Tom Swift Jr. is the central character in a series of 33 adventure novels for 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.
The covers were created by illustrator (J.) Graham Kaye. Covers in the later half of the series were mostly by Charles Brey.
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.
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