Optimal thought and optimal fitness through reason, logic, science, passion, and wisdom.
Rick Brant, Tom Swift, and More
Rick Brant, Tom Swift, and More

Rick Brant, Tom Swift, and More

The Rocket’s Shadow (see earlier post of today) I would recommend. It is a good book. Other books in the “Rick Brant Science-Adventure Stories” series seemed less interesting to me. They didn’t seem as colorful and unique. Maybe I didn’t read the right books; I read only three or four in the series. The “science-adventure” genre, by the way, includes the Tom Swift and the Johnny Quest stories, I believe. (Correct me if I’m wrong.) There is a website devoted to the Rick Brant books, where you can see all the works in the series (with a brief description of each book); buy books in the series; buy Rick Brant and Spindrift Island shirts, mugs, buttons, license plate holders, baseball caps; read evidence that Johnny Quest was inspired by Rick Brant; read a list of characters and a short description of each person; look at maps used in the series; and read articles about the books. Maybe I have not read enough of the stories. Someone named E. Thomas Strom says, in the article “When Science Became Cool”:
Sometime about age eleven I decided that a scientific career could even be cool. I was led to this belief when I started reading the Rick Brant Science Adventure series published by Grosset and Dunlap. Surely all of our readers in their youth read some of the Grosset and Dunlap series books, the most famous being the Hardy Boys books by Franklin W. Dixon, and the Nancy Drew books by Carolyn Keene. The names of Dixon and Keene were pen names. The books were produced by the Stratemeyer Syndicate, which farmed out the actual writing to various starving writers. I received my first Hardy Boys book at age eight, and I quickly ran through the entire published series. Though it seemed a little unmanly to read about a girl detective, my thirst for detective stories led me to the Nancy Drew series. I now know that the first 20 or so books were written by fellow University of Iowa alum Mildred Wirt Benson. The Nancy Drew stories were actually little better written. In 1947 came a new Grosset and Dunlap series, the Rick Brant series by John Blaine. The first thing that struck me about the Rick Brant stories were how well written they were compared to the Hardy Boys stories. The characters talked like people talked, and the author wasn’t afraid to use multisyllable words. Furthermore, the protagonists were scientists. Hero Rick Brant had a scientist father Hartson Brant who was an electronics whiz. Rick himself and his adopted brother Scotty were skilled in electronics. Hartson Brant led a group of scientists who had worked together during World War II and were trying to make a go of what was apparently a mini Stanford Research Institute on an island off the Sea Bright area of New Jersey called Spindrift. The first three book: The Rocket’s Shadow, The Lost City, and Sea Gold all came out in 1947. In the first book the Brant group is trying to be the first to send a rocket to the moon to win a two million dollar prize. In the second book the groups travels to Tibet to set up a moon relay by radar. The third book was the first to deal with chemistry. Rick and Scotty help out some fellow scientists who have worked out methods to extract minerals from the oceans. The fourth book One Hundred Fathoms Under was set in the Pacific and involved the invention of a deep sea submersible vessel. Many of the other stories were also set in exotic locales. If this was what a scientist’s life was like, that sure interested me.
John Blaine was the pen name for Harold Goodwin. Here is an excerpt from a short biography:
Prior to joining NASA in 1961, Goodwin served as Director of Atomic Test Operations for the Federal Civil Defense Administration for six years, conducting research into the effects of nuclear weapons on civilian systems and structures at Nevada and Eniwetok. During that time, Goodwin was selected Outstanding Young Man in Federal Service by the United States Junior Chamber of Commerce. he subsequently served as Scientific Advisor to the United States Information Agency, where his responsibilities included planning policy direction for the Agency’s world-wide scientific and technical programs. Before World War II, Goodwin served as White House Correspondant for Transradio News Service. During the war, Goodwin served as a Sergeant and Combat Correspondent in the United States Marine Corps, and saw service in five campaigns in the Pacific. His broadcast from New Caledona over CBS’ “New of the World” was the first Armed Services broadcast of the war in the South Pacific. Goodwin was commissioned from the ranks as an officer, and received the Air Medal with Presidential Citation for Meritorious Acts for Combat missions in the South Pacific, including nine sorties over Iwo Jima. Following the war, Goodwin served int he United States Foreign Service for three years in Manila, Philippin Islands, where he developed the State Department’s Southeast Asia mass media programs.
Goodwin did quite a bit in his life. Read the whole biography. There is also a Spindrift Scientific Foundation and an entry in Wikipedia on the books. And, of course, the Internet contains more Rick Brant goodies… There is a website that has some Tom Swift works that you can download — the works are in the public domain. You can learn more about Tom Swift and Tom Swift Jr. at the Unofficial Tom Swift Home Page,  the Complete Tom Swift Jr. Home Page, the Wikipedia entry on Tom Swift, the Wikipedia entry on Tom Swift, Jr. And others. Project Gutenburg has a number of Tom Swift books you can download. Wow…

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