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37 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great "Golden Oldie" of the way the future was.
It's fascinating to see how some sf novels stand the test of time and others don't. I still have my old Mayflower pb of "The Long Tomorrow" which I purchased as a teenager c1963, and reread it from time to time. Doing so produces most curious feelings, like going through a timewarp of some kind.

TLT is a "Golden Oldie". Published in 1955, it is one of the huge...
Published on November 23, 2007 by M. W. Stone

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars but it took the decade of the 50's to impress how horrible nuclear war was
The Long Tomorrow appears to be the Great-Grandaddy of post-nuclear war books. Predating Fail Safe/Alas, Babylon/On the Beach, Brackett imagines a future world where religion is the controlling force of a new republic and science is nearly forbidden.

This was a naive portrayal of the post-war, but it took the decade of the 50's to impress how horrible nuclear...
Published 2 months ago by Maker


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37 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great "Golden Oldie" of the way the future was., November 23, 2007
By 
M. W. Stone (peterborough, cambs england) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Long Tomorrow (Mass Market Paperback)
It's fascinating to see how some sf novels stand the test of time and others don't. I still have my old Mayflower pb of "The Long Tomorrow" which I purchased as a teenager c1963, and reread it from time to time. Doing so produces most curious feelings, like going through a timewarp of some kind.

TLT is a "Golden Oldie". Published in 1955, it is one of the huge number of "post nuclear war" stories that came out in that nervous era, but is head and shoulders above the bulk of them. It's theme, unique in sf as far as I know, is a future world in which the Amish (or at least a sect more or less "cloned" from them) have taken over America.

The idea that, in the aftermath of holocaust, the people might turn against science and technology, has of course been used by others, notably Walter M Miller in "A Canticle For Leibowitz". But TLT takes a subtly different angle. The New Mennonites are not opposed to education, their children are literate, and they seem to live at an early 19th century level, just pre-railroad. It isn't a Dark Age in the usual sense. But there are strict limits. No electricity, industry or anything high tech. Riverboats are allowed to have simple engines, but land transport stops at the horse and buggy. Above all, the US Constitution has been amended to forbid the existence of any city or town above 2000 people.

The central characters are two teenage boys in a New Mennonite community in Ohio. Len Colter (14) and his slightly older cousin, Esau. They discover a radio set, belonging to a passing trader, and realise that he comes from "Bartorstown", a secret society out west conspiring to bring back the bad old days, association - real or alleged - with which can result in whipping at best, instant lynching at worst. Fascinated by it (and, in Len's case, by their grandmother's wistful recollections of before the war) they seek to know more. This leads to their having to flee from home, and set out on a quest to get to Bartorstown. This quest covers several years and forms the middle third or so of the book.

On arrival, they are in for a mighty shock. These people are the custodians of the last surviving nuclear reactor, and are seeking a way to neutralise atomic bombs, so the power of the atom can be safely used without another catastrophe. This forces the sensitive Len (by now more or less adult) into a crisis of conscience. Is this a wise path to take, or were his elders right all along? The last part of the book is about him coming to terms with this question.

Perhaps my strongest reaction, on going back to it, is surprise at finding the Amish (on whom the New Mennonites are explicitly modelled) cast as the Bad Guys. This, I suspect, would be out of the question today. If their treatment by Hollywood ("Witness", "Harvest of Fire" etc) is anything to go by, they are about the most popular ethnic minority in America. To chide them for holding up "progress" would be almost unthinkable.

The book shows its age in other ways too, notably its simple 1950s faith in technology. It's now some 80 years since World War III, yet the group at Bartorstown are perfectly happy living next to a prewar nuclear reactor. Even those who for various reasons aren't happy with it don't seem to fear any physical danger, save of course from the neighbours if they ever find out. These days, I suspect few would be keen to live even near an eight year old one. Yet Bartorstown has lasted three generations without even a Three Mile Island, let alone a Chernobyl. Remarkable workmanship.

Even the nuclear war itself seems to have left remarkably little damage in its wake, with no deformed babies, no cancer, etc, while Len's grandmother, who experienced the war as a child, has lived to a ripe old age. The only lasting harm seems to have been psychological. Nor does anyone see a problem about restoring civilisation in a world where the oilfields are probably mostly drained. It is just assumed that such things can be got round. This is the outlook of a different era from today.

Ditto for the people. There are some who'd rather not be living there, but after eight decades in a country hostile to all it stands for, Bartorstown still hasn't been betrayed or detected. Could anyone really keep the lid on for so long? Quibble, quibble, Mike.

