In this future dystopian world society is highly chaste based. There are the professionals or those with technical skills and live in enclaves and the untouchables which are the vast poor. Both sides have one thing in common the Arena. In this future professional wrestlers compete in gladiatorial games. Games that are fought with a variety of weird weapons and to the death. Lately there have been a growing number of desertions from the military. A group known as Aiki or in Japaneses spiritual harmony has been spreading.
Into this comes Capitan who is a monitor in the group and runs a dojo in Brooklyn. His involvement eventually gets him involved with the Arena. The main champion Mantis who started the blood sports and wants to fight Capitan. A novel filled with deep mystical eastern philosophy of good and evil battle for the future.
So this book is one that by mom found in the dollar bin at Walgreens and thought I would like. She said it reminded her of the movie The Running Man which we had just recently seen. Yes there are some similarities with a future of gladiator death sports televised. I remember that when I read this a new game show called American Gladiators had come out. No to the death fights on it but got me wondering if that was the future down the road. It still does since a decaying society does turn to more extreme bread and circuses.
Now this was a book I would have never bought on my own. The title doesn’t engage me and the cover was also not that exciting. Which is probably why it was in the dollar bin at Walgreens. I found this to be an enjoyable read. A future where the government had infiltrated the martial arts to coop them. There was a sort of hubris to how the death sports in the Arena came about. Mantis at a match in Tokyo asked the audience for a thumbs up or down. When they gave the thumbs down he obliged. Then argued in court that it was hypocritical for the government to allow lethal weapons in the Arena that did at times result in death but condemn him when he follows the will of the audience. A somewhat believable outcome for a society in decay.
Capitan and Mantis are the personification of good and evil. There is a lot of deep mysticism to the story. I found that reading this the future it envisioned didn’t seem that dated after all these years. Sure there are some things like a Soviet Union still around and they use land lines. Otherwise the future was still believable. This was John Gilbert’s first and to my knowledge only novel. A nice little happy accident thanks to my mom.
Patrick Brogan and Jack Haldane have been invited to the GOKS by Captain Podly. GOKS is the Gathering of Kindred Souls and is a club for police officers. Brogan and Haldane are the first humans to be honored with such an invitation. This club is exclusively for men only which triggers officer Jane Castle. So as the guys head off to Dreek Island for the annual weekend retreat, Jane and her partner Officer Took go to expose this male chauvinist organization. She also takes along an old flame that has returned to help. This flame may have exterior motives himself. It all ends with a plot by an officer Cradla who is planing to assassinate Podly and turn the other officers into mindless zombies to eventually take over the police force and eventually the world.
So Jane Castle in this book becomes a radical feminist who sprouts endless speeches about the oppression of male patriarchy and gender equality. Wow this stuff was woke before woke was a thing. There is even a character who thinks he can’t “argue with the values and logic of political correctness.” Well isn’t that special. Well for all Jane Castle’s rhetoric she still gets all weak kneed when the handsome former boyfriend returns. Luckily this boyfriend is so sensitive that he agrees to help her. Of course the boyfriend is later revealed to be a robot that houses a small little alien. An alien that belongs to some secret galactic organization that promotes peace through extra-judicial assassinations of troublemakers. I had to admit that I didn’t see that coming in the book. Oh well the pitfalls of falling for the hunky sensitive guys.
So anyway the threatening male behavior consists of the guys dressing as women. Having Catch stew which is dumping various insects, snakes and rodents on the floor and beating them with a mallet and throwing them in a pot of boiling water for dinner. Yum. Then they belch out songs and later go hunting dangerous alien game. These aliens are just some wild and crazy guys.
So this was the last of the books of Space Precinct that Bishoff wrote or for that matter anyone else. Kind of interesting such an obscure series managed to get three books. The guy was definitely someone who could write interesting off the wall stuff. He apparently wrote many books, screenplays for TV series. He also wrote the greatest series in the history of human civilization Mutants Amok. Sadly he died this year. I am sure that I will run across more of his work. So God bless him for his wonderful works.
Officers Jack Haldane and Jane Castle are invited by officer Took to attend a Tarn concert. This is a great honor for humans to be invited to this event. At the concert an alien creature tries to take a Tarn baby but Castle and Haldane manage to stop it. Haldane and Castle are then assigned to watch over the baby to protect him from further attacks by this alien entity. Brogan gets a new partner a beautiful woman from Earth. Meanwhile Sally Brogan infiltrates an Earth politicians organization to expose his plans to eventually dominate the galaxy. It all comes together with the alien creature being exposed as being used by the politician and the alien cult he was working with.
