The Astounding, the Amazing, and the Unknown

starsORIGINALLY POSTED AT Fantasy Literature It s and World War II is going strong There are rumors that the Nazis and the Japanese may be about to unleash a deadly secret weapon against A

4.5 starsORIGINALLY POSTED AT Fantasy Literature.It’s 1943 and World War II is going strong. There are rumors that the Nazis and the Japanese may be about to unleash a deadly secret weapon against America and people are afraid. But America may be able to create some secret weapons of its own, and who better to imagine and design them than the smartest science fiction writers of the age? So, under the direction of John W. Campbell (editor of the SFF magazines Astounding and Unknown), the Navy recruits Robert A. Heinlein, Isaac Asimov, L. Sprague de Camp, and L. Ron Hubbard to turn their imaginations into scientific discoveries.At first, the goals are simple: make the Navy’s ships invisible to radar, control the weather, defy gravity… But when the SF boys find out that recently-deceased (and possibly murdered) Nikola Tesla had a secret journal describing the construction and use of his own anti-aircraft deathray, pulp-style adventure ensues. Not only do they need to find out how Tesla’s weapon works (surely he used alternating current), they must also evade the War Department, which has suddenly taken an interest in their activities. It seems the Feds have read Cleve Cartmill’s story “Deadline” (published in Astounding) which describes how to make a nuclear bomb. But perhaps most frightening of all is that the SF geeks have to contend with a group of Navy sailor bullies. They can’t compete with them physically, but they can use their brains to get revenge!The plot of The Astounding, the Amazing, and the Unknown takes a while to get going and is interrupted frequently for the insertion of real facts and history because more than anything, Paul Malmont’s novel is a tribute to 1940s science fiction and the men who wrote and compiled it for the “mags.” Thus, readers will learn all about Robert A. Heinlein’s naval career, tuberculosis, hair loss, and how the biochemist who will become his third (and last) wife influences his politics. Readers will also learn about Isaac Asimov’s fear of flying and some history that explains the development of L. Ron Hubbard’s Scientology cult. Other pulp personalities such as Norvell Page, Lester Dent, Hugo Gernsback, William Gibson, and Frederik Pohl appear in unlikely but amusing places. I think Paul Malmont’s greatest accomplishment, though, is that he shows us how the imagination anticipates and creates scientific discovery and the advancement of our society.The audiobook version of The Astounding, the Amazing, and the Unknown, which was excellently narrated by Christopher Lane and produced by Brilliance Audio, arrived on my doorstep at just the right time. I happened to be reading some pulps recently (always trying to catch up on all the SF history I missed by being born too late), including L. Sprague de Camp’s Harold Shea stories, which are lovingly mentioned by Malmont. Any science fiction fan has to appreciate Malmont’s obvious affection for the genre.Not only was this a fun, and sometimes very funny story, but I learned a lot, too. I recommend that anyone who’s not familiar with the Golden Age of Science Fiction, and the way that John Campbell and his favorite SF writers changed the history of SF, do a bit of research before reading The Astounding, the Amazing, and the Unknown. I think you’ll get much more out of it. But, even if you don’t, it’s astoundingly entertaining, as any pulp story should be.A viral The Astounding, the Amazing, and the Unknown By Paul Malmont am Ebook Based on an incredible true episode of World War II history, Paul Malmont s new novel is a rollicking blend of fact and fiction about the men and women who were recruited to defeat the Nazis and ended up creating the future In 1943, when the United States learns that Germany is on the verge of a deadly innovation that could tip the balance of the war, the government turnsBased on an incredible true episode of World War II history, Paul Malmont s new novel is a rollicking blend of fact and fiction about the men and women who were recruited to defeat the Nazis and ended up creating the future In 1943, when the United States learns that Germany is on the verge of a deadly innovation that could tip the balance of the war, the government turns to an unlikely source for help the nation s top science fiction writers Installed at a covert military lab within the Philadelphia Naval Yard are the most brilliant of these young visionaries The unruly band is led by Robert Heinlein, the dashing and complicated master of the genre His Kamikaze Group, which includes the ambitious genius Isaac Asimov, is tasked with transforming the wonders of science fiction into science fact and unlocking the secrets to invisibility, death rays, force fields, weather control, and other astounding phenomena and finding it harder than they ever imagined When a German spy washes ashore near the abandoned Long Island ruins of a mysterious energy facility, the military begins to fear that the Nazis are a step ahead of Heinlein s group Now the oddball team, joined by old friends from the Pulp Era including L Ron Hubbard court martialed for attacking Mexico , must race to catch up The answers they seek may be locked in the legendary War of Currents, which