The Airlords of Han - Philip Francis Nowlan - ebook
Kategoria: Fantastyka i sci-fi Język: angielski Rok wydania: 1928

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Philip Francis Nowlan

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Opis ebooka The Airlords of Han - Philip Francis Nowlan

Recovering from a gas that caused him to sleep for five hundred years, Anthony "Buck" Rogers helped an enslaved America strike its first blow for freedom against the alien Han. Now, he and beloved, warrior-woman Wilma Deering, must lead a desperate a battle to the finish against a superior foe -- using futuristic weapons such as disintegrators, jumping belts, inertron, paralysis rays, and atomic torpedoes.

Opinie o ebooku The Airlords of Han - Philip Francis Nowlan

Fragment ebooka The Airlords of Han - Philip Francis Nowlan

About
Introduction by Sam Moskowitz
Chapter 1 - The Airlords Besieged

About Nowlan:

Philip Francis Nowlan (born 1888 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, died February 1, 1940 in Philadelphia) was an American science fiction author. After graduating from the University of Pennsylvania he worked as a newspaper columnist. He married, moved to the Philadelphia suburb of Bala Cynwyd and created and wrote the Buck Rogers comic strip, illustrated by Dick Calkins. The character Buck Rogers first appeared in Nowlan's 1928 novella Armageddon 2419 A.D. as Anthony Rogers. The comic strip ran for over forty years and spun off a radio series, a 1939 movie serial, and two television series. Nowlan also wrote several other novellas for the science fiction magazines as well as the posthumously published mystery, The Girl from Nowhere. Philip Francis Nowlan was married to Theresa Junker Nowlan. They had ten children including Philip, Mary, Helen, Louise, Theresa, Mike, Larry, Pat, John, and Joe. Source: Wikipedia

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Introduction by Sam Moskowitz

Of all the stories selected for reprinting by AMAZING STORIES, none have received the acclamation of Armageddon-2419, the first Buck Rogers story published in the April, 1961, 35th Anniversary issue. Readers were amazed by the terse writing, the superb knowledge of military tactics, the brilliant prophecies of rocket guns, walkie talkies, jet planes, infra-red ray sights and many other devices which have become part and parcel of modern warfare.

The Airlords of Han, sequel to Armageddon-2419, is in every meaning of the phrase, a command performance for the readers of AMAZING STORIES. While many other stories may have received greater publicity through the years and other authors achieved more meaningful fame, Philip Francis Nowlan's work has not been unknown to prime movers in the field. At the time of Nowlan's sudden death from a stroke in 1940, John W. Campbell, Jr., who read the "Buck" Rogers stories when they first appeared and was at that very time scheduling the last story the man was ever to write, said: "The quality of Nowlan's written science-fiction was certainly exceptionally high—even ten years ago, when the magazine science-fiction was only starting, the work Phil Nowlan did was of a grade that would have been acceptable and well rated against the much more highly evolved work of today. He had, then, developed one of the concepts that has only recently been generally recognized and used; the realization that the thought-patterns of the people of the future will necessarily be as different from the everyday thought-matrices of our present as their background must differ from ours."

The Airlords of Han will prove a delight to the readers. Hugo Gernsback when "blurbing" it in 1929 said: "Mr. Nowlan has quite outdone himself. In our humble opinion, the sequel is in many respects better than the original story." That statement, is, in my opinion, true. This is a marvelous story from many standpoints.

 

First of all from the aspect of the storyteller's art, it is told with a directness, precise imagery and discipline of controlled imagination that has relatively limited competition among science-fiction authors living or dead. The obvious grasp of military tactics, so strikingly evidenced in the first story, is reaffirmed here.

Here, too, the sound basis of the scientific prophecy has few equals. The war of the future is fought with rockets that sport atomic warheads! No indirection in prophecy. No broad gesture that could be interpreted as the foregoing, but the very terms spelled out for the very purpose we use them today and this is a story printed in 1929, not one appearing in 1944 or 1945, when the events were nearly upon us.

Buttressing the inventions are the sound, military reasons for their use and their limitations. You will find that the United States initially was devastated after a war with the Bolsheviks. You will stand back aghast as psychoanalysts (called that) practice brainwashing for political and military reasons. Public television for personal communication, like the telephone (recently instituted to a limited degree in Russia) is standard practice. Germ warfare is effectively practiced. Radio-controlled rocket-powered television scanners send back pictures and words to the operator, not unlike what some of our earth satellites are doing today.

