|Author||John Blaine, pseudonym |
Harold L. Goodwin
Peter J. Harkins
|Publisher||Grosset & Dunlap|
Rick Brant is the central character in a series of 24 adventure and mystery novels by John Blaine, a pseudonym for authors Harold L. Goodwin (all titles) and Peter J. Harkins (co-author of the first three). The series was published by Grosset & Dunlap between 1947 and 1968, with the previously unpublished title, The Magic Talisman printed in 1990 in a limited edition as the concluding #24.
In the series, teenaged Rick Brant and his former-Marine pal, Don "Scotty" Scott live on Spindrift Island off the coast of New Jersey, where Rick's father, Hartson Brant, heads the Spindrift Foundation, a group of scientists. Rick and Scotty are involved in various adventures at home and abroad. Besides Hartson Brant, the recurring supporting characters in the series include:
- Barbara "Barby" Brant, Rick's younger sister
- Chahda, a resourceful youth from India, who learnt everything he knows, including how to speak English, from reading Almanacs.
- Janice Miller (Jan), daughter of Dr. Walter Miller, a Spindrift scientist; Barbara's friend
- Dismal ("Diz"), the Brant family dog
- Steve Ames, an agent of "JANIG", the fictional Joint Army-Navy Intelligence Group
Various Spindrift scientists also appear several times:
- Hobart Zircon, a physicist
- Julius Weiss, a mathematician
- Parnell Winston, a cyberneticist
- Tony Briotti, an archaeologist
- John Gordon, a rocket designer
The Rick Brant series has a scientific tone (being taglined as "Electronic Adventures" or "Science-Adventure Stories" and finally "SCIENCE Adventures"). The science in the stories is realistic science, unlike the fantastic science of Tom Swift, Jr.
Hal Goodwin was a popular science writer with a strong technical background and a sense of style unusual in the juvenile adventure-series field. The books are suspenseful, well-plotted, atmospheric, and enriched by humor and acute characterization as well as personal experience. Exotic locales such as tropical islands, the Philippine jungles, and the Himalayas were given vivid and well-researched depictions, as were a variety of specialized hobbies and professions, such as scuba diving, infrared photography, home rocketry, and the inevitable espionage work. Rick was also a private pilot who owned his own airplanes and used them in a number of the books. His first plane was apparently a Piper J-4 and in later books a Stinson 108. Like the Ken Holt mystery series, the tales appealed to a slightly older audience than did the typical Grosset & Dunlap titles. (Ken Holt had a crossover cameo in The Flying Stingaree, and Rick lent some of his gadgets to Ken in The Mystery of the Plumed Serpent, by agreement of the respective authors.)
The publishers were averse to any suggestion of the supernatural in the series. An ambiguous end to The Blue Ghost Mystery was dropped, and an entire book (The Magic Talisman) was rejected due to its inclusion of ESP elements. This lost tale was eventually published in an independent edition in 1990.
Beginning in the 1980s, Grosset & Dunlap began transferring the copyrights to Hal Goodwin. The rights are now held by the John Blaine/Rick Brant Trust. The Goodwin family has been working to bring the works back in print, starting with the rarer final four books.
Rick Brant never graduated to any other medium of entertainment, although there are notable similarities to be found in the Jonny Quest franchise.
On November 9, 2010 an e-book titled "The Rick Brant Science-Adventure Series" was released on Amazon for the Kindle eReader containing eleven of the original novels.
List of titles
- The Rocket's Shadow (1947) Rick meets Scotty and investigates sabotage of Spindrift's experimental rocket.
- The Lost City (1947) Rick and Scotty journey to the Himalayas to set up a relay station to bounce a radar signal off the moon. (Chahda character introduced.)
- Sea Gold (1947) Rick and Scotty get jobs at a new plant to extract minerals from sea water, and investigate possible sabotage.
- 100 Fathoms Under (1947) Rick and Scotty travel to the South Pacific in search of an ancient archaeological artifact.
