Well, bless my buckles. (As Mr. Wakefield Damon might say.) Tom Swift, the young inventor, sure has been busy since 1910, what with having adventures with his motorcycle and his motor boat and his airship and his submarine boat and his electric runabout and having to build a wireless plant to signal a rescue ship to get him and a group of chums from an island about to be destroyed by an earthquake shock. Phew. Now it's 1911, and our plucky hero is about to travel to the wild, wild west in search of a hidden cave where a gang of ne'er-do-wells have perfected a process for making perfect diamonds.
Although his father, along with Garrett Jackson the engineer and Mrs. Braggart the housekeeper, stayed behind with Eradicate Sampson the colored helper and his mule Boomerang, Tom had ample help in his quest with Mr. Damon, the wealthy Barcoe Jenks, and the surly scientist Ralph Parker on his side. Along the way, there are attempts of sabotage to Tom's airship, a mysterious ghost, the capture of our heroes by a criminal gang, a race to avoid death, attempts at ethnic humor, a tad of chaste romance with Mary Nestor, and a chance for Tom to be mean-spirited against his enemy, Andy Foger. Bless my shoe-laces.
Most of the original Tom Swift books, including this one, were written by Howard Garis under the house name "Victor Appleton." They are products of their time and of popular perceptions held by publishers. Bad people are bad and good people are good and pluck and grit will win the day. Minorities are stereotyped and used for comic effect. Inventions are great and technology will lead us to a brighter future. Garis had the Stratemeyer syndicate formula down pat, having written countless books in other series -- many of them aimed at a younger audience than the Tom Swift books. Garis also wrote thousands of newspaper stories for children about the rabbit, Uncle Wiggily. All of which explain the tone of the Tom Swift series.
At least the first twenty-five Tom Swift books are available on-line. Taken with a grain of salt, each is amusing enough to waste a couple of hours, but are not recommended for a steady diet.
For more Forgotten Books, turn to George Kelley's blog -- http://georgekelley.org/ . George is filling in this week for Patti Abbott, who is still chillin' and relaxin'. Patti will be back next week.