BUCK ROGERS NOMADS OF THE SKY BY WILLIAM H. KEITH, JR.

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Copyright 1992.

Vince Pirelli is leading a group of NEO cadets on a training mission in the asteroid belt. They get ambushed by RAM and Pirelli’s fighter is damaged. He gets rescued by nomads a group of people that ride a giant asteroid around with a huge tree growing on it. He has been taken to add some new blood to the group. After defeating someone in combat he becomes a citizen of the group. Jovanna Trask meanwhile is part of a raid on the RAM base on Phobos to steal some advanced Krait fighters. They find out that the nomads have an alien artifact and RAM is sending a fleet to retrieve it. NEO joins forces with Black Barney to stop them. While this happens, Pirelli manages to gain control of the nomads to fight off the impending RAM attack.

The second in the Invaders of Charon trilogy. We finally find out why this trilogy is named. The artifact reveals that there is an alien civilization on Charon the moon of Pluto. The trilogy will now be finished up by William Keith. An accomplished writer even this early. He is known for military and science fiction military. Notably for the futuristic Marine books written under as Ian Douglas. He also created the Carrier and spinoff series Seal Team Seven. Not to mention my favorite the Freedom’s Rangers series with his brother. He does an excellent job of telling an exciting story filled with action and strange races.

BUCK ROGERS THE GENESIS WEB BY C.M. BRENNAN

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Copyright 1992.

Twenty-one years before Buck Rogers is found, NEO is still waging their fight for independence. Agent Vince Pirelli manages to break out a woman imprisoned by RAM. Unfortunately, she is seriously wounded before reaching the safety of the Wydlin Corporation asteroid. The CEO of Wydlin had his sister freed so his father Remus would rejoin the corporation and revive the Barney Project. This project is creating gennies or genetically created humans as a form of advanced soldier. The daughter Rachel doesn’t survive but is downloaded as a digital personality. The woman who does this is Jovanna a college friend. This starts her involvement as an agent of NEO. We get to see the development of Black Barney and the other Barneys as they revolt. Twenty-one years later Vince and Jovanna are reunited to form a group to track down an alien artifact found in the outer planets.

The first in the Invaders of Charon trilogy. The last trilogy of the TSR series. This one gives us the story of how Black Barney the space pirate was created. How he and his fellow Barneys revolted. It also introduces the main characters of this trilogy in Vince Pirelli the NEO officer and Jovanna Trask the Martian that joins NEO. An interesting story and I especially enjoyed seeing the origin of Black Barney. The book is in some ways two books. The first two thirds are the origin story of the Barneys. The final sets up what will eventually be the story of the Invaders of Charon. This is the first novel of Brennan. She wrote an interesting fast paced novel that sets up the characters in the trilogy. Not sure if she wrote anything else but would check it out based on this entry.

BUCK ROGERS MATRIX CUBED BY BRITTON BLOOM

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Copyright 1991.

Dalton Gavilon the son and heir apparent of the Sun King has decided to take power. First, he has his uncle assassinated. Kemal his cousin finds this out and wants to expose this crime, but Dalton’s father the Sun King manages to cover it up. For a thank you, Dalton poisons his father and blames Kemal. Now Kemal is on the run as Dalton starts his tyrannical rule. Kemal manages to kill his cousin but no sooner than this is done, the forces of RAM launch an invasion of Mercury. It is up to Kemal to unite the various factions on Mercury to resist the invasion.

The final book in the Inner Planets trilogy is the best. The story really picks up with Dalton the psychotic son of the Sun King making his grab at power. We find out that it was him as a young boy who accidentally killed Kemal’s father. This was covered up but gave the young Dalton a sense he was immune to anything. I loved this book, and it is the best of the trilogy. Britton Bloom wrote a very exciting book. This is his first and to my knowledge only novel he ever wrote. That is a shame since he has a knack for writing. This trilogy was written by three different authors and yet managed to stay fairly consistent story wise. There was an awkward part where Kemal’s mother is mentioned to still be alive but has no part in the book. It was mentioned in another that she died when Kemal was very young, and he never knew her. A bit of sloppy editing but otherwise the three books were consistent. Ends with Kemal being crowned the king. Once again, we have a Buck Rogers trilogy without Buck appearing at all. Which is fine since this series was about the universe that was created by TSR. An enjoyable trilogy in the series.

BUCK ROGERS PRIME SQUARED BY M.S. MURDOCK

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Copyright 1990.

Kemal Gavilan has rejoined his family on Mercury to find out about the new laser weapon his uncle is developing. He has to deal with Ardala Valmar who managed to steal a prototype. He finds an artificial program left by his father that helps him in his investigation in the mysterious death of his father. Killer Kane gets hired to steal the crystals on Mercury. All this while Gavilan has to deal with the Dancers who think that he betrayed them and his paranoid uncle and nephew.

