Tom Swift, the original geek-kid/adventurer/maker, celebrates the 100th anniversary of the original copyright this July. The books, over 100 of them, were written by a stable of authors writing as Victor Appleton. All the stories involve the “boy inventor” creating some amazing new bit of technology and having an adventure with it.
Like many inventors, Tom started small: in the inaugural book, he merely modified his motorcycle. But soon he developed a “photo telephone” that predated the fax machine, a giant magnet to rescue a stranded submarine and a “house on wheels” that anticipated the modern motor home.
John Dizer, author of two guides to the Tom Swift phenomenon, summed up the books’ early appeal: “If Tom could invent something, so could we. With honesty and hard work, we could harvest the reward for our inventions. We might even become rich. Tom did.”
Yes, they’re formulaic pulp — but they show a smart kid taking the initiative to create something cool. Nothing wrong with that! [Thanks, Daniel!]