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Tom Swiftness July 21, 2010

Posted by bobv451 in conventions, movies, nostalgia, sci-fi, science fiction, sense of wonder, steampunk, writing.

The idea of going to San Diego was for the Centennial celebration of the first (5) Tom Swift books.  At one time I had most of the original series but it, like my TS Jr set, disappeared in one of my moves around 1980 or so.  I have no idea how the boxes could have been lost, but Avon Fantasy Readers, some Weird Tales and other pulp magazines also vanished into the aether.

Lots and lots of fun stuff to the con.  I’ll go over the field trip on Friday in another blog.  Saturday was the main day for the con.  Several fascinating talks (depending on your geekedness, and mine was high).  One by Joe Dixon was on the geology of the original TS books.  Where the info came from is something of a mystery but Tom went to sink his Great Oil Gusher 100 miles from Dallas.  Joe assumed into the piney woods of East Texas.  Geo Proctor’s family had oil pumps on their land for a lot of years, but I doubt Tom actually spudded the well fro them (a nifty word I picked up, spudded.  Surprisingly, it has nothing to do with potatoes, although this is the Yam Capital of the Universe, as evidenced by the annual Yamboree in Gilmer.  Geo’s sister Barbara was Yam Queen one year.)

My favorite talk was by Dr Charlie Campbell, a USC mech engineering prof, on the science in TS Jr.  He never got to my shudder-worthy repelatron ray, but he did touch on the Caves of Nuclear Fire.  Love the cover and everything Charlie had to say about the craziness of a global pressure vessel being used to explore caverns was right on.  Great cover illo, though.  What interested me was Tom exploring this natural underground nuclear reactor in 1958.  The Oklo cavern reactor wasn’t discovered until the early ‘70s and Charlie could find no evidence/mention anywhere about such mention prior to TSCNF.  It’s hard to believe this was a fictional idea that proved true (even to the general area in Africa) but it might well be.  Curious.

What TS con would be complete without a speaker on Tom Swifties.  Richard Lederer had some good ones, which ought to be posted on his website. I haven’t looked but love the name of the site.  And as chance would have it, he is the father of Howard “The Professor” Lederer and Annie Duke.  Or maybe chance isn’t the right word.  He’d know.

Some pix from the dealer’s room.

Books and cover art, including that from my MICROBOTS

Prop from unfilmed 1969 Tom Swift and His Air Ship



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