The second in the Inner Planets trilogy. This one written by Murdock who wrote the first trilogy. A competent job from someone who has experience writing for this series. This one continues the various intrigues with this new laser and the various parties that vie for its control. While nothing really special happens, it is clearly a filler book to the big conclusion. It does keep the story moving along and made for an interesting read.

BUCK ROGERS FIRST POWER PLAY BY JOHN MILLER

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Copyright 1990.

A ship is found floating in space with proof of a deadly new laser weapon that has been developed in the asteroid belt. Kemal Gavilan is sent with Black Barney by NEO to investigate. Black Barney has an interest because whoever is developing this laser may be linked to the Dracolysk Corporation. This corporation was the one that developed Black Barney and other cyborg gennies like him. They thought the revolt destroyed this corporation, but it is still around. Along with its evil director. Kemal with other Barneys launch a raid that destroys the research facility. Only Kemal discovers that his uncle the Sun King of Mercury may be behind this. So, he goes back to rejoin the royal court and all its intrigues.

The first in the Inner Planets trilogy the second trilogy in the series. Obviously, the central character is Kemal Gavilian and not Buck Rogers. In fact, Rogers never appears in this trilogy. He is out exploring deep space. This second trilogy is more focused on intrigue and subterfuge instead of interstellar space battles. I like the change of pace. We find out more about the origins of Black Barney and his clone brothers. We also see more of Mercury. Kemal is an interesting character who starts to realize that maybe his father was murdered and starts to investigate. Sets up a good mystery.

BUCK ROGERS ARMAGEDDON OFF VESTA BY M.S. MURDOCK

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Copyright 1989.

The Martian Wars heat up with Venus largest state Ishtar getting in on the side of Earth. Mercury joins with Mars. Kemal Gavilan goes to Mercury to sabotage their war effort. Both the Venusian and Martian fleets meet and are evenly matched. The Krait fighters of both RAM and NEO hold the key to victory. Killer Kane leads the RAM squadron while Buck Rogers the NEO. A final battle off the asteroid belt will decide the war.

The final book in the Martian Wars Trilogy comes to a satisfying conclusion. We get plenty of space action along with intrigue by all sides. Ends with Earth gaining its independence and the good guys winning. Murdock wrote a good consistent trilogy. It had its ups and downs in the conflict. A good start to this series.

BUCK ROGERS HAMMER OF MARS BY M.S. MURDOCK

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Copyright 1989.

After Buck and the NEO capture Hauberk it looks like Earth has won its freedom. Only RAM was playing for time with their peace offer. They attack with their full might. The goal is nothing less than genocide of the peoples of Earth. Then they will rebuild Earth to RAM’s needs. For the NEO to win they need allies. Wilma goes to Luna for a pledge of nonintervention in the conflict. Because RAM tries to have her assassinated the Lunarians go further and declare war on RAM. Buck has an easier time with convincing the largest Venusian state of Ishtar to join in. Buck also has Black Barney and the Pirate’s Guild on their side. Mercury joins with their ally RAM and it sets the stage for a final battle.

The second in the Martian Wars trilogy ratchets up the action. RAM attacks with brutality in bombing every major archology on the planet. Things look grim but there is hope. This book expands the action to new places such as Luna (our moon), Venus and Mercury. A side plot with Masterlink/Kharkov still trying to kill Rogers but also helping Earth since they view the Earth as belonging to them adds another layer to the story. Buck as always takes charge and manages to capture the RAM board as hostages. A fun book filled with exciting space battles, political intrigue and high drama.

BUCK ROGERS REBELLION 2456 BY M.S. MURDOCK

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Copyright 1989.

It is the year 2456 and RAM (Russo-American Mercantile) corporation rules Earth with an iron fist. The NEO (New Earth Organization) is the resistance group trying to overthrow them. They have had little success until they found Buck Rogers. A hero from the twentieth century recently revived from suspended animation, he starts to take charge. First is to steal advanced Krait fighters from RAM. With these fighters NEO is able to take on Hauberk, the orbiting base that ensures RAM control of Earth.

The first of the Martian Wars Trilogy by Murdock start off this trilogy on solid footing. We get introduced to the world of the 25th century at least on Earth. The Martian RAM rules a broken world through terror and economic control. Based on the TSR role-playing game it has a new take on the Buck Roger’s story. In addition to RAM and it’s evil CEO a Simund Holzerhein.dos, a computer personality of Holzerhein downloaded after his death. There are other players like Ardala Valmar a scheming information broker. Killer Kane an Earthman that betrayed NEO and now works from RAM as a mercenary. There is a rogue computer program called Masterlink which merged with the crazy Russian general Kharkov that Buck defeated back in 1995. This program wants to kill Buck and also take over the Earth. A fun story that sees NEO take over the Earth but you know that the war isn’t over.

BUCK ROGERS ARRIVAL

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Copyright 1989.