was fought decades earlier between Nikola Tesla and Thomas Edison As the threat of an imminent Nazi invasion of America grows and possible, events are set in motion that just may revolutionize the future or destroy it while forcing the writers to challenge the limits of talent, imagination, love, destiny, and even reality itself Blazing at breathtaking speed from forgotten tunnels deep beneath Manhattan to top secret battles in the North Pacific, and careening from truth to pulp and back again, The Astounding, the Amazing, and the Unknown is a sweeping, romantic epic a page turning rocket ship ride through the history of the future.. The author of THE CHINATOWN DEATH CLOUD PERIL and his latest, JACK LONDON IN PARADISE.. Popular Book The Astounding, the Amazing, and the Unknown Rating: 3.5* of fiveThe Publisher Says: Based on an incredible true episode of World War II history, Paul Malmont’s new novel is a rollicking blend of fact and fiction about the men and women who were recruited to defeat the Nazis and ended up creating the future.In 1943, when the United States learns that Germany is on the verge of a deadly innovation that could tip the balance of the war, the government turns to an unlikely source for help: the nation’s top science fiction writers. Installed at a covert military lab within the Philadelphia Naval Yard are the most brilliant of these young visionaries. The unruly band is led by Robert Heinlein, the dashing and complicated master of the genre. His “Kamikaze Group,” which includes the ambitious genius Isaac Asimov, is tasked with transforming the wonders of science fiction into science fact and unlocking the secrets to invisibility, death rays, force fields, weather control, and other astounding phenomena—and finding it harder than they ever imagined.When a German spy washes ashore near the abandoned Long Island ruins of a mysterious energy facility, the military begins to fear that the Nazis are a step ahead of Heinlein’s group. Now the oddball team, joined by old friends from the Pulp Era including L. Ron Hubbard (court-martialed for attacking Mexico), must race to catch up. The answers they seek may be locked in the legendary War of Currents, which was fought decades earlier between Nikola Tesla and Thomas Edison. As the threat of an imminent Nazi invasion of America grows more and more possible, events are set in motion that just may revolutionize the future—or destroy it—while forcing the writers to challenge the limits of talent, imagination, love, destiny, and even reality itself.Blazing at breathtaking speed from forgotten tunnels deep beneath Manhattan to top-secret battles in the North Pacific, and careening from truth to pulp and back again, The Astounding, the Amazing, and the Unknown is a sweeping, romantic epic—a page-turning rocket ship ride through the history of the future. My Review: The Philadelphia Experiment, a real project that took place during WWII and produced a long-lived tale of a whole ship that *poof* vanished from Philadelphia Navy Yard, was seen in Norfolk, Virginia, then *poof* reappeared in Philadelphia in far less time than it would take to sail there, is the backdrop of this fantabulous beast of a Franken-novel. Facts are here aplenty, stitched to the imaginitive suppositions of the author, and the tale enacted by the great science fiction writers of the First Golden Age: Robert Heinlein, ex-Navy man and scientist; Isaac Asimov, unfit for combat service but a chemist earning his PhD at Columbia when roped into the Philadelphia Experiment; Lester Dent, Walter Gibson, L. Ron Hubbard (blech)...and their wives, their lesser lights, and a seemingly endless cast of characters famous if you know who they are, like Lyman Binch, the only person to work for both Tesla and Edison.The author propels his cast from pillar to post and back again. He puts them in incredibly perilous situations, he makes it impossible for them to survive, and then rescues them via last-minute coincidences and harum-scarum action. And in the end, after assembling the dramatis personae via the most unsubtle ruse of them all, he actually solves Tunguska, Wardenclyffe, and the Philadelphia Experiment, with a side order of conspiracy theory, in ~30pp.I'm exhausted.Fairly happily so, I admit. The dialogue bears down a little much on the side of "As you know, Bob..." and "the reason I've brought you all here tonight is...", but for most people under 60 that really is the only way he can tell his story and make it even faintly believable.What's most appealing about the novel is its true-to-the-pulps feel. I like the way it honors the genre of the dear, dead pulp science fiction mags of the 30s through the 60s by using--with a wryly arched eyebrow--their every convention, technique, and trope, then with a short coda, bringing the modern sensibility in harmony with the pulpish piffle that has quite enjoyably rollicked on before.Mr. Malmont sent me a very nicely inscribed ARC of the novel when I won it in a contest on his website. It struck me that he's a lot like the old pulp writers. He's an advertising copywriter who clearly loves popular fiction in the SF genre, and is at home telling tales to entertain you, his reader, as he entertains himself. He's good at evoking mood and atmosphere. He's happiest when busiest, too.My god...wouldn't surprise me a bit to find out he was a robot. o.0This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

