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Hugo and Locus Award Finalist
An Economist Best Book of the Year
A Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Best Book of 2018
“An amazing and engrossing history...Insightful, entertaining, and compulsively readable.” — George R. R. Martin
Astounding is the landmark account of the extraordinary partnership between four controversial writers—John W. Campbell, Isaac Asimov, Robert A. Heinlein, and L. Ron Hubbard—who set off a revolution in science fiction and forever changed our world.
This remarkable cultural narrative centers on the figure of John W. Campbell, Jr., whom Asimov called “the most powerful force in science fiction ever.” Campbell, who has never been the subject of a biography until now, was both a visionary author—he wrote the story that was later filmed as The Thing—and the editor of the groundbreaking magazine best known as Astounding Science Fiction, in which he discovered countless legendary writers and published classic works ranging from the I, Robot series to Dune. Over a period of more than thirty years, from the rise of the pulps to the debut of Star Trek, he dominated the genre, and his three closest collaborators reached unimaginable heights. Asimov became the most prolific author in American history; Heinlein emerged as the leading science fiction writer of his generation with the novels Starship Troopers and Stranger in a Strange Land; and Hubbard achieved lasting fame—and infamy—as the founder of the Church of Scientology.
Drawing on unexplored archives, thousands of unpublished letters, and dozens of interviews, Alec Nevala-Lee offers a riveting portrait of this circle of authors, their work, and their tumultuous private lives. With unprecedented scope, drama, and detail, Astounding describes how fan culture was born in the depths of the Great Depression; follows these four friends and rivals through World War II and the dawn of the atomic era; and honors such exceptional women as Doña Campbell and Leslyn Heinlein, whose pivotal roles in the history of the genre have gone largely unacknowledged. For the first time, it reveals the startling extent of Campbell’s influence on the ideas that evolved into Scientology, which prompted Asimov to observe: “I knew Campbell and I knew Hubbard, and no movement can have two Messiahs.” It looks unsparingly at the tragic final act that estranged the others from Campbell, bringing the golden age of science fiction to a close, and it illuminates how their complicated legacy continues to shape the imaginations of millions and our vision of the future itself.
"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, New York Times bestselling author of A Beautiful Mind
Alec Nevala-Lee was born in Castro Valley, California, and graduated from Harvard University with a bachelor’s degree in classics. He is the author of three novels, including The Icon Thief, and his stories have been published in Analog Science Fiction and Fact, Lightspeed, and The Year’s Best Science Fiction. His nonfiction has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, the Daily Beast, Salon, Longreads, the Rumpus, and the San Francisco Bay Guardian. He lives with his wife and daughter in Oak Park, Illinois.
Table of Contents
Prologue: Asimov's Sword 1
Part I Who Goes There? (1907-1937) 15
1 The Boy from Another World (1910-1931) 17
2 Three Against the Gods (1907-1935) 35
3 Two Lost Souls (1931-1937) 53
Part II Golden Age (1937-1941) 71
4 Brass Tacks (1937-1939) 73
5 The Analytical Laboratory (1938-1940) 99
6 In Times to Come (1939-1941) 127
Part III The Invaders (1941-1945) 149
7 A Cold Fury (1941-1944) 151
8 The War of Invention (1942-1944) 175
9 From "Deadline" to Hiroshima (1944-1945) 191
Part IV The Double Minds (1945-1951) 215
10 Black Magic and the Bomb (1945-1949) 217
11 The Modern Science of Mental Health (1945-1950) 241
12 The Dianetics Epidemic (1950-1951) 267
Part V The Last Evolution (1951-1971) 297
13 A Fundamental Attack on the Problem (1951-1960) 299
10 Science Fiction TalesHot Planet by Hal ClementSweet Tooth by Robert F. YoungThe Serpent River
by Don Wilcox$1,000 A Plate by Jack McKentyOn the Fourth Planet by Jesse F. BoneThe Great Nebraska Sea by Allen DanzigMy Lady Selene by Magnus ...
13 Tales by Evelyn E. Smith - The Golden Age of Science FictionThe Blue TowerCollector's
ItemThe DoorwayHelpfully YoursJack of No TradesMan's Best FriendThe Most Sentimental ManMy Fair PlanetNot Fit for ChildrenOnce a GreechTea Tray in the SkyThe Vilbar PartyThe Venus ...
22 Tales - The Golden Age of Science FictionEvelyn E. Smith:The Blue TowerCollector's ItemThe DoorwayHelpfully
YoursJack of No TradesMan's Best FriendThe Most Sentimental ManMy Fair PlanetNot Fit for ChildrenOnce a GreechTea Tray in the SkyThe Vilbar PartyThe Venus TrapJerome Bixby:The ...
25 Tales of Science Fiction: The Golden AgeF. L. WallaceAccidental FlightAddress: CentauriBig AncestorBolden's PetsEnd as
a WorldForget Me NearlyThe Impossible Voyage HomeMezzerow Loves CompanySecond LandingStudent BodyTangle HoldBryce WaltonBy EarthlightHas Anyone Here Seen Kelly?The Highest MountainThe Mating of ...
Contents:Frank Belknap LongSpace Station 1The Calm ManThe Man from TimeThe Man the Martians MadeThe Mississippi
SaucerThe Sky TrapSewell Peaslee WrightThe Death-Traps of FX-31The God in the BoxThe Infra-MediansPriestess of the FlameThe Terror from the DepthsVampires of SpaceRay CummingsBeyond the Vanishing ...
There are few scholars or scientists today who write as beautifully or as interestingly as
[Sarton] . . . [his] book is magnificent. — Ashley Montagu, Saturday ReviewAlthough science did not begin in ancient Greece (millennia of work in Egypt, ...
EARTHBOUND AND OTHER GOLDEN AGE SCIENCE FICTION STORIES includes a dozen works by noted writer
and publisher Lester Del Rey, including the novels POLICE YOUR PLANET and THE SKY IS FALLING.• And it Comes Out Here• Badge of Infamy• Dead ...
In 1632, the Amsterdam regents founded an Athenaeum or 'Illustrious School'. This kind of institution
provided academic teaching, although it could not grant degrees and had no compulsory four-faculty system. Athenaeums proliferated in the first century after the Dutch Revolt, ...