In short, TLT is a remarkable glimpse into "The way the future was" as of 50 years ago. If it were written today, I suspect the Mennonites would be definitely the guys in white hats, and the young heroes would not merely get out of Bartorstown, but do their best not to travel downwind of it any more than they absolutely had to. This said, however, it is beautifully written, and one of the best books of its kind. Read it as an sf "period piece" and you won't be sorry.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining Read - Well Worth It, August 15, 2005
This review is from: The Long Tomorrow (Mass Market Paperback)
Leigh Brackett wrote this interesting sci fi thriller after moving to Ohio, and in Ohio it begins, two generations after the Destruction, a global annhilation by nuclear holocaust. Fear predominates the culture and identity of every individual and it is the fight against the fear of knowledge, that most dreaded, that Len Coulter wages along with his cousin, Esau. A believable piece of fiction for a book written over 60 years ago which is thoroughly relevant to the present-day culture of fear.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An early vision of America after a nuclear war, August 16, 2012
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This review is from: The Long Tomorrow (Paperback)
Despite its acclaim as an early vision of America after a nuclear war, The Long Tomorrow doesn't have the same impact as the best examples of post-apocalyptic fiction. Leigh Brackett's 1955 novel nonetheless deserves its status as a science fiction "classic," albeit more for the message it delivers than for the quality of the story it tells.

After the war, cities are widely regarded as a source of wickedness, although Len Colter's grandmother remembers them with fondness, as places with electricity and indoor plumbing, supermarkets and movie theaters. The people best equipped to survive the annihilation aren't city dwellers but those who are accustomed to living a simple rural life. The Mennonites have multiplied, a trend that is enhanced by a constitutional amendment prohibiting cities of more than one thousand residents. The religious values that inform the Mennonite leaders also (not so coincidentally) work to their economic advantage. The Mennonites, however, have little use for members of another fast-growing religion, the fire-and-brimstone fundamentalists who preach hatred and urge that sinners (including those who advocate urban growth) be subjected to the usual range of biblical torments, including death by stoning.

Len has a rebellious instinct that no amount of whipping will extinguish. His desire for knowledge, his will to know what exists in the world beyond the village limits, might be sinful -- the sin of pride, his father tells him -- but Len is willing to accept damnation for the sake of learning the truth. After his grandmother explains that, before the war, the government built a town in the west called Bartorstown, populated with scientists dedicated to a secret project, Len resolves to find it, hoping it will be the source of enlightenment he craves. Thus Len and his cousin Esau begin a journey across a post-apocalyptic landscape. The truth about Bartorstown comes as a surprise and the story takes an interesting turn as it nears the end.

Like many dystopian tales, The Long Tomorrow has a cautionary message. This one is about the evils of intolerance and thought-control, the value of independent thinking. The fear of cities expressed in Brackett's novel is really a fear of progressive thinking, a belief that life was better (in modern terms, that "family values" were stronger) in the good old days. Knowledge is condemned because it was misused; a retreat from knowledge is seen as the path to salvation. Still, as Len comes to realize, even if we can be cleansed of sin (as his people believe), we can never be cleansed of knowledge -- "there is no mystical escape from it." Deliberate ignorance is not the antidote to dangerous knowledge; wisdom is. Perhaps themes that were compelling in 1955 now seem dated, but the argument that there should be limits to knowledge, particularly when knowledge contradicts biblical teachings, retains a twenty-first century following. The argument that cities were destroyed in a nuclear war because they were "sinful" finds echoes in similar remarks made about New Orleans after Katrina.

I've never been as appreciative of Brackett's prose as some sf fans. She was a perfectly capable writer, but (at least to me) her style is no more "literary" than that of many other well-recognized sf writers of her era. Still, her writing becomes more resonant as the story progresses. On occasion the novel has the flavor of a western; at other times there's a hint of Huckleberry Finn, although Huck's trip down the Mississippi is vastly more eventful than Len's underwhelming voyage along the Ohio River. Other "message" novels manage more subtlety than this one. Although The Long Tomorrow doesn't make it into my personal canon of cherished sf novels from the 1950s, it endures as an enjoyable read.
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14 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Some books should never go out of print!, May 30, 2000
By 
Peter Dykhuis (Grandville, MI USA) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This is simply amazing. If you are like me and enjoy well-written post-apocalyptic yarns then this is going to be quick favorite. There has been a backlash and the United States has turned its back to technology and all of its citizens live a rural Amish type lifestyle. Or have they? Solid writing and great concept. To bad this winner is out of print.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Missing from library, February 4, 2014
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This review is from: The Long Tomorrow (Paperback)
a classic that my library was missing and that every library should have. this is the type of book that post-apocalyptic readers should read so they can realize where every other book got their ideas.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Pastoral post-holocaust America, January 6, 2014
By 
Chris Bekofske (Detroit Rock City) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Long Tomorrow (Paperback)
In post-holocaust America, technology is non-existent, having been blamed for the nuclear war that wrecked the world. Technology is actively opposed, set in stone by the 30th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution; even cities are banned, with population limits set and rigorously enforced by neighboring villages. Fire-and-brimstone religion has come to dominate the countryside, with traveling old-tyme religion preachers roving the countryside to heap Hell’s damnation upon the wicked dream of technology.

