"Armageddon 2419 and "The Airlords of Han" by Phillip Francis Nowlan

 

 

Ever heard of Phillip Francis Nowlan?  Neither had I until happening across his work in my research to bring you free e-books.  I had heard of "2149 A.D." and even "The Airlords of Han", but I had no idea of their relevance to modern Science Fiction.  Nowlan died in 1940, the year John W. Campbell began as editor of "Astounding", and thus the beginning of the Golden Age of Science Fiction, so one might be hard pressed to consider the possibility that he had any relevance other than as some stodgy forerunner to most of what we know today. 

I remember as a child, my grandmother would come to visit in the summer and help take care of my sisters and I.  After the afternoon soap operas had finished we would sit in the den and watch the Buck Rogers television show starring Gil Gerard and Erin Grey.  I had become a fan of the show after my father had taken me to watch the movie in the theaters which ultimately became the serialized show.  I was only about five or six at the time the shows' airing and it contributed greatly to my love of Science Fiction.  There were others shows, and other films that influencend me, but Buck Rogers was one of my earliest influences.

Nowlan's original work, though not as pervasive as something like Star Trek, is every bit as influential.  The original Buck Rogers television show aired in 1939.  While we may look at something like that in modern times and scoff, the truth is that the airing of that show was a big deal.  Sure the scipts were one dimensional and the sets were low tech and pastiche.  But the airing of that show signified something.  Much later magazines and shows could attribute their success to the Space program or NASA.  Buck Rogers first aired when no such program existed and the catalyst for such programs, the development of rocket technology in WWII, hadn't even occurred yet.

Unfortunately there aren't a ton of interesting factoids about Nowlan.  He was not nearly as prolific as many others that eventually followed closedly on his heels.  He did not live a terribly long, or by many other standards, terribly interesting life.  He had ten children and wrote two short works chronicling the adventures of Buck Rogers.  Althought he wrote several other short pieces none were more impactful than the two available here.

Armageddon 2419

The Airlords of Han

 

Also, here is a little treat from the 1979 theatrical release and a little something from 1939.  Enjoy!