“The first book I ever owned was a gift from my Uncle Al: Tom Swift and His Motor Boat, by Victor Appleton. The second book I bought myself: Tom Swift and His Motorcycle, by the same author. Over time I added Tom Swift and His Electric Rifle, soon followed by Tom Swift and His War Tank, and then His Submarine, His Airship, His Giant Telescope, and othersâ€â€all allegedly written by the same man. Marveling at his prolificacy, I wondered how one author could write so many books: Who was Victor Appleton? I was an adult by the time I learned that Victor Appleton was not one man but many, a name owned by a syndicate and assigned, along with the plot lines, to a legion of ghostwriters.

If you are at all familiar with Steven Heller’s oeuvre, you can see where I’m going with this; but don’t worry. I am going there, but I promise not to stay long, because Steven Heller’s legendary productivity is not a destination, but a point of departure.”