Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Review of "Tom Swift and His Air Glider," by Victor Appleton

Review of
Tom Swift and His Air Glider, by Victor Appleton

Four out of five stars
 Like most of the books published in the early years of the twentieth century, an effective reading of this book requires you to suspend some of your modern notions of literature. For example, there is the depiction of blacks, unusual phrasing and differences in how the characters interact. If you can do that and mentally take yourself back to the years immediately before World War I, this is a book that you can enjoy.
 For it is one in a series of books that lit a spark of inventive and engineering interest in generations of young boys and girls. In this case, it is the original Tom Swift and he has invented an incredible airship. The premise is that a Russian man is exiled from the Russian Empire under the Czar after escaping from one of the Siberian work camps where dissidents are sent. The man opposes the government of the Czar, but is not a violent man, believing that education of the masses is the way forward.
 His brother is still held in a camp and when both were free for a time, they managed to stumble on a mine containing high grade platinum. A material that Tom needs. Therefore, Tom, Ned, Mr. Damon and the Russian man depart on Tom’s airship to Siberia in order to free the prisoner and find the mine so that Tom can acquire some of the highest grade platinum. The fact that such an action is in violation of International Law and an act of theft is never raised in the story.
 Of course, Tom and his crew face several dangers in their around-the-world adventure, yet manage to “rescue” both the prisoner and the platinum. The presentation of the adventure conforms to the literary style of the time, reading it is a lesson in pulp fiction of the early twentieth century. It is very instructive to read and compare examples of the different Tom Swift series as they conform to the new scientific and mechanical marvels. It is a lesson in the evolution of scientific adolescent literature.

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