained as I followed the story as it highlighted the struggle of the weak against the strong, the one against the many and the desire to build something grand out of the ashes of the past. The slow pace at the beginning of the story could potentially put some people off, but I believe it helps build a picture of both the world and Gordon's life within it and would advise everyone to stick with it.

Brin has captured some of the emotional moments quite well and the novel does leaves a strong impression. This is helped by the various characters in the novel that are both believable and interesting even though many of them are just normal people trying to deal with the life they have been given. A minor point in regards to the characters is that we don't actually get to spend much time with any of them; Brin has included so many that there is only enough time for a brief glimpse at their lives. In addition, the survivalists did seem a little bit two-dimensional and the later portion of the book suffered during their involvement in the story.

Overall, this was an interesting post-apocalyptic story that allows the reader to take a look at the lives of regular people in a bleak world and follow their choices, struggles and hopes. It really is an enjoyable novel that should have any fan of dystopian post-apocalyptic style novels entertained and rooting for the underdog and his dream of a better future.

Challenges Book Counts Towards:
Speculative Fiction Challenge
Sci-Fi Reader Challenge

1 comment:

  1. I enjoyed this story when I read it, partly because it made you appreciate how mundane things like the sight of mail being delivered could be such positive signs of civilization. I heard later that it was written as two novellas and then combined into a novel later but I couldn't tell that when I read it.