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

Astounding: John W. Campbell, Isaac Asimov, Robert A. Heinlen, L. Ron Hubbard, and the Golden Age of Science Fiction Audiobook, by Alec Nevala-Lee Extended Sample Click for printable size audiobook cover
Author: Alec Nevala-Lee Narrator: Sean Runnette Publisher: HarperCollins Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: October 2018 ISBN: 9780062847393
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"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

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Drawing on unexplored archives, thousands of unpublished letters, and dozens of interviews, Alec Nevala-Lee offers a riveting portrait of this circle of authors, their work, and their tumultuous private lives.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.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “The golden age of science fiction, spanning the years 1939 to 1950, gets an authoritative examination in this fascinating appraisal of its key players…A major work of popular culture scholarship that science fiction fans will devour.”

    Publishers Weekly (starred review)

  • “A laser-sharp study of science fiction’s golden age, the product of a small circle of writers and their guiding editor…A welcome contribution to the study of popular literature.”

    Kirkus Reviews

  • “Alec Nevala-Lee has brilliantly recreated the era…A remarkable work of literary history.”

    Robert Silverberg, Hugo and Nebula Award–winning author

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About the Author

Alec Nevala-Lee graduated from Harvard with a bachelor’s degree in Classics. His novels include The Icon Thief, City of Exiles, and Eternal Empire, and his short fiction has appeared in Analog Science Fiction and Fact, Lightspeed magazine, and The Year’s Best Science Fiction. He has written for such publications as the Los Angeles Times, Salon, the Daily Beast, and Longreads, and is featured in the A&E Biography episode on L. Ron Hubbard. He lives in Oak Park, Illinois.

About the Narrator

Sean Runnette, an Earphones Award–winning narrator, has also directed and produced more than two hundred audiobooks, including several Audie Award winners. He is a member of the American Repertory Theater company and has toured the United States and internationally with ART and Mabou Mines. His television and film appearances include Two If by Sea, Cop Land, Sex and the City, Law & Order, the award-winning film Easter, and numerous commercials.