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.
I do have this one in a bundle of twenty-eight of the original Swifts that I think I got for a buck ninety-nine. I haven't yet dipped into any of them yet. This might spur me to try.ReplyDelete
On looking, some of Junior's adventures are mixed in.ReplyDelete
TOM SWIFT AND THE CAVES OF NUCLEAR FIRE was a seminal book in my life. The first 28 Tom Swifts for a couple of bucks!!!! I have to lie down before I pass out!ReplyDelete
Originally as inexpensive hardcovers, in the Grosset and Dunlap mode?ReplyDelete
Oh, this takes me back. Actually, I'm very grateful to the series for inspiring Tom Swifties, e.g., "Who discovered radium?" asked Marie curiously, or "Hurry up and get to the back of the ship," Tom said sternly. Of course, I suppose we also have Tom Swift to thank for the fact we can't use adverbs in writing any more.ReplyDelete
Oh, sure, Tom Swift is so guilty in that wise that he should be kangaroo-court prosecuted and taken to the dungeon, he wrote condescendingly...ReplyDelete
Todd, the first 38 books in the series were published by Grosset & Dunlap. The last two (#39 Tom Swift and His Giant Telescope  and #40 Tom Swift and His Magnetic Silencer ) were published as Big Little Books. Numbers 29-38 were reprinted by Whitman.ReplyDelete
Randy, The Grosset & Dunlap books cost 40 cents at the beginning, and moved up to 50 cents in the 20's and 30's. By any standard, your haul for $1.99 was a steal.
George, The Caves of Nuclear Fire was number 8 in the Tom Swift, Jr. series by "Victor Appleton, II" (probably James Lawrence Duncan). Here's a link to the text of that book: http://www.tomswiftlives.com/bookframe_nuclear_fire.htm
I read one or two of these once upon a time. The women next door gave me all of her son's books once he grew up.ReplyDelete
About three or four years ago I tried the first two of the original Tom Swift books, and was almost bored to tears, and confused. Then I realized it was the Tom Swift JR. books that I'd read as a young 'un, and tried a couple of those and enjoyed them a lot.ReplyDelete
CORRECTION: The Caves of Nuclear Fire was written by Thomas Mulvey, not James Lawrence Duncan. My bad.ReplyDelete