Tom Edison, Jr.
Tom Edison, Jr. was replaced by Tom Swift in
the Mikhail Jung re-write of 1919. Written by Horatio King, Edison's
sheet is "just adequate." Bland, short and uninteresting.
Mikhail Jung said "King's sheets were actually among the
easiest to work with. They had most if not all the actual plot
points, and little else. King was to LARP writing what the Congressional
Record is to Literature, only slightly less informative."
Tom Edison, Jr. is what has been called in the modern era
an "Edisonade," a novel in which a hagiographic portrayal
of Thomas Alva Edison is made into the main character. These were
enormously popular during the 90's when most of the GMs were teenagers,
and no game would have been complete without them.
Other examples of this sort of character were Johnny Brainerd,
Tom Swift, Jack Wright and the wonderful "Electric Bob."
The genre survived for decades, driven by Tom Swift, and "Johnny
Quest" of the later 20th century can be seen as a direct
Generally White with a capital "W," upright, and
"morally priggish" the Edisonade character was a master
scientist, and had some wonderful creation or creations.
Except for Henrietta, all the Clarence authors read Edisonade
novels in their youth, and as with other dime genres, by the turn
of the century the Edisonades were "following their audience"
by producing adult material. One obvious influence on the authors
was Garrett P. Serviss' 1898 serial Edison's Conquest of Mars,
which was the American answer to War of the Worlds. Following
the unlicensed Cosmopolitan serial of the Wells story Thomas Edison
- and in this case it's the Edison easily deduces all the Martian
science from their wreckage, and calling the great governments
together builds a fleet to journey to Mars and conquer it.
Tom Edison Jr. is taken from a series of Street and Smith
serials written by "Philip Reade," as mentioned elsewhere
a house name. In this case, we don't actually know who wrote most
of the stories, which is probably less embarrassing for the author.
The Tom Edison Jr. stories featured villains such as Louis Gubrious,
and may have been the source of the Clarence GMs fixation on amateurish
puns, though the significance of tea as a subject of such vast
merriment still escapes us.
Since there is no other provenance given for the Sky Courser
in the game, it seems likely that Tom Edison Jr. built it, though
there isn't actually any firm evidence. It hardly matters, since
he is one of the few characters that does not seem to have a fixation
on getting it back.
He is primarily interested in refurbishing his "Electric
Elephant" for battle against the Astronard, and the widget
hunt for "Elephant Parts" is likely to take him most
of the game. It is suggested that the "Electric Elephant"
is the intended counter to the Martain War machine, however since
assembly of it was patently impossible, it seems unlikely. However
it did get into action in a few games, probably the result of
some sort of advantageous ruling by the GMs.
The Sea Spider is a spider like submersible which can crawl
on the sea floor as well as drive through the sea. It is armed
with a giant claw, like Nemo's Nautilus it can be electrified,
it has a water cannon, and is equipped with torpedoes and dynamite
guns. These are a very real, though insanely dangerous weapon
- at this point the U.S. Navy operated its one and only "dynamite
Vesuvius, launched 1880.
There are references in various notes to an "adaptation"
of Fred T. Jane's rules for scale torpedo boat combat to handle
a confrontation between the Sea Spider and the Enigma, however
there is no record that this was actually done, and like so many
other climatic combats, we assume that it was handled orally by
the GMs at the time.
Thomas Edison Jr.
You are Thomas Edison Jr. Your father was Thomas Edison, Sr.,
not to be confused with Thomas Alva Edison. Your father the inventor
disappeared many years ago under mysterious circumstances - he
had invented a "wonder balloon" and was working on a
true aircraft. You grew up as an orphan living on the left bank
of the Mississippi.
You developed some good inventions in your father's shop - a
"flying-squirrel suit" with a gas-filled bladder that
permitted you to leap a long way, or float was the first. You
also invented "footsprings" for your horses, so that
they could trot at 50 miles an hour, and an armoured landrover
full of weapons.
You faced Indians, and your evil cousin Louis Gubrious. You found
that your father had gone bad, and had to fight him and your cousin.
Your cousin was driven away to become a pirate, and you kept your
father safe at home for a while, but he escaped.
Then you heard about the gold that was coming into the United
States from Detective Carter. The President had asked everyone
to investigate. So you built the Astronard, a metal aircraft which
was one hundred and twenty feet long, had vacuum lift, and was
powered by electricity, being steered by rotating helices and
flapping wings. It was armoured and has a full complement of cannon.
You gave it to the brave Dick Lightheart (because you were busy)
to go find the man-made gold which threatened to ruin the economy,
causing Anarchy. He flew to the Tibetan mountains. You had also
given him a giant electric elephant to use if he needed to travel
on the ground in India. The Astronard crashed not due to Dick's
bravery, and the elephant was broken up. Pieces ended up in many
different places. You would like to put it back together again,
because it represents the last of your wealth as you were broke
When Dick was out you had built another ship which got stolen
before it was finished. Then you built a submarine and that was
You also built the Electric Sea Spider which is all that you
have left now. You have plans for the Improved Machine Gun, but
you have no money to build it. You have a fine crew of "bright-looking
young Yankees," led by Mr. Liston and Mr. Donnerblitz.
When Yen How was pirating ships in the far east you used the
Electric Sea Spider to destroy his pirate port and sink his submarine.
You've heard he's out again, and you'd like to get hold of him.
Perhaps you should run for President. You could easily gain the
nomination with your reputation. Then you could have money to
build new inventions.