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Tom Swift and his Aerial Warship May 1, 2010

Posted by bobv451 in ideas, inventions, nostalgia, podcast, sense of wonder.
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The other day during the podcast in Second Life I was asked what I was reading. It’s a usual question, but sometimes I am in the process of reading several books. It seemed that fiction was the primary answer wanted. I was reading the above mentioned title in the Tom Swift Sr series.

Here’s a wonderful roundup of everything you’d ever want to know about the book.

These books are a true time machine giving a glimpse at an age a hundred years in the past. How they are written is fairly primitive (the fire in the shed takes six chapters to describe, primarily because the same information is dished out in different ways for that entire span). The inventiveness is sometimes in question. Tom needs to figure out a way of putting a whacking big cannon on a dirigible, the Mars. (I mourned for the loss of the Red Cloud, but that’s another story.) But he can’t figure out how to take care of the recoil until New Newton points out a pneumatic door closer.

Huge chunks of expository lump is avoided by the narrator saying “but I won’t weary you with such details.” It let the reader know there were such details but…I’d have wanted to know if I’d been reading this in 1915. Anyway, the undercurrent is that Europe is about to be plunged into war and Tom wants the US to have dandy weapons. Interestingly, the bad guy is a French spy. Not quite sure which side Tom would come down on in the Great War with such hints prior.

Scott and Pat gave me a huge box of the old TS books and I am slowly picking my way through them. My virtually complete collection (and the TS Jrs) were somehow lost in a move made decades ago. I started buying the TS Sr books when I was still in high school from a dealer in NJ named Gerry de la Ree. Great times paying as much as $5 for a title (with dj, of course) and $2 for reading copies and waiting for the mail to arrive. I’m not sure I have the same anticipation for the mail anymore when it comes with tons of bills and arcane demands from the tax & rev dept of NM. But remembering the thrill when I’d open the package, to find a neatly wrapped brown paper covered book inside, still lives with me.

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