The Postman

The Postman

by David Brin

Paperback(Mass Market Paperback - Reprint)

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The Postman by David Brin

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.

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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780553278743
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 11/28/1997
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 321
Sales rank: 263,512
Product dimensions: 4.18(w) x 6.86(h) x 0.89(d)
Lexile: 910L (what's this?)
Age Range: 14 - 18 Years

About the Author

David Brin is a scientist and the bestselling author of Sundiver, The Uplift War, Startide Rising, The Practice Effect, The Postman, Heart of the Comet (with Gregory Benford), Earth, Glory Season, Brightness Reef, and Infinity's Shore, as well as the short-story collections The River of Time and Otherness. He has a doctorate in astrophysics and has been a NASA consultant and a physics professor.

Read an Excerpt

Gordon's smile was bitterly thin as he sat up carefully, backing along his rocky perch until he felt sure he was out of view of the slope below.  He plucked his travel belt free of twigs and drew the half-full canteen for a long, desperately needed drink.

Bless you, paranoia, he thought.  Not once since the Doomwar had he ever allowed the belt more than three feet from his side.  It was the only thing he had been able to grab before diving into the brambles.

The dark gray metal of his .38 revolver shone even under a fine layer of dust, as he drew it from its holster.  Gordon blew on the snub-nosed weapon and carefully checked its action.  Soft clicking testified in understated eloquence to the craftsmanship and deadly precision of another age.  Even in killing, the old world had made well.

Especially in the art of killing, Gordon reminded himself.  Raucous laughter carried up from the slope below.

Normally he traveled with only four rounds loaded.  Now he pulled two more precious cartridges from a belt pouch and filled the empty chambers under and behind the hammer.  "Firearm safety" was no longer a major consideration, especially since he expected to die this evening anyway.

Sixteen years chasing a dream, Gordon thought.  First that long, futile struggle against the collapse . . . then scratching to survive through the Three-Year Winter . . . and finally more than a decade of moving from place to place, dodging pestilence and hunger, fighting goddamned Holnists and packs of wild dogs . . . half a lifetime spent as a wandering dark age minstrel, play-acting for meals in order to make it one day more while I searched for . . .

. . . for someplace . . .

Gordon shook his head.  He knew his own dreams quite well.  They were a fool's fantasies, and had no place in the present world.

. . . for someplace where someone was taking responsibility . . .

He pushed the thought aside.  Whatever he had been looking for, his long seeking seemed to have ended here, in the dry, cold mountains of what had once been eastern Oregon.

From the sounds below he could tell that the bandits were packing up, getting ready to move off with their plunder.  Thick patches of desiccated creeper blocked Gordon's view downslope through the ponderosa pines, but soon a burly man in a faded plaid hunting coat appeared from the direction of his campsite, moving northeast on a trail leading down the mountainside.

The man's clothing confirmed what Gordon remembered from those blurred seconds of the attack.  At least his assailants weren't wearing army surplus camouflage . . . the trademark of Holn survivalists.

They must be just regular, run of the mill, may-they please-roast-in-Hell bandits.

If so, then there was a sliver of a chance the plan glimmering in his mind just might accomplish something.


The first bandit had Gordon's all-weather jacket tied around his waist.  In his right arm he cradled the pump shot gun Gordon had carried all the way from Montana.  "Come on!" the bearded robber yelled back up the trail.  "That's enough gloating.  Get that stuff together and move it!"  

The leader, Gordon decided.

Another man, smaller and more shabby, hurried into view carrying a cloth sack and a battered rifle.  "Boy, what a haul!  We oughta celebrate.  When we bring this stuff back, can we have all the 'shine we want, Jas?"  The small robber hopped like an excited bird.  "Boy, Sheba an' the girls'll bust when they hear about that lil' rabbit we drove off into the briar patch.  I never seen anything run so fast!"  He giggled.

Gordon frowned at the insult added to injury.  It was the same nearly everywhere he had been--a postholocaust callousness to which he'd never grown accustomed, even after all this time.  With only one eye peering through the scrub grass rimming his cleft, he took a deep breath and shouted.

