Tom Swift and His Wireless Message

This book claims to have been written by a very proper, The Droning Voice is sure, gentleman by the name of “Victor Appleton”. In reality, though, it was ghost-written by some shadowy member of the Stratmeyer Syndicate. THOSE people had an iron grip on fiction aimed at children of all ages, and trust The Droning Voice when she says you probably need to be VERY COMPLIMENTARY of their publications. The Droning Voice was morbidly curious about their reach, though, so, with trembling fingers, looked them up on Wikipedia.

OMG. They started publishing in 1899, and appear to have maybe finished up in 2005. Maybe. You never know.

There were also subsequent iterations of “Tom Swift”, but this particular book was published in the first set, before Tom became associated with witty adverbs, otherwise known as “Tom Swifties”.

No silly puns in THIS book, no sirree. In fact, one of the first things we need to do is examine the characters of the story, namely:

Tom Swift – Our hero, and youthful inventor of high character. Intimidated by a roomful of pretty girls. Well-respected by all except the town bully who is just jealous.
Andy Foger – said bully, and pain in the neck. After he destroys Tom’s lovely little monoplane, Tom declares Andy to be a “scoundrel”. Tom and Andy have a skirmish early in the book that, today, would have resulted in multiple felony chargers.
Mr. Wakefield Damon – Eccentric and fanboy of Tom. He blesses EVERYTHING, BTW. In this book, a few of his things he blesses include: watch-chain, multiplication tables, kitchen-range, collar button, shoe-laces, deflection rudder, pocket knife, radiator, individuality, gizzard, storage battery…you get the drift.
Mary Nestor – Tom’s girlfriend. She makes an appearance in the book mainly to provide apple turnovers, and to worry about her parents. Poor Mary had Tom drive her to the “Intelligence Office”, which is, apparently, where one went to find employees, when one’s cook abruptly quits on one for demanding apple turnovers, and one simply didn’t know what one was going to do. Mary certainly seemed incapable of creating apple turnovers. And, as everybody knows, the BEST cooks are Irish, so that is what Mary had to have. Not to be racist. Speaking of which
Eradicate Samson – is the handyman about town, who always travels with his trusty steed, Boomerang the mule. The Droning Voice points out that Tom lives in NY state, but that Eradicate speaks a particular “southern” dialect, which was dutifully transliterated by “Mr. Appleton”, and then attempted to be pronounced by The Droning Voice. If you thought her French was bad, just wait until you hear this. Also, The Droning Voice finds the name of this character particularly apt, and wonders if “cancel culture” won’t come for her, possibly beating the Stratmeyer Syndicate to the punch.

Oh, yeah. The plot. Most of the book is devoted to flying about either in Tom’s monoplane or on Mr. Fenwick’s airship, which, The Droning Voice assumes, was some sort of dirigible. At any rate, they load up this airship with piles of supplies for a test-flight/day journey, get caught in a hurricane, get swept down to somewhere near the West Indies and crash on an island which is about to collapse from earthquakes. The SAME island where Mary’s parents wind up shipwrecked from a pleasure cruise. Of course. And Tom, of course, figures out how to create a ham station from the airship wreckage, complete with shack, sends out “C.Q.D.” and gets them all rescued. Really, it’s a GREAT book. Please call off your goons.

Pleasant dreams, devoid of goons.


The Radio Boys with the Forest Rangers

In this novel, our four heroes do what they do best: rescue people from certain death/dismemberment by their own creativity with Ham Radio equipment.  They also stumble across a cave!  They fish!  They put bullies in their proper place with nothing but the use of their fists (after taking off their coats)(of course)!  And, of course, the obligatory bear encounter.  No dead bears as a result, only singed noses.  The Droning Voice does not condone using electricity to keep bears off your raft, FYI.

The Radio Boys have a mentor who encourages them, and loans them the use of his personal lodge on the mountain where much of the plot of this book takes place.  There is also a math problem involving slices of pie, which The Droning Voice read in spite of her personal aversion to such problems.  Such is the dedication of The Droning Voice, that she will push past her own discomfort in order to bore you to slumberland.  If the inclusion of the math problem keeps you awake at night trying to work it out, don’t listen to it.  Skip ahead.  The Droning Voice will not judge you.

Oh, and there was also mention of how radio operators worked in tandem with airplane pilots to determine where to best fight forest fires.  The Droning Voice does not recommend forest fire fighting tactics from 100 years ago to fight forest fires, which seemed to be heavily dependent on wet potato sacks and yelling.

May the amateur electromagnetics lull you off to dreamland!

Here is a sample of The Radio Boys with the Forest Rangers:


This is a short example of The Droning Voice.  Subscribers can access the full-length version and really put themselves to sleep.  Here is how to subscribe.

The Radio Boys Series

The Radio Boys was written during a time when using your bare fists to beat up a bully was considered a perfectly acceptable, and admirably manly, way to dispense corporal punishment.  Today, of course, such actions would be justification for the bully hiring an attorney at great cost and suing the tar out of the “hero” on charges of assault. The hero wold be hauled off to prison, where, due to his youthful good looks and strong jawline, he would become some thug’s bitch.  The young victims of the bully, of course, would be placed in state custody since their parents were not hovering nearby, and would be forever traumatized by the experience, resulting in years of therapy and PTSD flashbacks.  Fiction vs. reality.

The series was written well before we understood the hazards of freshwater swimming holes (flesh-eating bacteria, anyone?), before sun-screen was considered an essential any time you poked a naked toe outside,  and when ethnic slurs were considered harmless, nay normal.  Any cabin without the carcass, or portion thereof, of a dead forest creature on full display was considered lacking, and a situation to be remedied stat, typically with the use of ballistics.  Such writing, today, would be edited out of existence, not that such editing is a bad thing.  Still, it is helpful for the listener to understand what was considered appropriate, if not expected and applauded, behavior 100 years ago.

The English language is constantly evolving, and even small, three-letter words have taken on meanings and definitions that probably were not foreseen by the authors in the 1920s.  It might be helpful for certain individuals inclined to lead  fundamentalist self-righteous boycotts (or girlcotts) of The Droning Voice that the word “gay” meant, at the time, “happy and cheerful”.  And The Droning Voice will leave it at that.  If you still insist on being outraged, please notify NPR and other major news networks of said outrage to better drive traffic and clicks to The Droning Voice website.

And now, let the adventures of 4 chums lull you to sleep.  Because…Ham Radio.* ‘Nuff said.

You lucky people.  Mr. Somner owns the complete set.  There will come a time when devoted members of The Droning Voice claque can fall asleep to all of these great titles:

  • The Radio Boys’ First Wireless
  • The Radio Boys at Ocean Point
  • The Radio Boys at the Sending Station
  • The Radio Boys at Mountain Pass
  • The Radio Boys Trailing a Voice
  • The Radio Boys with the Forest Rangers
  • The Radio Boys with the Iceberg Patrol
  • The Radio Boys with the Flood Fighters
  • The Radio Boys on Signal Island
  • The Radio Boys in Gold Valley
  • The Radio Boys Aiding the Snowbound
  • The Radio Boys on the Pacific
  • The Radio Boys to the Rescue

All of the Radio Boys series can, apparently, be purchased on Amazon, if you just can’t get enough.

*If you are really looking for material to put you to sleep, and you are NOT a Ham Radio operator, please stay tuned (hah!) for readings from extremely old QST Magazines.