The Postman - David Brin
Christmas 2010: I realised that I had got stuck in a rut. I was re-reading old favourites again and again, waiting for a few trusted authors to release new works. Something had to be done.

On the spur of the moment I set myself a challenge, to read every book to have won the Locus Sci-Fi award. That’s 35 books, 6 of which I’d previously read, leaving 29 titles by 14 authors who were new to me.

While working through this reading list I got married, went on my honeymoon, switched career and became a father. As such these stories became imprinted on my memory as the soundtrack to the happiest period in my life (so far).


The year was 1986 and Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game swept all before it, winning the Hugo Award for Best Novel, the Nebula Award for Best Novel and... not the Locus Sci-Fi Award. Those wonderfully contrary Locus voters instead gave their highest accolade to David Brin’s post-apocalyptic postman tale.

Apparently they made a Kevin Costner movie out of it (I’ve never seen it).
That little nugget of knowledge did not fill me with confidence.
My subconscious kept whispering… Waterworld.

I picked up a second hand copy.
It’s a battered, tattered thing.
The cover is faded.
Let’s be honest:
It looks sh!t.

I was coming off the back of a slightly disappointing run in my Locus Quest – this was the fourth in a mini-league of 80s winners (The Integral Trees, Titan, The Snow Queen and then The Postman) which I read during the weeks running up to my wedding. I often find that the less I expect of a book, the more open I am to its merits – which is a bit of a catch-22 situation because I normally only read those books I expect to be good!

After the first fifty pages, I was pleasantly surprised to be enjoying The Postman. Our hero, Gordon, is a likeable survivor – more of a dreamer than your average tough-guy loner. The first half of the book just flies by and if it kept up that sort of pace and atmosphere, we’d be looking at an easy 4-star book (maybe even a five).

Unfortunately, the second half of the book felt dated and clichéd. The A.I./Wizard of OZ scenario was pretty dubious, as was the women’s army section. I did enjoy the hippy/super-soldier thread – but by then all it was feeling a bit disconnected and episodic. I coasted the last third of the book and the finale was anticlimactic.

The Postman is not a bad little story, but nothing to write home about.