on June 29, 2001
Actually I can't attest to having seen said movie, but a cursory reading of the plot of the movie shows that they seemed to have played a bit fast and loose with this book, which considering the reviews it got, probably wasn't a good thing. Oh well. To each his own, you're never going to get an exact translation. At least they're restored the brilliant reissue cover, much as one can admire Kevin Costner as an actor, I would have preferred not to have his bedraggled face staring at me every time I go to pick the book up. That all stated, this is a highly entertaining and fairly straightforward book, probably not as deep as Brin would like it to be, but a good try nonetheless. We have a future US destroyed by war, with scattered towns basically living their own separate existences, while an army run by survivalists inspired by a Hitleresque fanatic are trying to take over everything in sight. Our hero enters this mess while trying to escape some roving raiders and finds a postal uniform and some mail . . . from there he concocts a lie to help him get food and stuff but winds up inspiring everyone and restoring hope to a faded nation, regaining his own lost ideals in the process. Needless to say there's plenty to like in this book, Brin's envisioning of a future US with everyone living in the shadow of the past war is great, the story moves at a quick pace, so even when it's not that engrossing you're still reading, and the situations are varied, with a fairly uplifting message that manages to come across as sincere. However, most of the stuff you can see coming from miles away so don't expect "shocks on every page", with the exception of maybe the main character and some others, most of the people populating the book are a tad one dimensional, sure there's lot of them but very few of them feel "real". Brin appears to be shooting for the same status that Earth Abides (a really great novel, by the way), Alas, Babylon and maybe even On the Beach have garnered over the years but he defeats himself by making it too science fictional, what worked in those books was a palpable sense of reality, that this stuff could happen tomorrow, Brin's got too many talking computers, augmented humans and fancy future stuff to give the reader a true connection with his future. So in the end what you wind up with may not be an enduring classic beloved by millions but merely an extremely entertaining and diverting SF novel. Which, all told, may be enough.
on June 15, 2001
I have never before read a David Brin novel, others here say this is not his best, but I found this novel a very good read. This book begins approximately sixteen years after an NBC war (for those who don't know, that stands for nuclear, biological, chemical) that was called the doomwar by those who lived through it. That war nearly destroyed the United States as a civilized society, but soon after that war survivalists plundered and destroyed most of what little civilization remained. Gordon, the primary character, traveled from one small isolated village to another for sixteen years after the Doomwar and at one point was robbed of most of his meager possessions. Soon he found a United States Postman's uniform and badge, and from there he impersonated a postman from a long dead government, a scam that had unusual consequences to say the least and created a very interesting story, with danger all around.
This novel is fast paced and always the human nature side of the story is not neglected, and womens' view of things is well discussed, and as David Brin seems to say in this novel, how can us guys really know what a women thinks, down deep, all the time? This book is rich in descriptive detail without overdoing it. I found this book very easy to read, the words seemed to flow off the pages, well written.
on March 27, 2001
I don't usually like to give my review of books because we have different ideas and experience we bring into a novel. While I wouldn't read this book agian, you may enjoy it. Who knows, it's all dependent on the reader and what he/she likes. I only give you my true and honest opinion.
Okay, here it is.
I like the premise of the whole story, it's definitely a different angle than most authors approach. Yet, this book is a hit or miss.
It's not the kind of book that after reading, you say, "WOW." and ponder afterwards. All I said was, "Hmmm, could have been better." Which is true. It's not Brin's best writing.
This book does show the triumph of the human spirit and the desperate need for something: Hope; the one thing that can unite an entire nation.
This book could have had the makings of a great novel, but it's written as though a 15-year-old wrote it instead of an accomplished writer that is David Brin. It's too short and some concepts and its dialogue too simple and not very thought provoking. It would have been nice if Mr. Brin had expanded on the theme and premise of the story line and added more of his own beliefs and ideals. It would have at least made if more interesting.
In a nutshell, If you just want to read a book to read a book, The Postman is your choice.
on February 15, 2001
Some people's only exposure to this work has been through the movie of the same name starring Kevin Costner, and I've heard them call the premise such things as absurd, silly, or worse. How then, am I to reconcile this with the inherent believability and truth I found in it?
