Tuesday, March 2, 2021

Review of "Tom Swift and His Outpost in Space," by Victor Appleton II

 Review of

Tom Swift and His Outpost in Space, by Victor Appleton II

Five out of five stars

The writer generally got it right

 This book was published in 1955, six years before Yuri Gagarin orbited the Earth and 18 years before the Skylab space station was operational. When this book was published, the general principles of orbital mechanics were understood, but almost nothing was known about the effects of free fall on the human body. At the time, there were arguments that humans could not long live and work in space. There were concerns about the inability to orient oneself without gravity and how the body would react when there was no constant downward force. Some argued that humans were evolved to live in an environment with gravity and there would be dangerous side effects when people would simply float.

 While most of the focus is on the standard type of adversary that Tom Swift faces, there is some occasional description of how things will operate in space. In general, the descriptions of how people have to work in space are accurate, the slightest movement can cause a person to move, using tools such as a screwdriver will cause the person to rotate rather than the screw.

 The author was clearly aware of the writings of science fiction legend Arthur C. Clarke. In his 1945 paper, he described communication satellites being placed in geosynchronous orbit, so they remain stationary relative to points on Earth. In this book, Tom Swift places his outpost in such an orbit. Some of his financial backers are communications firms eager to use it as a relay point for their programs.

 What I like about this science fiction story is that the writer clearly did the necessary research to create a story based on the facts as they were best known at the time. Other than that, it is the usual juvenile fiction where there is constant danger from nefarious opponents.

No comments:

Post a Comment