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February 7th, 2008:

Carl & Jerry Volume 5 Is Out!

This one took a lot longer than I had hoped—and certainly longer than the seething two weeks I spent on Volume 4—but the fifth and final volume of Carl & Jerry: Their Complete Adventures is now complete, uploaded, and available on This has been my major spare-time project for well over a year, and I scratched my head now and then as to why it was taking so much time and energy. Well, here's why: It required 989 pages in five separate books to print the 263,232 words and 311 illustrations in the 119 stories. That's a lot of stuff. I mean, a lot.

But it's done. I'm extremely happy with the way it all turned out, and the fan mail has been very encouraging. The only complaint I've seen is one chap moaning that, “You mean, there's only 119 stories?” Yup. I wish there were more too; Carl & Jerry are sui generis. The only thing even remotely similar is Bertrand Brimley's Mad Scientists Club, all books of which (fortunately) are still in print, in nice new editions with all the original Charles Geer pencil sketches and watercolors. Somewhere further on the fringes are Tom Swift, Jr and the Danny Dunn books, but the fact remains that Carl & Jerry were talking about real technology, not Repelatrons and antigravity paint. Read the stories and you will learn a few things, albeit things that were first-run between 1954 and 1964.

I added a few things to Volume 5. One is a schematic published a few months after the story of Carl & Jerry's primordial beambot, “The Lightning Bug,” from a Popular Electronics reader who built his own Lightning Bug. That's one of my top 5 all-time favorite Carl & Jerry yarns, and I've posted a free PDF containing it. It's unusual in that if you want to build your own, the circuit is right there and ready to go.

One thing that added some time to the task was a topic index that ran to 19 pages. People have written me to ask, “What was the Carl & Jerry story where the crook was getting away in an iceboat?” All they remembered was the iceboat. That's just the way human memory works; quirky is too kind a word for it. So I went through all 119 stories and built an alphabetical topic index, including any memory tag I could think of for each story. If you want to look up all the stories about Carl's dog Bosco, it's there. If you want to know which story saw the boys build a proton precession magnetometer, it's there. Skunks figured significantly in two stories, so flip to “Skunk” and there they are. Ditto Norma, Mr. Gruber, radio-controlled models, sonar, fishing, smoke signals, Morse code, car thieves, and on and on. Dare you not to find a story you remember there.

Finally, I added two new stories, written today in 2008 and not forty-five years ago. One is by George Ewing WA8WTE, who actually built the gadget in the story he wrote, way long ago at Michigan Tech, about the same time that Carl & Jerry were at fictional Parvoo University. It's basically about building a seismometer from a broken pinball machine, and it's beautifully done. The other story is my own, and I borrowed a gimmick from Arthur C. Clarke as way to explain how reflecting telescopes work. Both are tall tales, but that's what John T. Frye was offering back in the 60s, and both stories are authentically tall, done very much in Frye's own style.

And so it's done. Here's the link to my Lulu storefront where all five books may be purchased. Many thanks to Michael Covington, for putting the bug in my ear back in August 2006, and to Pete Albrecht, who taught me how to un-halftone the illos. (He also did quite a few of them for me.) Also, thanks to Doug Faunt N6TQS who sent me the last few issues that I didn't have and somehow just couldn't nail on eBay.

And now it's on to other things. Writing, of course, and putting together the two collections of my short SF that I've been promising for years. And FreePascal from Square One. Plenty to do here; all I need now is the time to do it.