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The Long Tomorrow

3.65  ·  Rating details ·  1,806 ratings  ·  192 reviews
Two generations after destruction rained down upon America's cities, the population is scattered into small towns. Cities are forbidden by law, as is scientific research.

Rumors abound of a secret place known as "Bartorstown", where science is untrammelled by interference or hatred. A youth named Len Colter, developing an unhealthy thirst for knowledge exacerbated by the di
Mass Market Paperback, #F-135, 223 pages
Published 1962 by Ace Book (first published 1955)
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3.65  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,806 ratings  ·  192 reviews

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Bill  Kerwin
Feb 20, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction

I am of two minds about this book by Leigh Brackett, author of the original screenplay of The Empire Strikes Back. On the one hand, it is by my (perhaps) favorite classic science fiction author (the two other contenders being Leiber and Bester), and it is also the closest she ever came to an official masterpiece, for it has been reprinted in one of The Library of America's two volumes of 50's Science Fiction. On the other hand, although I liked the book, I prefer almost every other work of Leigh
Jul 09, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Reading this (virtually) back to back with the excellent ‘Station Eleven’, it struck me that in an end of the world scenario, religion really isn’t your friend. The religious types encountered across both books are likely to either stone you or forcibly marry you. Okay, those are the very extremes, but even the milder examples would be insane zealots in any other type of fiction. Now I’m an atheist to my bones, but even I think this a little strange. Surely there’s hope in religion. The word ‘fa ...more
Mar 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: pre-80s-sf
“A terrible scourge came onto this world. Those of us who survived it have labored and fought and sweat for two generations to recover from it. Now we’re prosperous and at peace, and nobody wants that scourge to come back. When we find men who seem to carry the seeds of it, we take steps against them, according to our different ways. And some ways are violent.”

That quote explains the basic concept of The Long Tomorrow pretty well. This book, published in 1955, is something of a minor classic, it
Jul 24, 2014 rated it liked it
I found it a challenge to approach this book on its own terms.

This was partly due to my expectations. I've read several of Leigh Brackett's planetary romance tales, and I know her screenwriting for Bogart films and John Wayne westerns. So, I kept thinking that this book would feature a tough, cocksure, well-seasoned, hero who uses a mixture of violence and bravado to solve all problems. But, this post-apocalyptic coming of age-tale about a conflicted and (at least initially) relatively passive
Charles Dee Mitchell
Aug 04, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mid-century-sf
By all accounts I've read, Brackett's 1955 novel is the first, post-nuclear holocaust novel written in the U.S. It takes place around a century after what survivors call "The Destruction." Cities across the globe were bomb targets and they now exist as unvisited ruins, demonized as the symbol of the hubris that brought about the attacks. Brackett's brilliant and genuinely creepy innovation --although I guess it's not really an innovation if it is the first book of what is now a well-worked genre ...more
James Renner
Jun 24, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Every once in a while, you visit a used bookstore and happen across a forgotten classic. In May, I drove through the little town of Kinsman, Ohio, on my way to Pymatuning to sit in a cabin and finish a novel that won't be published for some time. A used bookstore has slowly eaten away most of the other businesses in town and now occupies several storefronts around a convenience store/soda stand. Near the register I noticed a shelf devoted to an author I'd never heard of. Turns out Leigh Brackett ...more
This was very interesting. The first post nuclear holocaust book ever written and the only one I've read that had Mennonites! It was pretty spectacular in many ways, here was a woman, writing in the 50s about science vs religion and how religion was making America backwards! There were some rather dull sections in the middle and it was disappointing that nearly all the characters were male! But all was forgiven with this section, "I know now what lies across the land, the slow and heavy weight. ...more
Dec 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
Storyline: 4/5
Characters: 2/5
Writing Style: 4/5
World: 4/5

When I pick up a science fiction book from the 1950s, I do so with some resignation. There’s going to be laser guns. People are going to zap each other with them. The author is going to think that is so very cool. And if not laser guns, then it’s going to be a jaunt of a ride on a spaceship where the provision of gravity, air, temperature regulation, and sustenance are of no concern. So much of 1950s science fiction was carefree fun and ad
3.5 stars - Metaphorosis Reviews

Generations after global war, the United States has banned cities, and people live in small, self-sustaining communities with limited trade. Len Colter and his cousin Esau feel constrained by the strict rules of their New Mennonite community, and eventually break away, looking for the legendary Bartorstown, said to retain knowledge of science and technology.

