The introduction to the book states:
"The seeds of the Little War were planted in a restless summer during the mid-1960s, with sit-ins and student demonstrations as youth tested its strength. By the early 1970s over 75 percent of the people living on Earth were under 21 years of age. The population continued to climb—and with it the youth percentage.In the 1980s the figure was 79.7 percent.In the 1990s, 82.4 percent.In the year 2000—critical mass."
In the world of 2116, a person's maximum age is strictly legislated: twenty-one years, to the day. When people reach this Lastday they report to a Sleepshop in which they are willingly executed via a pleasure-inducing toxic gas. A person's age is revealed by their palm flower crystal embedded in the palm of their right hand that changes color every seven years, yellow (age 0-6), then blue (age 7-13), then red (age 14-20), then blinks red and black on Lastday, and finally turns black at 21.
Runners are those who refuse to report to a Sleepshop and attempt to avoid their fate by escaping to Sanctuary. Logan 3 is a Deep Sleep Operative (also called Sandman) whose job is to terminate Runners using a special weapon called simply, the 'gun', a handgun with selectable ordinance keyed to self-destruct if touched by an individual who is not the proper owner.
Runners are most terrified of a weapon called the 'Homer', which homes in on body heat, and deliberately ignites every pain nerve in the body, killing the target.
Sandmen practice Omnite, a hybrid type of martial arts. On his own Lastday, Logan becomes a Runner himself, in an attempt to infiltrate an apparent underground railroad for runners seeking Sanctuary — a place where they can live freely in defiance of society's dictates.
For most of the book, Logan is an antihero; however, his character develops a sympathy towards Runners, and he becomes more of a traditional hero figure.
Jessica 6, a contact Logan made after he chased her Runner brother, Doyle 10 into Cathedral, where he was killed by the vicious preteen "Cubs", helps him, despite her initial distrust of him.
Francis, another Sandman, and friend of Logan, catches up with Logan and Jessica after they've managed to make it to the final staging area before Sanctuary. He reveals he is actually the legendary Ballard, who's been helping arrange their escape. Francis tells them he's actually 42, but due to his faulty palm flower, which doesn't change colour and by use of plastic surgery shops, he's been able to disguise his true age and appearance. He is working from within the system, as he believes the computer controlling the global infrastructure, and buried beneath Crazy Horse Mountain, is beginning to malfunction, and the society will die with it.
Sanctuary turns out to be Argos, a previously abandoned space colony near Mars.
Logan and Jessica escape to the colony on a rocket, which departs from a former space program launch site in Florida, as Ballard remains to help others escape.
Nolan wrote two sequels, Logan's World and Logan's Search, published after the film's release. There is also a novelette, Logan's Return, that has been published as an e-book. Two other novels, Logan's Journey (written with Paul McComas) and Logan Falls (written with Jason V Brock), have been written, but not published.
Logan's World deals with events following Logan's returning to Earth, amidst the survivors and ruins of the system he escaped in the first novel, while Logan's Search deals with Logan going to an alternate reality (with the assistance of aliens) to once again stop the government system he escaped in the first novel, albeit with some minor changes.
George Clayton Johnson's long rumored personal sequel to Logan's Run titled Jessica's Run: A New Sequel for the Logan's Run Universe was said be "in development". It was still in development at the time of George Clayton Johnson's death on Christmas day 2015.
David Pringle gave Logan's Run two stars out of four and praised the novel as "a good SF thriller"; he also stated it was superior to the film version.
The novel was adapted in 1976 as a film, directed by Michael Anderson and starring Michael York as Logan 5 (not 3), Jenny Agutter as Jessica 6, and Richard Jordan as Francis 7. The film was produced by Saul David, a former MGM Executive and well-known science fiction supporter (having produced and developed Fantastic Voyage in 1966 at Fox, and developed Westworld at MGM). The film only uses the basic premise from the novel (everyone must die at a specific age, Logan runs with Jessica as his companion while being chased by Francis).
The film's world is a post apocalyptic, dystopian one, in which people now live inside a huge domed city and are unaware of the world outside, believing it to be a barren, poisonous environment. The motivations of the characters are also quite different; in the film, the age of death is 30, and instead of reporting to a Sleepshop, citizens must take part in a ritual called "Carrousel" [sic] in which they are vaporized with the chance of being "renewed". Logan is a 26-year-old Sandman, sent by the computer to find and destroy Sanctuary. The computer alters his palm flower (here called a "life clock") to show him as approaching Lastday, and he becomes a runner and escapes from the city.
Sanctuary turns out not to exist (it's revealed that Runners have actually been murdered by a malfunctioning food processing robot just outside the city), and the only other person that Logan and Jessica encounter outside the city is an old man (Peter Ustinov) who lives with a large number of cats in the Senate Chamber of the largely intact ruins of Washington, DC. Logan kills Francis, who is simply a Sandman in the movie and not a rebel leader, and leads the old man back to just outside the domed city, returning to try to lead a revolt against the culling. No one believes or listens to him or Jessica, and instead he is captured by Sandmen. In his interrogation by the computer, his information of there being no Sanctuary causes the computer to malfunction and self-destruct.
