Tom and Bud's concussions.
- I've recently started rereading the TS Jr books, and I've noticed that Tom and Bud seem to be collecting more concussions than an entire NFL team. As of the end of Atomic Earth Blaster they've each had at least three. (I'm only counting the times they've explicitly been knocked unconscious by a blow to the head. If you include all the times they've been stunned or dazed, you can probably double that count.)
So, at last we know how many and in which book!
Great job on the stats!
(was never very good with statistics)
From: Tom-Swift@yahoogroups.com <Tom-Swift@yahoogroups.com> on behalf of Don Sample dsample@... [Tom-Swift] <Tom-Swift@yahoogroups.com>
Sent: Tuesday, April 18, 2017 6:27 PM
Subject: Re: [Tom-Swift] Tom and Bud's concussions.And for the final complete tally of all of Tom and Bud's concussions:
Book Tom Bud
1 Flying Lab 1 0
2 Jetmarine 0 1
3 Rocketship 1 1
4 Giant Robot 1 0
5 Earth Blaster 0 1
6 Outpost in Space 1 1
7 Diving Seacopter 0 0
8 Caves of Nuclear Fire 3 3
9 Phantom Satellite 3 2
10 Ultrasonic Cycloplane 0 0
11 Deep Sea Hydrodome 2 0
12 Race to the Moon 1 0
13 Space Solartron 0 0
14 Electronic Retroscope 0 0
15 Spectromarine Selector 1 0
16 Cosmic Astronauts 1 0
17 Visitor from Planet X 0 1
18 Electronic Hydrolung 1 0
19 Triphibian Atomicar 1 1
20 Megascope Space Prober 1 1
21 Asteroid Pirates 1 0
22 Repelatron Skyway 3 1
23 Aquatomic Tracker 1 0
24 3-D Telejector 1 1
25 Polar-Ray Dynasphere 2 2
26 Sonic Boom Trap 1 0
27 Subocean Geotron 1 0
28 Mystery Comet 1 0
29 Captive Planetoid 0 1
30 G-Force Inverter 0 0
31 Dyna-4 Capsule 1 3
32 Cosmotron Express 2 1
33 Galaxy Ghosts 0 0
Totals 32 21In Tom Swift and the Galaxy Ghosts, Tom gets knocked out once by electrocution, and once by gas, but he doesn't pick up any new concussions, so he ends out the series with 32 concussions over 33 books, for an overall concussion rate of 0.9697 concussions per book. Bud ends the series with a total of 21 concussions, or a rate of 0.6364 concussions per book.
There is some debate among Tom Swift Jr fans as to whether this book, or Dyna-4 Capsule is the worst Tom Swift Jr book, and I while there are parts of Dyna-4 that are pretty dire, I've got to conclude that Galaxy Ghosts is the worst book.
The book starts with an urgent report coming in from the Outpost in Space about sighting "ghosts" out at Saturn, so Toms Jr, Sr, and Bud fly to Fearing Island to catch a rocket ship up to the Outpost to see for themselves. (Rocket ship? That's kind of retro for Tom, but then the launch is described as “a deafening roar and the ground vibrated as the myriad of repelatrons lifted the mammoth craft from its pad.” which is really mixing up your launch modes.) All through this mad race to get up to the Outpost, so they can get a look at the strange ghosts that it has discovered I kept wondering "Why didn't they just walk over to the Enterprises observatory, and use its Space Prober, or have the imagery from the Outpost transmitted down to them using some of that TV equipment they've got up there?"
Arriving at the Outpost we're introduced to the "Comet Catcher" a Tomasite net that's supposed to protect the Outpost from meteors, that also involves repelatrons (and we get the second description in two pages of how repelatrons are supposed to work.) I guess the old fashioned meteor deflection repelatrons weren't good enough.
On the Outpost, the Toms get their first look at the ghosts on Mimas, one of the moons of Saturn, glowing, pulsating clouds of something that Tom Sr declares to be Unknown to Science, and Tom Jr dubs "Photo-Essence", or P-E for short.
Bud happens to look out the window and sees a giant meteor approaching! The Comet Catcher fails to catch it, and it bounces off the station. Inspecting the damage, Tom discovers that the meteor bent a metal brace, and that was somehow the cause of the Comet Catcher failing...so it failed because of damage done to it by a meteor it failed to catch? No matter, Tom can fix it with an electronic crowbar, and just in time, because now there's a strange spaceship hurtling toward the station!
And all that's just the first chapter...19 more to go.
I started out writing up everything that was wrong with this book, more or less in the order events happened, and I wasn't even a third of the way through it before this review had grown to be the longest one I'd written so far, so now I'm going back to the beginning and just summing up all the problems. I could go on much longer, but by this point I've used up more time writing this review than it took to read the book...
