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When I was in, like, 5th grade, I stumbled across a story that read very much like something from the Tom Swift, Jr, series. It had a plucky young hero, and his trusty sidekick who was mostly there for expository purposes, and there was a brilliant scientist who turned up from time to time. The odd thing about it was that (A) it was OVERTLY Christian and (B) much like Tom Swift, it appeared to be part of a series.

The plot concerned an attempt to get a computer program to a computer in orbit before the bad guys, who were atheists or communists or atheist communists or whatever. Ultimately they get the program to the computer on a space station, but the bad guys get the drop on them, and vaporize the computer, then head off in triumph.

Our hero did manage to save the program somehow, and the professor later explains that the computer itself was nothing really special. The program was the really important thing that couldn't be replaced. In saving that, our hero had saved the day.

Given how rare Christian science fiction is, much less mid-century pro-space science fiction, I'd really like to know what this was, and find out more about the series if possible.

  • What year did you read this? – Ben Miller May 1 '16 at 18:41
  • You say "mid-century", but the attitude towards hardware and software feels much more modern. Eighties at least! Anyway, you have the tag "children's novel", but is it really a children's book? The question itself doesn't mention that. – Mr Lister May 1 '16 at 18:49
  • I read it around 1977/78. The book was already quite old. Yellowed pages. It was definitely a children's book: Lot's of "Gosh"es and "Golly"ies and wild-eyed wonder in the Tom Swift sense. The space technology was very much the "Big rockets with wings and spinning donut space station" type of thing. The computer program was on a tape. The computer itself was office-desk sized and festooned with blinky lights and switches. The setting was solidly cold war The thing that really jumped out was the idea that a program might be more sophisticated than a computer. – Mahatma Randy May 2 '16 at 1:22
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This is a bit of a longshot, but some of your elements match Splendini! by Scott Pinzon.

The main protagonist, Dave Scott, is a budding magician who styles himself as The Great Splendini, and one of the cores of the character is his Christian values. Sidekick is present with his friend AJ, who is a smart-alec in the same style as "Mouth" from The Goonies with a fondness for goofy T-shirts.

The plot is where this longshot may go off course. I cannot find any real text of the book, and actually, the best I can find for a plot summary comes from this Amazon review:

The Great Splendini! is better known as pre-teen Dave Scott, with a newfound secret - he's recently converted to Christianity. He's also got a not-so-secret - his dad works for Compudat, a major computing and hardware company rumored to be producing super secret technical wonders for the government. Dave's worried that his new faith will alienate him from his best friend, the goofy and smart-alek AJ, fond of wearing t-shirts bearing slogans like "Be Alert - the world needs more lerts" and "Pobody's Nerfect."

Dave, AJ, and moody newcomer Sylvia (with dark secrets and problems of her own) all attend a summer tour of the Compudat building, courtesy of Dave's dad. The tour is cut short by espionage. Shortly thereafter, things go from bad to worse as first AJ, then Sylvia, then Dave are all kidnapped and held until Dave's dad delivers the secret plans that the criminals failed to steal during their botched theft during the kids' tour.

The most memorable section of this short novel is the captivity and escape attempt itself. The teens are held in an abandonned carnival on an island. The carnival is described in gleeful detail - all of the derelict and rusted rides, the shorted lights, all building the creepy anticipation of an ensuing chase through mirror-mazes or rusted roller-coaster struts. They use their different strengths - stage magic, physical strength, and super-smarts respectively, to formulate an escape plan and foil their kidnappers.

So, computer plot, check, but no space station mentioned, brilliant scientist might be the dad (a stretch, I think), and the amusement park sounds like it'd be something that'd stand out.

It does have a sequel that swaps kidnappers for a jock gang into petty crimes trying to pull a big steal for their initiation. Other than these two books, however, there is no further series.

  • Wow. Apart from sounding kinda 1970s with the T-shirts, the first half of that sounds bang on identical. The second half, not so much. I wonder if it might be the same author, though. I'll look in to that. Thank you! – Mahatma Randy May 2 '16 at 1:25
  • It looks like Splendini! was published in 1982. – Ben Miller May 2 '16 at 2:13
  • That's definitely not it then. I appreciate the assistance, though. – Mahatma Randy May 2 '16 at 3:27

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