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"The devil is in the details!" Tom said, as the donkey bolted!


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    Dwight Prouty IV

    This may be difficult for some of the writers here to swallow, as it's not tour de force stuff, but I think we need some new children's books!

    Tom Swift, Jr, was a dietary stable when I was growing up, as was Tom Corbett, Space Cadet, and, somewhat later, Lucky Starr. (And, for those of you unaware of ancient stuff like this, there was a Tom Swift Sr, which was popular at the turn of the 20th century)

    Can anyone imagine Tom (or Shirley, for that matter) Corbett fixing a iPad? Soldering an Android phone? Even hot-wiring a car? Flying an experimental plane? (Not without nine years of paperwork, lol) How about entering a cave, piloting a submarine, getting into Dad's lab, going somewhere no one else has ever been, not being spotted sneaking around by infrared camera's or a GPS satellite, playing with explosives, etc., etc., etc?

    It's simply become too complicated (and even kids know it) to do much of anything. You could fill entire books with just the prerequisites and other dependencies. You can't go into a cave with just a few candles and a rope anymore. You need a suite of spelunking gear that could fill a book! How can you leave your characters 'in the dark' if they've got nineteen, 14 hr LED lights between 'em? Kids turned to magic, long ago, to fill the need for imagined 'control' over their environments. We need to inspire them again, by providing the 'vision' of what they can harness, make and do, in a palatable form, call it, seed crystals for their growing imaginations.

    Hmm, there's a window for this, right now! A basic premise that will allow us to write these kinds of stories again. It wraps around a theme already mentioned in some of those topics, and that is Additive Manufacturing. Tom Corbett III, can make anything he can imagine, using his Dad's special, advanced, AM Machine, as long as he can get and feed it the vital elements he'll need. He'll still have to sweat the "non-commercial" design, but right now, this is better than the damn wave of magic that Harry Potter and his ilk have been riding. Gives 'em tangible targets rather than software sophistries.

    There can be the standard tie-in to what Dad (or mom) is doing, the Big Stuff they're working on, but Tom can have the power back, to make anything he can think of!

    The biggest problem I see is parental "Risk Aversion". It's hard for me to convey how hard it's going to be, to get parents to accept a series that suggests, in any way, that kid's do risky things! (I happen to know of a cub scout troop, whose members have never climbed a tree! When I suggested it might be a fun thing to do, I was instantly ostracized by the parents, as a maniac who would even mentioned putting kids at risk!) It's ok with these folks for kids to fight demons with magic, "Because that's fantasy, even kids know it will never happen and isn't real!" but not sneak into a factory at night, to see how things work…

    When I was a kid, you could do marvelous things with a knife switch, a single cell battery and some wire! We all carried, gasp, pocket knives, and (the horror of it all!) matches!! I could go on to list a hundred things I did back then, that would get me jailed, then psychiatrically analyzed, and force fed Ritalin, today. The basic premises have changed. It's no longer considered appropriate to "do physically powerful stuff" in small groups, or without the consensual support of an adult group that precludes mischief! And, if "Necessity is the mother of invention." then "Mischief is it's father!" (Loki's left the building folks, led off in terrorist chains by the mom police, because he set off a firecracker in school! Next time you see him, he'll be cleaning the floor in a fast food chain, doped on thorazine, with a little drool running down the corner of his mouth…)

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