There are two main subplots to this book. The first is the Galaxy Ghosts: strange beings from the Andromeda galaxy who are now planet hopping their way across the solar system toward the Earth. First sighted on the moons of Saturn, they move inward to Jupiter, Mars and eventually the Moon. These beings are intensely radioactive, and if they come to Earth they will kill all life on the planet. They've already killed some of the Space Friends out by Uranus.
The second plot involves a frozen mastodon carcass that has been found high on a mountain in Chile. The Chilean government has sold it to a California university, and they want the Swifts to recover it from its mountain top, and move it to California.
So Tom bounces back and forth between these two projects. One is to stop an imminent existential threat to all life on Earth, and the other is to move some frozen meat. (And it's the frozen meat plot that takes up most of the pages of the book.)
Tom's got two main inventions in this book. His Transmittaton (which is a Star Trek style transporter) and his Racodio (a Star Trek style Universal Translator) He also accidentally discovers that his Transmittaton can double as a matter replicator.
There are plot developments that only make sense if the people involved have access to time machines. There is the above mentioned meteor that damages the meteor defence system, before it hits the meteor defence system. That strange spaceship hurtling toward the station at the end of Chapter 1 is Brungarian, and they're faking an emergency so they can get onto the station to steal all the info that Tom's collected on the P-E, so they can use its radiation to make a new superweapon, though at the time they had to have initiated their little act of space piracy all anyone knew was "Hey, there's something strange going on out around Saturn." And everyone knows that there's this magnificently preserved mastodon on top of a Chilean mountain, with 14 foot tusks, and so on, that U.S. wants to buy, and the Brungarians want to steal, but it's only been seen by one Chilean Indian, who hasn't told anyone exactly where it is, but everyone also seems to know that if the Brungarians get to it first, their ham handed methods of extracting it from the ice will cause an avalanche that will destroy the Indian village at the base of the mountain.
So what else is wrong with this book? Let me count the ways. First of all, Swift Security Sucks.
- That transparently obvious ploy to gain access to the Outpost works flawlessly, despite everyone suspecting it's a ploy. When the Brungarians set off their diversion everyone on the Outpost runs around like their hair is on fire letting the Brungarian captain waltz right into Tom's Outpost lab, steal all his notes, and samples of the meteor that hit the Outpost earlier (it's radioactive, because ghosts) and get away clean.
- Brungarian agents get into Tom's lab back at Enterprises, trying to steal more info. At least these guys got caught, but not until after they've made it all the way into the lab, and they were such cunning spies that they were carrying all sorts of incriminating documents about their plans on them.
- A spy gets onto Fearing Island, where he eavesdrops on Tom talking about his plans to go to Chile, and then gets away without Swift Security even catching a whiff of him.
- The people building Tom's "secret" lab in Chile talk openly about it in places where Brungarian agents can eavesdrop on them.
- Brungarian agents then waltz right into that lab right after Tom has managed to capture one of the ghosts, and then walk away with it. (Tom even comments this time that he usually works under tighter security...though given the Swiss Cheese nature of Swift Security in the past, he really doesn't.)
- A Brungarian agent manages to sneak onto the Sky Queen and sabotage the grappling system they're using to carry the mastodon, and the Sky Queen's lifter system. This apparently involved disguising himself as an Indian. (Why it was easier for someone who looked like an Indian to get onto the Sky Queen is anybody's guess.)
Since Tom knew that a spy overheard his travel plans to go to Chile he comes up with a cunning plan. A couple of Swift engineers who resemble him and Bud fly down to Chile for the Brungarians to follow, while Tom and Bud cleverly use commercial airline flights to go to...Chile. (What was the point of the decoys, then?) He then makes a clandestine rendezvous with the decoys in a Santiago park, to tell them to keep being decoys, but the Brungarian spies who had fallen for the decoys up to this point spot him, which blows that operation.
Silly things involving space flight:
Tom makes a couple of trips in his Cosmotron Express "rocket ship" looking for the ghosts. (No reference is made to him actually having two Cosmotrons, at this point.) The first one takes place while the ghosts are at Mars, but he can't find any when he gets there (but does collect more radioactive meteor samples) so he takes a quick loop out around Pluto to look some more. It isn't explicitly stated how long this took, but it seems to all take place in an afternoon, or so.
On his second Cosmotron flight (after topping up its fuel tanks) Tom again takes it out to Mars, where he finds a mass of ghosts gathered in the planet's shadow. He and Bud get into one of its life caps (hey they remembered the life caps) for a closer look, but the ghosts' radiation somehow makes the life cap's repelatrons stop working, and nearly fries them before he tells them with his Racodio to stop, and the ghosts fly off. Seeking out the ghosts in another life cap, Tom and Bud fly it all the way out to Saturn and back without finding any.
