Tom Swift is one of the great American fiction characters, but it’s likely that many of you reading this don’t know who he is. First published in 1910, Tom Swift is the star of dozens of books, and he’s still in print today. A daring young adventurer, Swift predated and laid the groundwork not only for much of American science fiction but also for many real inventions. Tom had a picturephone way back in 1912, and the taser was based on his weapon in Tom Swift and His Electric Rifle (the taser was originally called TSER – Tom Swift Electric Rifle).
Now Swift is finally making his way to the big screen, courtesy of Barry Sonnenfeld and CHUD pal BenDavid Grabinski. Sonnenfeld and Grabinski are already developing the original screenplay The How-To Guide to the Saving the World together, and now they’ve set up Tom Swift at Sony. This version would seem to take its cue from the second series of Swift stories, called The New Tom Swift Jr Adventures. These books, published from the 50s to the 70s, are about Tom and and his son having all sorts of grand science fiction adventures.
I don’t know what is exactly being planned for the film, but I do hope one thing is on Grabinski and Sonnenfeld’s minds: optimism. The Tom Swift stories are relentlessly upbeat, and they almost always take the point of view that technology is good. We live in a day and age when optimism is corny, but I hope that this film doesn’t take some Brady Bunch Movie take on the material but embraces the idea that maybe science can make the world a better place.
If you’re interested in Tom Swift, his first 20 some odd books are public domain. You can read them here.