November 13, 1978 12:00 PM

by Philip Francis Nowlan

In 1928 and 1929 two novelettes saw print in the primitive science-fiction magazine Amazing Stories. They inspired the now defunct Buck Rogers comic strip, the Buster Crabbe serial, an upcoming TV miniseries and lots of other out-of-this-world delights, up to and including Star Wars. Now the two novelettes have been reprinted as “the seminal Buck Rogers novel.” Buck, it seems, went into a state of suspended animation in a coal mine in 1927 and awakes to find himself in the 25th century. The world has been subdued by Mongolians of the Han Dynasty, who dwell in glass towers in Nu-Yok, Si-kaga and other ancient sites. What few Americans remain have banded into gangs in the wastelands between cities to wage guerrilla war against the overlords. As a simultaneous exercise in nostalgia and crystal gazing, the book is droll. As a pop cultural phenomenon, it’s a must. (Ace, $1.95)

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