Saturday, 4 March 2017

Tom Swift And Citizen Of The Galaxy

In SM Stirling's The Protector's War, an older character had been twelve in 1960 and had then read Tom Swift And His Atomic Earth Blaster (see here) and Citizen Of The Galaxy (see here). I recognize the latter as a Heinlein Scribner Juvenile but the Tom Swift series is news to me although the name was slightly familiar. I was eleven in 1960.

Sf writers acknowledge their antecedents by having their characters refer to them. We recognize a literary lineage from Heinlein via Poul Anderson to SM Stirling. Tom Swift sounds like the kind of stuff that I would have read in the late '50s if I had known of it then. I did read Starman Jones in a large format illustrated omnibus volume of juvenile novels by different authors but did not notice any of the authors' name. Next, I read Orphans Of The Sky by Heinlein in the '60s, then found a copy of Starman Jones and realized that it was by the same author. My first Anderson story, read some time in the 60's, was "The Game of Glory."

We frequently hear of entire juvenile series that we never knew of at the right time.


David Birr said...

I'd just like to point out that the *Tom Swift* series also gave its name to a genre of puns, the "Tom Swifties." These got their name, according to Wikipedia, because the *Tom Swift* author did his best to avoid using the unadorned word "said," and would either substitute other verbs, tack on an adverb or adverbial phrase, or both. "Tom Swifties" play on this pattern with a quote setting up for the pun ... which is either a verb alternate to "said" or an adverb modifying "said."

The "Tom Swifty" that's always stuck in my mind is, "'Bah,' Tom said sheepishly." The Wikipedia article provided quite a few more, oddly not including that one; the best of those, to MY taste, anyway, was, "'I might as well be dead,' Tom croaked."

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul and DAVID!

Paul: at least I did read some of the Tom Swift juveniles as a boy. And I did like them. It was Lewis' Narnia books which was the juvenile series I did not read at that time. I was adult when I finally noticed the Narnia books and I have to say they did not appeal to me..

David: darn, I never noticed that literary peculiarity of the Tom Swift author/authors when I was reading those books.


Paul Shackley said...

I got into Narnia as part of Lewis' work in my teens and liked it. It was read to my daughter and granddaughter.

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

Good, of course! Esp. if they also pleased your daughter and grand daughter.

I probably did not care for the Narnia books because I came to them as an adult and they seemed too "young" for me. Also, JRR Tolkien's dislike for allegories may have affected how I viewed the Narnia series.