"I wouldn't count on getting drunk yet, Brer Bear!"  adrenaline turned his voice more shrill than he wanted, but that couldn't be helped.

The big man dropped awkwardly to the ground, scrambling for cover behind a nearby tree.  The skinny robber though, gawked up at the hillside.

"What . . . ?  Who's up there?"

Gordon felt a small wash of relief.  Their behavior confirmed that the sons of bitches weren't true survivalists.  Certainly not Holnists.  If they had been, he'd probably be dead by now.

The other bandits--Gordon counted a total of five--hurried down the trail carrying their booty.  "Get down!"  their leader commanded from his hiding place.  Scrawny seemed to wake up to his exposed position and hurried to join his comrades behind the undergrowth.

All except one robber--a sallow-faced man with salt-and-pepper sideburns, wearing an alpine hat.  Instead of hiding he moved forward a little, chewing a pine needle and casually eyeing the thicket.

"Why bother?"  he asked calmly.  "That poor fellow had on barely more than his skivvies, when we pounced him.  We've got his shotgun.  Let's find out what he wants."

Gordon kept his head down.  But he couldn't help noticing the man's lazy, affected drawl.  He was the only one who was clean shaven, and even from here Gordon could tell that his clothes were cleaner, more meticulously tended.

At a muttered growl from his leader, the casual bandit shrugged and sauntered over behind a forked pine.  Barely hidden, he called up the hillside.  "Are you there, Mister Rabbit?  If so, I am so sorry you didn't stay to invite us to tea.  Still, aware how Jas and Little Wally tend to treat visitors, I suppose I cannot blame you for cutting out."

Gordon couldn't believe he was trading banter with this twit.  "That's what I figured at the time," he called.  "Thanks for understanding my lack of hospitality.  By the way, with whom am I speaking?"

The tall fellow smiled broadly.  "With whom . . . ?  Ah, a grammarian!  What joy.  It's been so long since I've heard an educated voice."  He doffed the alpine hat and bowed.  "I am Roger Everett Septien, at one time a member of the Pacific Stock Exchange, and presently your robber.  As for my colleagues . . ."

The bushes rustled.  Septien listened, and finally shrugged.  "Alas," he called to Gordon.  "Normally I'd tempted by a chance for some real conversation; I'm sure you're as starved for it as I.  Unfortunately, the leader of our small brotherhood of cutthroats insists that I find out what you want and get this over with.

"So speak your piece, Mister Rabbit.  We are all ears."

Gordon shook his head.  The fellow obviously classed himself a wit, but his humor was fourth-rate, even by post-war standards.  "I notice you fellows aren't carrying all of my gear.  You wouldn't by some chance have decided to take only what you needed, and left enough for me to survive, would you?"

From the scrub below came a high giggle, then more hoarse chuckles as others joined in.  Roger Septien looked left and right and lifted his hands.  His exaggerated sigh seemed to say that he at least, appreciated the irony in Gordon's question.

"Alas," he repeated.  "I recall mentioning that possibility to my compatriots.  For instance, our women might find some use for your aluminum tent poles and pack frame, but I suggested we leave the nylon bag and tent, which are useless to us.

"Um, in a sense we have done this.  However, I don't think that Wally's . . . er, alterations will meet your approval."

Again, that shrieking giggle rose from the bushes.  Gordon sagged a little.

"What about my boots?  You all seem well enough shod.  Do they fit any of you, anyway?  Could you leave them?  And my jacket and gloves?"

Septien coughed.  "Ah, yes.  They're the main items, aren't they?  Other than the shotgun, of course, which is nonnegotiable."

Gordon spat.  Of course, idiot.  Only a blowhard states the obvious.

Again, the voice of the bandit leader could be heard, muffled by the foliage.  Again there were giggles.  With a pained expression, the ex-stockbroker sighed.  "My leader asks what you offer in trade.  Of course I know you have nothing.  Still, I must inquire."

As a matter of fact, Gordon had a few things they might want--his belt compass for instance, and a Swiss army knife.

But what were his chances of arranging an exchange and getting out alive?  It didn't take telepathy to tell that these bastards were only toying with their victim.

