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Hello fam! It’s that time again! Where we pull out an unsuspecting radio show from the past and yell at it for being insensitive to our feelings! Last time, I listened to something called A Gun For Dinosaur (1956), which contained guns, time travel, dinosaurs and still managed to be disappointing. Today, I am still yearning for some golden age sci-fi, so I’m going to listen to the goldenest, sci-fi-est radio-est show ever: Buck Rogers!

What exactly do I know about this great show? I know that for the longest time, I thought this was a Western because it was called Buck Rogers. That’s racist! Apart from that, I can confidently say that I know nothing about this show. I probably should. But I don’t. As a result, I am so excited to listen to this I can’t even tell you oh my god. Let’s do this fam!

 Buck Rogers in the 25th Century- Gyro Cosmic Relativator- Episode 1- 05/04/39

I am seriously excited for this and I’m not completely sure why.

Buck and all his friends are back! Back from where? Who friends? I don’t know anything!

This show is sponsored by Popsicles, the confection on a stick!

Why does that sound weird?

I guess that’s what a popsicle is, though. Makes me uncomfortable nonetheless.


I cannot tell you how many times I, as a small brown girl in eighties Canada, wanted to be a typical American boy. I would have been so good at it I’m not even kidding.

That’s probably racist to say about Canada, but it behooves us to remember it was eighties Canada. So there’s that.

So anyway, it seems like the Typical American Boy Contest is now over. Aw.

The Typical American Boy has apparently turned into Popsicle Pete!

Like, literally? Probably not literally.

Like the confection on a stick, this too is making me uncomfortable.

There seems to be another contest where you can get cool gifts or whatever.

Okay those are actually pretty cool gifts.

Some dude just said popsicles are nourishing and made fresh everyday.

It’s interesting how we don’t use those words to describe popsicles anymore.

That was all very exciting. And it was just the ad whaaaaaaat!

Okay now the actual show. Off to the future we go! Gosh!

The capital of 25th century America is Niagara! Okay!

A scientist is putting someone to sleep with a ray.

In 2020, we go to sleep with ASMR or 10 hours of rain sounds. Also we have a pandemic.

It’s Wilma!! Hai Wilma!

The scientist is asking if Black Barney has been spotted in Niagara. He is the Prime Minister of Mars. Niiiice.

I’m scared to ask why Black Barney is called Black Barney.

This is very exciting nonetheless.

Black Barney is supposed to bring the scientist something with the rather unremarkable name of "control device."

We now shift our attention to the dude that was put to sleep with the ray, who I am guessing is Buck Rogers because I am an astute fellow like that.

It’s an Electro Hypnotic Ray, btw. Which is the kind of name we are here for.

Wilma is shocked by the proceedings. Is it shocking? I’m not sure if it’s shocking.

Wilma, I think he’s just sleeping, be cool.

Apparently, there is something near Buck’s head that looks like a miniature power plant with a speaker on it.

This is a good description of whatever that is.

It is an Electro Hypno Mentalaphone. YOU BET YOUR DERN TOOTIN IT IS!

The scientist is asking Wilma if she remembers the Mentalaphone.

Of course she does. We all do.

I do not know what this is actually. I just wanted to be included.

The Mentalaphone is where you put the thing in front of a fellow and all his memories are shown on a screen.

Sounds a bit problematic but ok.

The Electro Hypno Mentalaphone will broadcast a fellow’s memories via … telephone?

Like, the memories call you on the phone???

Oh, it reads a person’s mind aloud.

It reads it over the phone, though?

Or are you guys just using the word "phone" for glamour purposes?

Imagine if someone’s memories could just randomly call you on the phone tho.

"Hello. This is that one time you did that thing."

I would never answer the phone.

I never answer the phone anyway.

Illustrious Acquaintance says it behooves me to mention that no one calls me anyway.

I feel sad now.

Anyway, this Electro Hypno Mentalaphone was thought up in the 20th century, and Wilma’s like, I thought 20th century peeps were savages.

Use better words Wilma.

I think they are talking about a rocket now? Made of … Inerka? Which defies gravity? And … Impervium. Aw.

It behooves us to remember it was 1939 and folks hadn’t gone to the moon yet. So that’s actually kind of interesting, no?

I mean, if you believe the moon landing was real.

Is anything real, though?

Anyway, there are many scientific words happening and everything sounds very exciting.

They are now switching this thing on.

It works! Wow! Is Buck going to phone us now?

I have to keep reminding myself that there isn’t any actual phoning involved here.

Even though that would be way cool.

They have asked Buck a boring question tbh.

So in 1919, Buck was in an abandoned mine in Pittsburgh, and then it caved in on him, but this gas was released, so he was like in suspended animation for 500 years, and then he woke up.

Did you notice how they just delivered important character information? No? That’s because it was Smooth. Like. That.

Buck is now saying that Wilma is a beautiful girl soldier.

Stop talking like a pedophile, Buck.

The scientist’s name is Dr. Huer btw. I should have probably noticed/mentioned that earlier, but frankly it wasn’t so interesting for me.

We are now learning various things about Buck.

Buck went to Mars to help Analdo defeat Martian Tiger Men.

That is amazing.

Buck also went to Pluto.

Buck, you may be sorry to know that we no longer consider Pluto a planet. That doesn’t mean you didn’t go there, bud.

Now they are bored talking to Buck’s brain, so they are going to wake him up.

Wilma is waking him up by pummelling the living daylights out of him.

They seem to have been talking, and I seem to have been not paying attention.

Does Martian Tiger Men sound like a dance troupe? Kind of?

Anyway, they are now talking about something named Gyro Cosmic Relativator.

I always feel like "gyro" is short for "gyrating", because I’m gross and I don’t think logically.

I think this thing basically makes you go real fast.

Anyway, I think Dr. Huer has made a rocket, but he needs that control device thing, but also the rocket isn’t here? I think?

Now they all hear something.

I can’t hear anything.

Okay I hear it now. We are all hearing this sound.

What is happening.

Cliffhanger ending! Very smooth my dudes.

Now that popsicle dude from before is like, "oh man I hope they are alright" or something like that and Popsicle Pete is like, "I want a Fudgsicle."

You speak your truth Popsicle Pete.

Popsicle Pete is now advising children to ask for some catalogue at their ice cream shop.

Popsicle Pete said don’t take no for an answer.

Why does it feel like there is some enmity betwixt Popsicle Pete and the ice cream shop owners of America? What darkness is this bros?

Fam, I am happy to say that I enjoyed this like anything. It seems to be a twelve part affair so I guess we will continue with this until I get bored or something like that. But it’s pretty great so far right? And I feel like there are just so many layers to Popsicle Pete. Anyway, bai.

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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