I haven't read a lot of Leigh Brackett - an adventure novel or two. I think of her as a solid, but uninspiri
Jan 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Well-written '50s SF, with a post-apocalyptic, pastoral setting that brims with Cold War regrets about knowledge and technology. A controversial ending that keeps you guessing until the final page, but Len's decision is the only one that makes sense given Brackett's powerful theme: [redacted because find out for yourself].
Linda Robinson
Mar 24, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Reading this book took some sleuthing. I just finished reading Blackout: World War II and the Origins of Film Noir. Chinen Biesen shared backstory on The Big Sleep, a Howard Hawks production with Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall, based on a novel by Raymond Chandler. The movie has four writing credits. Hawks read a crime story written by Leigh Brackett, and hired the author through an agent. When Brackett called Hawks to discuss the screenplay, Hawks was dismayed to find out she was a woman. I ...more
Oct 03, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
THE LONG TOMORROW. (1955). Leigh Brackett. ****.
This is yet another selection included in the Library of America’s “American Science Fiction 1953-1956.” It is a well-plotted and well-paced tale of post-Apocalyptic America, where it is now against the law to have cities that exceed certain numbers of buildings or certain numbers of people. Dispersion has become the rule. There are no large cities left after the nuclear storm. We meet two cousins, Len and Esau Coulter. They both live on farms in
Aug 25, 2009 rated it liked it
The only real science-fiction-y aspect of the novel is the fact that it takes place in the future, after a World War III nuclear holocaust has destroyed all the cities in the world. After this catastrophic event, the government has outlawed cities (too much of a target) and pretty much everyone has taken to being a New Mennonite and living just like the Amish do today. Part of the new religion preaches the comfort of being ignorant, thus keeping people from wanting to invent another nuclear bomb ...more
As the story takes place less than 100 years after the nuclear apocalypse, I have the feeling that the long tomorrow of the title is what happens after the story ends, and that Len Coulter's coming-of-age is the template for a development that will be writ large across the future history. So, a cautiously optimistic view of things, recognising the fragility upon which that hope is founded. A nice balance between character and plot.
I have two preferred types of Post-Apocalyptic novels. The first is written post-2000, featuring tough, capable, morally loose but overall good men and women fighting their way to a new future. The second is this: post-WWII fear novels of the 50s/60s. There are obviously post-apoc novels written in the 70s-90s, but the best ones arose, in my mind, within ten years after WWII. Mainly because the Cold War hadn't pervaded as long. By the end of the Cold War, people seemed to believe nuclear war was ...more
Roddy Williams
Cousins Len and Esau Coulter are two young boys living in a family community in a post-nuclear war US. The States has sunk to the point where a theocracy has taken over, opposed to the scientific excesses of the past and with a strict ruling that communities can not hold more than a thousand people.
Len and Esau however, fueled by their semi-senile grandmother’s tales of prewar cities and glamour, yearn to learn more. They have also been infected with tales of a forbidden town, Bartorstown, where
Jessica Strider
Aug 24, 2012 rated it it was ok
Pros: good writing, realistic extrapolation of the aftermath of a nuclear war

Cons: boring at times, Len becomes increasingly hard to relate to

Len and Esau are cousins growing up in the New Mennonite Community of Piper's Run a hundred years after the atomic war that destroyed the United States. The Thirtieth Ammendment states that no cities beyond a certain size are allowed to be built and the country has splintered into a variety of religious farmers and traders.

After witnessing a stoning, the b
Jul 11, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own, books-for-school
I needed this to progress and end in a certain way, and it let me down. Forgive me because I am about to be dramatic. It obliterated my hopes and dreams. I want to believe that dreams come true, and for me this book did not send that message...It told me that humans are eternally driven toward what they don't have and what they can't see, something "better." It questions what "better" really is, does a better place really exist or is this it? It smacks you in the face with the reality that this ...more
Mieczyslaw Kasprzyk
In the end, this is very much a book of its time. The premise is that we are in a society that has grown out of the nuclear holocaust. Cities and technology have largely been banned and the US consists largely of bible-bashing theocracies which control the people. Somewhere, however, the remnants of a free-thinking, technological society are believed to exist and our heroes, two young boys, are determined to find it.
Initially I was dismayed by the lack of imagination the author displayed - thing
Shane Nixon
Feb 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I find it interesting that all the best post apocalyptic books were written more than 50 years ago. The Long Tomorrow is no exception. It is a great book. Some of it feels familiar. Like it has been done before. But you realise that if you've read something like this before it was probably one of the ones that came later that was inspired by this book. Even though The Long Tomorrow was first published almost 60 years ago it doesn't feel dated or "quaint", possibly because it reads like a period ...more
Sean Hoade
Jan 23, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I enjoy most novels that I read -- that's why I choose them. But I read The Long Tomorrow because it was in the New American Library collection of 1950s science fiction. I knew nothing about it except that it was science fiction and that it was obviously well respected enough to be a part of the NAL anthology.

So it came as a huge surprise that this book is, without a doubt, the most accomplished novel I have ever read. Everything about it is perfect, and I tell you nothing about the plot or char
Jul 14, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Yvensong by: Ralph McEwen
Classic sci-fi. A post-apocalyptic tale of the US after being nearly obliterated by the bomb. Religious sects that live simply, and off the earth, are the survivors that teach the rest how to survive. The outcome, of course, is that people are now governed by the religious tenets of these small sects.

