401. Harold Goodwin

Harold Goodwin was a diver, worked for Civil Defense, NASA, NOAA and other agencies, and said that his books “were often a spinoff from my technical work.” He wrote forty-three books in all. His popular science books were written under his own name, and included Space: Frontier Unlimited and Challenge of the Seven Seas. I have not been able to find a full list, but it hardly matters. They would be hopelessly out of date.

If you plan to look in Goodreads, look up his pseudonyms. The Harold Goodwin they feature isn’t our guy.

Try this: look up The Rocket’s Shadow on Goodreads. You will find three authors on the by-line — John Blaine, Harold Leland Goodwin, Peter J. Harkins. Harkins co-wrote the first three Rick Brants with Goodwin. Clicking on H. L. G will take you nowhere useful, but clicking on John Blaine will take you to his Washington Post obituary. For a man who is hard to track down, this is the most accessible mini-biography. Or just click here.

Goodwin’s twenty-four volume Rick Brant series of science adventures for young people were written under the name John Blaine. His only true science fiction novel, also for the young, was Rip Foster’s story, written under the pseudonym Blake Savage.

Goodwin served as a combat correspondent in the Marine Corps in the Pacific during World Was II. By no coincidence, Scotty, Rick Brant’s companion, was an ex-marine who also served in the Pacific. And Rip Foster’s Planeteers from the Rip Foster book are basically space marines.

Goodwin served as a State Department official in Manila after the war; Rick and Scotty end up in the Pacific and islands of the East Indies in several stories.

Goodwin wrote on the cutting edge of science, but he started writing in the late forties, so most of what he wrote seems dated today. He was generally accurate, with a couple of goofs. In his first Rick Brant The Rocket’s Shadow, he fouled up the calculations and got his rocket to the moon in hours instead of days. He later expressed embarrassment at his error. In the Rip Foster book, he has Rip conversing freely with Earth from a point near the Sun — he forgot that pesky speed-of-light communications delay.

When the Rip Foster book came out, we all expected to see nuclear spacecraft and a rapid expansion of the manned exploration of our solar system. Heinlein made an early career out of the same assumption, but it never happened. in that sense, the sixty-plus year old Rip Foster book is still out ahead of us.


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