25

I am pretty sure this was a short story in a collection of sci-fi stories.

It was written from the perspective of one of the people whose job was hunting down and killing people that grew too old, after he himself reached that age. IIRC, he is hunted by his own protege.

I think that there was some kind of sign they had, a painted red hand. But that might be from somewhere else.

I read the book around 20 years ago, but would assume the story to be older.

6
  • 1
    The 1968 cult classic film Wild in the Streets - Wikipedia had a similar theme. It's not what you want, but it's based on a short story, "The Day It All Happened, Baby!" by Robert Thom, and perhaps that is. Feb 17 '20 at 14:42
  • 3
    I'm old enough to have seen the TV series on release, so this questions sounds to my ears like "What was that one with the kid, the old guy and the wheezy guy in the black mask and they fight with laser swords, and there's a rebellion". Feb 17 '20 at 22:14
  • @Harper-ReinstateMonica, that sounds more like the traditional "old people send young people off to fight for a cause that died before they were born"
    – Separatrix
    Feb 18 '20 at 7:58
  • 4
    @Harper-ReinstateMonica Old man, young man, masked man, rebellion and light sabres? You obviously mean "The Man in the Iron Mask"! :P Feb 18 '20 at 13:14
  • 1
    @Harper-ReinstateMonica: Sounds something like this, is what you're saying? youtube.com/watch?v=Cg-pnGFbwMQ (Note, some profanity.) Feb 18 '20 at 17:52
67

That’s probably Logan’s Run, by William F Nolan and George Clayton Johnson. It was turned into both a film and a TV series, and there are several sequels.

Published in 1967, the novel depicts a dystopic ageist future society in which both population and the consumption of resources are maintained in equilibrium by requiring the death of everyone reaching the age of 21. The story follows the actions of Logan, a Sandman charged with enforcing the rule, as he tracks down and kills citizens who "run" from society's lethal demand—only to end up "running" himself.

The sign isn’t a painted hand, but a crystal embedded in the hand. It changes colour as you get older, and goes black when you’re over 21.

12
  • 8
    Might be worth noting it does flash red/black on "Last Day".
    – TheLethalCarrot
    Feb 17 '20 at 12:04
  • 3
    @Lot Don't accept the answer unless you are sure this is what you are trying to identify. Otherwise you will put others off from answering and you won't have your answer.
    – TheLethalCarrot
    Feb 17 '20 at 12:13
  • 15
    Actually, in the movie and series the age was 30 -- probably changed so they could use adult actors with known names and faces (Michael York,for instance).
    – Zeiss Ikon
    Feb 17 '20 at 12:48
  • 3
    Ah yes... a dystopia about a world where those totally old 23 year olds and 28 year olds get killed. ;)
    – Lexible
    Feb 18 '20 at 21:00
  • 2
    One of the movie tie-in paperbacks shows a red hand on the back cover: flashbak.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/…
    – MJ713
    Feb 18 '20 at 23:08
24

This sounds like it could be Logan's Run, which published in 1967 and made into a film in 1976.

Logan is a sandman, a kind of police officer who tracks down and kills runners, who are people who've reached the age of 21 and have tried to run rather report to a Sleepshop.

People are implanted with a crystal that turns red as they become teenagers, and black on their 21st birthday. This could be the "red hands" you remember.

Logan is tasked to pose as a runner and infiltrate an underground railroad which has been helping runners get away. He discovers that the railroad is being run by his friend and fellow runner.

0
22

I see several analogies with "A Generation Removed" by Gary K. Wolf although it doesn’t fit your description 100%.

In this short novel, published in 1977, the US are ruled by the young people and, as long as they're young, they are also allowed to do anything they wish: people are young up to the age of twenty.
As soon as they turn twenty they become adults and are tolerated as active population until the age of 55: at that point, old people keep being checked up even by mobile units on the streets and, as soon as they aren’t healthy anymore, they are euthanized on the spot.
Or just burned in fire chambers as a show for the young people’s delight.

The main character is a 51 year-old cop who's been assigned desk duties due to his age: but suddenly his Captain (even by name) puts him to active duty again, to infiltrate the resistance network, made up of old farts who keep fighting the young rulers.
Once accepted by the resistance, he realizes they are the good guys and joins them actively, de facto turning on the police: but Captain already knew he would betray them and lets his deputy hunt him until the final showdown.

There are no red hands involved but people over 55 must wear a black band to the arm.

16

It’s more a short novel than a short story, but this is a good match for William F Nolan and George Clayton Johnson’s 1967 Logan’s Run.

It has:

  • A society where people are executed at 21
  • A group of enforcers (Sandmen) who track and kill those who try to escape death
  • Crystals in peoples hands which turn red when they reach 22
  • A main character who stages his escape on his final day to find where the escapees go
  • He is chased by a friend (not a protege)
2

It reminds me of Buzzati's "Cacciatori di vecchi" published in 1966. It really is a short story, not a short novel. It was translated in French as "Chasseurs de vieux". It's hard to find information in English about it, although it is mentioned here.

In the story, there is a youth movement (criminal? it is not clear) that hunts down elderly people. It ends with the leader of the movement being himself old and hunted down.

Even if what you are looking for is Logan's Run, it is pretty interesting that this was published before and seems very similar.

0

This could be Sins Of The Fathers by Will Cunningham.

In the United States of the year 2038, citizens over fifty are terminated for "the greater good" to contain health care costs. Life has little value and love has lost all meaning. Into this bleak setting steps John Nash, a government agent committed to hunting down those who avoid their termination dates and whose own father is about to turn fifty. Risking his life and career, Nash contacts an underground escape network to save his long-estranged father. While eluding government forces, Nash must grapple with issues of forgiveness and love, and eventually the heart and will of God.

1
  • Hi, welcome to SF&F! Note that the question was asking for a short story (or potentially something up to novelette length that could be included in an anthology); at 274 pages, this is too long. Also the target of the hunt was the protagonist himself, not the protagonist's father.
    – DavidW
    Jan 25 at 23:25

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.