World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

The Postman

The Postman
Cover of first edition (hardcover)
Author David Brin
Country United States
Language English
Genre Post-apocalyptic science-fiction
Publisher Bantam Books
Publication date
Media type Print (Hardcover and paperback)
Pages 294 pp
OCLC 12215763
813/.54 19
LC Class PS3552.R4825 P6 1985

The Postman is a post-apocalyptic science fiction novel by David Brin. In it, a drifter stumbles across a letter carrier uniform of the United States Postal Service and, with empty promises of aid from the "Restored United States of America", gives hope to an Oregon threatened by warlords.

The first two parts were published separately as "The Postman" (1982) and "Cyclops" (1984). Both were nominated for a Hugo Award for Best Novella. The completed novel won (first prize) the John W. Campbell Memorial Award for Best Science Fiction Novel and the Locus Award for Best Science Fiction Novel, both for 1986.[1] It was also nominated for the Hugo Award for Best Novel and Nebula Award for Best Novel for 1986. In 1997, a film adaptation starring Kevin Costner was adapted from the novel.


  • Plot 1
  • Translations 2
  • References 3
  • External links 4


Despite the post-apocalyptic scenario and several action sequences, the book is largely about civilization and symbols. Each of the three sections deals with a different symbol.

The first is the Postman himself, Gordon Krantz, who takes the uniform solely for warmth after he loses everything but his sleeping clothes. He wanders without establishing himself anywhere and performs scenes from William Shakespeare plays for supplies. Originally a student at the University of Minnesota, he has traveled west to Oregon in the aftermath of the worldwide chaos that resulted from several EMPs, the destruction of major cities, and the release of bioweapons. Taking shelter in a long-abandoned postal van, he finds a sack of mail and takes it to a nearby community to barter for food and shelter. His initial assertions to be a real postman builds, not because of a deliberate fraud (at least initially), but because people are desperate to believe in him and the Restored United States.

Later, in the second section, he encounters a community, Corvallis, Oregon, which is led by Cyclops, who is apparently a sentient artificial intelligence created at Oregon State University which miraculously survived the cataclysm. In reality, however, the machine ceased functioning during a battle, and a group of scientists merely maintain the pretense of its working to try and keep hope, order, and knowledge alive.

Eventually, in the third section, as the Postman joins forces with Cyclops' scientists in a war against an influx of "hypersurvivalist militia", the Postman begins to find that the hypersurvivalists are being pressed from Oregon's Rogue River area to the south as well. The hypersurvivalists are more commonly referred to as Holnists, after their founder, Nathan Holn (many times through the book, curses are uttered which damn Holn for his actions). Nathan Holn was an author who championed a virulently violent, misogynistic, and hypersurvivalist society. Holn himself is said to have been executed sometime before the events in the novel, but in the time following what should have been a brief period of civil disorder, Holn's followers prevented the United States from recovering from the war and the plagues that followed.

As the story comes to a climax, the Postman allies with a tough tribal group made up of descendents of ranchers, loggers and Native Americans from SW Oregon's Bear Flag. The final scenes of the novel give the impression that the groups (symbols) may come together in an effort to revive civilization.

Another message of the plot deals with the backstory of the post-apocalyptic world: specifically, that it was not the electronics-destroying EMPs, nor the destruction of major cities, nor the release of various bio-engineered plagues that actually destroyed society, but rather, it was the Holnists themselves, who preyed on humanitarian workers and other symbols of civilization.


  • Bulgarian: Пощальонът ("The Postman"), 1998
  • Czech: Pošťák ("The Postman"), 1998
  • Dutch: Tussen Twee Werelden ("Between Two Worlds"), 1998
  • French: Le facteur ("The Postman"), 1987
  • German: Gordons Berufung ("Gordon's Vocation"), 1989
  • Hungarian: A jövő hírnöke ("The Messenger of the Future"), 1998
  • Italian: L'uomo del giorno dopo ("The Man of the Day After"), 1997
  • Japanese: ポストマン ("The Postman"), 1988, 1998
  • Russian: Почтальон ("The Postman"), 1992, 1995, 1998, 2002, 2004
  • Spanish: El Cartero ("The Postman"), 1998, 2008
  • Turkish: Postacı ("The Postman"), 1998
  • Romanian: Poștașul ("The Postman"), 2013


  1. ^ "1986 Award Winners & Nominees". Worlds Without End. Retrieved 2009-07-17. 

External links

  • The Postman title listing at the Internet Speculative Fiction Database
  • The Postman: The Movie, An Impression by the Author of the Original Novel by David Brin
  • The Postman at Worlds Without End
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Hawaii eBook Library are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.