- The Whispering Box Mystery (1948) Rick and Scotty race against time to stop a ring of spies from using a paralyzing weapon to steal government secrets. (JANIG and Steve Ames character introduced.)
- The Phantom Shark (1949) Rick and Scotty cross paths with a nefarious pearl thief in the South Pacific.
- Smugglers' Reef (1950) Rick and Scotty use an infrared camera to gather evidence against smugglers.
- The Caves of Fear (1951) Rick and Scotty travel to the Himalayas again, this time to stop nuclear materials from falling into the wrong hands.
- Stairway to Danger (1952) Rick and Scotty battle a hardened and desperate criminal in an abandoned amusement park.
- The Golden Skull (1954) Rick and Scotty search for a sacred relic in the Philippines.
- The Wailing Octopus (1956) On a skin-diving vacation in the Virgin Islands, Rick and Scotty stumble across deadly spies.
- The Electronic Mind Reader (1957) Rick and Scotty are shocked as one scientist after another falls victim to a diabolical machine. (Janice Miller character introduced.)
- The Scarlet Lake Mystery (1958) Rick and Scotty visit a rocket base in Nevada, and encounter sabotage and a life or death situation for Rick.
- The Pirates of Shan (1958) Rick and Scotty search for Spindrift scientists kidnapped by pirates in the Philippines.
- The Blue Ghost Mystery (1960) Rick and Scotty's Virginia vacation turns into an encounter with what seems to be a Civil War ghost.
- The Egyptian Cat Mystery (1961) Rick and Scotty travel to Egypt and discover that an apparently unassuming cat figurine holds a secret.
- The Flaming Mountain (1962) Rick and Scotty aid the Spindrift Foundation's mission to save an island from an active volcano.
- The Flying Stingaree (1963) Intrigued by mysterious UFO sightings, Rick and Scotty battle against a group of crafty spies.
- The Ruby Ray Mystery (1964) Rick and Scotty walk the line between East and West only to have their allegiance questioned and their lives placed in jeopardy.
- The Veiled Raiders (1965) Rick and Scotty go to Nigeria to test laser/satellite communication, and are taken prisoner in the Sahara by hostile natives.
- Rocket Jumper (1966) Rick and Scotty use a rocket pack to save their loved ones from a fearsome plot.
- The Deadly Dutchman (1967) Rick and Scotty's tour of Europe is interrupted by a fiendish gem trader.
- Danger Below! (1968) Rick and Scotty probe the cause of the sinking of an oil rig off Spindrift.
- The Magic Talisman (1990) Rick and Scotty investigate mysterious goings-on in a house used for a dinner theater magic show. Unpublished by Grosset & Dunlap, this title was published by Manuscript Press in a limited edition of 500 copies.
- Rick Brant's Science Projects (1960) Rick and Scotty explain the secrets behind many of the inventions, codes, and logic used in their adventures.
List of titles included in the eBook "The Rick Brant Science-Adventure Series"
These titles are available from Project Gutenberg.
- Smugglers' Reef
- The Caves of Fear
- The Golden Skull
- The Wailing Octopus
- The Electronic Mind Reader
- The Scarlet Lake Mystery
- The Pirates of Shan
- The Blue Ghost Mystery
- The Egyptian Cat Mystery
- The Flaming Mountain
- The Flying Stingaree
- Axe, John. All About Collecting Boys' Series Books. Hobby House Press, Inc., 2002.
- Rick Brant Science Adventure series listing at the Internet Speculative Fiction Database
- The Rick Brant Science-Adventure Series at series-books.com
- Spindrift Island – Rick Brant website
- Spindrift Scientific Foundation: The Rick Brant Page at the Series Bookcase (series.net), archived 2013-10-26
- The Rick Brant Science-Adventure Series at Amazon
- Rick Brant at SeriesBooks.info
- John Blaine at Library of Congress Authorities, with 23 catalog records
- Works by or about John Blaine in libraries (WorldCat catalog)