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Greetings Strange fam! It is 2021! Isn’t that so bananas? What will 2021 have in store for us? Abusive aliens that repeatedly undermine our worth? Or something might come in from the oceans that has a lot of teeth and is also very mean. Maybe both these things will happen. Anyway, until then, let us while away the hours by hearkening to simpler, sweeter times. I speak of those golden days when apparently, everyone was heterosexual and cisgender! Like, EVERYONE! Smoking was ok! Racism was ok! Sexual harassment in the workplace was ok! Maybe you are saying, gosh! That must have been a truly awesome time to be a straight, able-bodied, hetero white dude asshole! But I won’t say that because that’s racist!

Anyway, in our last column, we decided to embark on an epic twelve episode journey called Buck Rogers in the 25th Century: Gyro Cosmic Relativator. Why? Because Buck Rogers is also from that simple, sweet time but without the sexual harassment, I’m hoping. To recap, I listened to episode one and unfortunately that’s all I can remember. I want to say the show was about … a popsicle? And a phone? And I know I liked the show but I can’t remember why. Now that the recap is over, let us gird our loins for the second episode. Are we ready? No? Well that’s just too bad!

Ok, so it’s not about a popsicle but it IS sponsored by Popsicle, Fudgesicle, and Creamsicle, which is practically the same thing.

Frozen confection on a stick! It sounded weird then! It sounds weird now!

Did you know Popsicle Pete is the famous winner of the Typical American Boy contest?

I don’t believe he is such a famous winner.

Then again I am jealous of Popsicle Pete.

Apparently he is in the studio, which is filled with all kinds of awesome gifts and all we have to do is eat popsicles and we will get all the awesome gifts.

Why isn’t life really like that though?

Fun Fact of the day: popsicles came in bags back then because it was a very long time ago and there was no internet.

The popsicle ad is now over and I am filled with longing and jealousy.

I’m over the longing and jealousy now because the recap dude just said ‘peculiar gas’ lol.

I probably shouldn’t have written that down. Anyway I don’t care though.

Previously, Buck, Wilma, and Dr. Huer were discussing an instrument for a rocket plane.


Y’all we are listening to a mysterious sound right now and it’s very mysterious you guys.

On the other hand, it also sounds like a toilet flushing.

Like those old toilets with the chain.

Wilma just said ‘good night’ for some reason. Good night Wilma!

You guys! That was the sound of a rocket ship crashing outside!

To be fair, many sound effects on old radio shows sound like a toilet flushing. I mean that’s just life, fam.

It’s a martian ship!!


The metal door on the side of it has opened. RELEASE THE MARTIANS!

Some dude is talking and fam, it does not sound like a martian.

It’s Barney!

Who the fuck is Barney!

Barney better be a martian or I don’t even know what you guys.

Yeah so I hate Barney.

Which seems unfair but that is the sad reality of institutionalised racism.

There is also some kid called Willy who sounds suspiciously like Popsicle Pete.

Willy has apparently hurt his knee and I don’t even care.

Barney says he will carry Willy to a hospital and none of this sounds like martian anything.

There is an important package on board for Dr. Huer.

It’s the Gyrating Cosmic Elevator!

Gyro. Relativator. whatever.

I don’t hate Gyrating Cosmic Elevator though.

Everyone’s saying hi to each other which is not interesting for anybody.

Did these three dudes get on this ship without those other two dudes noticing?

I mean it could happen I guess. Lest we forget the Xenomorph y’all.

They are going to fly to the space port now but first, Wilma says they have to expose Willy’s knee to a healing ray. Which is amazing but does not make up for the fact that I was expecting martians and got two dudes instead.

Buck Rogers said Barney and Willy could take his Rocket Roadster (!!!!) to the hospital and these other three will take the ship to the space port.

I don’t know why but it sounded super complicated when he said it.

Barney has been expressing his concern over the safety of using the Gyrating Cosmic Elevator and Dr. Huer was like lol you so dumb.

Anyway, I guess they are going now.

Everything is in good shape because it’s a martian ship you know, and it’s built very solidly.