  1. The author of THE CHINATOWN DEATH CLOUD PERIL and his latest, JACK LONDON IN PARADISE.

724 Reply to “The Astounding, the Amazing, and the Unknown”

  1. Rating 3.5 of fiveThe Publisher Says Based on an incredible true episode of World War II history, Paul Malmont s new novel is a rollicking blend of fact and fiction about the men and women who were recruited to defeat the Nazis and ended up creating the future.In 1943, when the United States learns that Germany is on the verge of a deadly innovation that could tip the balance of the war, the government turns to an unlikely source for help the nation s top science fiction writers Installed at a c [...]


  2. A review mentioning that the basis of this novel is the fact that Robert Heinlein and some other science fiction writers had worked at the Philadelphia Navy Yard during World War Two caught my attention Curiosity led me to this enjoyable, clever and witty book The main characters include familiar names to fans of science fiction, fantasy and pulp fiction, including the creators of The Shadow and Doc Savage, not to mention L Ron Hubbard Cameos by people like Albert Einstein and John W Campbell an [...]


  3. 4.5 starsORIGINALLY POSTED AT Fantasy Literature.It s 1943 and World War II is going strong There are rumors that the Nazis and the Japanese may be about to unleash a deadly secret weapon against America and people are afraid But America may be able to create some secret weapons of its own, and who better to imagine and design them than the smartest science fiction writers of the age So, under the direction of John W Campbell editor of the SFF magazines Astounding and Unknown , the Navy recruits [...]


  4. For a book that held SO much promise, The Astoundingc was a real let down The concept is nothing short of fantastic During WWII, the American government was so desperate to defeat the Germans that they hired a bunch of science fiction writers all pulp writers at this time to form a think tank to make some of the outrageous things they d written about making ships disappear, etc Isaac Asimov is here, Robert Heinlein is here he was once voted the best science fiction writer alive , L Sprague de Ca [...]


  5. A really fun read set during World War 2 and imagining the great Pulp and Science Fiction writers of the time were involved with the war effort The main characters of the book are Robert Heinlein, L Sprague DeCamp, Isaac Asimov and L Ron Hubbard, but there are tons of cameos by other folks living at the time including Walter Gibson and Richard Feynman to name just a couple and leave the rest for you to discover Also included are references to the Philadelphia Experiment and Tesla s Wardenclyffe [...]


  6. A splendid romp through WWII era science fiction and fantasy pro dom, with a completely demented story to tie together real people and curiously real events.


  7. In some ways this is a little bit of a hard book for me to review Some time in 2007 or 2008 I came up with the idea for a novel based at the Philadelphia Naval Yard with Robert Heinlein, Isaac Asimov and Sprague de Camp as the main characters and with the Philadelphia Experiment and Nikola Tesla at the center of the plot I still have my notes on it, but I never got around to writing it But Paul Malmont did in his sequel to The Chinatown Death Cloud Peril Of course he added in L Ron Hubbard and s [...]


  8. Based on a true episode from World War II, this novel takes place in 1943 when the US government enlists the aid of a group of science fiction writers to develop death rays, jet packs, and other things that they write about in an effort to help defeat the enemy.Robert Bob Heinlein, L Ron Hubbard, Isaac don t call me Ike Asimov, and Sprague de Camp are just a few of the names the reader will recognize Nikola Tesla s and Thomas Edison s prior war over electricity plays a part in the story Einstein [...]