So the second book in the series starts out OK. Some mysterious alien creature stalking Demeter City. Brogan getting a new partner that is hot. Haldane and Castle constantly bickering. The problem is how it all ends. It was like the author realized he had to tie this up now and just threw everything together at the end. So we get the Tarn baby developing the power of speech and reason. Seems the telepathic Tarn babies have the capacity in times of danger to call on the racial memory and become smart. There is some alien cult being investigated that turns out to be in league with the human supremacist politician and controlling the dangerous alien creature. Which was somehow split in two. Brogan’s new partner being in the employ of the politician and trying to kill Brogan. They somehow all get magically transported together. The politician kills the traitorous police officer than falls off a building. Everything is great. The end.
So there was some really weird stuff that just seemed to come together that gives you the feeling of what the fuck just happened. I think this book needed a little better pacing. Otherwise it had the potential to be very good. Bischoff is one of those writers who does delivery some far out and unexpected stuff in his writing. Anyway for all its faults it is not boring.
So here is an interesting video on the TV series.
Patrick Brogan is a twenty year vet of the New York Police. In the year 2040 he accepts a transfer to Altor. The main city of Demeter City has a serious crime problem and needs the expertise of cops from Earth. So he finds himself on an alien world inhabited by many alien species. Brogan and his partner Jack Haldane another human are investigating the shady dealings of Mrax Computers. The company was recently bought by an Earth corp called Cost & Gnostra. It seems the Mafia are attempting to establish themselves on Altor. Brogan finds out it is run by his old college buddy who he thought that he killed back on Earth. Only he survived using his new nanotechnology. Now Brogan and his colleagues Haldane and Jane Castle are prisoners in his version of virtual reality twentieth century New York. Meanwhile Brogan’s family is held hostage by the nanotech computer that has come to live. Now Brogan and his colleagues must save themselves and Brogan’s family and stop the Deity-Father’s insane plan to rule the universe.
Remember back in 1994-95 the hit TV series Space Precinct? The Gerry Anderson show that had humans and aliens fight crime on this alien world. The aliens would basically act like humans and usually talk with a British accent. Sounds like a comedy but has played straight which made it even more funny. No. Well you are probably like 99.99999% of the population at that time. The show at least in America was put on at around midnight on a Sunday so hardly anyone knew it existed. Only young shiftless night owls like me that didn’t have a job and stayed up late to watch. This was a bizarre but fascinating show. Surprisingly it also spawned three tie-in novels. Each written by David Bischoff who is responsible for the greatest book series in human civilization Mutants Amok.
The first book is a very bizarre yet fun read. You have the Mafia who come in with their pasta and pizza in their commissary. Computers that come alive with tongues and walk and talk. Nanotechnology was a new field back in the nineties so this was a new thing. Bischoff gives us some introductory background on Demeter City and its origins which we never did get in the TV series. He also was aware of the goofy accents used like the Creon police captain Podly who spoke in thick Irish accent. As the character Brogan mentions he thought the Irish were the most Irish in the universe until he moved to Altor and found out otherwise. This brings back good old memories. I have the entire series on DVD and you can find episodes on Youtube. Give it a try.
The Earth is slowly recovering from the nuclear holocaust in the twentieth century. Thanks in large part to the discovery of Archaea. A microorganism that is crucial to the ecosystem. It has been found on Enceladas a moon of Saturn. A Dr. Maximus a computer disk in charge of the operation has been having trouble with the shipments. He has also requested additional security forces. So the Earth Directorate sends Buck Rogers and Wilma Deering undercover to investigate. While there they find that Dr. Maximus is using the inmates from a nearby penal colony as slave labor. Now Buck finds himself among criminals he put away and has to battle the mad Dr. Maximus. Meanwhile Princess Ardala is recalled to her fathers palace along with her thirty-nine sisters. The Emperor Draco is dying and has decided to make Ardala his successor. His last wish is for Ardala to use a new weapon that will destroy the Earth and save the empire which is in danger of starving.
This was a surprise to find a new Buck Rogers book based on the TV series. Its been almost forty years and this series while fondly remembered is also somewhat obscure and forgotten. Thankfully Gaska has taken on the task of giving us some new material. Its amazing that such stuff is getting a revival after all these years. Gaska’s writing feels just like a TV episode of the series. At 125 pages it is also a short but fun read.
