Tuesday, January 17, 2006


by Bertrand R. Brinley
Published in book form 1965

Lake monsters, gas bags, flying lunatics, a haunted house… These are just a few of the things one can do with ham radio equipment, as every boy should know.
Every boy who follows the varied cast of pubescent males collectively referred to as “The Mad Scientists’ Club,” that is. Required reading for every male.

And one of the books to most profoundly impact my development.

Whether hoaxing sunbathing tourists or local government officials, solving ancient mysteries, winning glory, or saving the day, these kids are an example worthy of following.

Skeptical? But parents, it’s educational! Kiddo not doing so well in school? Says it’s boring? Shove this at him and not only will he learn to read just to be able to finish it for himself, he’ll spend the rest of his youth trying to be as smart as its protagonists.

I remember how impatient I was to be as brilliant as they, yet certain I would never understand the forces, currents, and principles that allowed them to do the amazing things they did. That certainty, by the way, was ill-founded indeed. I’m now smarter than my idols.

The club made its first appearance in 1961 on the pages of “Boys’ Life,” and was given its own book four years later. It’s the only one I’ve read, so if anyone wants to send the second collection of stories, or either of the following novels (one of them on the club’s origins) to me, feel free.

The first story has them wiring up radio equipment left and right. Today I could rig the apparati myself (I could only dream of it on my first reading) if I could afford all those receivers. That’s the most unrealistic thing in these tales, by the way. Some people sneer at the concepts and devices themselves, but they are sound in most places. The idea that a bunch of rural kids could afford the equipment is a bit trickier.

The second story has them trying to hatch a dinosaur egg, one of their few utter misunderstandings of scientific processes. Do they not know what fossilization is?!

In the third, they do some detectiving, with one of their number discovering how enthralling a girl can be. For this one they go the cheap rout and borrow some of the needed supplies from the State University’s Medical School.

And the fourth, fifth, sixth, and seventh have them doing everything from… well, never mind. Read ‘em.

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