All of this is placed logically in a society whose social system, business structure and mores are carefully integrated with the scientific material.

It was no accident that Buck Rogers became an almost instantaneous success as a comic strip. Behind its creation was one of the most logical, scientifically planned "worlds of if" ever conceived. The re-presentation of these original Buck Rogers stories secures for Philip Francis Nowlan the important place he deserves as a shaper of modern science fiction.


Chapter 1 The Airlords Besieged

In a previous record of my adventures in the early part of the Second War of Independence I explained how I, Anthony Rogers, was overcome by radioactive gases in an abandoned mine near Scranton in the year 1927, where I existed in a state of suspended animation for nearly five hundred years; and awakened to find that the America I knew had been crushed under the cruel tyranny of the Airlords of Han, fierce Mongolians, who, as scientists now contend, had in their blood a taint not of this earth, and who with science and resources far in advance of those of a United States, economically prostrate at the end of a long series of wars with a Bolshevik Europe, in the year 2270 A.D., had swept down from the skies in their great airships that rode "repeller rays" as a ball rides the stream of a fountain, and with their terrible "disintegrator rays" had destroyed more than four-fifths of the American race, and driven the other fifth to cover in the vast forests which grew up over the remains of the once mighty civilization of the United States.

I explained the part I played in the fall of the year 2419, when the rugged Americans, with science secretly developed to terrific efficiency in their forest fastness, turned fiercely and assumed the aggressive against a now effete Han population, which for generations had shut itself up in the fifteen great Mongolian cities of America, having abandoned cultivation of the soil and the operation of mines; for these Hans produced all they needed in the way of food, clothing, shelter and machinery through electrono-synthetic processes.

I explained how I was adopted into the Wyoming Gang, or clan, descendants of the original populations of Wilkes-Barre, Scranton and the Wyoming Valley in Pennsylvania; how quite by accident I stumbled upon a method of destroying Han aircraft by shooting explosive rockets, not directly at the heavily armored ships, but at the repeller ray columns, which automatically drew the rockets upward where they exploded in the generators of the aircraft; how the Wyomings threw the first thrill of terror into the Airlords by bringing an entire squadron crashing to earth; how a handful of us in a rocketship successfully raided the Han city of Nu-Yok; and how by the application of military principles I remembered from the First World War, I was able to lead the Wyomings to victory over the Sinsings, a Hudson River tribe which had formed a traitorous alliance with the hereditary enemies and oppressors of the White Race in America.

 

By the Spring of 2420 A.D., a short six months after these events, the positions of the Yellow and the White Races in America had been reversed. The hunted were now the hunters. The Hans desperately were increasing the defenses of their fifteen cities, around each of which the American Gangs had drawn a widely deployed line of long-gunners; while nervous air convoys, closely bunched behind their protective screen of disintegrator beams, kept up sporadic and costly systems of transportation between the cities.

During this period our own campaign against the Hans of Nu-Yok was fairly typical of the development of the war throughout the country. Our force was composed of contingents from most of the Gangs of Pennsylvania, Jersey and New England. We encircled the city on a wide radius, our line running roughly from Staten Island to the forested site of the ancient city of Elizabeth, to First and Second Mountains just west of the ruins of Newark, Bloomfield and Montclair, thence northeasterly across the Hudson, and down to the Sound. On Long Island our line was pushed forward to the first slopes of the hills.

We had no more than four long-gunners to the square mile in our first line, but each of these was equal to a battery of heavy artillery such as I had known in the First World War. And when their fire was first concentrated on the Han city, they blew its outer walls and roof levels into a chaotic mass of wreckage before the nervous Yellow engineers could turn on the ring of generators which surrounded the city with a vertical film of disintegrator rays. Our explosive rockets could not penetrate this film, for it disintegrated them instantly and harmlessly, as it did all other material substance with the sole exception of "inertron," that synthetic element developed by the Americans from the sub-electronic and ultronic orders.

 

The continuous operation of the disintegrators destroyed the air and maintained a constant vacuum wherever they played, into which the surrounding air continuously rushed, naturally creating atmospheric disturbances after a time, which resulted in a local storm. This, however, ceased after a number of hours, when the flow of air toward the city became steady.

