I, Captain Daniel J. Hanley, chief meteorologist of the General
Rocket Corporation, had no intention of going to Mars when I stepped
into the new space car and pressed gently but with finality on the
I was conscious only of a great urge to get as far away as
possible from a certain young woman who had--but why go into details
about that? It is enough that I didn't fully realize what I was doing.
And as a result, here I was, the first man ever to pass beyond the
stratosphere of Earth, actually hovering a scant mile above a Martian
landscape, trembling with suppressed excitement and giving not a
thought to the girl who had driven me to my mad, premature plunge into
I faced infinity with reckless abandon, and found that I liked it.
What did it matter if the end came in a day, week, or month? Why,
there were no days, weeks, or months in interplanetary space! Only
eternal, blazing noon on one side of my tiny craft and everlasting
midnight on the other, while countless galaxies gleamed upon me in new
glory from all sides.
That I landed on Mars, instead of some other planet, was due
solely to chance. In hurling my tiny craft madly, blindly away from
Earth I happened to set it on an orbit that brought it closer to Mars
than to any other heavenly body. As I drew nearer, the planet grew in
size and in interest, until it entirely filled the great lens of my
wide-angle scope. Its mountain ranges and peculiar canals became
I manipulated my rocket blasts a bit and swung closer. There was
no indication that the canals were man-made. Rather they seemed
furrows caused by glancing blows of meteors. And there were many
craters which, though small like those of the moon, appeared to be the
result of head-on meteoric impact.
As the planet grew still larger, I could see that there were no
oceans and continents in the sense that we know them on Earth.
Nevertheless, the divisions between the ice caps, polar seas, solid
vegetation belts, canal-irrigated sections, and finally the vast and
eternally dry, red equatorial belt, were clear and sharp. The northern
and southern hemispheres, widely divided by this belt, seemed
"Why not inspect the planet at close range?" I asked myself.
So here I was, easing down over a countryside such as no man of
Earth had ever seen.
Through the forward port I gazed upon a country of scrubby,
dwarfed, cactus-like trees and shrubs, stretching away drably to where
a ribbon of water--one of these much discussed "canals" sparkled. To my
left, toward the equatorial belt, the vegetation became more dwarfed
and sparse, until its pale, yellow-green blended into the deeper,
reddish tint of the arid desert.
Buck Rogers Creator's Greatest Novel! Move over Edgar Rice Burroughs. Give it up John Carter! In this classic pulp novel from the 1930s Amazing Stories, by Philip Francs Nowlan, you'll meet Daniel Hanley, the astronaut whose crash landing on Mars places him in more trouble than John Carter ever dreamed of. Because his name is similar to that of a legendary Martian prince, whose return from the dead has long been prophesized, Hanley finds himself elected to wed a beautiful warrior maid.
Philip Francis Nowlan (1888 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania – February 1, 1940 in Philadelphia) was an American science fiction author.
After graduating from the University of Pennsylvania he worked as a newspaper columnist. He married, moved to the Philadelphia suburb of Bala Cynwyd and created and wrote the Buck Rogers comic strip, illustrated by Dick Calkins. The character Buck Rogers first appeared in Nowlan's 1928 novella Armageddon 2419 A.D. as Anthony Rogers. The comic strip ran for over forty years and spun off a radio series, a 1939 movie serial, and two television series. Nowlan also wrote several other novellas for the science fiction magazines as well as the posthumously published mystery, The Girl from Nowhere. Philip Francis Nowlan was married to Theresa Junker. They had ten children: Philip, Mary, Helen, Louise, Theresa, Mike, Larry, Pat, John, and Joe.