1974 young adult novel that forecasted the politics of drones


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Read and enjoyed many Danny Dunn novels in my youth, although I don’t remember this one specifically.


I would strongly agree. I read “Danny Dunn, Invisible Boy” when I was ten, in 1976. Ever since I’ve dreamed of being able to use a machine like the one described. Then came the post in Boing Boing a few months ago about building your own FPV drone. Not only did the post remind me of the book, it got me into FPV drones. And of course I had to track down a used copy of the book. I’m not sure it would appeal to YA readers today, but it was much as I remembered. And I still laughed at the poem Joe wrote to distract the sentry!

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Let’s not forget Robert Sheckley (“Wartchbird”).

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This was one of the best Danny Dunn books, as I recall. My other favorites were the radioastronomy one and the “homework machine” one.

I was a huge fan of Danny Dunn books when I was a kid. I read all that my school library had available. Great escapist stuff. I don’t know this one though…

Wow, I totally forgot I read this. Once I saw the dragonfly cover, I remembered it.

Technology, you so crazy!

I really liked the book about the homework machine as well. My other favorite was about some type of “electronic nose.” I don’t remember the exact details, but Danny gets the idea to put the machine inside the shell of an old canister vacuum and use it as an electronic “bloodhound” to track someone. Maybe thieves? In any case, the book was not only sci-fi, it mixed in some detective/mystery elements.

Danny Dunn!? I had no idea they were still writing Danny Dunn books in 1974. Oh, I see that Raymond Abrashkin died in 1960, but Jay Williams gave him credit for the later books anyway. Now I like them better than ever!

My heart skipped a beat when I saw the cover… one of my favorite books! I loved that the author detailed the random stuff in Danny’s pockets, and there was always something helpful (Every Day Carry ftw). This series even prompted my starting an invention journal, and one of the first was my ideas on how to bring the dragonfly to reality. It even spurred my intense interest in Virtual Reality in the early 90s. I’ve often sought them out at local used book stores, but it seems everyone’s holding on to their copies.

Spot on review, thanks for bring it o light!

Danny Dunn ran roughshod over Jupiter Jones and Encyclopedia Brown.


… Though I’m still intrigued by Davey Power.

Oh, wow, I remember reading this (and the Heat Ray book, where the kids kept coming up with peaceful uses for the heat ray in construction and such, and this general kept perverting it into a weapon). I think I still have my copy sitting in my parents’ attic. I’ll have to dig it out.

Watchbird is available for free from Project Gutenberg here.

Wow, sudden nostalgia attack —I’d forgotten that book. :slight_smile: The local library where I grew up had a whole series of Danny Dunn books. I loved them when I was about 10/11-ish and they (along with Brian Earnshaw’s Dragonfall 5 series) got me into reading science fiction.

The Danny Dunn books were excellent, and surprisingly canny about the implications of some of the tech. (Another favorite of mine was the one about the automated House of Tomorrow at some fair; when the kids get trapped in it, they find out that, although it’s got an automated fridge/oven combo, all the food is fake display stuff.) Danny Dunn, Invisible Boy was probably my favorite, though. I’ll admit that a lot of the attraction was due to the usual invisibility fantasies (I wasn’t yet a teenager myself, but I wasn’t that far away from it, either), but the interest of the military in the invention, and the determination of Danny to keep it out of their hands, is more than a bit reminiscent of the plot of Real Genius a decade or so later.

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I carried a violin bridge in my pocket for YEARS because of those books! :slight_smile:

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