Buck Rogers's fourth installment, ``The Sky Patrol'', opens with the revelation that Rogers, Buddy, and Prince Talien are not dead.
It turns out they were being zapped by the paralysis ray gun, not a killing-model ray gun. Lucky for them. Luckier still: Rogers isn't actually being shot directly, apparently, so he's able to shot back and get everyone under cover. Buddy soon recovers, but Talien is taking longer, and they have to hide out in the terraced gardens and deflect Leader Kane's patrol guards with fast talk and bluffing.
Our Heroes make their way to the airfield with the Leader's personal spaceship --- well, it's less an airfield and more a landing running around the skyscraper, but they do seem to need very short runways --- and fly off to the Hidden City. Now, I'm not a fan of ``Xanatos Gambit'' theory where the evil mastermind has conspiracy layered upon conspiracy, but I expected that Leader Kane was going to let Rogers fly the spaceship back to the Hidden City, revealing the location of the rebel stronghold; a personal spaceship is after all cheap compared to final, complete conquest of the Earth. Instead he berates his underlings, saying he'd be better served by Rogers instead of all of them, and again, I'm not so sure he isn't being so served. One underling correctly points out, Kane didn't do much stopping of Rogers either.
While flying the Leader's spaceship back Rogers is confronted by one of the Hidden City's patrol flights and it takes him a bit to realize that oh, yeah, he's flying an enemy aircraft and they don't know he's on their side. Again, I know planners can't foresee every possible contingency, but considering he just last installment almost got killed because he didn't have a way of signalling ``I captured an enemy spaceship'', I'd have thought they'd at least have worked out, like, a sequence of wing-waves or something. Possibly Buck Rogers is, yet again, just stupid. But Rogers lands swiftly, making his first safe landing so far this serial, in the same rock-strewn valley that's been every landing or crashing field and they sort out what's what with the Hidden City folks.
All the flyers head back to the Hidden City, but as Rogers and crew try to take off --- well, there's this big axial lever that I was joking was the parking brake, and I was barely done joking when it turns out the ship's stuck and fiddling with the lever doesn't help. The Leader's air patrols spot the grounded spaceship. Rogers initially thinks it's his friends noticing they didn't take off and come back around, but is disabused of this notion just before the enemy opens fire. That's our cliffhanger.
Trivia: Herman Hollerith only applied for a patent on his improvements in ``Apparatus for Perforating Punch Cards'' on 17 May 1901. The device had eleven keys, ten for the numerals zero through nine and an X to skip over blank spots. Source: Herman Hollerith: Forgotten Giant of Information Processing, Geoffrey D Austrian.
Currently Reading: The Groucho Letters: Letters To And From Groucho Marx, Groucho Marx.