Basically, the movie was doomed from the start. When considered on its own, the premise of this novel, that one man in the discarded uniform of a dead postman can change what once was a nation, seems implausible. What Brin does is take that premise and make it believable through a story and overarching world that makes myths like these natural. Its not the plot twists so much as the words of Brin that make this story believable.
According to Brin, World War III was not the "big one" people have been expecting, instead lasting only a week or so and leaving many survivors. What killed people afterwards wasn't the nuclear or biological weapons so much as the fear and paranoia preventing the nation from reuniting again. Worst of all was the plague of "survivalism", of deciding that your strength and guns allowed you to do whatever you wanted because you "needed" it to survive. Gradually, society begins to spiral downward into more and more isolated villages, uniting only when a common enemy such as the Holnist survivalists come along.
Enter Gordon Krantz. An ex-student from St. Paul, he's been wandering west over the years in hope of finding civilization somewhere, anywhere. After being robbed, he takes the only warmth he can find, a uniform pilfered off of a dead postman. What starts out as a harmless little myth ends up spiralling out of control, as people grab onto the only remembrance they can find of the old United States. But who will take responsibility...?
on February 7, 2001
This is the most thought provoking end of the world novel since Lucifer's Hammer. David Brin takes up the question of what roles government, and leadership take in our society. He points to a need for people to take responsibility. The main character in the novel finds out, quite accidentally, that all that is needed for people to recover from the most terrible tragedies is a sense of direction and leadership. This book gives one of the most candid views on how people respond to our government, and helps to remind us what kind of effort it has taken to build this country.
In the novel, the main character finds an old postal uniform with some ten year old letters, and finds out that something as simple as someone delivering mail can bring people hope. He then finds that this helps people remember that they were once part of something greater than themselves. This book manages to be inspiring without droping down to the level of a cheesy disney movie.
The only reason this book doens't get five stars from me is that I felt the end cheated in a way that made it lose some its focus. But this hardly overshadows the brilliant bulk of this book.
on July 17, 2000
There just aren't enough epic novels of post-apocalyptic survival. I have enjoyed every one that I've read, and I keep trying to find more to read and enjoy. Now, that is not to say that all of them were good. Many of them were completely ridiculous and repellant. David Brin's "The Postman," however, manages to be not only enjoyable, but also good.
On his way across the fractured, war-wracked Northwest, world-weary Gordon is shot at, robbed, and generally kicked around. That's the nature of life in post-WWIII Oregon. As the story begins, Gordon has been working as an itinerant entertainer, reciting Shakespear for a bowl of soup and a place to sleep. When he stumbles across an old US Postal Serviceman's uniform, though, he decides to try a new scam. The idea of the United States' continued existence, however, is something of a free radical, inspiring anger and defiance against local warlords. Gordon becomes an important, if unwilling, figurehead in the locals' struggle for autonomy and a return to real civilized life.
Brin's book is a good read. The story's characters are few, but generally interesting and believable. Several of his sub-plots are iffy, especially his third act treatment of male-female relations. The book was written in the 80's, and his prediction of world events in the 1990s is also so wrong as to detract somewhat from the story (at least in my reading.) Still, it's satisfying, overall, and has both a sense of humor and a moral, not to mention laser satellites and artificial intelligences. For sci-fi fans, this is a fine choice.
on April 25, 2000
I have to go against the overwhelming tide of opinion that holds this novel to be an excellent work. The first half of the novel isn't bad as we accompany the protaganist and his effort to survive in post-apopcalyptic America. The character isn't heroic. Instead he's a survivor. And then we get started with the postman charade. At first it has potential - the reestablishing of communications to rebuild civilization. The lowly mailman suddenly stepping into a position as savior or at least rebuilder. The mundane civil servant now is heroic. Very intruiging. But then David Brin - ex-NASA scientist - has to bring in technology. Suddenly we have genetically engineered super-soldiers and something called neo-hippie technology. In one quick turn we are in some kind of world involving ressurrected 1960's philosophy! The book wanders around, looking for some kind of philosophical grounding. Why? Isn't it enough to have a story about the rebuilding of the country? Or did David Brin become bored with such an Earthy story and feel the need to go into space - so to speak. No I believe this book suffers from a lack of focus. A good idea, but not carried out completely.
