Buck Rogers in the Twenty Fifth Century



Book: Buck Rogers in the Twenty Fifth Century

Author: Addison E. Steele

Publisher: Dell Publishing, 1978

ISBN-13: 978-0440108436

ISBN-10: 0440108438

Language level: 3

(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing and/or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing and/or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)

Recommended reading level: Ages 16 and up

Rating: **** 4 stars (GOOD)

Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker

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Steele, Addison E.  Buck Rogers in the Twenty Fifth Century (published in 1978 by Dell Publishing Co. Inc., 1 Dag Hammarskjold Plaza, New York City, NY  10017).  Captain William “Buck” Rogers is a United States Air Force and NASA pilot who commands Ranger III, a space shuttle-like ship that is launched in 1987. When his ship flies through a space phenomenon containing a combination of gases and meteors, his ship’s life support systems malfunction and he is frozen and left drifting in space for 504 years. By the time he is revived, he finds himself in the 25th century. There, he learns that Earth was united following a devastating global nuclear war that occurred in the late 20th century, and is now under the protection of the Earth Defense Directorate, headquartered in New Chicago and headed by Dr. Elias Huer along with Starfighter pilot Colonel Wilma Deering, sentient computer Dr. Theopolis, and a comical robot named Twiki.

The latest threat to Earth comes from the armies of the planet Draconia, which is planning an invasion led by Princess Ardala and her enforcer Killer Kane.  At first, Buck is taken for a liar and then for a Draconian spy.  How will he respond?  Will Earth be able to resist the Draconians?  And what will happen to Buck?  Buck Rogers was created by Philip Francis Nowlan in the novella Armageddon 2419 A.D., published in the August 1928 issue of the pulp magazine, and a sequel, The Airlords of Han, published in the March 1929 issue.  The story was later adapted into a comic strip and a film serial.   In 1979, Buck Rogers was revived and updated for a prime-time television series for NBC Television starring Gil Girard. The pilot film was released to cinemas on March 30, 1979.  Two novels based on the series by Addison E. Steele, a pseudonym of Richard Lupoff, were published.

This one is a novelization of the 1979 feature film and pretty much follows the screenplay by Glen A Larson and Leslie Stevens.  The sequel, That Man on Beta, is an adaptation of an unproduced teleplay.  I recall watching the television program in the late 1970s and early 80s.  I enjoyed it for the most part. The book has some bad language, with cursing (the “h” and “d” words) and profanity (“oh my g.” and even “god***ned’).  If I recall correctly, a little of this occurred on the show too. There are also references to drinking an alcoholic beverage and dancing.   Otherwise, it is fairly tame and will appeal to science fiction and space opera fans.  Still another take on the story is the 1995 novel Buck Rogers: A Life in the Future by Martin Caidin.  This reimagining of Buck Rogers was published by TSR, Inc., which also produced a role-playing game entitled Buck Rogers XXVC, which in turn spawned a series of novels.

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