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.