Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Buck Rogers: A Life in the Future Review

Buck Rogers: A Life in the Future by Martin Caidin

From the book jacket:

In that instant, Buck saw his plane was going to crash directly into the crowd.

Hundreds of people would die, while others would be burned horribly as the fuel tanks exploded. With what little control he had left, he kicked the rudder hard and threw the Fokker into a flat spin, away from the screaming throng on the ground. He also gave up his one and only chance at a controlled crash from which he could survive.

In those final moments, everyone watching knew that Buck had made his final decision…

Form the moment of the terrible crash that should have ended everything, the very life of Anthony “Buck” Rogers hung by the thinnest of threads…

…until he regained consciousness more than four hundred years later. His body literally reconstructed by advanced medical technology and nursed back to health by the tender care of Wilma Deering, he is ready to face his new future in the twenty-fifth century.

Here, for the first time, is the true story of Buck’s life in the future… as only he can tell it.

This certainly is not the Gil Gerard or Buster Crabbe Buck Rogers I’m familiar with. However, that is not why I didn’t really enjoy this book. It does still have a sense of campy fun to it but there were large chucks of it that were rather boring. When Buck wakes up in the future he has to be told all that has happened while he was out of the loop. All 400 odd years of it. There are also long passages about the strengths and weaknesses of every plane Buck has ever flown and detailed descriptions of how the future technology works. I understand that certain things need to be explained to us as the readers as well as Buck but it got pretty dry at times and I found some of it hard to slog through. The plot also seems to jump about randomly. They are on one mission and then on to the next without any sort of transition or anything that ties it all together. Which would work if it came in monthly installments but doesn’t really come together into one cohesive novel. And there are a lot of interesting characters but no one is developed very well. Caidin seemed to want to fit everything in the Buck Rogers myth in this book and it becomes some what of a jumbled mess. I think it would have worked out better if some things were left out and one story line was developed more fully. I’m assuming that the racist attitude of everyone in the book was an attempt to stay close to the feelings in the original stories but it still seemed tacky to me. And it all came together in an ending that wasn’t as satisfying as I had hoped for. There is a reproduction of the Phil Nowlan’s 1933 'Buck Rogers in the 25th Century' novelette included at the back of the book that is a lot of fun and which, unfortunately, I found more interesting than the book itself.

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