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Greetings my dearest and strangest fam. We are here once again, to listen to old radio shows and write about our ensuing feelings regarding the same. If anyone actually reads this column, they may remember that we were in the process of listening to the never-ending story of Buck Rogers and some kid with a popsicle. On and on and on the story went. Pandemics came, economies fell, and still, on and on and on the story went. Today we find that there are about 9000 instalments left in this Buck Rogers story. So here’s what I’m going to do: I will listen to the rest of the story in one go, share all my feelings about it, and never talk about Buck Rogers again. I should have probably done this in the first place. Anyway first, let me share some poignant highlights from my listening experience.

  • This show is often just 15 minutes of recapping what happened in the previous episodes, interspersed with popsicle propaganda.
  • Someone just said they are going to ‘disintegrate a large hole in the side of the ship’ because that sounds cooler than saying ‘make a large hole in the side of the ship’, and they are so right fam.
  • I’m impressed by how this announcer dude is able to recap this story considering that none of it makes any sense.
  • ‘Mongol invasions destroyed most of the principal American cities.’ WHAAAAAAAT?
  • That is the best thing I have heard on this show so far.
  • Anyway here’s what I think just happened. The two bad guys kidnapped Black Barney who was like, 'I’m not going to do anything you say because you’re bad,' but he goes along anyway because I forget why, and also the bad guys had some kind of ray gun which makes people do whatever the bad guys want, and they roamed all over the countryside before using it on Black Barney when they could have just used it on him in the first place, because everyone in this show is bananas I think.
  • Another thing is that Buck Rogers keeps calling Dr. Huer at the Central Radio Bureau, and Dr. Huer is clearly avoiding his calls, and instead of taking the hint Buck keeps leaving messages, and then Dr. Huer keeps leaving messages, and it’s like everyone is using pagers or something.
  • Buck just got on their ship and was able to call Dr. Huer directly from there. This show is going to make me lose my marbles.
  • I mean why did the dude leave all those messages, couldn’t he have just done this in the first place, why is everyone being like this?
  • How many popsicle wrappers do you think it would take to get the movie camera? I’m guessing more than four.
  • So remember back when the bad guys gave this kid a handwritten note to give to Buck Rogers and they sent him in a rocket ship to deliver this handwritten note? So that kid seems to have crashed his rocket. I don’t know why, but it was funny.
  • The good news is that the kid is alive, the bad news is that he seems to be unconscious and they are scared to move him, so they have done the next best thing, which is put some water on his forehead and not call a doctor.
  • I’m paraphrasing here, but the note apparently says ‘hahaha bet you can’t find us.’
  • I wish I had a set of handmade dice for every time someone says ‘yes sir’ on this show.
  • Black Barney just said 'Candy Cane bro, you know that the only reason I am doing all this stuff for you is because I am under the effect of this ray, right?' Lots to unpack there, no?
  • I mean, Candy Cane used the ray on him for that exact purpose, so ya, I think Candy Cane would know this bro.
  • Would it have been easier for the bad guys to just threaten Barney with a gun to make him do what they want? Oh I don’t give a fuck anyways.
  • Black Barney, who does not want to get supplies for the bad guys has now been sent out to get supplies for the bad guys even though he is aware that he is getting supplies for the bad guys. I am shook fam.
  • Why are they worrying about daytime/nighttime, aren’t they in space?
  • Wait is this whole story taking place on Earth? I don’t know what’s happening.
  • I’m not totally sure, but I think they are measuring radio wavelengths in centimetres. Which I don’t hate.
  • Dr. Huer just went to see another character called Elmo, spent the whole time recapping the story to him, then said he needed some information on some mineral or something. Elmo says, 'oh ya! I just sent that analysis to your office.' And since Dr. Huer was already there, Elmo told him what the analysis was, right? Of course not! Dr. Huer is now going all the way back to his office to get the analysis from Elmo, who he was just talking to.
  • That’s almost as bad as sending a kid in a rocket ship to deliver a handwritten note. Almost.
  • Candy Cane and Barney had a very long exchange about ‘planetoid’ versus ‘asteroid’ versus ‘plasteroid’.

What happened next you ask? I don’t know. I could only find 12 episodes of this show. It appears that the last episode called ‘Willie Crash Lands His Rocket Roadster’ was broadcast in 1939. The next episode was broadcast in 1947, with a new sponsor and a completely different tone and feel. Which was to be expected I guess, considering that by then, World War Two and the atomic bomb had happened.

Despite being whiny and unnecessarily mean about this particular radio show, there is a lot I liked about it. I think it was pretty sweet that Buck had a lady sidekick who was an actual sidekick who could drive rockets and fix stuff. This was kind of revolutionary, considering how women were usually portrayed back then. This show is considered to be the first science fiction radio show, and at its best, it encapsulated much of what I love about golden age sci-fi. And despite everything, I would actually love to know how this was supposed to end. I’m not sure I ever will, but if I do, I shall talk all about it somewhere on the internet.

Next time, please join us for a show that is not about Buck Rogers and the Gyrating Cosmic Elevator! Bai dears.








Kuzhali Manickavel's collections Things We Found During the Autopsy, Insects Are Just like You and Me except Some of Them Have Wings, and chapbooks The Lucy Temerlin Institute for Broken Shapeshifters Guide to Starving Boys and Eating Sugar, Telling Lies are available from Blaft Publications, Chennai. Her work has also appeared in Granta, Strange Horizons, Agni, Subtropics, Michigan Quarterly Review, and DIAGRAM. She used to blog at She's now at
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25 Sep 2023

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