Sunday, September 27, 2015

Tom Swift Still Lives

Allow me to introduce you to a website that is bound to stir a bit of nostalgia in all of us. Chances are if you are a regular reader of this Blog site you were also probably greatly influenced and nurtured by the Tom Swift Junior series. Can any of us forget our first forays into the frontiers of Earth, Space and Ocean with the great boy inventor Tom Swift and his pal Bud Barclay? Well here is a chance to relive the nostalgia with a series of pastiches by Scott Dickerson based on the original Tom Swift Junior stories from the 1950s and 1960s updated for a modern day audience.

You will also find many new adventures here which are not part of the original cannon yet, maintain the continuity of this wonderful series.
TOM SWIFT LIVES: A website for every person who ever was a Boy Inventor at Heart.

I am pretty sure girls will find these stories interesting as well. There are already a series of stories currently in the works concerning Tom’s sister Sandra Swift by amateur writers. I would like to see more stories such as these directed towards young women who are contemplating careers in science and engineering. In my teaching career I have the honour to say I met many. There need to be more role models for our young women both in real life and in fiction that will nurture their love of science and technology. I feel that more writers need to fill this need.

It is stories such as these that stimulate a love for science, learning, and innovation. Let’s direct our children to read them and fire their imagination

I would like also like to mention an
essay by Ron Grube titled "Where is Tom Swift, Now that We Need Him"? This is a very, very insightful essay that should be read again and again about the sorry state of education, culture, and individual initiative in the modern world.

"I was totally amazed when a group of parents and teenagers came to a city council meeting in my small Nevada town, complaining that the city government was not providing enough facilities to keep "the kids" occupied. In the ensuing discussion, it appeared that most of these people thought it was local government, rather than the parents and teens themselves, that was responsible for the boredom and general aimlessness of our younger citizens".
Another essay that will also revive in your heart a desire to reread the Tom Swift adventure series is entitled "Tom Swift, Jr: An Appreciation" by science fiction writer Jeff Dunterman the author of the novel "The Cunning Blood" published in November 2005.

To take one quote from the article:

"Of all Tom Swift's creations, none made my blood pound like the Challenger, Tom Swift's major spacecraft, the central gadget for 1958's Tom Swift in the Race to the Moon, with significant appearances in most of the later space titles. There was nothing else like it in all SF: A house-sized rectangular cabin held in a huge frame consisting of two perpendicular circular girders (with the obligatory Fiftyish round holes) making it look a little like a cubistic gyroscope."
A recent radio program in the series “The Engines of Our Ingenuity” eulogized the boy inventor. This is a radio program that tells the story of how human creativity formed and shaped our culture. Written and hosted by John Lienhard, it is heard nationally on Public Radio and produced by KUHF-FM Houston. These radio programs are not to be missed. Among other features, this web site houses the transcripts for every episode heard since the show's inception in 1988.

Program No. 491is entitled:
TOM SWIFTLY by John H. Lienhard

But we'd finally put a man on the moon. Somehow, after that, our dreams weren't the same. The world wandered away from Swift's workshop. Harriet kept running the enterprise -- but no new stories. She published one last Tom Swift book in 1981, but it wasn't right. Swift could not be written into the 1980s.

Tom Swift was born in the heat of our love affair with invention. Stratemeyer probably modeled him on Glen Curtiss with a little Edison stirred in. For sixty years Swift echoed our love of invention. He echoed progress and our brave new modern world. It was cheap formula stuff, but glorious in its own way.

Swift died when that love affair with invention died. I suppose it was our childhood's end. The end of soapbox racers and model airplanes. And Swift leaves us all asking: How can we make that lost child live and breathe once more?

The Engines of Our Ingenuity is Copyright © 1988-1997 by John H. Lienhard.
I personally disagree. Tom Swift still lives. The spirit of invention and innovation is still alive and well. Tom's many wonderful inventions caught and stirred the imagination of many a future sci fi writer and future engineer. If Tom could stir our generation to reach for the stars and colonize the oceans think of what he may do to awaken the next. It is up to us to pass on this legacy to our children.

No comments:

Post a Comment