more modernistic

Tom Swift, Jr.

Tom Swift Jr. is the protagonist of a series of juvenile adventure novels aimed at male adolescents, following in the tradition of the earlier Tom Swift ("Senior") novels. The series was entitled The New Tom Swift Jr. Adventures. Unlike the Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys titles that were also products of the prolific Stratemeyer Syndicate, the original Tom Swift stories were not rewritten in the 1950s to modernize them. It was decided that the protagonist of the new series would be the son of the earlier Tom Swift and his wife, Mary Nestor Swift; the original hero continued as a series regular, as did his pal Ned Newton.

For the Tom Swift Jr. series the books were outlined mostly by Harriet (Stratemeyer) Adams , head of the Stratemeyer Syndicate, attributed to the pseudonymous Victor Appleton II, and published in hardcover by Grosset & Dunlap. Most of the books were written by James Duncan Lawrence, who had an interest in science and technology and was faithful to the canon of the previous Tom Swift series. Title #7, Tom Swift and His Diving Seacopter, has several references to the first series including a visit with Mrs. Baggert, who was Tom Sr.'s housekeeper, and other volumes feature a rocket named after the old family retainer Eradicate "Rad" Sampson, a radiation-detector (the Damonscope) named after Tom Sr.'s friend Mr. Damon, and a planetoid named in honor of Tom Swift Sr.'s father Barton. As in the original series, the basic locale is the quaint town of Shopton, New York, on Lake Carlopa.

James Lawrence once said that Tom Swift and His Triphibian Atomicar was one of his favorite Tom Swift Jr. stories . Typical story elements include Tom's loyal and quip-prone friend Bud Barclay, his comic-relief cook "Chow" Winkler, spies (typically from Soviet stand-ins Brungaria or Kranjovia), use of a wonder-material called Tomasite that did anything the story needed, the amazingly versatile force-ray repelatron, and atomic-powered everything, including the aforesaid atomicar. The first invention of the series (and the one making the most frequent appearances in subsequent stories), the Flying Lab (named Sky Queen), was a giant VTOL research airplane the size of a Boeing 747 jumbo jet.

Mention must be made of the role of the book covers in vivifying memories of the books. Mostly by ex-Saturday Evening Post illustrator (J.) Graham Kaye, the covers burst with color and excitement and the sheer romance of invention. Covers in the later half of the series, mostly by Charles Brey, were less detailed and reflected Brey's more modernistic style.

The Tom Swift Jr. stories had stronger science-fiction elements than the earlier series, particularly in the later volumes. One subplot which, beginning on the first page of the first volume, ran the length of the series, is Tom's communication, via mathematical "space symbols," with beings from "Planet X." This mystery is never completely resolved despite the beings sending an artificial "energy brain" to occupy a robot body built by Tom in book #17 (see illustration above).

A total of 33 volumes were eventually published.

The stories offered science that was more intriguing than accurate. Yet, the characters and titles are well-remembered and lovingly regarded, and a number of scientists, researchers, and engineers (including Apple Computer's Steve Wozniak) profess to having been set on their courses by Tom Swift Jr. The "Tom Swifties" style of dialogue writing played no role in the actual series.

List of books in The New Tom Swift Jr. Adventures

  1. Tom Swift and His Flying Lab (1954)
  2. Tom Swift and His Jetmarine (1954)
  3. Tom Swift and His Rocket Ship (1954)
  4. Tom Swift and His Giant Robot (1954)
  5. Tom Swift and His Atomic Earth Blaster (1954)
  6. Tom Swift and His Outpost in Space (1955)
  7. Tom Swift and His Diving Seacopter (1956)
  8. Tom Swift in the Caves of Nuclear Fire (1956)
  9. Tom Swift on the Phantom Satellite (1956)
  10. Tom Swift and Ultrasonic Cycloplane (1957)
  11. Tom Swift and His Deep Sea Hydrodome (1958)
  12. Tom Swift in the Race to the Moon (1958)
  13. Tom Swift and Space Solartron (1958)
  14. Tom Swift and His Electronic Retroscope (1959)
  15. Tom Swift and His Spectromarine Selector (1960)
  16. Tom Swift and the Cosmic Astronauts (1960)
  17. Tom Swift and the Visitor from Planet X (1961)
  18. Tom Swift and the Electronic Hydrolung (1961)
  19. Tom Swift and His Triphibian Atomicar (1962)
  20. Tom Swift and His Megascope Space Prober (1962)
  21. Tom Swift and the Asteroid Pirates (1963)
  22. Tom Swift and His Repelatron Skyway (1963)
  23. Tom Swift and His Aquatomic Tracker (1964)
  24. Tom Swift and His 3-D Telejector (1964)
  25. Tom Swift and His Polar-Ray Dynasphere (1965)
  26. Tom Swift and His Sonic Boom Trap (1965)
  27. Tom Swift and His Subocean Geotron (1966)
  28. Tom Swift and the Mystery Comet (1966)
  29. Tom Swift and the Captive Planetoid (1967)
  30. Tom Swift and His G-Force Inverter (1968)
  31. Tom Swift and His Dyna-4 Capsule (1969)
  32. Tom Swift and His Cosmotron Express (1970)
  33. Tom Swift and the Galaxy Ghosts (1971)

The first 18 titles were released in a blue tweed cloth cover with a full color paper jacket. Volumes 1–18 were also published in a blue-spined picture cover edition with Tom Swift and the Electronic Hydrolung (in its first printing only) the only title with the picture cover imprinted directly on the "boards" and wrapping around the spine, rather than as a removable dust jacket. The "blue spine" editions lasted about a year and then the entire run of Tom Swift Jr. books was reproduced in yellow spine versions and all later titles were released in this format.

A few of the early titles of the Tom Swift Jr. series were re-released in the 1970s in paperback with new illustrations. In 1972, four (#14, #15, #16, and #17) were released as trade paperbacks. #14 was retitled Tom Swift in the Jungle of the Mayas and #15 was renamed Tom Swift and the City of Gold. In 1977, six (#1–4, #6, and #8) were released as mass market paperbacks. One of the stories, #6 Tom Swift and His Outpost in Space was re-released and renamed as #5 Tom Swift and His Sky Wheel.

There exist a number of foreign reprints of Tom Swift Jr. titles including British, Japanese, Icelandic, and Dutch (#1-3, adapted by the Dutch author Willy van der Heide). There is also a Tom Swift Jr. activity/coloring book and a rare Tom Swift Jr. board game. One episode of the Tom Swift/Linda Craig Mystery hour was aired in 1983, the only one of several proposed Tom Swift versions (including an elaborate "road show" movie) to actually appear before the public. The televised "Tom Swift" was unrelated to the character as depicted in any of the published series.

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