Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Dieselpunk Manifesto Part Ten: Niagara

Hello folks it's been a while since I looked in on our man out of time: Buck Rogers! This review deals with strips Buck Rogers strips 90-99 found  here.

Things were looking up for Buck and Wilma, offered clemency by Andrew MacGregor, who were on their way to Niagara to officially become officers in the Org! Suddenly a bomb explodes off their rocket's beam. After being thrown for a loop MacGregor explains this was a warning shot from Niagara.

Niagara air defense does not screw around. A radiogram would certainly serve as well.

It turns out the air scout Buck and Wilma are flying can be operated like a ground vehicle. A rocketcyce patrolman (flying motorcycle!) makes them pull over to a landing platform. Wilma frets about getting a ticket which is an odd concern for a woman who grew up in a rural Org without ground vehicles (or you know streets). In any case Buck shows him his badge and they get off light.

Apparently Niagara doesn't allow flying traffic in a certain radius other than official business which makes sense I suppose. Even a few thousand vehicles in close quarters like that could be a nightmare. I'm used to New York traffic and I feel faint at the thought

In the novel Buck Rogers Adventure game the background for Niagara indicates that hydro electric plants were set up (or repaired) to provide power from the falls for industry. The main industry seemed to be anti-air artillery because as soon as they built enough the Niagarans set them up to control space around their city. They then built the city itself above ground.

You wonder what the American Emperor was doing when this all happened but remember the man is a drunken lout. In any case either Niagara was too far North for the air patrols or not considered worth bothering with until they were a going concern. MacGregor shows them the defenses and Niagara is credited as the sole place in America safe from Han shenanigans.

Wilma and Buck are now in the Airguard. Wilma gets a job handling communications (a switchboard operator) while Buck goes to school to become a rocket engine mechanic. It hardly sounds heroic I know, but they have to do something between adventures. t's also interesting that warriors are expected to learn a trade and everyone works even though automation makes most labor unnecessary.

Buck and Wilma step out quite a lot right now, dancing, clubbing, fine dining and sure they deserve a rest. The one sour note comes from Mac Gregor who informs them they can't get married during their enlistment (apparently canoodling is cool though). Buck wishes they'd stayed with the outlaws.

Seriously. The man was Boss of an up and coming outfit. Apparently a steady paycheck and shopping carries a lot of weight with our heroes. Buck meets Tommy Johnson of the artillery (on a moving sidewalk!) and it's then we are introduced to the latest threat a mysterious growling roar in the skies overhead!

They rush to an air defense outpost that is oddly enough unmanned. It could be automated, after all everyone is transferring calls and doing rocket maintenance. A sound detector there will give an inaction of what made the sound. The detector indicates no physical object was scanned which gives them minor convulsions.) Just then the noise cuts in even louder than before. Rogers has his helmet for protection but by golly Tommy must be regretting his poor choice of head gear! Artillery and lookouts through out the area report the odd sound.

They finally trace the origin to the Buffalo sector of the metropolis and MacGregor lets Rogers off school to take Tommy and Wilma and do some sleuthing. What the heck, Rogers already passed for a Han and worked undercover. They soon encounter a suspicious figure and give chase on foot. For some reason they haven't taken their jumping belts and I can only think that they didn't want to draw attention to themselves and the belts would mark them as military. The catch the man with the aid of a rocketcycle patrolman who runs him down, coshes the blackguard and then kicks a knife out of his hand while writing him a citation for GHU knows what.

Rocketcycle patrolmen do not screw around. When they say stop you better stop. The man turns out to be a Han and is thrown into the local jail. Given the wide ranging powers of the patrolman the police force seems to be a paramilitary organization. I kind of wish we saw more of the patrolman.

The Airguard subjects the Han to electrohypnosis and he spits like a dribble glass. It is a weird tale of two Han scientists, massive ray projectors and a plot to destroy Niagara.

But that's for the post on Strip #100!

The city of Niagara was introduced in gratitude to the newspapers of the area that were early strong supporters of the strip. that bit of meta-commercialism aside Niagara is a very pleasant place. Everyone works, but everyone seems to have time for themselves. Work and play seems to balance out way better than in this lousy century. Buck and Wilma are having the time of their lives and in love with plenty of PDAs. The city seems to be wonderful for lovers.

For all that Niagara is a city under the threat of constant attack. That Emperor has to sober up sometime. Rocket patrolmen are a nightmare to anyone who looks suspicious and able to assault and detain such people if they resist being stopped in a way we would call misuse of power. then there are all those ginormous artillery pieces (several stories tall in some cases) and the sensors posts that are as common as cell phone towers. A great many people are also in military service.

I'd live there.