Alec Nevala-Lee

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Alec Nevala-Lee
2018 Alec Nevala-Lee.jpg
Castro Valley, California
Genre Science fiction, Biography, Thriller

Alec Nevala-Lee is an American novelist, biographer, and science fiction writer. He is a Hugo Award finalist [1] for 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 , [2] and which the science fiction writer Barry N. Malzberg called "the most important historical and critical work my field has ever seen." [3] He is currently at work on a biography of the architect, designer, and futurist Buckminster Fuller. [4]

Science fiction Genre of speculative fiction

Science fiction is a genre of speculative fiction, typically dealing with imaginative and futuristic concepts such as advanced science and technology, space exploration, time travel, and extraterrestrial life. Science fiction often explores the potential consequences of scientific and other innovations, and has been called a "literature of ideas."

Hugo Award set of awards given annually for the best science fiction or fantasy works and achievements of the previous year

The Hugo Awards are a set of literary awards given annually for the best science fiction or fantasy works and achievements of the previous year. The awards are named after Hugo Gernsback, the founder of the pioneering science fiction magazine Amazing Stories, and were officially named the Science Fiction Achievement Awards until 1992. Organized and overseen by the World Science Fiction Society, the awards are given each year at the annual World Science Fiction Convention as the central focus of the event. They were first given in 1953, at the 11th World Science Fiction Convention, and have been awarded every year since 1955. Over the years that the award has been given, the categories presented have changed; currently Hugo Awards are given in more than a dozen categories, and include both written and dramatic works of various types.

<i>The Economist</i> English weekly news and international affairs publication

The Economist is an English-language weekly magazine-format newspaper owned by the Economist Group and edited at offices in London. Continuous publication began under its founder James Wilson in September 1843. In 2015, its average weekly circulation was a little over 1.5 million, about half of which were sold in the United States. Pearson PLC held a 50% shareholding via The Financial Times Limited until August 2015. At that time, Pearson sold their share in the Economist. The Agnelli family's Exor paid £287m to raise their stake from 4.7% to 43.4% while the Economist paid £182m for the balance of 5.04m shares which will be distributed to current shareholders. Aside from the Agnelli family, smaller shareholders in the company include Cadbury, Rothschild (21%), Schroder, Layton and other family interests as well as a number of staff and former staff shareholders.



Nevala-Lee was born in Castro Valley, California in 1980 [5] and graduated from Harvard College with a bachelor's degree in Classics. [6] He currently lives in Oak Park, Illinois. [7] His novels include The Icon Thief, City of Exiles, and Eternal Empire, all published by Penguin Books, [8] and his short fiction has appeared in Analog Science Fiction and Fact , Lightspeed Magazine , [9] and two editions of The Year’s Best Science Fiction . [10] He has written for such publications as the New York Times , [11] [12] the Los Angeles Times, Salon , The Daily Beast , Longreads , The Rumpus , and the San Francisco Bay Guardian . [13] 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. [14] 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. [15] 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." [16]

Castro Valley, California CDP in California, United States

Castro Valley is a census-designated place (CDP) in Alameda County, California, United States. As of the 2010 census, it is the fifth most populous unincorporated area in California and the twenty-third most populous in the United States. The population was 61,388 at the 2010 census.

Harvard College main undergraduate school of Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts

Harvard College is the undergraduate liberal arts college of Harvard University. Founded in 1636 in Cambridge, Massachusetts, it is the oldest institution of higher learning in the United States and one of the most prestigious in the world.

Oak Park, Illinois Village in Illinois, United States

Oak Park is a village adjacent to the West Side of Chicago, Illinois. It is the 29th largest municipality in Illinois as measured by population in the 2010 U.S. census. As of the 2010 United States Census the village had a population of 51,878.


