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Alec Nevala-Lee is an American novelist, biographer, and science fiction writer. He is the author of the group biography Astounding: John W. Campbell, Isaac Asimov, Robert A. Heinlein, L. Ron Hubbard, and the Golden Age of Science Fiction, which was named one of the best books of 2018 by The Economist,[1] and which the science fiction writer Barry N. Malzberg called "the most important historical and critical work my field has ever seen."[2] He is currently at work on a biography of the architect, designer, and futurist Buckminster Fuller.[3]

Alec Nevala-Lee
2018 Alec Nevala-Lee.jpg
Born1980
Castro Valley, California
OccupationWriter
NationalityAmerican
GenreScience fiction, Biography, Thriller
Website
www.nevalalee.com

Contents

BiographyEdit

Nevala-Lee was born in Castro Valley, California in 1980[4] and graduated from Harvard College with a bachelor's degree in Classics.[5] He currently lives in Oak Park, Illinois.[6] His novels include The Icon Thief, City of Exiles, and Eternal Empire, all published by Penguin Books,[7] and his short fiction has appeared in Analog Science Fiction and Fact, Lightspeed Magazine,[8] and two editions of The Year’s Best Science Fiction.[9] He has written for such publications as the New York Times,[10][11] the Los Angeles Times, Salon, The Daily Beast, Longreads, The Rumpus, and the San Francisco Bay Guardian.[12] His nonfiction book Astounding: John W. Campbell, Isaac Asimov, Robert A. Heinlein, L. Ron Hubbard, and the Golden Age of Science Fiction was released by Dey Street Books, an imprint of HarperCollins, on October 23, 2018.[13] In the course of researching this project, Nevala-Lee discovered a previously unknown draft—containing a significant amount of new material—of John W. Campbell's novella "Who Goes There?", which was later adapted into the movie The Thing. The uncut version, titled Frozen Hell, will be published in 2019 by Wildside Press.[14] Nevala-Lee also uncovered an unpublished manuscript, "A Criticism of Dianetics," co-authored by L. Ron Hubbard in 1949, which the noted Scientology critic Tony Ortega has described as "a stunning document."[15]

WorkEdit

Nevala-Lee’s debut novel, The Icon Thief, is a conspiracy thriller inspired by the work of artist Marcel Duchamp.[16] A sequel, City of Exiles, is partially based on the Dyatlov Pass incident,[17], while the concluding novel in the trilogy, Eternal Empire, incorporates elements from the myth of Shambhala.[18] On the science fiction side, Locus critic Rich Horton has called Nevala-Lee “one of [Analog editor Stanley Schmidt’s] best recent discoveries...One of Nevala-Lee’s idea engines is to present a situation which suggests a fantastical or science-fictional premise, and then to turn the idea on its head, not so much by debunking the central premise, or explaining it away in mundane terms, but by giving it a different, perhaps more scientifically rigorous, science-fictional explanation.”[19] Analog has referred to him as "a master of…tale[s] set in an atypical location, with science fiction that arrives from an unexpected direction,”[20] while Locus reviews editor Jonathan Strahan has said that Nevala-Lee's fiction "has been some of the best stuff in Analog in the last ten years."[21] The Wall Street Journal has called Nevala-Lee "a talented science fiction writer,"[22] and Jim Killen of Tor has written that he has earned "a reputation as one of the smartest young SFF writers out there."[23]

The Economist named Nevala-Lee's book Astounding—a group biography of the editor John W. Campbell and the science fiction writers Isaac Asimov, Robert A. Heinlein, and L. Ron Hubbard[24]—one of the best books of 2018, calling it "an indispensable book for anyone trying to understand the birth and meaning of modern science fiction in America from the 1930s to the 1950s—a genre that reshaped how people think about the future, for good and ill."[25] In a starred review, Publishers Weekly described it as "a major work of popular culture scholarship,"[26] while Kirkus Reviews referred to it as "first-rate...a welcome contribution to the study of popular literature."[27] Writing in the Wall Street Journal, the scholar Michael Saler praised it as an "engrossing, well-researched history,"[28] and in a review for Nature, the critic Rob Latham called it "multifaceted and superbly detailed...A rich, gripping cultural and historical study."[29] In comparing Astounding to previous works on the history of science fiction, the writer and critic Paul Di Filippo wrote: "None of them, even the best, have synthesized all the others and chosen to inhabit the writing of that era with the sensitivity, perceptiveness and insight that Alec Nevala-Lee exhibits in his new book."[30]

James Sallis of The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction praised Astounding as a "wonderfully researched, expansive biography,"[31] while Gary K. Wolfe wrote in Locus: "As literary and cultural history, Astounding may well stand as the definitive account of this important era in the growth of modern SF."[32] Writing in the Los Angeles Times, the critic and writer Scott Bradfield described it as an "enjoyable, cinematically absorbing history of Campbell and his magazines,"[33] and the editor Patrick Nielsen Hayden described it elsewhere as "one of the greatest works of science fiction history ever."[34] Guy Consolmango, the director of the Vatican Observatory, praised it in a review as "a fascinating look at Campbell and three of his most notable contributors" and an "excellent book."[35] Michael Dirda of the Washington Post called it "enthralling" and concluded: "In the end, Nevala-Lee’s Astounding isn’t just Arrakisian spice for science-fiction fans—it’s also a clarion call to enlarge American literary history."[36]

BibliographyEdit

NonfictionEdit

  • Nevala-Lee, Alec (2018). Astounding: John W. Campbell, Isaac Asimov, Robert A. Heinlein, L. Ron Hubbard, and the Golden Age of Science Fiction. New York: Dey Street Books / HarperCollins. ISBN 9780062571946.

