Astounding: John W. Campbell, Isaac Asimov, Robert A. Heinlein, L. Ron Hubbard, and the Golden Age of Science Fiction

Alec Nevala-Lee. Dey Street, $28.99 (320p) ISBN 978-0-06-257194-6
The golden age of science fiction, spanning the years 1939 to 1950, gets an authoritative examination in this fascinating appraisal of its key players. The primary focus is John W. Campbell, editor of Astounding Science Fiction magazine, and the three very different writers who served him best: Isaac Asimov, Robert A. Heinlein, and L. Ron Hubbard. The author credits Campbell with turning science fiction “from a literature of escapism into a machine for generating analogies” and using his magazine as “a laboratory in which his writers could work out scenarios for the future.” That helped to conjure countless works of groundbreaking fiction, but after the dropping of the atomic bomb seemed to validate science fiction as prophecy, it drove Campbell into embracing dubious fringe beliefs, including dowsing and astrology, in his search for new intellectual breakthroughs. Nevala-Lee gives abundant insight into the authors’ careers, revealing how Asimov first acquired his love of fiction as a lonely child working at his family’s Brooklyn candy store, while Heinlein chanced into writing as a fallback career after a period of passionate involvement in Upton Sinclair’s failed 1934 California gubernatorial campaign. This book is a major work of popular culture scholarship that science fiction fans will devour. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 04/30/2018
Release date: 10/23/2018
Ebook - 544 pages - 978-0-06-257196-0
Downloadable Audio - 978-0-06-284739-3
Paperback - 336 pages - 978-0-06-257195-3
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