What is a Tom Swift Machine?

Being a little bored, I was going through some older threads and I saw this one http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?t=297836 (note it has been closed). The moderator, samclem, had posted “No one on here is gonna help you invent a Tom Swift machine…” I googled Tom Swift Machine and only saw some references to a book( or series) that I have never heard before (looks like sci-fi). I also did not find anything in the message board search, which is kind of strange because the link abve should have shown up. Oh well.

My question is, what is the Tom Swift Machine the mod referenced?

Please note: I have no desire to build one so I don’t need instructions on how to build one. I was just curious what the reference is about. :smiley: I am poor enough as it is. :frowning:

Tom Swift is the chief character in a series of books about his adventures with improbable inventions. Not really sci-fi, to my way of thinking, but sort of slanted in that direction. Ever read any Danny Dunn books?

There is no Tom Swift machine per se. Tom Swift was a character in the books your search revealed. He was a genius who built all matter of devices. In the thread in question, the machine would be for creating additional occtane. IE, Tom Swift and his Amazing Home Refinery.

:smack: I got Tom Swift mixed up with Peter Graves.

Here’s a Tom Swift site: http://www.geocities.com/Area51/Vault/3712/

The point of the comment was that Tom’s inventions are incredibly unlikely when they’re not absolutely impossible, but they’re always really “keen.”

Tom Swift and His Atomic Earth Blaster

Here’s a list of 33 of Tom Jr’s adventures
Tom’s dad also had exciting adventures involving wild inventions.
Here’s Tom Swift (Sr.) in the Caves of Ice and Tom Swift (Sr.) and His Electric Rifle

“Is this the same Tom Swift who is associated with adverbs after ‘said’?”, I asked curiously.

Roches, I once lay around for an entire camping trip trying to figure that out,” said Tom intently.

“And I finally discovered the answer!” said Tom searchingly:

The name of the Taser device was cobbled together from the title Tom Swift And his Electric Rifle. There were at least two set of Tom Swift books that I know of. Somehow, I came to own Tom Swift and his Submarine Boat and Tom Swift and the Land of Wonders. A list in the back of Wonders lists 19 books in the Tom Swift series. Also under the Victor Appleton name, there were a Motion Picture Chums series and an Outdoor Chums series. That was all around the 1920s, when my dad was a boy.

When I was a boy, I read several from a newer Tom Swift series, also by “Victor Appleton.” That was in the 1950s. There may have been more, I don’t know. I didn’t know about the earlier series until I was an adult.

There was a similar progression of groups of Hardy Boys mysteries and Nancy Drew mysteries, with the same pen name in each generation.

There have been four series of Tom Swift adventures.

The first was started in 1910 by Edward Stratemeyer, founded of the Stratemeyer Syndicate. He churned out hundreds, perhaps thousands, of story ideas for other writer to work into books. Many of the famous children/young adult series of the past were done by his Syndicate. The Rover Boys, the Bobbsey Twins, Nancy Drew, the Hardy Boys, yes, even the Motion Picture Chums.

A second series, about Tom Swift Jr., started in 1954. These would be the books that most people here would remember. I believe they were signed as by Victor Appleton II.

A third series only lasted a few years, from 1981-1984. The authors never made clear whether Tom Swift III was the son of Tom Swift, Jr. or where he placed in the family.

Series four lasted even less time, 1991-1993, but manged to squeeze something like 15 books, including two Hardy Boys crossovers. This Tom Swift was just borrowing the name and had nothing to do with the earlier series. They’re supposed to be incredibly bad, but that series has my favorite title of them all : Tom Swift and the Cyborg Kickboxer.

So Tom Swift knows Jean Claude Van Dam?

For twenty minutes. In 1991.

Thank you!! For a couple of months I have been trying to remember the name of that series!!!

And when Stratemeyer was not using adverbs with abandon, he was mining the thesaurus for synonyms for “said,” some of them having hilarious double entendre when read today.

Perhaps the classic one is an apparently totally unintentional double pun, which may perhaps be apocryphal but is nonetheless hilarious:

[minor hijack]Anybody know if any facsimile editions of the first two series have been published? I’d like to get my hands on a set of copies, but would rather not have to resort to the used-bookstore/checklist methodology.[/Minor hijack]

Check Grosset & Dunlap. They were the publisher for the second round (along with the Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew, Bobbsey Twins, etc. series) and I think also for the original series. I know I could get the '50s series from them in 1971-2 when I owned a bookstore, and vaguely remember being able to order reprints of the original series if I had wanted them, though I won’t vouch for the accuracy of that memory.

Just search on “tom Swift” in Amazon. All the top results are facsimile editions of the first series.

:smack: Thanks. I didn’t even think of Amazon. (I’ve gotten into the habit of buying directly from small-press publishers.)

If you just want the text, many or all of the original Tom Swift books are at Project Gutenberg ( http://www.gutenberg.org/browse/authors/a ). I guess they pre-date whatever year it was the copyright laws changed.

So in the original series that started in 1910 (and presumably continued for some years), would Tom Swift have invented any 1920s-style death rays?