The Road Home and Other Ham Radio Novels
On p. 32 of the March, 2012 edition of QST that came out this week, I am pleased to see a review of The Road Home, a novel written by Andrew Baze, AB8L. Coincidentally my son and I just finished reading this book, and we thoroughly enjoyed it. Despite a few typos and minor grammatical errors (specifically, the use of the indicative mood where the subjunctive mood should have been used), it is very well written. The plot is plausible and captivating. Mr. Baze makes ham radio (2m FM and APRS) an integral part of the story, and he makes it work — it doesn’t seem at all as though he were straining to slip it in somehow. Furthermore he displays a high degree of competence in operating procedures, emergency preparedness, and even defensive tactics.
While this book is light reading, there is still some character development of the young man who is the main character of the story. Refreshingly, the boy’s father is his guide (rather than being marginalized or vilified as parents often are in teenage fiction). Not only does Mr. Baze inspire a young person to get a ham radio license, he succeeds in developing the moral imagination of his readers. The Road Home cultivates an affection for such admirable qualities as diligence, perseverance, courage, level-headedness, familial love, compassion, and a chivalric desire to avoid violence yet defend women from evil with deadly force when necessary.
You can read this book for free, if you have a Kindle and an Amazon Prime account, by borrowing it from the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library for Amazon Prime Members.
Other novels that my children and I have enjoyed are those written by Cynthia Wall, KA7ITT: Night Signals, Hostage in the Woods, Firewatch!, Easy Target, Disappearing Act, and A Spark to the Past. These six books are a series chronicling the adventures of fictional characters Kim Stafford, KA7SJP, and her boyfriend Marc, KA7ITR. They are definitely aimed at children, but if you’re like me you’ll still read them — it’s so hard to find novels incorporating ham radio that you just can’t pass these up.
Another novel that incorporates ham radio is Cornbread Road, by Jeff Davis, KE9V. Mr. Davis released it as an audio-book in a series of podcasts in 2010-2011, and my wife and I enjoyed listening to it together. The podcast is not currently available but hopefully it will be back up soon. Cornbread Road is aimed at adults. The main character is a ham who gets involved with a secret society of ham radio operators led by a mysterious figure with a past, a ham who is an inventive genius and who is himself caught up in a web of international intrigue. While the plot may tax your ability to suspend disbelief, it is still an amusing story and throws in a little of everything in ham radio.
Do you have any ham radio novels to recommend? I dimly recall one or two that I nearly wore out as a child (back in the days when I would ride my bicycle to the local library and read my favorite books over and over), but I couldn’t tell you much about them now. If you know of any — and where to find them — please chime in with a comment!
Todd, if you’ll excuse me for blowing my own horn:
Not for kids, but one of the characters is a ham who uses his knowledge to get the bad guy.
Thanks for telling us about these books!
Don Keith N4KC
The road home is a cracking little yarn, I bought it on christmas day for my kindle. will have to keep an eye out for the others
One of the first ham-related books I read when I was a kid was book # 24 in The Hardy Boys series by Franklin Dixon. The title of the book is “The Shortwave Mystery.” I’m vague on the details as it has been many years since I read it, but I seem to recall using directional antennas, finding a repeater used by bad guys, and even decoding a cyphered message, along with statement that nothing on ham radio is allowed to be encrypted. I read it in the same time frame as when I was getting my license and it just made me that much more excited.
I too read The Road Home and found it to be a well-written and, more importantly plausible, story. The way the father kept his cool and helped his son learn not only how to do things, but why, is an inspiration to me, and I try to remember that lesson when teaching my kids important skills.
Cornbread Road was an amazing story. I started listening to it when he first published part of the story, and was sorely disappointed when he pulled the story the first time. I understand why he did so, but it didn’t make it any easier when left hanging! As soon as he placed the rest of the episodes up I downloaded them as quickly as I could and finished the story.
Thanks for the great review! I’d love to fix any typos in the book — could you let me know where you saw any? 🙂 I confess – after several hundred edits, I couldn’t see straight any more…
By the way, I’m nearly done with my nonfiction book (ironically, it has several fiction and “true story” blurbs in it to illustrate certain points), and then I’ll get started on the sequel to “The Road Home”. A post-disaster Seattle area should be a pretty rich backdrop for Robbie’s next adventure!
Andrew Baze, AB8L
There was a book I read in the 80’s. A ham goes on a vacation trip with his wife on an ocean liner that gets hijacked. He had snuck his Atlas 210 onboard and he ends up being the one who gets help by contacting a,fellow ham. Anyone know what the title was??
Ok, it’s an old blog! You may have already found Walter A Tompkins books, if not he has about 6 for ham radio. The first one is “CQ Ghost Ship”
You can find it on Amazon (here – https://www.amazon.com/CQ-Ghost-Ship-Walter-Tompkins/dp/0872595013/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1503798094&sr=1-1&keywords=radio+walter+a.+tompkins) but you can probably find it cheaper on ebay.
Also, Tom Swift (not jr) one of his stories was using a ham rig (old cw) to get rescued from a sinking island.
And I have read all of Cynthia Walls ham books (unless there is a new one out that I haven’t seen yet!)
And there were others in the Hardy Boys where ham was not central to the story, but was used.
Woops – missed one! A great one too!
Seattle Quake 9.2 by Martie Talbott
About the use of 2 meters during and after a (supposed) 9.2 earthquake!
She does a great job of proper radio etiquette and coordination via a net control.
You can also find this book on either Amazon or ebay!