NovelsEdit

  • Nevala-Lee, Alec (2012). The Icon Thief. New York: Signet / New American Library.
  • Nevala-Lee, Alec (2012). City of Exiles. New York: Signet / New American Library.
  • Nevala-Lee, Alec (2013). Eternal Empire. New York: Signet / New American Library.

Short fictionEdit

Title Year First published Reprinted/collected Notes
Inversus 2004 "Inversus". Analog Science Fiction and Fact. 124 (1, 2): 200–227. January 2004.
The Last Resort 2009 "The Last Resort". Analog Science Fiction and Fact. 129 (9): 54–71. September 2009. Finalist for the Analytical Laboratory Award
Kawataro 2011 "Kawataro". Analog Science Fiction and Fact. 131 (6): 90–103. June 2011.
The Boneless One 2011 "The Boneless One". Analog Science Fiction and Fact. 131 (11): 86–103. November 2011. The Year’s Best Science Fiction, 29th Annual Collection, edited by Gardner Dozois. Locus Recommended Reading List[37]
Ernesto 2012 "Ernesto". Analog Science Fiction and Fact. 132 (3): 42–49. March 2012. "Ernesto". Lightspeed Magazine (76). September 2016.
The Voices 2012 "The Voices". Analog Science Fiction and Fact. 132 (9): 56–67. September 2012.
The Whale God 2013 "The Whale God". Analog Science Fiction and Fact. 133 (9): 8–22. September 2013. Cover story; Locus Recommended Reading List[38]
Cryptids 2014 "Cryptids". Analog Science Fiction and Fact. 134 (5): 8–21. May 2014. Cover story; finalist for the Analytical Laboratory Award
Stonebrood 2015 "Stonebrood". Analog Science Fiction and Fact. 135 (10): 8–25. October 2015. Lead story
The Proving Ground 2017 "The Proving Ground". Analog Science Fiction and Fact. 137 (1, 2): 8–30. January 2017. "The Proving Ground". Lightspeed Magazine (94). March 2018. The Year's Best Science Fiction: Thirty-Fifth Annual Collection, edited by Gardner Dozois. Cover story; Locus Recommended Reading List;[39] finalist for the Analytical Laboratory Award
The Spires 2018 "The Spires". Analog Science Fiction and Fact. 138 (3, 4): 8–24. March 2018. Lead story

Selected articlesEdit

  • "Marcel Duchamp’s Turning Point." Los Angeles Times, March 18, 2012.
  • "Karl Rove’s Labyrinth." The Daily Beast, November 20, 2012.
  • "Lessons from The X-Files." Salon, September 17, 2013.
  • "Xenu’s Paradox: The Fiction of L. Ron Hubbard and the Making of Scientology." Longreads, February 1, 2017.
  • "The Campbell Machine." Analog Science Fiction and Fact, July/August 2018.
  • "Dawn of Dianetics: L. Ron Hubbard, John W. Campbell, and the Origins of Scientology." Longreads, October 23, 2018.
  • "What Isaac Asimov Taught Us About Predicting the Future." New York Times, October 31, 2018. Appeared in the print edition on November 3, 2018, under the headline "Back to the Future."
  • "How Astounding Saw the Future." New York Times, January 10, 2019. Appeared in the print edition on January 13, 2019, under the headline "Simply Astounding."

Other mediaEdit

  • “Retention.” Episode of the audio science fiction series The Outer Reach. Released on December 21, 2016. Featuring the voices of Aparna Nancherla and Echo Kellum.

