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A family tradition of science and engineering...

1910-1941 Stratemeyer Syndicate kids' series following the adventures of boy inventor Tom Swift. Each book began with Tom inventing some new gadget that conveniently proved essential to resolving the plot. Invented or popularized many Gadgeteer Genius tropes.

While popular in his time, Tom proved to have less staying power than his Stratemeyer stablemates Frank and Joe Hardy and Nancy Drew, perhaps because of how quickly his "cool technology" was superseded in the real world.

An Atomic-age revival of the franchise starring his son reached 30 or so volumes between 1954 and 1971, and expanded out of what was basically the Dieselpunk setting of the original series into more distinctly "Golden Age of SF" devices and stories, starting with a giant atomic-powered airplane and eventually going into space with antigravity. An intriguing thread running through the books was the continuing effort of the Swifts to establish meaningful communication with a distant race of Starfish Aliens who had contacted them.

Revived IN SPACE! in the early 1980s, in Southern California in the 1990s and in the first person in the 2000s. However, none of these series showed nearly as much staying power as the first two.

Although generally believed to be the origin of the "Tom Swifty" joke (such as "Pass me the shellfish," said Tom crabbily or "How was your colonoscopy?" asked Tom probingly), this is something of a Beam Me Up, Scotty (or "Play it again, Sam") situation. While Stratemeyer was eager to employ adverbs and reluctant to use the plain verb "said", actual "Tom Swifty" puns were rare.

The first 25 as well as the 39th Tom Swift Sr. books are in the public domain and available as downloadable texts from Project Gutenberg. Two of the "Tom Swift, Jr." books are also available there, as well, for fond fans and those who wish to compare the two series.

Home pages exist on for both the "Tom Swift, Sr." and "Tom Swift, Jr." series.

In 1983, an abortive attempt at a television adaptation was made. The Tom Swift/Linda Craig Mystery Hour starred Willie Aames and Lori Loughlin as the title characters. It only got as far as a Pilot Episode which was broadcast as a TV Movie to disappointing ratings.

Tom Swift is the Trope Namer for:
  • Tom Swifty, though, as mentioned above, actual examples are rare.
Tropes used in Tom Swift include:

The Mystery Science Theater 3000 presentation of Tom Swift's War Tank has examples of:

  • The Ditz: Ned.
  • Fourth Wall Breaking: Ned's stupidity becomes so severe that Joel and the bots run out of ways to riff him and are forced to ask the readers for help.
  • Idiot Ball: Ned and Mr Damon keep a firm grip on this at all times, but it seems that anyone who isn't Tom gets their sticky mitts on it at some point.

Servo: Ah, it all becomes clear, now. The residents of Shopton, except for the Swifts, share a collective intelligence. Someone else in town must be buttoning their coat and thereby placing a strain on the town's remaining IQ resources.


Servo: I've never read any of the books in this series, and I'll bet I know everything there is to know about him already. He's really good at everything that he does, which is everything done by any American of his age and class. Girls admire him, but he only has pure love for one. He's Roger Ramjet played straight. He is, in effect, every bit as annoying as every Mary Sue ever penned.


Joel: Meanwhile, back on the Swift plant, Eradicate and Koku had undergone a change since their Master had been away....
Servo [as Eradicate]: I disagree — even given Rossini's questionable reusage of material from his earlier operas, "The Barber of Seville" is one of the greatest Opera Buffas ever written; even the renowned Verdi himself said as much.
Crow [as Koku]: True, my friend, but I still think you're downplaying Mozart's "Don Giovanni" too much — that raised the level of Opera Buffas to unknown levels which Verdi himself only matched with "Falstaff," some eighty years later.