Tom's plan to move the mastodon is to use his Transmittaton. Unfortunately this plan is put on hold by the Brungarians stealing the plans for the Transmittaton receiver that Tom had sent to the destination university, so they can't have it ready on time. He has a backup plan of using his x-raser to cut the mastodon out of the ice, and then slinging it below the Sky Queen and flying it to California. He can't just stick it in the Sky Queen's hanger because its full of submarines. For some reason it's hauling both the Sea Dart Jetmarine, and a Seacopter around. (Take out the Seacopter and fly it back home, and you'd have lots of room for a mastodon on ice.)
Throughout all of Tom's encounters with the Brungarians in Chile, with them stealing, kidnapping, and nearly destroying Indian villages, Tom never calls for the cops, or the Chilean army, to come help until after it's too late for them to do any good. Alvarez, the Indian who found the mastodon, gets kidnapped, and Tom and Bud blunder around half of Chile looking for him, once asking a police officer for directions for how to get to a specific place, with Tom being temporarily captured by the Brungarians himself, but they never ask for the police to help in the search. Brungarian agents by the dozen seem to be traipsing around the mountain looking for the mastodon (and frightening the Indians off) but Tom never once suggests that the Chileans might want to consider putting a few platoons of their soldiers into the area to control the Brungarians, and protect their frozen asset. Brungarian spies with the stolen ghost are on their way to the airport, to fly away with it, with Tom and Bud in pursuit, but they never bother to call the Chilean authorities to tell them not to let the Brungarians take off.
The Brungarians aren't very bright, either. There is the usual bad guy monologuing about their clever plots where Tom and Bud can overhear them (or to Tom and Bud's faces after they've been caught) and on two occasions the Brungarians don't bother to empty Tom's pockets after they've caught him, leaving him with a penknife to cut his and Bud's ropes, and a pencil radio to call for help the first time, and his sonar pencil (like the radio, but for underwater use) the second time.
The first time Tom and Bud are caught, the two lead Brungarians have an argument over who gets to kill them, to be sure it's done right. They settle on one of them doing the killing while the other watches, so they can both be sure. And then their plot to kill them: drag them out onto the pampas, and abandon them there, tied up, for the vultures to eat without bothering to actually kill them first, or hanging around until after the vultures have done their job. Which allows for Tom and Bud to cut themselves loose, and call for help with Tom's pencil radio.
The second time they're caught the Brungarians fall for the old "have dad pretend to be sick" ploy (they caught Tom Sr first) in order for him to be left alone with only one guard on the Brungarian submarine, where he can overpower his guard and turn the Brungarian's underwater vortex weapon against them. Tom's been using his sonar pencil to secretly communicate with the Seacopter that has been stealthily following them (and "stealth" is a word that should not be associated with Seacopters) and coordinating his plan to take back the mastodoncicle using the Transmittaton.
The resolution of the Ghost plot begins with Tom using his Transmittaton to capture one. The ghost is initially not happy, but Tom explains, using his Racodio, how the ghosts will kill all life on Earth if they come here, and the captured ghost agrees to take the message back to its friends so they'll leave Earth alone. But then the Brungarians show up before Tom can send the ghost back, and take it, sealed up in a tiny Tomasite box, and run all around Chile with it for a couple of days, while Tom and Bud chase them, eventually ending up in Tierra del Fuego, where they finally manage to release the ghost from its box, and they all breath a sigh of relief, knowing the ghosts are going to leave now. I think I might have been a little worried about how that ghost was going to feel after they way it had been treated, and if it would bother passing on the message, or if it might be thinking "Screw that planet! Let it burn!"
In the questionable safety department:
One of Tom's early Transmittaton experiments is an attempt to transport a bonfire, set on Fearing Island, into his Swift Enterprises lab. That goes about as you'd expect. Fortunately Bud is quick with the fire extinguisher, so he doesn't burn down the entire building.
In the harassment of Chow department:
Bud is getting sick of eating mushrooms (from the accidental matter replicator incident) so he makes up a plan to frighten Chow. This one actually backfires on him, as he only manages to frighten the horses that he and Tom are riding at the time, and they nearly get tossed over a cliff before expert horseman Chow can save them.
In the basic physics doesn't work that way department:
The Brungarian's sabotaged grapplers on the Sky Queen drop the ice block containing the mastodon into the Pacific Ocean, where it promptly sinks into water cold enough that it doesn't melt right away. Ice floats. Especially fresh water ice dropped into salt water. The density of a mastodon, embedded in ice, is going to be pretty much the same as the density of the ice itself, so there is no way it would add enough weight to make it sink. But now, hey it's a good thing we've got those submarines stashed in the Sky Queen's hanger.
In the really really dumb department:
Tom notices that the ghosts only seem to come out at night. Wow. Isn't it convenient that these ghosts operating across multiple different planets set their schedule by when it happens to be night time in Tom's time zone. For his next book, Tom Swift in the Race to the Sun, Tom will make his solar expedition at night, to avoid the heat.