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View Diary: Books So Bad They're Good: The Spawn of Stratemeyer (124 comments)

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  •  My Favorite Series (9+ / 0-)

    The Hardy Boys never interested me, but I liked the Alfred Hitchcock Presents: The Three Investigators series, and snatched them up whenever I found them in the library.

    Although I read and enjoyed a couple of the Tom Swift Jr. books, I didn't like them enough to nag my parents to buy them for me.  And having my Dad's collection of 1950s-60s SF paperbacks in our basement, I didn't really miss them.

    One notable series which was part of Dad's collection was Isaac Asimov's Lucky Starr series, about a space cop who ranges the Solar System foiling evil for the Council of Science.  Asimov originally concieved the character as a TV series, and used the pseudonym of "Paul French" because he was embarassed to be associated with that kind of tacky space opera.  As the series progressed, however, and he started introducing robots, he made it pretty obvious who was writing it.  Another embarassment for Asimov is that almost as soon as the books were published, early space probes began sending back information about the planets of the solar system which invalidated most of his stories.  When the books were reprinted in the late '60s, he added forwarding notes apologizing for the dated science.

    I didn't read Doc Savage as a kid, but he was also the result of book packagers.  The publisher came up with the idea for a two-fisted scientist and his team of able assistants working from the top of the Empire State Building, and hired Lester Dent to crank out novels about him.  And Dent did that very well.  Dent devised a template for a guaranteed bona fide action page-turner and he rarely if ever deviated from his formula:  (The Lester Dent Pulp Adventure Master Plot; that should be a good topic for a diary, Ellid!)

    But going back to the great-grandaddy, Tom Swift Sr.  I once had the opportunity to interview cartoonist Phil Foglio, and in it he spoke about his own recurring characters, The Heterodyne Boys, who started out as an hommage to the Boy's Adventure titles of that era:

    Phil: The Heterodyne Boys started out as a joke. I was visiting some friends in Kalamazoo and in a used book shop I saw some old 'Boy's Adventure' type stuff, like the original 'Tom Swift' and the 'Radio Boys'. I was reading some of the titles out loud, because they were so delightfully stupid, (Tom Swift and His House on Wheels! [today we call them 'trailers'.]) and when I ran out of real ones, I made up 'The Heterodyne Boys and their Anthracite Burning Earth Orbiter'. One of the characteristics I cherish in my friends is their childlike gullibility, and several excited minutes were spent trying to actually find this book. That night, we played Charades (This party was Rockin') and it was my contribution to the book titles list. Everyone liked it so much that I drew up some pictures of them, basing them on two more friends of mine. They got a radical overhaul when we built Girl Genius, the only part remaining is their names, and the titles of their adventures.

    "All the World's a Stage and Everyone's a Critic." -- Mervyn Alquist

    by quarkstomper on Sat Apr 27, 2013 at 09:30:04 PM PDT

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