A fuming anger filled him, especially over Septien's false show of compassion.  He had witnessed this combination of cruel contempt and civilized manners in other once-educated people, over the years since the Collapse.  By his lights, people like this were far more contemptible than those who had simply succumbed to the barbaric times.

"Look," he shouted.  "You don't need those damn boots!  You've no real need for my jacket or my toothbrush or my notebook, either.  This area's clean, so what do you need my Geiger counter for?  I'm not stupid enough to think I can have my shotgun back, but without some of those other things I'll die, damn you!"

The echo of his curse seemed to pour down the long slope of the mountainside, leaving a hanging silence in wake.  Then the bushes rustled and the big bandit leader stood up.  Spitting contemptuously upslope, he snapped fingers at the others.  "Now I know he's got no gun," he told them.  His thick eyebrows narrowed and he gestured in Gordon's general direction.

"Run away, little rabbit.  Run, or we'll skin you and have you for supper!"  He hefted Gordon's shotgun, turned his back, and sauntered casually down the trail.  The others in behind, laughing.

Roger Septien gave the mountainside an ironic shrug and a smile, then gathered up his share of the loot and followed his compatriots.  They disappeared around a bend in the narrow forest path, but for minutes afterward Gordon heard the softly diminishing sound of someone happily whistling.

You imbecile!  Weak as his chances had been, he had spoiled them completely by appealing to reason and charity.  In an era of tooth and claw, nobody ever did that except out of impotence.  The bandits' uncertainty had evaporated just as soon as he foolishly asked for fair play.

Of course he could have fired his .38, wasting a precious bullet to prove he wasn't completely harmless.  That would have forced them to take him seriously again....

What People are Saying About This

Whitley Strieber

A moving experience...a powerful, cautionary tale.