Nevala-Lee’s debut novel, The Icon Thief, is a conspiracy thriller inspired by the work of artist Marcel Duchamp. [17] A sequel, City of Exiles, is partially based on the Dyatlov Pass incident, [18] while the concluding novel in the trilogy, Eternal Empire, incorporates elements from the myth of Shambhala. [19] 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.” [20] 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,” [21] 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." [22] The Wall Street Journal has called Nevala-Lee "a talented science fiction writer," [23] and Jim Killen of Tor has written that he has earned "a reputation as one of the smartest young SFF writers out there." [24]

The conspiracy thriller is a subgenre of thriller fiction. The protagonists of conspiracy thrillers are often journalists or amateur investigators who find themselves pulling on a small thread which unravels a vast conspiracy that ultimately goes "all the way to the top." The complexities of historical fact are recast as a morality play in which bad people cause bad events, and good people identify and defeat them. Conspiracies are often played out as "man-in-peril" stories, or yield quest narratives similar to those found in whodunnits and detective stories.

Marcel Duchamp French painter and sculptor

Henri-Robert-Marcel Duchamp was a French-American painter, sculptor, chess player, and writer whose work is associated with Cubism, Dada, and conceptual art. He was careful about his use of the term Dada and was not directly associated with Dada groups. Duchamp is commonly regarded, along with Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse, as one of the three artists who helped to define the revolutionary developments in the plastic arts in the opening decades of the 20th century, responsible for significant developments in painting and sculpture. Duchamp has had an immense impact on twentieth-century and twenty first-century art, and he had a seminal influence on the development of conceptual art. By World War I, he had rejected the work of many of his fellow artists as "retinal" art, intended only to please the eye. Instead, Duchamp wanted to use art to serve the mind.

Dyatlov Pass incident unsolved deaths of nine ski hikers in the northern Ural Mountains in the Soviet Union (now Russia) between 1 February and 2 February 1959

The Dyatlov Pass incident refers to the deaths of nine ski hikers in the northern Ural Mountains in the Soviet Union between 1 and 2 February 1959 under unclear circumstances. The experienced trekking group, who were all from the Ural Polytechnical Institute, had established a camp on the slopes of Kholat Syakhl in an area now named in honor of the group's leader, Igor Dyatlov. During the night, something caused them to tear their way out of their tents and flee the campsite while inadequately dressed for heavy snowfall and sub-zero temperatures.

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 [25] —is a 2019 Hugo Award finalist for Best Related Work. [26] The Economist named it 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." [27] The author George R.R. Martin praised it as "an amazing and engrossing history...Insightful, entertaining, and compulsively readable." [28] In a starred review, Publishers Weekly described it as "a major work of popular culture scholarship," [29] while Kirkus Reviews referred to it as "first-rate...a welcome contribution to the study of popular literature." [30] Writing in the Wall Street Journal, the scholar Michael Saler called it an "engrossing, well-researched history," [31] while James Sallis of The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction described it as a "wonderfully researched, expansive biography." [32] 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." [33] The editor Patrick Nielsen Hayden praised it as "one of the greatest works of science fiction history ever," [34] while 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." [35]

Isaac Asimov American science-fiction and non-fiction writer

Isaac Asimov was an American writer and professor of biochemistry at Boston University. He was known for his works of science fiction and popular science. Asimov was a prolific writer who wrote or edited more than 500 books and an estimated 90,000 letters and postcards. His books have been published in 9 of the 10 major categories of the Dewey Decimal Classification.

Robert A. Heinlein American science fiction author

Robert Anson Heinlein was an American science-fiction author, aeronautical engineer, and retired Naval officer. Often called the "dean of science fiction writers", He was among the first to emphasize scientific accuracy in his fiction, and was thus a pioneer of the subgenre of hard science fiction. His work continues to have an influence on the science-fiction genre, and on modern culture more generally.

The Hugo Awards are given every year by the World Science Fiction Society for the best science fiction or fantasy works and achievements of the previous year. The award is named after Hugo Gernsback, the founder of the pioneering science fiction magazine Amazing Stories, and was once officially known as the Science Fiction Achievement Award. The award has been described as "a fine showcase for speculative fiction" and "the best known literary award for science fiction writing". The Hugo Award for Best Related Work is given each year for primarily non-fiction works related to science fiction or fantasy, published or translated into English during the previous calendar year. Awards are also given out for works of fiction in the novel, novella, novelette, and short story categories.



International Standard Book Number Unique numeric book identifier

The International Standard Book Number (ISBN) is a numeric commercial book identifier which is intended to be unique. Publishers purchase ISBNs from an affiliate of the International ISBN Agency.