We follow Len, who thinks there should be more. His quest takes him on a journey of discovery and he learns some hard lessons along the way.

My only qualm with the book, is there are no strong femal
"There's never been an act done since the beginning, from a kid stealing candy to a dictator committing genocide, that the person doing it didn't think he was fully justified. That's the mental trick called rationalizing, and it's done the human race more harm than anything else you can name."
David Agranoff
Leigh Brackett may not be a household name to most Sci-fi fans in this day and age but she was a ground breaking writer during the pulp era. At time when Ace was publishing most of their science fiction in doubles Leigh Brackett published dozens of space operas and fantasies ( that took place on Mars and Venus) far enough back that it seemed possible. One thing that made her a trailblazer is she didn’t hide her gender like a several women writing at the time.

She is most often remembered for the
Jay Barnson
Dec 10, 2018 rated it liked it
I've loved Brackett's stories. This one... isn't my favorite. I liked it, but it was far less a science fiction / post-apocalyptic tale than a coming of age story. Yes, the post-apocalyptic world is now filled with religious zealots (even the men of science are self-admittedly zealots in their own right) all trying in their own (probably futile) way to prevent another, probably even worse, nuclear disaster. So from a world-building standpoint, it's beautifully rendered. The characters are well d ...more
Peter Tillman
Oct 22, 2017 marked it as to-read
Jo Walton's new review:

"I trust the Hugo nominators to pick the best five books of the year, most of the time, and since it was the first fiction nominee by a woman, and easily and inexpensively available as an e-book, I grabbed it. And as soon as I started reading, it grabbed me. It’s great. I read it in one sitting this afternoon. I couldn’t put it down and it has given me plenty to think about. For a fifty-two-year-old book, what more can you ask? ...

Feb 27, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
In post-holocaust America, technology is non-existent, having been blamed for the nuclear war which 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 techno ...more
May 06, 2013 rated it really liked it
I read this book a few years ago for a post-apocalyptic lit class and whether it was because I read it in one day or wasn't paying much attention, I really didn't like it. However, after stumbling upon it while cleaning out my closet I decided to give it another try. And after rereading it, I can say that my opinion of it has vastly improved.

The story takes place in the United States several decades after a nuclear war destroyed most of the cities in the country. The fear of further attacks led
Aug 14, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: sf
My, was this a difficult book to rate.

But I guess that was because I appreciated The Long Tomorrow more on an intellectual level, rather than emotional. The novel was interesting, but I wasn't emotionally involved in it. Still, there was a number of worthwhile things here.

The overall tone of the novel grows progressively more bleak as the story moves forward, mirroring the state of mind of our main protagonist, Len Colter. Len, a new Mennonite boy, lives on a farm surrounded by family and frie
Kris McCracken
A science fiction novel first published in 1955, The Long Tomorrow is set in the aftermath of a nuclear war, and portrays a world where scientific knowledge is feared and restricted. The novel constructs a world in which religious sects that opposed modern technology before the war have adjusted to the post-apocalypse situation far more easily than anyone else, and have come to dominate the post-war society.

The tale follows a pair of cousins who escape their constrained world after suffering har
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SF Masterworks Group: The Long Tomorrow by Leigh Brackett 1 6 Jul 19, 2013 05:57AM  
  • Some Will Not Die
  • Greybeard
  • The Genocides
  • A Mirror for Observers
  • A Wrinkle in the Skin
  • The Year of the Quiet Sun
  • Dark Universe
  • Wolf and Iron
  • The Embedding
  • Last and First Men/Star Maker
  • A Gift Upon the Shore
  • Summer of the Apocalypse
  • Gather, Darkness!
  • Through Darkest America (Darkest and Dawn #1)
  • When Worlds Collide (When Worlds Collide, #1)
  • Orbitsville
  • Level 7
  • Walk to the End of the World (Holdfast Chronicles, #1)
Leigh Brackett was born on December 7, 1915 in Los Angeles, and raised near Santa Monica. Having spent her youth as an athletic tom-boy - playing volleyball and reading stories by Edgar Rice Burroughs and H Rider Haggard - she began writing fantastic adventures of her own. Several of these early efforts were read by Henry Kuttner, who critiqued her stories and introduced her to the SF personalitie ...more
“There's never been an act done since the beginning, from a kid stealing candy to a dictator committing genocide, that the person doing it didn't think he was fully justified. That's a mental trick called rationalizing, and it's done the human race more harm than anything else you can name.” 10 likes
“No city, no town, no community of more than one thousand people or two
hundred buildings to the square mile, shall be built or permitted to exist
anywhere in the United States of America.”
More quotes…