  9. 3.5 stars really might have been higher if the author hadn t strained my suspension of disbelief on than one occasion in this book An interesting conceit Pulp science fiction authors Campbell, Heinlein, Asimov, de Camp, and Hubbard along with a host of cameos and drop ins by older and contemporary WWII pulp writers try to make science fiction into fact for the War Departmentd everyone suspects their intentions and abilitiesd I loved the way the author worked Tesla s failed tech and the Philadel [...]


  10. I d classify this as historical fiction with some of the leading science fiction authors of the mid twentieth century as the main characters with walk on parts for a couple notable scientists The pulp writers have been collected by the U.S government to imagine and develop sci fi inspired technology to help with the war effort WWII , and they soon become obsessed with the lost research of Nikola Tesla It s a clever premise and a good read, overall, but the lack of a clear protagonist makes it le [...]





  11. 4 1 2 starsWhat to say A fun read and meet with three of the twentieth centuries most prolific and creative authors, Robert A Heinlein, Isaac Asimov, and L Sprague de Camp They ve been put to work at the Naval Yard in Pennsylvania 1 trying to make the impossible and highly improbable both possible and real Who put them to work John Campbell It actually turns out to be a ruse to deflect from the work being done for the Manhattan Project Trinity.Heinlein, de Camp, and AsimovWho are these people Ro [...]


  12. In the world of Science Fiction, the range of potential subjects is such that not only can we deal with vast distances but also a variety of what if s Indeed, we can also blur the lines between reality and fiction, through alternate universes or just by playing with what happened.Here s a great example of a book that mixes real events with fiction, and real people with some fictional.The real events involve the war work of some of our legendary science fiction writers Isaac Asimov, Robert Heinle [...]


  13. What would have happened if our government thought that the Germans were close to developing a super weapon during World War II Author Paul Malmont supposes that the Navy would have recruited a special think tank of pulp magazine Sci Fi writers to turn the ideas of Science Fiction such as death rays, weather control, and invisibility into science fact Malmont takes this premise and runs with it, bringing the reader along for one heck of a joy ride with such authors as Robert Heinlein, Isaac Asim [...]


  14. I may have wanted to like this book a little too much Its premise goofily extrapolated from actual historical circumstances is that a group of mostly sci fi writers let by Robert Heinlein have been contracted by the government to imagine and produce defensive and offensive weapons for the fight against Hitler Deathrays are often mentioned, as is a coating to make ships invisible to enemy radar The writers thus employed are people like L Sprague de Camp, Isaac Asimov, and informally L Ron Hubbard [...]


  15. Having read so much Heinlein and Asimov, I could not resist reading this It falls into a category I have named Reading Fun It is a rather specific category for me It means books that are just big fun to read the whole way through.It is a fact that mid World War II several pulp writers were recruited by the US Navy and set up in a lab at the Philadelphia Naval Yard Their orders to turn the science fiction wonders they had written about into scientific fact in an effort to win the war Death rays, [...]


  16. A sort of sequel to the Chinatown Death Cloud, this one sees the return of Lester and Norma Dent, Walter Gibson, Robert Heinlein and L Ron Hubbard, although this time joined in work at the Philadelphia Navy Yard by Isaac Asimov and L Sprague de Camp The Navy, like their British counterparts, have put the magicians, forgers and science fiction writers many of whom are also chemists, engineers and physicists if not always degreed to work on weapons of the future ships that can escape detection, ma [...]


  17. Malmont s sequel of sorts to The Chinatown Death Cloud Peril, finds a collection of sci fi writers brought together to help the Allied war effort during World War II Robert Heinlein, Isaac Asimov, and Sprague de Camp are tasked by the US Navy to develop working versions of the kinds of things that they normally only write about.As with Chinatown, Malmont populates this story with a never ending parade of writers, both old and new including old favorites Walter Gibson, Lester Dent, and L Ron Hubb [...]


  18. A fascinating mix of the history of key science fiction writers, an explanation of the Philadelphia Experiment , a few touch points with the Manhattan project, and a bit of Nikolai Tesla I loved it I have no real idea how much of this is well researched history on the key people, and where the fiction takes off The characterizations of Heinlein and Asimov and Urey for that matter seem right on from what I ve read and the people I ve talked to I found almost every chapter or Episode in the pulp s [...]


