Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Review of "Tom Swift and His Airline Express," by Victor Appleton

Review of

Tom Swift and His Airline Express, by Victor Appleton

Four out of five stars

 Published in 1926, this book can be considered part of the Tom Swift series 2.0. The early stories did not deviate much from the current levels of science and technology and neither does this one. Some of the early ones dealt with war machines, thankfully this one does not.

 The main “invention” in this book is an airline where a passenger can travel from the east coast to the west coast in approximately 16 hours. In this story, two intermediate stops were required, the passenger compartment was detachable from the plane. Therefore, when the plane lands, the next one can be fueled and hot, all that needed to be done was to detach the compartment from the first plane and attach it to the next.

 While the premise was superseded by the larger airliners with multiple motors and bigger fuel tanks, at the time this book was written, the module structure made sense. The flight crew was not put under great stress and the passengers never had to disembark to make their connecting flight. In many ways, this idea was quickly rendered obsolete, much like what the telegraph did to the Pony Express.

 There are of course villains, which is the weakness of the story. The advent of new technology can be made interesting all by itself, sometimes the need to have human opponents to Tom weakens what could be an entertaining battle to tame and control the natural world. More about the new technology and the problems to be solved would have made this story more interesting.

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