Enter Len Colter and his cousin Esau, New Mennonite youngsters dreaming of the past glories retold to them by Len’s elderly grandmother. Against their fathers’ wishes, they sneak off to a revival meeting, where the preacher incites a mob to stone a trader to death on charges of trading in technology. Tech, we are told, comes from a secretive bastion known as Bartorstown… a name synonymous to Hell for most of the world, extending its scientific tentacles against the wishes of Godly men, which will undoubtedly destroy the world yet again. The two boys are shocked at seeing the brutal death, but fascinated with the idea of Bartorstown, so they decide to run away and find its mythical technology.

This is the novel that was billed as "Leigh Brackett's best" on the cover. And the first chunk of the book is Brackett in fine form: a kind of Tom Sawyer pastoralism amongst the small New Mennonite communities of future America. The middle of the book is a journey tale, taking us to various settlements as the boys move on towards Bartorstown. The last third begins to get muddled, losing its momentum and focus; the ending is okay, lacking the resonance that would have made it great.

This is a slick novel, with a lot going for it, though I'm not sure this is Brackett's best: most mature, yes, and most thought-provoking---her closest to mainstream SF. But I'm not sure it's her strongest. The cover is correct, it's "awfully close" to being a great novel, but even as something of a letdown this is still a book I have fond memories of.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars this classic of 50's SF deserves a wider audience, September 2, 2008
By 
This review is from: The Long Tomorrow (Paperback)
Leigh Brackett (1915 - 1978) was a productive writer of SF and fantasy novels, short stories, and screenplays. For all but the final 10 - 15 years of her life she was one of the relatively few woman continuously active in the field of SF. Brackett never labeled herself a `feminist' writer, and most of her works focus on male protagonists. In this respect her contributions and skills as a writer have been marginalized by the SF community, particularly in comparison to consciously `Feminist' authors like Alice Sheldon and Joanna Russ, who (in my opinion) are inferior writers, but nonetheless garnered outsized attention in the late 60s - early 70s simply for being regarded as Feminist authors.

`The Long Tomorrow' (1955) is one of Brackett's best novels and displays her skills at setting, characterization, and dialogue. The story takes place some decades after a nuclear war has devastated the US in the early 1950s. Civilization has reverted to an agrarian society akin to that of the mid-nineteenth century. Various politico-religious sects, such as the New Mennonites, are determined to stifle any technological progress in order to avert a repeat of the cataclysm. The main character is Len Colter, son of a New Mennonite farmer, whose curiosity about the Olden Times and their forbidden sciences brings him into conflict with his staid and pious family.

Len rebels against the strictures of his rural life and embarks on a journey to find Bartorstown, the rumored last bastion of pre-devastation technology. His search for Bartorstown brings him into a variety of conflicts smoldering around the former US, sparked by dissension between advocates for progress, and those opposed to its dangers. In the latter portion of the novel Len finds himself forced to make a fateful decision between his childhood aspirations, and the unsettling reality of genies re-loosed from their bottles.

Brackett never provides the reader with a pat declaration for one side or the other in these conflicts; instead, the narrative often shows some ambivalence about technology and its liabilities when wielded by humans clouded by their fears, beliefs, and yearnings.

The narrative is fast-moving and engaging. While she wrote with an economy and skill that are the hallmarks of an experienced author, Bracket was also able to portray her characters with depth and imbue them with distinctive and memorable personalities. The world of the post-apocalyptic USA of `The Long Tomorrow' is entirely believable, and one of the best presentations of such a scenario in what is a very heavily-mined area of the genre.

`The Long Tomorrow' is a classic of SF, and a great read for both young people and adults.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A good read, November 20, 2013
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This review is from: The Long Tomorrow (Paperback)
Brackett has an accessible style and is a good story teller. While not without some problems, every book has some problems, it is a thought provoking argument. The characters are rounded and interesting.
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3.0 out of 5 stars but it took the decade of the 50's to impress how horrible nuclear war was, October 13, 2014
By 
Maker (Houston, TX) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Long Tomorrow (Paperback)
The Long Tomorrow appears to be the Great-Grandaddy of post-nuclear war books. Predating Fail Safe/Alas, Babylon/On the Beach, Brackett imagines a future world where religion is the controlling force of a new republic and science is nearly forbidden.

This was a naive portrayal of the post-war, but it took the decade of the 50's to impress how horrible nuclear war was.

Brackett may not be the best of the genre, but she was the first . . .
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4.0 out of 5 stars This was pretty good. It was better written then most of ..., July 6, 2014
By 
Amazon Customer (Louisville, CO United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Long Tomorrow (Kindle Edition)
This was pretty good. It was better written then most of the other books of this type.
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The Long Tomorrow
The Long Tomorrow by Leigh Brackett (Mass Market Paperback - December 1, 1974)
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