Throughout the book Astounding, Nevala-Lee smoothly interweaves a wide variety of sources, written and oral, as he tracks the careers of his four Golden Age giants ... Did you know that Heinlein, Asimov and L. Sprague de Camp all worked together in a Philadelphia Navy laboratory during World War II? Or that Heinlein practiced nudism and open marriage?
Nevala-Lee presents a necessary addition to the history of science fiction: a critical look at the life and work of John W. Campbell, legendary editor of Astounding magazine and the central architect of science fiction’s golden age....Part biography, part history, Astounding covers Campbell’s relationships with his most important writers; their tumultuous personal lives; the role their wives played in their careers; and the effect WWII and the atomic bomb had on the genre ... At times, it feels like Nevala-Lee attempts to accomplish too much, and the mix of history with biography isn’t always comfortable, but it’s all necessary to understand how science fiction became what it is today.
In Astounding... biographer Alec Nevala-Lee draws an exquisite portrait of a flawed and misguided man who seemed not to understand the true power of what he had created ... This account, though carefully researched and impartially presented, is unlikely to inspire hero worship. Yet miraculously, out these broken lives and troubled minds emerged the glory and beauty that is the science fiction genre ... Nevala-Lee does a marvelous job of presenting these authors as they truly were, with all of their genius and all of their flaws. This biography should catch the fascination of any serious science fiction reader, since the balance of human achievement and failure is itself a major focus of the genre.