Buck Rogers

All posts tagged Buck Rogers

Book Report: Armageddon 2419 / The Airlords of Han

Published March 30, 2017 by Iphis of Scyros

This time (instead of getting my school work done, ’cause I’m still freakin’ sick and can’t go to the library to research) I ended up reading my choice for Challenge #7, “Read a book published between 1900 and 1950.”  I borrowed this book from my father, having been intrigued by some of what my mother said while she was reading it.

(Image from publisher’s website. Click for link.)

Rather than being a single novel, this is two novellas, first published in 1928 and 1929.  The editor’s introduction (from 1928) is interesting in a few key respects…

HERE, once more, is a real scientifiction story plus.  It is a story which will make the heart of many readers leap with joy.

We have rarely printed a story in this magazine that for scientific interest, as well as suspense, could hold its own with this particular story.  We prophecy that this story will become more valuable as the years go by.  It certainly holds a number of interesting prophecies, of which no doubt, many will come true.  For wealth of science, it will be hard to beat for some time to come.  It is one of those rare stories that will bear reading and re-reading many times.

This story has impressed us so favorably, that we hope the author may be induced to write a sequel to it soon.

The Editor, Amazing Stories

Apparently, “science fiction” as a term hadn’t been coined yet in 1928.  I’ll get back to my other reasons for quoting the whole introduction later in the review, but first let me address what you may (or may not) be able to read in the lower corner of the cover image:  that these novellas are the original origin of Buck Rogers.  (Which certainly makes the editor’s prophecy of the story’s future value ring true, though most likely not in the way the editor intended; he probably didn’t mean financial value for the author.)  This is true, but if you’re familiar with the 1939 serial or the 1979-1981 movie/TV show, you’ll find very little that’s familiar here.  About all that’s the same (other than the 20th century man ending up in the 25th century premise) is the following:

  1. The name “Rogers”
  2. The name “Wilma Deering”
  3. A post-apocalyptic America in which people live almost like animals on the surface (this is less so in the serial)
  4. A few technological gadgets in the serial (like the anti-gravity belt) that didn’t make it into the ’70s and ’80s version.

Pretty much everything else (including the name “Buck”) came into the franchise with the comic strips, beginning in 1929, though (according to the Wikipedia article) most of the plot elements familiar to us came in through the Sunday comic strips that began in 1930, including the characters of Killer Kane, Ardala, and Dr. Huer, and the presence of alien races.

So what is this story about, if it’s not about the beleaguered people of Earth fighting back against the space gangster/Draconian warlord Kane?  Well, you may regret asking.

Read the rest of this entry →

Father’s Day and stuff like that

Published June 21, 2015 by Iphis of Scyros

Okay, so since it’s Father’s Day, I’m going to talk about my father a bit.  (Makes sense, right?)  This year, both my parents had set down the rule not to get them anything other than cards for Mother’s/Father’s Day.  For Mother’s Day, we had broken that injunction just a bit by getting her a mini-orchid, but we couldn’t think of anything to add to our cards for Dad (apart from paying for lunch, which of course we did), which felt a little unfair, but the only thing he would have liked would have been to magically assure that the local team wins today’s baseball game which is obviously totally outside our sphere of influence.

And, frankly, I wouldn’t even if I could.  Because what he really needs is to magically realize that he needs to lose his addiction to professional sports.  My father is a somewhat short-tempered man, though thankfully not a violent one.  (Not only did he never strike either of us when we were children, I don’t know if he’s ever struck anyone at all.)  But when his favorite team is losing a game?  He will scream and rant and rave.  This was worse when we were kids and he was still working–and therefore badly stressed–so my brother and I grew up in mortal fear of the days when there were televised ball games, because inevitably those led to our father having a screaming fit, and we’d be sitting in our rooms trembling.  As a result, we both utterly despise football and baseball.  (He didn’t watch other sports, so I’m indifferent to those, and I assume my brother is as well, though I can’t speak for him, of course.)

Our family get-together today, as many days, ended when my father decided it was time to turn on the ball game, which meant it was time for my brother and I to leave.

Before that, we had watched the first episodes of the Buck Rogers TV show from like 1979 or 1980, the first two-part episode after the pilot movie, because my dad wanted to see it for the Buster Crabbe cameo, since Crabbe had played Buck Rogers in a serial.  (My dad’s a fan of old serials, as well as silent cinema.  And yet he finds the original Doctor Who too slow-paced.  Which makes absolutely no sense whatsoever.)

Anyway, the fact that Buck Rogers’ rank is Captain had been giving me prickles of “man, that’s weird” the whole time we’d been watching the pilot movie (whenever the heck that was) but for the most part it wasn’t a problem in this one, until he was stranded with this one other pilot he’d been not getting along with for most of the two-parter.  Well, in traditional television Hollywood fashion, of course their trek on foot through the desert made them start getting along, and as they parted ways, preparing to put their plan into action, the other guy addressed Buck as “Cap” and I couldn’t hold it in, and exclaimed “It’s bad enough that his name’s “Captain Rogers” but don’t call him “Cap,” it’s too freakin’ weird!” and made my brother laugh so much my mother was worried he was going to hurt himself.  Yes, I knew that–as my father pointed out–Buck Rogers had been a Captain long before Steve Rogers had been created, but that didn’t make it any less jarring, and Captain America was certainly an established property by 1979/80, after all, so they had to know what that nickname might make people think!  (Or maybe not?  I have no idea what the state of the character was in the late ’70s/early ’80s.  Maybe he was still forgotten as obsolete at that point?)  It probably wouldn’t have bothered me if the show’s Buck Rogers hadn’t been slightly smarmy, and if they hadn’t gone to great lengths to show his disgustingly hairy chest.  Ugh.  I can’t believe that used to be considered sexy.  It makes my skin crawl.

At least the episode wasn’t too bad, for what it was.  I mean, being sci-fi TV from that era that isn’t Doctor Who, you have to expect a certain amount of cheese, and that was there, but beyond that, not bad.  And Buster Crabbe’s cameo was quite nice.  (And he must have been taking good care of himself, despite his age at the time; it looked like he had some pretty impressive pecs under that uniform, despite that he must have been at least in his late 60s, maybe even in his 70s.)  Of course, his character’s name was Gordon, no first name given.  (Flash, aaah!)  Also, the episode was helped by having Jack Palance chewing the scenery as the villain, and having Roddy McDowell in it didn’t exactly hurt, either.

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