John Kahane (jkahane) wrote,
John Kahane

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The Saturday That Was (and Atomic Knights)

Yesterday was one of those days where things just seemed to get de-railed for the most part. I had certain plans for the day, but the stuff that I wanted to do did not happen for the most part. Less said about that, the better.

On the other hand, I did go out and do some veggie shopping in the morning, and picked up a couple of croissant that I had this morning for breakfast with café au lait. Lovely Sunday morning breakfast. Makes up for a lot of things, believe me. :)

The weather was pretty weird yesterday, alternating sunny and raining cats 'n dogs periods, with fierce winds at times. My abdomen and bowels were pretty well-behaved for the most part, but such is life for me these days, and I've grown accustomed to this stuff. In any event, spross dropped by after work, and we went comic and dice hunting. I picked up the new hardcover collected edition of The Atomic Knights. These comics were some of my favourites from the 1960's, and the fact that they've been collected in one volume is just great news for those who are fans of old-time sf and adventure.

"The Atomic Knights" was, to all intents and purposes, a science fiction adventure series that was originally published in 15 or so issues of Strange Adventures between 1960 and 1964. In summary, the time is roughly a future 1986 where a 20-day atomic war has taken place, destroying all plant life and most civilization. Gardner Grayle, a former soldier and average man, meets schoolteacher Douglas Herald, and the two men discover that ancient suits of armor will protect them against “raguns”, the radiation blasters used as weapons. They’re joined by the Hobard brothers, twins who were former farmers, and the scientist Bryndon. The last suit, “too small for a grown man”, is worn by Marene, Douglas’ outspoken and beautiful sister. They name themselves the Atomic Knights and vow to “represent law and order and the forces of justice” and serve as symbols for an otherwise lawless era. In their first mission, they fight a despot who’s gained local power by hoarding food. The nemeses in later stories were part of a range of science fiction concepts for its day and ranged from a radiation-spawned crystalline salt monster to devolved prehistoric-like cavemen in a deserted New York City, actual space aliens, and underground mole people. Others were a bit more ridiculous, such as the return through time of Atlantis or walking telepathic plants) but some were down-to-earth, such as the original story of the local villain setting himself up as a ruler.

What appealed to me about these stories was the fact that they were very pleasant and old-fashioned in their optimism and belief that democracy and hard work would re-establish civilization. There are some fun and interesting scinece facts and a 1950's belief in knowledge and determination to make things happen. The Knights don’t just battle monsters and bad guys, they also spend time farming and re-inventing (cars, gliders, and TV, for example) and setting a good example, as well as solving community problems. These stories were fun to read for more reasons than just the vision of the future and being out of time aspects that they share, but I also came to love the characters. out-of-time nostalgia — I really began to like the characters and enjoy sharing their adventures. I liked the fact that the Atomic Knights had a female member in Marene Herald, and that she wasn't just the "stay at home" obligatory female character of the group, instead helping out the same way as the others. Sometimes, she even saved the day, as when she grabbed seeds from the disappearing Atlantis in order to renew and replenish the plant life on Earth. Unfortunately, the tales of the Atomic Knights doesn't really have an ending, simply stopping with the last story, "Here Come the Wild Ones". Some of the characters reppeared later in the 1970's Hercules Unbound, but I would have liked to have found out what happened to the characters afterwards, and whether Gardner and Marene finally got together.

That said, The Atomic Knights hardcover is a real blast from the past, and a collection of stories that will appeal to a broad audience as long as they take the time in which these stories were written into account. These stories are about a more innocent style of post-apocalyptic storytelling, and rather than being despairing as most modern post-apocalyptic stuff is, highlight the degree of hope that exists in the world, as brought into being by the arising of the Atomic Knights. An enjoyable read, and a series that I'm glad to see in print again.

Unfortunately, the store didn't have the dice that I was looking for, but getting the Atomic Knights volume was a pretty good treat, too.

Spent Saturday night reading a bit of roleplaying stuff, including finishing the read of my copy of the Atomic Highway roleplaying game book, and re-visiting the rules for the Desolation rpg once more, before watching Space and the Doctor Who episode, "Amy's Choice". (My review of that will be posted up some time in the next couple of days.)

All in all, a pretty good Saturday, even if things didn't work out as well as I expected.
Tags: comics hut, desolation rpg, doctor who, gaming hut, personal, rpg chat, rpg hut, the atomic knights, tv hut

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