  19. Enjoyable novel about the wartime efforts of Robert Heinlein, Isaac Asimonv, Sprague de Camp, and Ron Hubbard to come up with a way to make ships invisible Starts off from the true fact that these guys did work together in Philadelphia, and adds a lot of speculation from there Fun, with good characterizations of the principals, and lots of other cameos by the famous and well known i.e James Stewart Fans of golden age science fiction will appreciate it most I imagine Scientologists won t.One bone [...]


  20. It is an interesting view of the 1940s through the lens of science fiction writers of the time Most all of the broad outlines of information here turn out to be true per , and I learned about Jack Parsons rocket scientist pagan, catenary vaults, Jimmy Stewart s war activities, the war in the Aleutians, Nazi superbombers and the volcanic history of Tonga Cameo appearances by lots of sf people, including Ackerman, Van Vogt, Vonnegut, and But the main storyline was a bit too diffuse for me, with f [...]


  21. This was a lot of fun the plot in a nutshell is during WW II, a special division is created consisting of science fiction authors led by Robert Heinlein and a team including Issac Asimov, Sprague de Camp, and L Ron Hubbard is charged with creating weapons and devices from their imagination to help defeat the Nazis But wait there is Secret electric death towers made by Tesla A mysterious underground bunker below the NYC subway Deadly danger on exploding volcanoes Malmont does a great job of givi [...]


  22. Malmont mixes truth and fiction in a very fun book First, the truth Heinlein, Asimov, and deCamp worked at the Philadelphia Naval Yard during WWII, that Yard was the source of the infamous Philadelphia Experiment rumors, and the Nazis were working on an intercontinental super bomber And now the fiction throw in some conspiracies with L Ron Hubbard, Tesla, and Edison among others Malmont mixes everything together in an enjoyable fashion, creating a fun thriller The characters are well drawn, but [...]


  23. I enjoyed Malmont s second historical fiction novel a great deal, even than his first My feelings no doubt derive from the main characters being none other than Robert A Heinlein, Isaac Asimov, L Ron Hubbard, and L Sprague de Camp, with a supporting cast including Lester Dent, John Campbell, Nikola Tesla, Richard Feynman, Albert Einstein, Jack Parsons, and many, many other notables The story itself is based around the true historical events whereby the science fiction authors and the U.S milita [...]


  24. Written in the pulp science fiction style, I thoroughly enjoyed the character development The idea that Richard Heinlein, Issac Asimov and L Ron Hubbard the L is for Lafayette would have all served together in WWII is fun I really enjoyed the Isaac Asimov character a great deal and would like to see a spin off book just about him Also interesting was the shared history as pulp writers these three seemingly mutually exclusive writers were at one time pulp writers I also had the sense that the his [...]


  25. It s enjoyable to a point Reading about so many famous fantasy sci fi authors and scientists trying to save the world from the Nazi threat was entertaining, and I m not surprised that the introduction of L Ron Hubbard into the story made things get weird But I think thing started falling apart about page 300 with this satanic ritual thing When he first mentioned the character s lance , I thought,ok, what do I know, maybe there s some kind of ritualistic armament involved, after all there s a dag [...]


  26. Oh, if only this was nonfiction A rollicking adventure with the pantheon of the Golden Age of science fiction, including Robert Heinlein, Isaac Asimov, L Sprague Decamp, John Campbell, L Ron Hubbard and a host of others Authors from the prior years make cameos as well as other luminaries of the Golden Age including my personal favorite Frederick Pohl in a story confabulating a classic pulp adventure with the work for the Navy the authors did during WWII Not having met any of the authors except t [...]


  27. Three and a half stars actually I was quite taken by the sheer effrontery of this book, which fictionalized several of the sf writers I grew up on It s delicious fun, if a somewhat trashy read, in that the plot is so unlikely and so unwieldy and yet it continually touches down in reality It has the verisimilitude of history, but it isn t, of course It s a little like Woody Allen s Midnight in Paris What gave me a tickle of unease was the realization that if Malmont could do this to Heinlein, Asi [...]


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