Bertrand R. Brinley

Bertrand R. Brinley
The Mad Scientists’ Club 

Decades before technology came to rule our lives, there was already endless fun and fascination in tinkering with mechanical gadgetry and finding ways to do what seemed impossible. This spirit of zany inventiveness is brilliantly embodied in the Mad Scientists’ Club books by Bertrand Brinley, an aerospace engineer who branched out into writing with conspicuous success.

Seven boys in a small Ohio town use their ingenuity to re-create the Loch Ness monster, hatch a “dinosaur” egg, and rig up a remote-controlled flying man. Along the way they succeed in rattling the pompous mayor of Mammoth Falls and generally adding spice and harmless havoc to a placid existence. When I first read this book in the 1960s I sorely envied these kids the ability to climb out their bedroom windows in the middle of the night without getting caught—a feat that seemed to me more difficult than all the incredible hoaxes they pull off.

Things don’t go quite as planned, of course, but nobody gets hurt, everybody has fun, and readers can even absorb a few simple engineering principles. Brinley has created an idyllic childhood for the bright and imaginative who crave adventures closer to modern reality than Robinson Crusoe or the Three Musketeers.

Just think what the Mad Scientists could have come up with once personal computers appeared on the scene.

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