Saturday, August 3, 2019

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

A complete history of the early years of the Astounding Science Fiction Magazine and four important persons involved with it: Isaac Asimov, Robert Heinlein, editor John W. Campbell and Ron Hubbard of the scientology fame. Although I was quite well informed about many details and events of that era, as I have read Isaac Asimov’s extremely detailed autobiographical works and also some biographical material about Heinlein, there were many things I didn’t know, especially concerning Hubbard.
At times, it felt like the book had a bit too much wordage for Ron Hubbard however, he was apparently a very important person for John W. Campbell, the long-term editor of Astounding. What was surprising was how mentally disturbed many of the people felt like, especially Ron Hubbard who seems to have been a compulsive liar with significant personality disorders. Furthermore, John W. Campbell, who considered himself to be a man of science, apparently had no concept at all about a scientific principle, or even about logical thinking. When he got older, Heinlein developed some “interesting” personality traits and some very far-right political opinions. Asimov was apparently fairly sane; he just had some narcissistic tendencies and might this day and age be classified as a sexual predator. So, pretty jolly bunch, however, the book was extremely interesting in spite (or because) of that. It was well-written, meticulously researched, with extensive sources. It was my number one choice at the Hugo voting on its category.

544 pp.

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