on February 27, 2000
I saw the movie before reading the book. I generally agreed with movie critics that it was overdone and terribly acted. But I was fascinated by the central concept of "The Postman." So I decided to read the book. Whereas, the End Times fiction series "Left Behind" depicts the horrors of extremely centralized government, a one-world order, "The Postman" embraces the opposite concept, extremely DE-centralized government. In this story whose chronological setting is the year 2013, the United States has collapsed and a form of government known as feudalism has taken its place, a form of government that existed in Western Europe and Japan several centuries ago. There are numerous self-governing units which have little to no communication with each other. People bound themselves to the land of local dictators in exchange for protection. In the absence of any central government there was no military or police to protect people and their freedoms. These feudal lords were oftenin turn be pledged to even more powerful landowners who might be under feudal lords themselves and so on. But Gordon Krantz, in an effort to keep warm, stumbles upon something terrifying to these lunatic general-dictators. A postal service to bind people of a large republic with communication. Gordon tells several villages about a Restored United States of America and that he is a postman for that new republic. There is no Restored United States of America but that is not the point. People start believing in the possibility of a better future for the first time in a long time. And even if they did not believe the story new ideas had been introduced to them. The Holnists, followers of a long dead Nathan Holn, are committed to the idea that the strong who dominate the weak, otherwise they have been brainwashed by these weaker people. This is a hatable philosophy and serves as the story's main villian. My main complaint is that the book is not quite that engaging. It was not something I was unable to put down. There are several differences between the book and the movie in plot, and characters. But both seem to be in the exact same setting. I think the nuclear war theme is a little overdone and I would like to see how the author could have made the United States collapse in another way. Would he have chosen an extremely bad economy? a series of natural disaster? A book about the events leading to the scenario which "The Postman" describes would be even more fascinating.
on January 28, 2000
From the opening pages alone, you can tell that this book is going to be something special. It tells the epic tale(although the book is not epic-sized) of a post-apocalyptic drifter by the name of Gordon Krantz. In the unforgettable opening scene, Gordon is set upon by a roving pack of bandits, who take all his valuable possesions, including his tent. While attempting to head them off and get his belongings back, Gordon becomes lost and darkness falls. While wandering in the certain-death circumstances of freezing temperatures and rain, Gordon finds an abandoned postal jeep. In it he finds hope for a new beginning. Thus starts an incredible novel. David Brin has done an extraordinarily great job of making the settings and characters of Gordon's world believable to a person in our day and age. College campuses, shopping districts, and decaying highways all come alive in Gordon's words. I have read this book many times and each time I re-read it I pick up something new which seems to further spark my imagination. Unlike the other "disaster" novels, this one has a fair abundance of people and towns. But these people have lost hope in the world and although they are perhaps ten miles away from other towns, there is no contact between these isolated hamlets. This book really drew me in and made me seem a part of it's world. I love the way that it makes each setting and backdrop seem real and accessible to our modern day minds. Trust me, The Postman is one book that will stay on your shelf long after it is completed.
on December 14, 1999
"The Postman" is set in the 21st century. A war has brought about the collapse of civilization. America, once a great nation, no longer exists. All that is left are ruined cities, scattered tribes and lawlessness. It has been like this for sixteen years.
The hero is 34 year-old Gordon Krantz. He is travelling across the country, looking for something. Some sign of revival, someone who is "taking responsibility". After being robbed by bandits, Gordon is left with almost nothing. It looks as if he will either starve or freeze to death. Then, by an amazing stoke of luck, he finds the body of a postman. He puts on the uniform, and from that point, even though he doesn't know it, he has a new purpose.
He visits different tribes claiming to be a representative of the new government, the Restored United States. Gordon is really acting out an elaborate scam so he can get food and help. But Gordon is also giving people hope. Gordon becomes totally involved in his role, so that he almost believes in the lie himself. He even delivers mail to people as he travels.
"The Postman" has a "Mad Max" feel to it. There isn't as much action however, it's more of an intellectual story. This is the only novel I've read by David Brin. Even though we're told it's wrong to lie, Gordon's deception is the catylist for America's revival. The return of technology, a new beginning.
Everyone needs something to believe in. It's what keeps us going when times are hard. This is the message I believe Brin is trying to get across.