My anniversary present yesterday was Stairway to Danger (1952), a “Rick Brant Electronic Adventure” by Hal Goodwin writing as John Blaine.
This series was once the best of young readers’ fiction, from 1947 to 1968–24 books in all. Probably most of you have never heard of them. Well, it’s time you made their acquaintance.
In addition to writing really cool books, Hal Goodwin traveled to just about every place on the globe, serving with a variety of government agencies–the Civil Defense Administration, NASA, the U.S. Information Agency, and NOAA, to name a few. He was in on the major scientific breakthroughs of the era. Stairway to Danger, for instance, introduced Hal’s readers to cybernetics and transistors–not exactly household words in 1952!
Goodwin actually went to all the places he wrote about, and participated in all the science that he wrote about–so his Rick Brant books have a ring of authenticity you can’t find anywhere else.
Of course, they show their age, in that Rick, a teenager, lives in a stable family headed by a father whom he loves and respects. Imagine that! As big a fan as I am, I can’t say I’ve found any overtly religious content in these books. But I can’t imagine them doing a Christian reader any harm. And I can easily imagine today’s immoralists really hating them, which is probably a good reason to like them.
Hal Goodwin soon realized that these books gave him a format in which he could tell pretty much any kind of story he liked. So he let his imagination rip, and Rick and his friends wound up doing archeology in the back country of the Philippines, finding a lost city in the Himalayas, fighting a sinister case of barratry at the Jersey shore… (Oops, the computer has no idea what “barratry” is, so I’d better tell you: it’s insurance fraud on the high seas, and it can get nasty sometimes.)
You can get these books used and not very expensive via various online outlets, including amazon.com and alibris. Do yourself a favor, and pick one up today.