Armageddon 2419 A.D and the Air Lords of Han by Philip Francis Nowlan
Serialized in August 1928 issue of Amazing Stories.
- The August 1928 issue of Amazing Stories started not just one but two classic stories.The first was the Skylark of Space.
- The second was Armageddon 2419 A.D and it’s sequel the Air Lords of Han. These stories introduced the world to Anthony “Tony” Rogers.
- Don’t call him Buck.
- While investigating radioactive gases found in a Pennsylvania coal mine, on December 15th 1927 he was trapped in a cave-in where he lost consciousness. He awoke 492 years later in the year 2419.
From Hugo Gernsback’s forward.
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 prophesy 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
And so he did write a sequal. “The Air Lords of Han.”
These serials were read by John F. Dille of the National Newpaper Service who convinced Nowlan to turn his story into a daily comic strip. But like Hollywood producers today, he changed the basic story and to add insult to injury changed the main character’s name from Tony to Buck.
So now you can call him Buck.
Thus Duck Dogers in the 24 1/2 century was born.
Er, excuse me.
I meant to say, thus Buck Rogers in the 25th Century was born.
Buck Rogers was a media sensation in it’s day. Comics, Movies and later Television shows were made based on these early stories
It has everything.
“These rays were projected from a machine not unlike a searchlight in appearance, the reflector of which, however, was not material substance, but a complicated balance of interacting electronic forces. This resulted in a terribly destructive beam. Under its influence, material substance melted into “nothingness”; i. e., into electronic vibrations. It destroyed all then known substances, from air to the most dense metals and stone.”
Anti-Gravity Rocket Belts.
“Floaters” are a later development of “jumpers”—rocket motors encased in inertron blocks and strapped to the back in such a way that the wearer floats, when drifting, facing slightly downward. With his motor in operation, he moves like a diver, headforemost, controlling his direction by twisting his body and by movements of his outstretched arms and hands. Ballast weights locked in the front of the belt adjust weight and lift.
Now I could see the repellor rays that held the ship aloft, like searchlight beams faintly visible in the bright daylight (and still faintly visible to the human eye at night). Actually, I had been informed by my instructors, there were two rays; the visible one generated by the ship’s apparatus, and directed toward the ground as a beam of “carrier” impulses; and the true repellor ray, the complement of the other in one sense, induced by the action of the “carrier” and reacting in a concentrating upward direction from the mass of the earth, becoming successively electronic, atomic and finally molecular, in its nature, according to various ratios of distance between earth mass and “carrier” source, until, in the last analysis, the ship itself actually is supported on an upward rushing column of air, much like a ball continuously supported on a fountain jet.
Swoopers are one-man and two-man ships, developed by the Americans, with skeleton backbones of inertron (during the war painted green for invisibility against the green forests below) and “bellies” of clear ultron.
Remotely piloted drones
The “air balls” were simply miniature swoopers of spherical shape, ultronically controlled by operators at control boards miles away, and who saw on their viewplates whatever picture the ultronic television lens in the sphere itself picked up at the predetermined focus. The main propulsive rocket motor was diametrically opposite the lens, so that the sphere could be steered simply by keeping the picture of its objective centered on the crossed hairlines of the viewplates.
Rocket guns are very simple contrivances so far as the mechanism of launching the bullet is concerned. They are simple light tubes, closed at the rear end, with a trigger-actuated pin for piercing the thin skin at the base of the cartridge. This piercing of the skin starts the chemical and atomic reaction. The entire cartridge leaves the tube under its own power, at a very easy initial velocity, just enough to insure accuracy of aim; so the tube does not have to be of heavy construction. The bullet increases in velocity as it goes. It may be solid or explosive. It may explode on contact or on time, or a combination of these two.
A citizen in Lo-Tan might, if he felt so inclined, “visit” the seashore, or the lakes or the forests of any part of the country, for when such scene was thrown on the walls of an apartment, the effect was precisely the same as if one were gazing through a vast window at the scene itself.