Customer Reviews

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Postman 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 85 reviews.
dtpasart More than 1 year ago
As an avid reader of science fiction and hard fantasies, I've read my share of apocalyptic stories. This is one of the best I've ever read. Read it the first time 20 years ago and pick it up every few years. There's plenty of action, but also plenty of introspection - possibly this is why some people only rate it 3 stars. There are no laser guns or space ships, no deep corporate conspiracies and not every single page is filled with battles or deaths. However, there is a great love for 'civilization' and this country and tons of respect for the inherent bravery in everyday people.
SlaughterS More than 1 year ago
The book suffers because it feels like 3 or so loosely coupled short stories tied together into a single book form. This is because it was originally written as a very powerful short story (Asimov Science Fiction Magazine - November 1982 issue). When published as a novel instead of fleshing out the the original short stories concept Brin simply used the short story as the first chapters of the book. I always thought that the original short story was very self contained and came to a very tight and satisfying conclusion and there was really no where else to go with the story line. To complete the book I think Brin simply dug up two or three previously unrelated and unpublished shorts and rewrote them well enough to work together as a single novel. Too bad - the original short story was great.
Blue_Jacket More than 1 year ago
This story is definitely worth picking up and reading, because it kept me engrossed as soon as I read the first page. The characters were thoroughly developed and the plot meandered thrillingly at times. I loved how Brin incorporated such an ample amount of sensory detail, which was what initially drew me in. His message also started and ended fairly strongly, but I wish there could've been more depth, an example being the scene when he stumbles upon the deceased postman. I felt he could've done more with that critical scene so that it "echoed" throughout the rest of the book. Sometimes, the events fell together a little too conveniently for an apocalyptic novel, but for the most part they were still as realistic as sci-fi can get. I really enjoyed the times when the story really was able to pick up convincing emotions and atmosphere. The pace of the storyline also speed up and slowed at the right times. The story's setting felt cramped in a way, since it was so pinpointed in Oregon it left me curious, and I wish I found out the whereabouts of the rest of the world. Also, I wish the novel had a stronger sense of finality at the conclusion as if setting up for a sequel, but overall it was an amazing adventure.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book goes through thr darkest of metaphore about hunan nature and the hoplessness of destruction... But manages to redeem itself in the light of hope. If you liked the movie, this is so different and so much better!
ballah More than 1 year ago
A Must Read When I started reading The Postman by David Brin I wasn't sure how it was going to turn out. I didn't know if I was going to like it or if i was going to dread reading it. After a couple of pages, the story pulled me in. I realized that I had never started reading a book this fast before. The way David Brin put together the book was really great. About 2 weeks ago, my mom told me to read for fifteen minutes, but the book quickly took my mind off of everything else, and I ended up reading for nearly an hour. I honestly recommend this book for everyone to read. I think that it is very heartwarming because the world that this takes place in is a ruined place, but when Gordon Krantz becomes known as the postman, he does his best to make everyone he meets happier. He tells them that there is hope that the United States is being reunited. We need more people like that in our world today. The book grasps your attention from the very beginning and doesn't let you go until you finish the very last page. Many of the other reviews say that the movie with Kevin Costner ruined the book for them, but I've also seen reviews that say the book is way better than the movie. I haven't seen the movie so I can't abide to that, but I think that it is probably much better because I don't usually like books this much. I'd say that this is one of the few books I would re-read. I would recommend this book to any reader in high school or out. If you like action and adventure like me then I know you will definitely love this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The novel The Postman by David Brin was an overall decent book. There were some parts that I enjoyed, and some parts that I literally fell asleep. The main character named Gordon played an important role in the story. The character development was great. I would never have thought someone as shy and heartless like Gordon would end up saving his country. When Gordon found the old uniform of a postman that inspired me to read more. However, some parts towards the middle of the book put me to sleep. The theme I picked up from this book is about becoming a legend. Gordon became a legend because of his heroic deeds and his determination to become a great leader or legend. And in the end, all his hard work paid off when he saved the human race. "You laughed off Cyclops, and the promise of technology. Not God, nor, pity, nor the 'Restored United States' would move you! So tell me, Powhatan, what power was finally great enough to makes you follow Phil Bokuto down here and look for me? You're right, it never ends. I've done my share, a thousand times over I have! All I wanted was to be left to grow old in peace. Is that too much to ask? It is?" (Brin 280). This quote can be found towards the end of the book. This quote takes place after the human race is saved. This quote inspired me greatly. As a young man, trying to become something great for people to look up to, this quote sets a standard for me. I need to rise above everyone else, and not settle for being a mediocre person. I need to take charge and make a difference in the lives in others whether it is on the sports court of field, or spreading the word of God. Even being a good role model for younger ones to look up to. I found this book to be a good one. It was not one of the more interesting books I have read in the past because of the times the plot was boring. However, the impact this book made on me will be remembered for awhile.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Brin had a good idea here, but it never came to fruition. The story never seemed to go anywhere, it just seemed to trail off to nothingness. Wasn't sorry to see it end. If you want a fantastic end-of-the-world story with real bite, read SWAN SONG by Robert McCammon. Far superior in every way.
Guest More than 1 year ago
