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The Books Time Forgot

Updated on July 13, 2014

An Introduction: Time Capsule

The Books Time Forgot

I was adventuring through an antique store the other day when I stumbled upon an old book with a slightly cracked spine and yellowed pages. This book is the first collectible novel I've ever bought, and when I bought it, it reminded me of all the books and authors that have been forgotten over the years. As a writer and avid reader, it's kind of saddening to think that an author could have put their heart and soul into a beautiful novel that was simply written at the wrong time or didn't catch the right audience.

So here it is; all of the books being brought to light that time has forgotten, or simply the books that no one gives a chance because they don't have awesome covers and aren't fresh off the shelves at Barnes and Noble (which, liking books like these is not a bad thing--new books rock, too.)

Tom Swift and His Rocketship

by Victor Appleton II

This book was first printed in 1954 and is the third out of a thirteen book series. It features a young go-get-'em scientist and inventor Tom Swift Jr. This specific book is about his work on a rocket-fuel energizer designed to--in a bunch of fancy words--basically make his fuel more efficient than anything else created at the time. This served to ooh and ahh the young boys of its target audience. It also has a thrilling chase with intruders on the island who Tom suspects are trying to sabotage his project.

The novel was written a while after the second World War had ended, when people had turned their attention to much more amazing, less violent things--such as space ships. Space ships and aliens were all the rage, and to little boys, a young ambitious man fighting in space ships was the bees knees.

As stated earlier there were thirteen books total, the first being Tom Swift and His Flying Lab. This series is practically nonexistent to modern young men since it's aged so much, but it's still a cute story and if a boy were to pick it up off the shelves, I believe he'd fall in love.

It definitely has that old-time feel to the book, with that dash of innocence behind the cheesy dialogue and comedic gasp-worthy fights.

The last book was published in 1971, bringing the lifespan of the book series to 17 years. Unlike similar series such as Nancy Drew, the reboot of the series didn't modernize the books, but rather changed perspective from Tom Swift to his son, Tom Swift Jr. With a fresh new face, the offspring of the original hero, the author was able to squeeze another few years out of the books.

Author or Outliner?

Now this is my favorite part. The name on the books says by Victor Appleton II, but it's actually a pseudonym for Harriet Stratemeyer Adams. But what's even more interesting? Adams wasn't even the main story writer, but instead the outliner of the series. Most of the books were actually written by James Duncan Lawrence. It's crazy and took some digging, but it turns out that the Stratemeyer Literary Syndicate that Adams became the main editor for after her father passed away had several writers that all published under the same names.

For example, Lawrence and Adams both wrote and published books of the Tom Swift Jr. series using the name Victor Appleton II. So whichever book you get, you won't know who actually wrote it, because it could be anyone who was hired to write those books under that name.

Harriet Stratemeyer Adams was pretty heavily into the writing business to say the least. She did plots and outlines for several series under different pseudonyms, some of which were Carolyn Keene (The Nancy Drew series) and Franklin W. Dixon. She was responsible for the relaunch in 1954 of the Tom Swift Jr. books, after writing the last book of the protagonist's father, a book titled Tom Swift and his Planet Stone. In her lifetime she wrote about 200 books.

Lawrence, along with his work under various pseudonyms, also published works under his own name such as Moonmist and Seastalker (games) and Binky Brothers, Detectives with co-author Leonard P. Kessler.

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Harriet Stratemeyer Adams
Harriet Stratemeyer Adams

Closing Remarks

This series is very cute and a quick, fun read, and I bet that if there was someone brave enough to reboot the series that it would do very well. After all, Star Trek, Star Wars, and Doctor Who are all very successful science fiction franchises that little boys just can't wait to see, and the younger boys would probably love Tom Swift and his space adventures.

Interesting fact: There were several people who stated that Tom Swift Jr. was one of their inspirations when they were younger. Among these was co-Apple creator Steve Wozniak.

Thank you for reading! If you have any information to add about this series or its authors, please do so in the comments! I have a list of more books I will be reporting about, but if you have a suggestion of an older and preferably not-well-known book, please tell me the title and the author!

Thanks, and Keep Reading!

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