In fact, you could say the ship is in ship-shape HAHAHAHAHA I am so sorry.

Buck Rogers is unpacking the Gyrating Cosmic Elevator and Dr. Huer is radioing the space port and Wilma is hopefully driving the ship.

They have reached the space port and it sounds like they are installing the Cosmic Elevator with lots of hammers.

Y’all know what just happened? Buck Rogers plugged something in and all the hammers fell silent.

Buck Rogers somehow scratched the back of his hand while plugging in whatever it was.

How do you hurt the back of your hand while plugging something in?

Anyway, Wilma is insisting Buck Rogers uses the healing ray.

Wilma is obsessed with healing rays.

The captain of the rocket police is now calling Dr. Huer. THE CAPTAIN OF THE ROCKET POLICE!!!!

The lab has been broken into and so the dude is like Dr. Huer you are coming over now right? Because your lab has been broken into and ransacked and all? And the doctor was like nah I’m good.

They say ‘signing off’ when they hang up.

That’s not as cool as CAPTAIN OF THE ROCKET POLICE though.

These three are totally into wondering who broke into the lab, but not into actually going there to see if everything is ok.

Now there is a call for Buck Rogers.

Sooooo here’s what I think I heard. And I’m not saying I was listening or anything. A guard at a prison was found paralyzed under a ray and someone called … Killer Canon? And Dale? I think they escaped and so the President gave Buck Rogers the ROCKET POLICE.

The President might not have actually given BuckRogers the ROCKET POLICE.

Sorry, Killer Cane. And … Art Daily?

They are the worst criminals the solar system has ever known you guys. THAT’S SOME SERIOUS SHIT!

Buck Rogers is like let’s go save everything! and Dr. Huer is like nah, let’s keep doing the Gyrating Cosmic Elevator thing.

Dr. Huer has an interesting take on his priorities.

They were just about to get onto the Gyrating ship and then it just took off without them lol

And that’s it I guess! Wow!

Now we are being regaled by more propaganda from Popsicle Pete and his associate. I will never get used to this whole 'popsicle bags' thing.


I enjoyed this episode of Buck Rogers like anything. And what delicious questions we have to ponder! Who stole the ship? Was it Willy’s knee? Why is one of the worst criminals in the solar system called Art Daily? Wouldn’t it be great if his name really was Art Daily? Why can’t I be in the ROCKET POLICE? Can’t hardly wait till the next episode fam! 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
Current Issue
29 May 2023

We are touched and encouraged to see an overwhelming response from writers from the Sino diaspora as well as BIPOC creators in various parts of the world. And such diverse and daring takes of wuxia and xianxia, from contemporary to the far reaches of space!
By: L Chan
The air was redolent with machine oil; rich and unctuous, and synthesised alcohol, sharper than a knife on the tongue.
“Leaping Crane don’t want me to tell you this,” Poppy continued, “but I’m the most dangerous thing in the West. We’ll get you to your brother safe before you know it.”
Many eons ago, when the first dawn broke over the newborn mortal world, the children of the Heavenly Realm assembled at the Golden Sky Palace.
Winter storm: lightning flashes old ghosts on my blade.
transplanted from your temple and missing the persimmons in bloom
immigrant daughters dodge sharp barbs thrown in ambush 十面埋伏 from all directions
Many trans and marginalised people in our world can do the exact same things that everyone else has done to overcome challenges and find happiness, only for others to come in and do what they want as Ren Woxing did, and probably, when asked why, they would simply say Xiang Wentian: to ask the heavens. And perhaps we the readers, who are told this story from Linghu Chong’s point of view, should do more to question the actions of people before blindly following along to cause harm.
Before the Occupation, righteousness might have meant taking overt stands against the distant invaders of their ancestral homelands through donating money, labour, or expertise to Chinese wartime efforts. Yet during the Occupation, such behaviour would get one killed or suspected of treason; one might find it better to remain discreet and fade into the background, or leave for safer shores. Could one uphold justice and righteousness quietly, subtly, and effectively within such a world of harshness and deprivation?
Issue 22 May 2023
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