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "The Economist's books of the year". The Economist. Retrieved 2018-11-29.
  2. ^ "Astounding - Alec Nevala-Lee - Hardcover". HarperCollins Publishers: World-Leading Book Publisher. Retrieved 2018-11-09.
  3. ^ "Publishers Marketplace". www.publishersmarketplace.com. Retrieved 2018-11-26."Alec Nevala-Lee's BUCKMINSTER FULLER, a biography of architectural designer and creator of the geodesic dome, futurist Buckminster Fuller, thought to be the precursor to some of today's most iconic innovators and thinkers—including Steve Jobs, Jeff Bezos, and Elon Musk, again to Carrie Thornton at Dey Street Books."
  4. ^ "Authors : Nevala-Lee, Alec : SFE : Science Fiction Encyclopedia". www.sf-encyclopedia.com. Retrieved 2018-12-08.
  5. ^ Levin, Trevor J. (April 26, 2016). "The Springboard: Alumni in the Arts Recall Studies at Harvard". www.thecrimson.com. Retrieved 2018-10-15.
  6. ^ Borrelli, Christopher. "What happened to all the women in science fiction?". chicagotribune.com. Retrieved 2018-11-09.
  7. ^ "Alec Nevala-Lee | Penguin Random House". PenguinRandomhouse.com. Retrieved 2018-12-12.
  8. ^ "Summary Bibliography: Alec Nevala-Lee". www.isfdb.org. Retrieved 2018-12-12.
  9. ^ "sfadb : Alec Nevala-Lee Titles". www.sfadb.com. Retrieved 2018-12-12.
  10. ^ "What Isaac Asimov Taught Us About Predicting the Future". Retrieved 2018-10-31.
  11. ^ Nevala-Lee, Alec (2019-01-10). "How Astounding Saw the Future". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2019-01-16.
  12. ^ "Alec Nevala-Lee". HarperCollins Publishers: World-Leading Book Publisher. Retrieved 2018-07-15.
  13. ^ "Astounding—Alec Nevala-Lee". HarperCollins.
  14. ^ "A new Kickstarter project will publish an undiscovered novel that inspired The Thing". The Verge. Retrieved 2018-10-21.
  15. ^ "In 1949, psychiatrists wouldn't touch Dianetics — so L. Ron Hubbard invented one who would « The Underground Bunker". tonyortega.org. Retrieved 2018-11-03.
  16. ^ Lausch, Monica. (2016). "The Library as a Laboratory in the Search for New Perspectives: The Artist-Librarian Marcel Duchamp." Art and Book: Illustration and Innovation. Newcastle upon Tyne, United Kingdom: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, p. 33. "Duchamp's artworks have become intertextual signifiers....As icons they have extended themselves in book culture in recent fiction novels, including a thriller entitled The Icon Thief by Alec Nevala-Lee and the futuristic 2666 by Robert Bolaño."
  17. ^ "City of Exiles". Publishers Weekly.
  18. ^ Steinbock, Steve (March 2014). "The Jury Box". Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine.
  19. ^ Horton, Rich. (August 2013). "Locus Looks at Short Fiction." Locus Magazine.
  20. ^ Quachri, Trevor (August 2013). "In Times to Come." Analog Science Fiction and Fact,
  21. ^ Strahan, Jonathan. "Episode 330: Books, reading and wolves..." The Coode Street Podcast. Retrieved 2018-05-07.
  22. ^ Saler, Michael (2018-10-19). "It Came From the Future". Wall Street Journal. ISSN 0099-9660. Retrieved 2018-10-19.
  23. ^ "Meet Hackers, Gunslingers, and Witches in Barnes & Noble Booksellers Picks for October". Tor.com. 2018-10-02. Retrieved 2018-10-02.
  24. ^ "Authors : Nevala-Lee, Alec : SFE : Science Fiction Encyclopedia". www.sf-encyclopedia.com. Retrieved 2018-12-08.
  25. ^ "The Economist's books of the year". The Economist. Retrieved 2018-11-29.
  26. ^ "Nonfiction Book Review: Astounding: John W. Campbell, Isaac Asimov, Robert A. Heinlein, L. Ron Hubbard, and the Golden Age of Science Fiction by Alec Nevala-Lee. Dey Street, $28.99 (320p) ISBN 978-0-06-257194-6". PublishersWeekly.com. Retrieved 2018-05-23.
  27. ^ "Astounding". Kirkus Reviews. May 15, 2018.
  28. ^ Saler, Michael (2018-10-19). "It Came From the Future". Wall Street Journal. ISSN 0099-9660. Retrieved 2018-10-19.
  29. ^ Latham, Rob (October 2018). "Beyond pulp: trailblazers of science fiction's golden age". Nature. 562 (7726): 189–190. doi:10.1038/d41586-018-06943-8. ISSN 0028-0836.
  30. ^ "Astounding Days: John W. Campbell and the Golden Age of Science Fiction". The Barnes & Noble Review. 2018-11-15. Retrieved 2018-11-16.
  31. ^ Sallis, James (November 2018). "Books: Review of Astounding". The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction: 66–67.
  32. ^ Wolfe, Gary K. (November 2018). "Locus Looks at Books". Locus: 16–17.
  33. ^ Bradfield, Scott. "John W. Campbell, a chief architect of science fiction's Golden Age, was as brilliant as he was problematic". latimes.com. Retrieved 2018-11-16.
  34. ^ "P Nielsen Hayden on Twitter". Twitter. Retrieved 2018-11-16.
  35. ^ Consolmango, Guy. "Ancient geeks". The Tablet. Retrieved 2018-11-23.
  36. ^ "Review | Let us praise the giants of science fiction: Campbell, Asimov and, yes, L. Ron Hubbard". Washington Post. Retrieved 2018-10-31.
  37. ^ "2011 Recommended Reading List". Locus Online. Retrieved 2018-05-23.
  38. ^ "2013 Locus Recommended Reading List". Locus Online. Retrieved 2018-05-23.
  39. ^ "2017 Locus Recommended Reading List". Locus Online. Retrieved 2018-05-23.

External linksEdit