Astounding: John W. Campbell, Isaac Asimov, Robert A. Heinlein, L. Ron Hubbard, and the Golden Age of Science Fiction
An Economist Best Book of the Year
"Enthralling…A clarion call to enlarge American literary history.” — Washington Post
“Engrossing, well-researched… This sure-footed history addresses important issues, such as the lack of racial diversity and gender parity for much of the genre’s history.” — Wall Street Journal
“A gift to science fiction fans everywhere.” — Sylvia Nasar, N...more
At first I wondered why he didn't just do a bio on Campbell, but gradually I came to see that these four lives, and their work, were deeply connected. Still, it was a bit confusing to me in spots when I had to shift my point of view from one of them to the others.
This is "warts and all" biography, with an emphasis on the warts. All of these guys were flawed. Hubbard was the worst, of course, and I wouldn't be surprised if Nevala-Lee gets sued o ...more
A longer review is available in my "Looking Back at Genre History" segment on the StarShipSofa podcast here.
It's carefully researched - almost half the book consists of bibliography and notes, drawing extensively on both private and public writings and interviews with living people who remember the subjects. At the same time, it unapologetically editorializes about the men's many f ...more
Having just finished William H. Patterson Jr.'s "Heinlein In Dialogue With His Century," I'm a bit struck by the slight differences in framing about some of the same events -- Nevala-Lee is somewhat more forgiving of his subject's foibles.
But overall, the parallels between the four (particularly between Heinlein and Hubbard) ...more
Enjoying it so far. All kinds of stuff I never knew about John W. Campbell, Jr., L. Ron Hubbard and all the great science fiction writers involved with the magazine which really took SF out of the realm of fringe, fare into quality, well written literature.
They were the men who sold the moon – as well as the rest of the universe. Together they were the Golden Age of science fiction – in some ways both the quip that says that the golden age of SF is 12 and in the historical sense.
John W. Campbell, Jr. was the editor of what became the premiere outlet for science fiction writing during its and his heyday, from 1937 through 1946. Back in the days before SF became mainstream, the pulps were all there were, and Ca ...more
However, after reading this book I might want to reconsider that view again. Indeed, if you see the early founders of the ‘golden age’ of SF of the 20th century as any sort of hero, this book may make you wonder why anyone would’ve wanted to ...more
In the case of the Asimov, Heinlein, ...more
While I knew something of the subject matter from other histories of SF, I was unaware that Campbell was a part of launching Dianetics. Campbell didn't learn a damn thing fr ...more
Un título casi tan largo como el libro, pero realmente es de lo que trata. Del nacimiento de la revista Astounding, y de las vidas de los tres autores citados junto a la de Campbell, que fue el padre de la _Era dorada de la ciencia ficción_.
Pese a tratarse de un muy ambicioso intento de cubrir muchos autores y una época bastante compleja de la ciencia ficción, ...more
I'm simply in awe at the details and exquisite research which is present in this work. Just jaw-dropping. The work, hefty as it is, chronicles each of the giant's trajectory through the common nexus of John W. Campbell and his sphere of influence.
The author does an incredible job of presenting f ...more
I have been putting this off because I was terrified that I'd find something I'd got wrong. There are one or two places where maybe you could describe me as over-reliant on Patterson, but I can live with that.
So what do I think?
First, if you have both, read Astounding first. It gives you the big picture. RAH comes over as a bit of a ...more