The Hans suffered severely from atmospheric conditions inside their city at first, but later rearranged their disintegrator ring in a system of overlapping films that left diagonal openings, through which the air rushed to them, and through which their ships emerged to scout our positions.

We shot down seven of their cruisers before they realized the folly of floating individually over our invisible line. Their beams traced paths of destruction like scars across the countryside, but caught less than half a dozen of our gunners all told, for it takes a lot of time to sweep every square foot of a square mile with a beam whose cross section is not more than twenty or twenty-five feet in diameter. Our gunners, completely concealed beneath the foliage of the forest, with weapons which did not reveal their position, as did the flashes and detonation of the Twentieth Century artillery, hit their repeller rays with comparative ease.

The "drop ships," which the Hans next sent out, were harder to handle. Rising to immense heights behind the city's disintegrator wall, these tiny, projectile-like craft slipped through the rifts in the cylinder of destruction, and then turning off their repeller rays, dropped at terrific speed until their small vanes were sufficient to support them as they volplaned in great circles, shooting back into the city defenses at a lower level.

The great speed of these craft made it almost impossible to register a direct hit against them with rocket guns, and they had no repeller rays at which we might shoot while they were over our lines.

But by the same token they were able to do little damage to us. So great was the speed of a drop ship, that the only way in which it could use a disintegrator ray was from a fixed generator in the nose of the structure, as it dropped in a straight line toward its target. But since they could not sight the widely deployed individual gunners in our line, their scouting was just as ineffective as our attempts were to shoot them down.

 

For more than a month the situation remained a deadlock, with the Hans locked up in their cities, while we mobilized gunners and supplies.

Had our stock of inertron been sufficiently great at this period, we could have ended the war quickly, with aircraft impervious to the "dis" ray. But the production of inertron is a painfully slow process, involving the building up of this weightless element from ultronic vibrations through the sub-electronic, electronic and atomic states into molecular form. Our laboratories had barely begun production on a quantity basis, for we had just learned how to protect them from Han air raids, and it would be many months more before the supply they had just started to manufacture would be finished. In the meantime we had enough for a few aircraft, for jumping belts and a small amount of armor.

We Wyomings possessed one swooper completely sheathed with inertron and counterweighted with ultron. The Altoonas and the Lycomings also had one apiece. But a shielded swooper, while impervious to the "dis" ray, was helpless against squadrons of Han aircraft, for the Hans developed a technique of playing their beams underneath the swooper in such fashion as to suck it down flutteringly into the vacuum so created, until they brought it finally, and more or less violently, to earth.

Ultimately the Hans broke our blockade to a certain extent, when they resumed traffic between their cities in great convoys, protected by squadrons of cruisers in vertical formation, playing a continuous cross-fire of disintegrator beams ahead of them and down on the sides in a most effective screen, so that it was very difficult for us to get a rocket through to the repeller rays.

But we lined the scar paths beneath their air routes for miles at a stretch with concealed gunners, some of whom would sooner or later register hits, and it was seldom that a convoy made the trip between Nu-Yok and Bos-Tan, Bah-Flo, Si-ka-ga or Ah-la-nah without losing several of its ships.

Hans who reached the ground alive were never taken prisoner. Not even the splendid discipline of the Americans could curb the wild hate developed through centuries of dastardly oppression, and the Hans were mercilessly slaughtered, when they did not save us the trouble by committing suicide.

Several times the Hans drove "air wedges" over our lines in this vertical or "cloud bank" formation, ploughing a scar path a mile or more wide through our positions. But at worst, to us, this did not mean the loss of more than a dozen men and girls, and generally their raids cost them one or more ships. They cut paths of destruction across the map, but they could not cover the entire area, and when they had ploughed out over our lines, there was nothing left for them to do but to turn around and plough back to Nu-Yok. Our lines closed up again after each raid, and we continued to take heavy toll from convoys and raiding fleets. Finally they abandoned these tactics.

So at the time of which I speak, the Spring of 2420 A.D., the Americans and the Hans were temporarily at pretty much of a deadlock. But the Hans were as desperate as we were sanguine, for we had time on our side.

It was at this period that we first learned of the Airlords' determination, a very unpopular one with their conscripted populations, to carry the fight to us on the ground. The time had passed when command of the air meant victory. We had no visible cities nor massed bodies of men for them to destroy, nothing but vast stretches of silent forests and hills, where our forces lurked, invisible from the air.