So this is the first of the Draconian Fire trilogy that is to bridge the gap between the first and second seasons. The second season had a drastic re-imaging with a new setting and cast. While it can be argued that the second season had better writing I still really loved the first and don’t know why they changed it to a Star Trek clone. So now we get our answers and what happened to the old cast. The second was supposed to come out this August but has still been delayed. Hopefully it will come out soon.
Buck Rogers has settled in to the future but still something is missing. He wants to know if any descendants of his are still alive. Against orders he secretly goes out into Anarchia to search for any records that show any of his family survived the holocaust. He finds a lead from the leader of a group of gypsies of an old wise hermit who lives in a cave by Mount Rushmore. Trading Dr. Theopolis to the gypsy leader he finds out about a repository located in the Mormon temple in Salt Lake City. But when he arrives at the temple he is captured and taken to Beta Vilnius. For you see the gypsies and other people he got clues from were Draconian agents. Oh and they also manage to kidnap Wilma Deering so they now have Dr. Theopolis, Colonel Deering and Buck.
Kane and a professor Von Norbert want Buck because of a unique antibody that existed in twentieth century humans that no longer exists. They want Buck to impregnate thousands of women so he can pass on this unique antibody. Then the children will be growth accelerated into full grown soldiers. Thus they can have soldiers to win their war with the Gregorians whose system has a disease that is killing off their soldiers. But of course Princess Ardala want Buck all to himself. Then there is Wilma who is madly in love with him. This guy has is tough in the future. He still manages to escape, rescue his friends and defeat the evil Draconian plot.
So they decided to put out a second book based on the TV series. This one was an unused script written by Bob Shane and put out before the series hit the airwaves. Boy is it pure seventies with its CB slang talking gypsies. I suppose they decided to drop this script because of all the blatant sexual overtones in a prime time TV series of the seventies. Actually it could be too that it is bad. I mean really bad. The weird convoluted plot for Buck to be obsessed with finding his relatives. Didn’t know the Mormon church was keeping genetic records on everyone. Then of course there are the young women that the Draconians want Buck to impregnate. They are five year olds that have been accelerated to adulthood. That is just creepy.
The book was written before the series came out so it doesn’t feel like the show. He describes Dr. Huer as a bald headed man with glasses which they cast someone like that. I did find the parts happening in the post-wastelands of Anarchia interesting. That was something I found interesting in the pilot that they never bothered to explore further in the series. So from a historical standpoint it is interesting to see what kind of scripts they rejected. Otherwise not much to recommend this book.
The year is 1987 and NASA launches its last deep space probe. Ranger 3 and Captain William “Buck” Rogers encounters a meteor storm and it freezes Buck in suspended animation as his ship goes into an orbit around the solar system. An orbit that will take five hundred years to return to Earth. In five hundred years he is found by the Draconians an intergalactic empire. They are on a peace mission to Earth but in reality plan to conquer the planet. Killer Kane and Princess Ardala decide to use Buck to find a way through the Earth’s defenses.
So Captain Rogers returns to Earth and finds it has been devastated in a nuclear holocaust back in the twentieth century. They think he is a spy for the space raiders and banish him along with two droids who backed him into Anarchia. The nuclear ruins of Chicago that are overrun by mutants. Luckily the Earth directorate figures out a use for him and rescues him. Thus Buck manages to infiltrate the Draconian ship and single handedly destroy their ship and expose the invasion plan.
This is the adaptation of the Buck Rogers pilot for the TV series. It was from a screenplay by Glen Larson and Leslie Stevens. Fresh off of Battlestar Galactica Larson recycled the effects and some props for this classic series. He also released the pilot as a theatrical movie to generate interest. This series has been described as a disco series in space. A bit harsh but probably accurate. It was a cheezy but fun series that was basically a James Bond in space. Buck Rogers would single handedly save the day against overwhelming odds. This with his wise cracking droid Twiky and Colonel Wilma Deering in a sexy skintight spandex uniform.
So the book is written by Richard A. Lupoff under the pen name Steele. It is a competent adaptation. Not much new. We get a little glimpse into the launch of Buck’s ship in 1987. Apparently gas was $4 a gallon so the apocalypse was not to far away. The Anarchia scene has them banishing Buck where in the movie he went out on his own initiative to find out what happened to his family. This was probably the original screenplay and you can see where some stuff that didn’t work out was dropped in the final product. An enjoyable little bit of nostalgia.