I awoke to find the America I knew a total wreck—to find Americans a hunted race in their own land, hiding in the dense forests that covered the shattered and leveled ruins of their once magnificent cities, desperately preserving, and struggling to develop in their secret retreats, the remnants of their culture and science—and the undying flame of their sturdy independence.
World domination was in the hands of Mongolians and the center of world power lay in inland China, with Americans one of the few races of mankind unsubdued—and it must be admitted in fairness to the truth, not worth the trouble of subduing in the eyes of the Han Airlords who ruled North America as titular tributaries of the Most Magnificent.
Philip Francis Nowlan (1888-1940) was a Pennsylvania-based journalist and science fiction author, best known as the creator of one of the genre’s most well-known Radium Age (1904-33) characters: Buck Rogers. Whose popularity quickly dominated comic strip and radio serials of the early 20th century, culminating with the late-70s television series Buck Rogers in the 25th Century. But before he was Buck, he made his debut as Anthony Rogers in the pulp magazine Amazing Stories. Where, after becoming trapped in a coal mine collapse and falling into suspended animation, Rogers awakens in the 25th century to discover the United States has been conquered by a race of futuristic Mongols known as the Airlords of Han. Together with warrior girl Wilma Deering, Rogers uses his hard-won 20th century war strategies to ignite an explosive crusade for a new and free 25th-century America.
"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."
Boy, was I wrong.
These stories are vicious. Surprisingly so. Both in Nowlan’s direct and detailed descriptions of what is essentially guerrilla warfare and his, at times, very un-pc way of describing the Hans. The latter of which was even edited and toned down in versions republished during the second half of the 20th century.
Here, we’ve opted for Nowlan’s original unedited text as it was first published in Amazing Stories 93 years ago. Some may find its language jarring. For me, it acts as a barometer, illustrating just how far we’ve come as a society—and, when viewed through the lens of current events, a stark reminder of how far we’ve yet to go.
As for the text itself, our only edits consist of ironing out various spelling inconsistencies of Nowlan’s invented technologies between the two stories and his sometimes odd and inconsistent use of italics.
Additionally, we’ve added footnotes for insta-reference, and Afterwords to offer better context of the impact these stories had in their infancy by two individuals who experienced it firsthand: Cele Goldsmith, editor of Amazing Stories from 1959 to 1965, provides the Afterword for Armageddon 2419 A.D., and sci-fi author and Amazing Stories contributor Sam Moskowitz provides the Afterword for The Airlords of Han.
Finally, let’s talk about the cover art by Tithi Luadthong. I love it. If you’re not familiar with his work, look him up, support him, buy his endlessly inventive stuff. It’s fantastic. All of it.
“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.” —Sam Moskowitz
“We prophesy that this story will become more valuable as the years go by. It certainly holds a number of interesting prophecies, many of which, no doubt, 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 rereading many times.” —Hugo Gernsback
“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.” —John W. Campbell, Jr.
“Although not as well know as Edgar Rice Burroughs or E. E. Smith, Philip Francis Nowlan was probably their equal both as a writer and as an influence on modern science fiction . . . the Anthony Rogers stories stand up quite well even today. Nowlan was a talented writer, and, despite his small output, he is one of the most influential science fiction writers of the Gernsback era.” —Michael M. Levy, Twentieth-Century Science-Fiction Writers
“. . . surprisingly sober and realistic dramatizations of the impact of advanced technology on guerrilla warfare. Nowlan, going beyond the mere invention of fantastic weapons, reveals a shrewd grasp of how they affect strategy and tactics. Armageddon 2419 A.D. has to be read critically today; its style is purest pulp, and its racism is patently offensive. Nevertheless, it remains one of the most imaginative works of military science fiction.” —John J. Pierce, Great Themes of Science Fiction
Published: January 25, 2021
Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.5 x 0.49 inches
Weight: 9.8 ounces
Cover: Matte Finish
Interior: Black & White on Cream Paper
Pages: 212 (+2 POD)
Philip Francis Nowlan
January 25, 2021