A worthy addition to that select little genre of post apocalyptic novels. Brin's central character Gordon Krantz is fairly believable, although he does have an annoying habit of talking too much at times. The first couple of hundred pages describing his journey through a devastated Oregon is excellent, but the storyline does become somewhat less credible towards the end. I would have liked to have seen more about what happened to the rest of the country, but overall an entertaining read.
kamas716 More than 1 year ago
A wonderful post apocalyptic novel about the power of hope. It bears little resemblance to the movie by Kevin Costner except in superficial terms (the overall view of things). It's about people willing to sacrifice everything for an idea, even if that idea is based in a lie.
Tico_Kenitrin More than 1 year ago
I read the book after seeing the movie and aside from the movie being based on the book, they are two completely different stories. the postman (Book) focuses a lot on character development and what people have face after the world wide apocalypse. Good solid characters, and a message of Hope and perseverance of American character and intuition can never make a story boring. Do not expect lots of action or conflict, but enjoy the journey David Brim takes us through Gordon with his deception of the Restore United States in order to survive in his adventures in Oregon ... I just wish David Brim did a sequel I would love to know what happened in California.
macsnon More than 1 year ago
Good book considering how dated it is. Find it hard to beleive that society would break down so totally
Guest More than 1 year ago
After seeing Kevin Kostner in the Postman & Waterworld, I had to read the book. I can say that I was pleasantly surprised. I love EOW books and this was no exception. If you like end of world books then buy this one.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Brin started with a wonderful idea and rushed this book! this book could not keep my attention. It would become very interesting than It would suddenly became a very dull and very boring book. I think he could have done a lot better to develop his idea into a masterpeice!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I'm not a sci-fi fan, and there's nothing here to change my mind. 8th-grade prose, a story so sparse it seems like Brin just had an idea one day, then hurried it together to get it in print first. Any author, myself included, could have put a novel like this together from just the idea. But he beat everybody else to it. Now, if he could just sell the screen rights... That's all it is, really, one idea. I really think this could have stayed a short story. Worse, every line of Gordon's dialogue echoes in my mind with a Kevin Costner voice... He seems to have totally underestimated the power the church would have had in a post-apocalyptic world. Didn't he ever read The Canticles of Leibowitz? Far better book, that.
Drewano 27 days ago
The Post man transports the reader to a post apocolptic word where small hamlets are all that’s left of humanity. When one man finds a post officers uniform he essentially starts the post by himself. The story itself is very good with interesting characters and a compelling plot, however the writing style grated on me. Often times the author goes off on a tangent about this or that with flowery interludes that I could do without. Overall its interesting but not great.
Anonymous 3 months ago
Gordon is a loner who has become very good at surviving a post-apocalyptic world. Even when he is robbed of his pack of what others consider very useful items, gleaned from his own scavaging and the little play acts and sing alongs he presents at little towns he passes through, and the items left behind ruined, he still falls on the side of survival. Looking for shelter he comes across a long lost mail truck. Taking the Postman's jacket, hat and a leather satchel with an assortment of mail to read later, he parlays this into a way to get a good meal and a place to sleep from communities he passes. But he underestimates the hope of a mailman and a "restored U.S. government inspector" among people, some living hand to mouth. As he continues toward the West in search of a vague hope of better places, he begins to awaken the sense of cooperation through communication. Eventually, his lie of convience exceeds him, encouraging towns to come together to fight a common enemy. The book is uneven, some characters poorly developed for their importance in the story. Sometimes scenes seem to drag. But the growth of Gordon's character from a disaffected loner to a helpless figure of his own cleverness, follows naturally. Eventually he becomes a victim of his own lie; communities he would have gladly settled into now provision him and encourage him to leave for his next stop. While Gordon is the main character, he doesn't always recognize his impact on other people and places. Like a stone dropped in a smooth pond, the ripples make other things react. The ideas he sows make more ripples, some clashing, some complementary. Shards of forgotten ideals, like feminism, are broken again, but some ideas only improve what is already there. Perhaps one of his saddest contacts is with a community of scientists. Here he suffers his greatest loss--civilization, which he is old enough to remember, versus roving bandits and struggling towns where people sing television jingles. The end of the story is a bit rough but bittersweet. It's obviously the end of this chapter of Gordon's life and the opening of a new one. The set up could have easily started another story, but a sequel was not written. We have to take faith other people will continue, making Gordon's lie a satisfying truth.
Anonymous 3 months ago
Having seen the movie version with Kevin Costner, many time I ran accross this book and had to read it. Obviously, the movie was very loosely based on this book, however the same morality was espoused by both mediums. I recommend this book to all; older teens to adults, wholeheartedly.
Anonymous 12 months ago
Too marks
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Purchased on a whim after reading something from the author on quota. I give it 3.5 stars.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Enjoy it and learn.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Excellent drama
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Keeps one's interest.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Read this 20 years ago and in this political climate I felt the need to read it once again. An Apocalypse Novel with hope seemed appropriate. I thoroughly enjoyed re-reading it again.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I like Kevin Costner and I enjoyed his version of The POSTMAN in movie form but to try and get through the book was a chore . I'll try and get through another Book by this author that wasn't made into a movie. March
John_T29 More than 1 year ago
I came to the book from the movie, and was intrigued by the differences. For one thing, there was an explanation for why the general was so gifted a fighter. For another, although Abby was in the movie a good example of women taking their own counsel, the book developed this much more. Many will find this an interesting read.