If you ask most people about "The Postman" in the SF world, most will point to the turgid Kevin Costner movie, and make derisory noises. But as a person who discovered the book first, I ask you not to judge a book by its Hollywood hype.
In a small 2nd hand bookshop I browsed the SF section looking for a good read, either by an author I knew, or one that might intrigue me. I found a lonely paperback, squeezed between the Asimovs (which I already had) and the Clarkes (again had them all), and I found this novel. Read the blurb on the back cover, "Post apocalyptic" and thought this is interesting. So I paid my £1.00 and took it home. And little did I realise then what a jewel I had uncovered.
An idealist wandering the barren lands of the former USA, finds a postman's outfit, and ends up taking on the role of a postman. That is about all the similiarity that there is between the book and the film.
The style of writing is casual and easy flowing, in a nod of acknowledgement to the works of Piers Anthony and Johnathon Gash, who also adopt a free flowing style.
This novel tells of the last idealist in America who rather die than submit to the barbarity of the age. He decides to go out in style, in the guise of a humble postman. Be killed rather than humble himself to the multitude of warlords that thrive in feudal post-holocaust America.
His myth of a Restored United States grows and binds people, as Benjamin Franklin's idea of an United States grew and bound the colonies in the 1700's. The Postman comes across as a plausible and hopeful man, who reflects the best in us.
Of course every good book has its villians. But here the villains are not soldiers in red coats, but those who believe that Might is Right, and what a man can terrorise into submission is his. But here is the twist, a parody of the gun control lobby gone mad are the villains, the quiet types who build bunkers in the remote corners of the world, rather than a specified overbearing tyrant of the type that controls many small countries in today's world.
I will not spoil the novel by quoting endlessly or divulging the identity of The Squire of Sugarloaf Mountain, but can only invite you to read a novel that has something new to offer each time, and has imagery to provoke the mind. In myself, it has inspired me to research early American history, and to consider Aaron Burr, a mad dog muzzled. And yet after a dozen readings I still return to it, and welcome the story into my heart.
Title: The Postman