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Monday, May 5, 2008

Tom Swift and His Photo Telephone Now Online

The seventeenth installment in the Tom Swift adventures, Tom Swift and His Photo Telephone, is now posted in the Tom Swift and His Pocket Library collection. As usual, HTML, PDF, PDA eReader, and plain ASCII text editions suitable for reading off- or online are available.

This is one of the geekier of the original Tom Swift adventures. Tom, despite his father's conviction that “it can't be done” sets out to build a picturephone in 1914, with a few added features including what amounts to a surveillance camera and FAX machine. He describes how a flat plate sensor made of selenium could be used to encode an image for transmission, which isn't a bad guess based upon the state of knowledge at the time. The invention, as usual, figures in an adventure in which frequent companion Wakefield “bless my imprudent investment” Damon is fleeced by a con-man, who then makes off with Tom's airship and then the unfortunate Mr. Damon himself. While Mr. Damon is offstage for most of the story, Ned Newton, the giant Koku, and Eradicate Sampson play major parts, with Eradicate inadvertently making the key insight which gets Tom's invention working.

I have corrected typographical and formatting errors I spotted while editing the text, but have deferred close proofreading until I get around to reading the book on my PDA. Corrections from readers are more than welcome; please cite the context of the correction rather than a page number, as these differ from edition to edition. Please note the comments in the main Pocket Library page before reporting archaic spelling (for example, “gasolene”, “to-morrow”, or “clew”) as an error.

This book brings the Tom Swift saga from its inception in 1910 through 1914 for a total of seventeen books. While the first novels in the series came fast and furious, starting in 1912 one book per year in the series was published. Eight public domain Tom Swift novels remain, and I'll continue to add them to this collection at the rate of two or three a year. There are a total of forty adventures in the original Tom Swift series, but those published between 1923 and 1941 will not enter the public domain until 95 years after their copyright date (assuming the law isn't changed before then), so none of these can be posted before 2019.

Posted at May 5, 2008 23:55