A family in Lo-Tan, for instance, might “visit” friends in Fis-Ko (San Francisco) taking their apartment, so to speak, along with them; being to all intents and purposes separated from their “hosts” only by a big glass wall which interfered neither with vision nor conversation.
A young man, for instance, might recline at his ease in his apartment near the top of the city, and for three or four hours a day inspect, through his viewplate and certain specially installed apparatus, the output of a certain process in one of the vast automatically controlled food factories buried far underground beneath the base of the mountain, where the moan of its whirring and throbbing machinery would not disturb the peace and quiet of the citizens on the mountain top. Or he might be required simply to watch the operation of an account machine in an automatic store.
Why should he leave his house? Food, wonderful synthetic concoctions of any desired flavor and consistency (and for additional fee conforming to the individual’s dietary prescription) came to him through a shaft, from which his tray slid automatically on to a convenient shelf or table.
There was even a tube system, with trunk, branch and local lines and an automagnetic switching system, by which articles within certain size limits could be despatched from any apartment to any other one in the city.
There is no denying that the economic system of the Hans was marvelous. A suit of clothes, for instance, might be delivered in a man’s apartment without a human hand having ever touched it. Having decided that he wished a suit of a given general style, he would simply tune in a visual broadcast of the display of various selections, and when he had made his choice, dial the number of the item and press the order button. Simultaneously the charge would be automatically made against his account number, and credited as a sale on the automatic records of that particular factory in the account house. And his account plate, hidden behind a little wall door, would register his new credit balance. An automatically packaged suit that had been made to style and size-standard by automatic machinery from synthetically produced material, would slip into the delivery chute, magnetically addressed, and in anywhere from a few seconds to thirty minutes or so, according to the volume of business in the chutes, and drop into the delivery basket in his room.
Dastardly villains beyond redemption
San-Lan snarled and crouched as though to spring at me with his bare hands. By a mighty convulsion of the will he regained control of himself, however, and assumed a manner of quiet dignity. He even smiled—a slow, crooked smile.
“No,” he said, answering his own thought. “I will not have you killed now. You shall live on, my honored guest, to see with your own eyes how we shall exterminate your animal-brethren in their forests. With your own ears you shall hear their dying shrieks. The cold science of Han is superior to your spurious knowledge. We have been careless. To our cost we have let you develop brains of a sort. But we are still superior. We shall go down into the forests and meet you. We shall beat you in your own element. When you have seen and heard this happen, my Council shall devise for you a death by scientific torture, such as no man in the history of the world has been honored with.”
Wilma and I had been married the day after the destruction of the ships, and spent this intervening period in a delightful honeymoon, camping high in the mountains.
San-Lan’s favorite concubine, Ngo-Lan, a creature of the most alluring beauty; young, graceful and most delicately seductive, whose skill in the arts and sciences put many of their doctors to shame. This creature, his most prized possession, San-Lan with the utmost moral callousness ordered to seduce me, urging her to apply without stint and to its fullest extent, her knowledge of evil arts.
The occasional act of genocide.
“But I do know that there was something inhuman about these Hans. And I had many months of intimate contact with them, and with their Emperor in America. I can vouch for the fact that even in his most friendly and human moments, there was an inhumanity, or perhaps “unhumanity” about him that aroused in me that urge to kill.
But whether or not there was in these people blood from outside this planet, the fact remains that they have been exterminated, that a truly human civilization reigns once more.
It was a golden age of science fiction. That golden age being when you are thirteen.
Public domain free versions of the Armageddon 2419 A.D and the Air Lords of Han can be found here:
It also can be purchased from Amazon.
The Buck Rogers in the 25th Century comic series can also be purchased at Amazon.
As well as the Movie Serial starring Buster Crabbe
The Television series from the 1970’s has spaceships, disco and lots of spandex. The high lights of the show being Erin Gray and Pamela Hensley.