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 the John W. Campbell Memorial Award for Best Science Fiction Novel and the Locus Award for Best Science Fiction Novel, both for 1986. It was also nominated for the Hugo Award for Best Novel and Nebula Award for Best Novel for 1986. In 1997, a film adaptation of the novel was released starring Kevin Costner and Will Patton.