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I read this book when I was in high school and I really loved it. I was really excited when I heard they would make it into a movie, and I was a little disappointed in the result. Besides the fact that they changed a lot of the plot and the ending, it wasn’t until now, as a Certified Story Grid Editor, that I can put my finger on why the ending was so unsatisfactory. More on that at the end of the post.
He was a survivor—a wanderer who traded tales for food and shelter in the dark and savage aftermath of a devastating war.
Fate touches him one chill winter’s day when he borrows the jacket of a long-dead postal worker to protect himself from the cold. The old, worn uniform still has power as a symbol of hope, and with it he begins to weave his greatest tale, of a nation on the road to recovery.
This is the story of a lie that became the most powerful kind of truth. A timeless novel as urgently compelling as War Day or Alas, Babylon, David Brin’s The Postman is the dramatically moving saga of a man who rekindled the spirit of America through the power of a dream, from a modern master of science fiction.
Genre: Action; Epic; Savior
POV: Third Person Limited, Gordon; Some Third Person Omniscient
Theme: Life is preserved when Gordon faces the villain and upholds an organized society
Object of Desire: Wants: to survive; Needs: to protect the American way of life
An Inciting attack by the villain: Gordon is attacked and robbed by other survivors
Hero Sidesteps responsibility to take action: Gordon poses as a Post Man but only as a survival tactic
Forced to leave the ordinary world, Hero lashes out: When forced into the role of hero, he acts selfishly initially
Discovering the Antagonist’s MacGuffin (Object of Desire – OOD): The militant survivors want to run the United States in their own despotic way
Hero’s Initial strategy against the villain fails: Gordon can’t gain the support of George
Realizing the hero must change his strategy to salvage some time of victory, he reaches an All is Lost Moment: Gordon is captured after George turns him down
Hero at the mercy of the victim: Gordon is captured again after he escapes, and his only friend is killed
The Hero’s sacrifice is rewarded: Gordon doesn’t take the bribe and betray his people, then he is rescued from an impossible situation by George
Hero, Victim, Villain clearly defined: Gordon is the hero; society is the victim (especially the helpless); the villains are those who don’t want to live in a democratic, organized, fair society
The Hero’s Object of Desire: Gordon ultimately wants to preserve the American way of life and save the innocents and helpless people in the world
The power divide between the hero and the villain is very large: The militant survivors have better weapons and tactics and are stronger than anything Gordon’s people can put together.
Speech in praise of the villain: There are numerous references to how strong the militant survivor forces are, and Macklin is a super soldier that is stronger and faster than normal men.
Act 1: Gordon escapes an attack and robbed, finds an old post truck, uses the guise of the postman to get food and supplies and has to decide whether or not to keep up the lie of the postman and a restored American Government or not.
Act 2: Gordon discovers the existence of Cyclops, the last working supercomputer, but then finds out that it is a lie and he decides to help the innocents and scientists to fight against the Holnists
Act 3: Gordon is a military leader against the Holnists and knows they are losing, so he goes looking for allies, but is turned down at the end and also receives a letter that his lover, Dana, is about to do something foolish to stop the war, so he rushes back to stop her.
Act 4: Gordon is captured by the Holnists, learns about their super soldiers, escapes and tries to get back to warn his people, but is captured again. He is offered a deal if he betrays his people, but doesn’t take it and is rescued by George. Gordon’s people push back the Holnists and Gordon leaves to look for more allies.
What I liked
1. The patriotism and belief in the American way of life
2. While I like the ending, it’s a little disappointing that the hero has no part in the defeat of Macklin, but ultimately I can’t think of way to make this happen either because Macklin was so much stronger than Gordon.
3. I like the evolution of the legend of the restored republic and the postal service
What I didn’t like
2. The reason it was slow is because there were a lot of crisis questions missing in the individual chapters. While Brin mostly hit the 5 commandments for the 4 quadrants, a number of his chapters were weak.
As I mentioned, this is one of my favorite books from my childhood, but when I reread it I did notice a lot of slow parts.
As far as the movie was concerned, there were some good parts, but the ending was not very satisfying because there is no reason to believe that Gordon could overpower the head of the Holnists, who had a lot more experience in fighting.
I did enjoy that Costner brought in his whole family to star in the movie.
Here’s a link to the movie trailer:
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© 2020 Randall R. Surles