As the young population leave the confines of the burning and exploding domed city, they meet the old man outside — the first time they have seen anybody of that age.
In the mid-1990s, Warner Bros. began development of a remake of the movie. In April 2000, director Skip Woods entered negotiations with the studio and producer Joel Silver to write and direct the remake. The director planned to make it closer to the novel than the original film, restoring elements including Crazy Horse Mountain and sky gypsies. In March 2004, director Bryan Singer was brought in to develop and direct Logan's Run. Singer had begun working with production designer Guy Dyas from his previous film X2. Screenwriters Ethan Gross and Paul Todisco were hired to write the script with the director, with the film being slated for a 2005 release. In October, the director said he had begun previsualization of Logan's Run, which would be completed by the time he finished production of his project at the time, Superman Returns. The following December, screenwriter Dan Harris said that he and the director had turned in a first draft for Logan's Run. Harris said that further development of the project would take place in Sydney after production for Superman Returns, for which he also collaborated, was finalized. The screenwriter said that the remake would contain more action than the original film, describing the premise to be "a remake of the concept of the movie plus the book".
In February 2005, screenwriter Christopher McQuarrie was hired to rewrite the script, with filming to take place in Australia. In February 2006, Logan's Run was scheduled to begin production in September/October 2006 in Vancouver. The following May, Singer's availability to direct Logan's Run rendered questionable by scheduling conflicts with filming the sequel to Superman Returns. By May, Singer confirmed that he would not direct Logan's Run, seeking a vacation from the demands of his job. Directors Robert Schwentke and James McTeigue were approached for the project, but neither ultimately signed on.
In August 2006, production offices for Logan's Run were taken over by the production for the 2008 film Speed Racer. In April 2007, producer Joel Silver reiterated his plan to remake the original film. The following July, Silver said that since Singer's departure, no new director had come aboard the project. In August 2007, the project was reinvigorated with Joseph Kosinski hired as the new director and a new script being written by screenwriter Timothy J. Sexton. Kosinski had made a presentation to Warner Bros. including graphic art and animated previsualization that illustrated his plan for the film, whose low budget appealed to the studio. Kosinski has since moved on to make Tron: Legacy.
In May and June 2010, commercial film maker and Ridley Scott protégé Carl Erik Rinsch was hired to direct and screenwriter Alex Garland was brought on board to write the script. Rinsch ultimately pulled out of the project due to scheduling conflicts. As of August 2011, Danish filmmaker Nicolas Winding Refn was attached to direct the remake starring actor Ryan Gosling and Rose Byrne with screenwriter Andrew Baldwin. In October 2012, Justin Kroll of Variety tweeted that Gosling was no longer attached to the project. As of June 2013, video game developer Ken Levine, creator of the Bioshock series, has been confirmed to be attached to write the screenplay. On April 6, 2015, it was revealed from The Tracking Board that the film will have a female lead.
A television series spin-off from the film, starring Gregory Harrison as Logan 5 and Heather Menzies as Jessica 6, lasted one season of 14 episodes, from September 16, 1977, through January 16, 1978, on U.S. television (CBS-TV). D. C. Fontana served as story editor and employed several other writers from Star Trek as well as the original novel's authors. The series pilot was produced by Saul David, who was replaced by CBS with veteran television producers Ivan Goff and Ben Roberts.Marvel Comics published a short-lived comic book series, which adapted the movie's story and briefly continued beyond it until the book was cancelled at issue #7.From June 1990 to March 1992, Adventure Comics published mini-series comics adaptations of Logan's Run and Logan's World, six issues each, with art by Barry Blair. A promised adaption of Logan's Search never materialized.A hardcover Logan's Run Annual based on the TV series and featuring strip art by David Lloyd was published in the United Kingdom by publishers Brown Watson in late 1977, dated 1978. In addition, a Logan's Run comic strip also based on the TV series, written by Angus P. Allan and drawn by Arthur Ranson, ran in the TV based British weekly comic Look-In from April–September 1978.In 2000, Emperor Norton Records published Logan's Sanctuary, an album of electronica music conceived as the soundtrack to an imagined Logan's Run sequel, written and performed by Roger Joseph Manning Jr. and Brian Reitzell, and featuring contributions from Jason Falkner.City of Domes, an alternative reality game (ARG), was created by the web development group at VirtuQuest.com. The game was a recreation of the Logan's Run city, some 30 years after Logan 6's adventures.Beginning in 2010, Bluewater Productions began publishing various iterations of the original novel and continuations of the characters in comic book format, starting with Logan's Run: Last Day.