Astounding: L. Ron Hubbard and the Golden Age of Science Fiction book by Alec Nevala-Lee

Discussion in 'News and Current Events' started by The Wrong Guy, Oct 20, 2018.

  1. The Wrong Guy Member


    Scientology’s astounding pre-history in a new book you really need to read

    By Tony Ortega, The Underground Bunker, October 20, 2018


    In June, we were very fortunate to have author Alec Nevala-Lee with us in Chicago for our annual small gathering, HowdyCon. He was there so we could get to know him ahead of the publication of his exciting new book, Astounding: John W. Campbell, Isaac Asimov, Robert A. Heinlein, L. Ron Hubbard, and the Golden Age of Science Fiction.

    For science fiction aficionados, this book is a real treat, narrating with deep research a crucible of the genre’s development: Astounding magazine editor John W. Campbell and his work with three of his most famous writers.

    In each chapter, Nevala-Lee takes us through the personal histories of these four men: How Campbell became the arbiter of a successful new art form at its most formative time, and how each of the writers came into his orbit. Campbell himself was a massively fascinating figure, and was given to crackpot ideas that he seemed to fall for, one after the other. But his taste in literature was supreme, and writers of the time dreamed of winning his approval and showing up in his publications.

    Although the chapters on Asimov and Heinlein are terrific, our attention was mainly drawn to Nevala-Lee’s description of the relationship between Campbell and Hubbard, and Campbell’s involvement in helping to promote Dianetics. While acknowledging the work done by previous authors in this area, Astounding takes it to a new level, and we learned a lot about this amazing period in the development of what would eventually become Hubbard’s most famous creation, Scientology.

    Nevala-Lee, for example, reminds us how much the Second World War and the development of the atom bomb impacted these writers at the time. It was a scary new world, and these were writers who specialized in imagining scary new worlds. Although it might seem presumptuous today, Campbell and his authors believed that if anyone was going to solve the problem of humankind attaining world-destroying weapons, it was going to be science fiction authors.

    Namely, they were entranced by the idea that these weapons were beyond the capability of human beings to understand and control, and so human brains needed to evolve to a higher state to keep up with the pace of technology. The idea of a new “evolved” man became a science fiction sub-genre of its own at the time which Campbell feverishly encouraged. And so, in the late 1940s, when Hubbard approached him claiming that he had solved the problem and had found a way on his own to evolve the human mind to a higher state, Campbell was hooked.

    We really enjoyed a recent review in the prestigious journal Nature, which nails this part of Nevala-Lee’s book.


    As Nevala-Lee has explained (and will in an exclusive we have with him for you this week, featuring a historic document which has never been put online before), Hubbard hoped that the medical or psychiatric establishments would recognize the genius in Dianetics and would help him promote it. But they considered it evidence-free garbage, so Hubbard had to turn to Campbell, who then used the power of Astounding magazine to give Dianetics a huge push at its publication in May 1950.

    Would Dianetics have gone on to be the bestseller that it became, eventually spawning Scientology, if Campbell hadn’t lent the power of his publication to promote Hubbard’s ideas to the masses? That’s one of those great “what-ifs” that really make you wonder.

    For now, however, pick up a copy of Nevala-Lee’s book when it goes on sale Tuesday, and make sure to check back here for the exclusive that Alec is giving only the Underground Bunker on that day.

    More at
  2. The Wrong Guy Member

    In 1949, psychiatrists wouldn’t touch Dianetics — so L. Ron Hubbard invented one who would

    By Tony Ortega, The Underground Bunker, October 23, 2018


    To celebrate the publication of his book Astounding, author Alec Nevala-Lee is helping us bring to you a stunning document made public for the first time. We’ll let him describe it, and then we have it in its entirety in both text and pdf form. Also, Alec will be able to answer your questions about this or other subjects during his Reddit AMA on /r/books at 12:30pm ET on Wednesday October 24. Here’s Alec:

    Continued at
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  3. The Wrong Guy Member


    Sci-fi fans, here's the 'Astounding' history of Campbell, Asimov, Heinlein and Hubbard | Dallas Morning News


    Astounding, a mighty work of scholarship from sci-fi novelist and essayist Alec Nevala-Lee, charts the adolescence and maturation of a future-focused literary genre — and looks at four of its most seminal practitioners, who hoped they were accomplishing something greater and more elemental than merely entertaining readers.

    Of the four 20th-century men in Astounding's subtitle, Isaac Asimov and Robert A. Heinlein remain rightly famous as prolific creators of wildly imaginative, sometimes-prophetic stories and novels. L. Ron Hubbard is rightly infamous as the comically self-aggrandizing founder of Scientology. John W. Campbell, Jr., is relatively obscure, even among people who read science fiction and identify as fans.

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