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Radio Boys

Entry updated 19 May 2021. Tagged: Theme.

Less important and numerous than the extremely popular Airship Boys tales and series in the first half of the twentieth century, the smallish subgenre of boys' stories devoted to Radio Boys remains of some interest in the development of sf. As usual in almost all the series ultimately derived from Dime Novels and – very frequently – written and published to emulate the success of the Tom Swift series from the Stratemeyer Syndicate, the Radio Boys books depended on storylines in which two or more young "chums" are introduced by mentors into a world in which the mentor's Inventions and/or the chums' own engineering ingenuity propels the plot. Tied far more closely to the actual state of Radio technology than Airship Boys tales were to the state of aviation science, Radio Boys tales did nevertheless tend to introduce technologies fractionally ahead of reality.

The first two examples – Tom Swift and His Wireless Message (1911) by Howard R Garis writing as Victor Appleton and The Boys of the Wireless (1912) by Weldon James Cobb writing as Frank V Webster – generated no immediate successors beyond the inferior Ocean Wireless Boys sequence by John Henry Goldfrap writing as Capt Wilbur Lawton, Six tales beginning with The Ocean Wireless Boys on the Atlantic (1914). In 1922, however, as broadcast radio began in the United States, a small spate of Radio Boys series appeared from various publishers. The best of these was the Radio Boys sequence by John William Duffield writing as Allen Chapman, beginning with The Radio Boys' First Wireless; or, Winning the Ferberton Prize (1922) (see author entry for full list), who was working for the Stratemeyer Syndicate; others included the Radio Boys sequence by Gerald Breckenridge, beginning with The Radio Boys on the Mexican Border (1922) (see author entry for full list); a Radio Boys series for the Chicago firm M A Donohue by various authors, including Duffield under his own name; the Radio Detectives series by A Hyatt Verrill, beginning with The Radio Detectives (1922) (see author entry for full list); and the Radio-Phone Boys series by Roy J Snell, beginning with Curlie Carson Listens In (1922) (see author entry for full list).

By 1930, with radios in every home, all the Radio Boys series were dead or dying. [JC]

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