ARMAGEDDON 1995 By Flint Dille

In the year 1995 the Soviet Union has launched a new weapons system. Called Masterlink it has been hijacked by a hard-line general named Kharkov. The only hope is to launch a new fighter the F-38 Wraith fighter into orbit. The best pilot a Captain Anthony “Buck” Rogers is chosen for what is essentially a suicide mission. He runs a gauntlet of ground and space-based weapons to destroy the station. Only he gets jettisoned in an experimental cryogenic pod after ramming the station and drifting off into the asteroid belt.

THE HOMECOMING By Robert Sheckley

Kemal Gavilan is at the John Carter Military Academy on Mars when he gets a message from his uncle the Sun King of Mercury. He returns and finds that his uncle needs him to sign away the rights of the Dancers, the miners on Mercury. Naturally Kemal refuses and has adventures to escape Mercury.

TRIPLE CROSS By Abigail Irvine

Ardala Valmar runs the most efficient information network in the solar system. She gets word of a great archeological find. The remains of Buck Rogers could be used by both RAM and NEO. She comes up with a plan to use both Killer Kane and Wilma Deering to get this artifact for her.

TRYST OF FATE By M.S. Murdock

Killer Kane and Wilma Deering are both members of the NEO. They are also lovers. Both are captured and Kane joins RAM to save Wilma. Wilma gets rescued by the pirate Black Barney and becomes a pirate to pay off her debt.

TWO BARNEYS By Ulrike O’Reilly

Black Barney is enjoying a meal when he is approached by another Barney. The Barneys were genetic creations that rebelled against the corporation that created them. Black Barney is the toughest. Quinto comes with a proposition. He wants Barney to intercept an expedition to get the remains of Buck Rogers.

THE RELIC By Flinte Dille

A Martian archeologist mounts an expedition to retrieve the remains of Buck Rogers. He finds that both Killer Kane and Wilma Deering have competing expeditions to take those remains. Black Barney also comes, and they find that Buck Rogers is still alive.

THE ADVERSARY By Jerry Oltion

Simund Holzerhein.dos is the downloaded computer personality of the director of RAM (Russo-American Mercantile) and arguably the most powerful man in the solar system. He is bored with his life and wants a challenge. He finds it in the recovered program of Masterlink/Kharkov. The Soviet system and the general merged and were in an old weather satellite. When Masterlink/Kharkov finds out that their old enemy Buck Rogers is alive they insist on killing him. They rebel and cause trouble as Rogers leads an effective resistance. Simund finally has opponents to challenge him.

This is an anthology of a TSR role playing game from the late eighties’ early nineties. The anthology does a good job of introducing the main characters of this new universe. It is a bit dated with the Soviet Union still around in 1995. Also, they refer to computer programs as .dos. Anyone remember that old system? Basically the inner planets have been colonized and to some extent terraformed. RAM the ruthless corporation controls Earth. The NEO (New Earth Organization) is the resistance. In comes a man from the twentieth century that shakes things up. An interesting take on the classic character. All the stories are interesting although the Two Barney one did get a bit boring with the pigsmear game. A strong start to their book series.

MAMELUKES BY JERRY POURNELLE DAVID WEBER & PHILLIP POURNELLE

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Copyright 2020.

It has been thirteen years since Rick Galloway and his CIA mercenaries were rescued from Angola by a UFO. There to be sent to the planet Tran a medieval level planet. Armed with modern weapons they were supposed to carve out a kingdom and grow madweed for an alien race called the Shalnuksis. A planet populated by descendants of humans kidnapped throughout time. A hodgepodge of cultures from Byzantium, Celts, Mongols and Venetians occupies this planet. Rick has managed to get his kingdom, yet life is a constant struggle. Various factions are constantly waging war. Now there are new players. A new group of starmen in the form of Gurkhas have arrived. Also arrived are three mysterious strangers from Earth with three shipping containers filled with knowledge. Knowledge that could help propel Tran into a modern interstellar civilization. First though Galloway has to fight a coalition out to get these containers.

The final book in the Janissaries series. I loved these three books written way back in the seventies and eighties. Then nothing but Pournelle was working on another book. Sadly, he died in 2019 and it looked like we would never get this. Fortunately, most of it was written and he left extensive notes on the conclusion. His son and author David Weber managed to complete it and here it is. I think this the best of the series. At 800 plus pages it is a bit of a doorstop. Yet I was captivated from beginning to end. All the political intrigue both on Tran and this mysterious alien confederation that uses human slaves to administer it. The combat is another thing that he excelled at. It was realistic and fast paced. Weber and his son did a great job of completing the story. It all felt like Pournelle wrote it. Ended very similar to the Falkenberg series with Galloway being proclaimed imperator and basically warlord of Tran.

Mamelukes are the rulers of Egypt that like the Janissaries of the Ottomans were slave soldiers and administrators. Only they ended up taking over the empire. Possibly a hint at the human Janissaries of the alien confederation someday doing the same. The book did leave open the possibility of more and maybe someone will continue the story. Sadly, this reminds me of the loss of a brilliant writer and yet thankful for this closure.