Paper Trail

1956 Tom Swift In The Caves of Nuclear Fire by Victor Appleton II
1956 Tom Swift In The Caves of Nuclear Fire by Victor Appleton II Tom Swift (in some versions Tom Swift, Jr.) is the name of the central character in five series, totaling over 100 volumes, of juvenile science fiction and adventure novels that emphasize science, invention, and technology. The character was created by Edward Stratemeyer, the founder of the Stratemeyer Syndicate, a book-packaging firm, and his adventures have been written by a number of different ghostwriters over the years. The books are published under the collective pseudonym Victor Appleton (or, in one case, “Victor Appleton II”).
The character first appeared in 1910 and has appeared in new titles as recently as 2007. Most of the various series focus on Tom’s inventions, a number of which pre-date actual inventions. The character has been presented in different ways over the years, but in general the books portray science and technology as wholly beneficial in their effects, and the role of the inventor in society has been treated as admirable and heroic. The books have been translated into a number of languages and have sold over 20 million copies worldwide. Tom Swift has also been the subject of a board game and a television show, and development of a feature film was announced in 2008. A number of prominent figures, including Steve Wozniak and Isaac Asimov, have cited "Tom Swift" as an inspiration. Several inventions, including the taser, have been directly inspired by Tom’s fictional inventions.
Second series (1954–1971)
In this series, the Tom Swift of the original series is now the CEO of Swift Enterprises, a four-square-mile facility where inventions are conceived and manufactured. Tom's son, Tom Swift, Jr., is the primary genius of the family. Stratemeyer Syndicate employee Andrew Svenson described the new series as based "on scientific fact and probability, whereas the old Toms were in the main adventure stories mixed with pseudo-science".Three Ph.D.s in science were hired as consultants to the series to ensure scientific accuracy.The younger Tom does not tinker with motorcycles; his inventions and adventures extend from the center of the Earth (in Tom Swift and His Atomic Earth Blaster [1954]) to the bottom of the ocean (in Tom Swift and His Diving Seacopter [1956]) to the moon (in Tom Swift and the Race to Moon [1958]) and, eventually, the outer solar system (in Tom Swift and His Cosmotron Express [1970]). Later volumes in the series focused increasingly on the extraterrestrial "space friends", as they are called throughout the series.The beings appear as early as the first volume in the series, Tom Swift and His Flying Lab (1954). The Tom Swift, Jr., Adventures were less commercially successful than the first series, selling 6 million copies in total, compared with sales of 14 million copies during the first series.
In contrast to the earlier series, many of Tom, Jr.'s inventions are designed to operate in space, and his "genius is unequivocally original as he constructs nuclear-powered flying labs, establishes outposts in space, or designs ways to sail in space on cosmic rays".Unlike his father, Tom Jr. is not just a tinkerer; he relies on scientific and mathematical theories, and, according to critic Robert Von der Osten, "science [in the books] is, in fact, understood to be a set of theories that are developed based on experimentation and scientific discussion. Rather than being opposed to technological advances, such a theoretical understanding becomes essential to invention."
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November 27, 2020
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