Short fiction

TitleYearFirst publishedReprinted/collectedNotes
Inversus2004"Inversus". Analog Science Fiction and Fact. 124 (1, 2): 200–227. January 2004.
The Last Resort2009"The Last Resort". Analog Science Fiction and Fact. 129 (9): 54–71. September 2009.Finalist for the Analytical Laboratory Award
Kawataro2011"Kawataro". Analog Science Fiction and Fact. 131 (6): 90–103. June 2011.
The Boneless One2011"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 [36]
Ernesto2012"Ernesto". Analog Science Fiction and Fact. 132 (3): 42–49. March 2012."Ernesto". Lightspeed Magazine (76). September 2016.
The Voices2012"The Voices". Analog Science Fiction and Fact. 132 (9): 56–67. September 2012.
The Whale God2013"The Whale God". Analog Science Fiction and Fact. 133 (9): 8–22. September 2013.Cover story; Locus Recommended Reading List [37]
Cryptids2014"Cryptids". Analog Science Fiction and Fact. 134 (5): 8–21. May 2014.Cover story; finalist for the Analytical Laboratory Award
Stonebrood2015"Stonebrood". Analog Science Fiction and Fact. 135 (10): 8–25. October 2015.Lead story
The Proving Ground2017"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; [38] finalist for the Analytical Laboratory Award
The Spires2018"The Spires". Analog Science Fiction and Fact. 138 (3, 4): 8–24. March 2018.Lead story; Locus Recommended Reading List [39]

Selected articles

Other media

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Hal Clement American author

Harry Clement Stubbs, better known by the pen name Hal Clement, was an American science fiction writer and a leader of the hard science fiction subgenre. He also painted astronomically oriented artworks under the name George Richard.

John W. Campbell American science fiction writer and editor

John Wood Campbell Jr. was an American science fiction writer and editor. He was editor of Astounding Science Fiction from late 1937 until his death and was part of the Golden Age of Science Fiction. Campbell wrote super-science space opera under his own name and stories under his primary pseudonym, Don A. Stuart. Campbell also used the pen names Karl Van Kampen and Arthur McCann. His novella Who Goes There? was adapted as the films The Thing from Another World (1951), The Thing (1982), and The Thing (2011).

<i>Who Goes There?</i> 1938 American science fiction novella

Who Goes There? is a science fiction novella by American writer John W. Campbell, Jr., written under the pen name Don A. Stuart. It was first published in the August 1938 Astounding Science Fiction.

<i>Unknown</i> (magazine) US pulp fantasy magazine published from 1939 to 1943

Unknown was an American pulp fantasy fiction magazine, published from 1939 to 1943 by Street & Smith, and edited by John W. Campbell. Unknown was a companion to Street & Smith's science fiction pulp, Astounding Science Fiction, which was also edited by Campbell at the time; many authors and illustrators contributed to both magazines. The leading fantasy magazine in the 1930s was Weird Tales, which focused on shock and horror. Campbell wanted to publish a fantasy magazine with more finesse and humor than Weird Tales, and put his plans into action when Eric Frank Russell sent him the manuscript of his novel Sinister Barrier, about aliens who own the human race. Unknown's first issue appeared in March 1939; in addition to Sinister Barrier, it included H. L. Gold's "Trouble With Water", a humorous fantasy about a New Yorker who meets a water gnome. Gold's story was the first of many in Unknown to combine commonplace reality with the fantastic.

Frederick Orlin Tremaine was an American science fiction magazine editor, most notably of the influential Astounding Stories. He edited a number of other magazines, headed several publishing companies, and sporadically wrote fiction.

<i>Dianetics: The Evolution of a Science</i> book by L. Ron Hubbard

"Dianetics: The Evolution of a Science" is an article by American writer L. Ron Hubbard, published in Astounding Science Fiction published immediately preceding the release of Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health that introduced Dianetics. Dianetics: The Evolution of a Science covers how Hubbard defined the reactive mind and developed the procedures to get rid of it.

The first Golden Age of Science Fiction, often recognized in the United States as the period from 1938 to 1946, was an era during which the science fiction genre gained wide public attention and many classic science fiction stories were published. In the history of science fiction, the Golden Age follows the "pulp era" of the 1920s and 1930s, and precedes New Wave science fiction of the 1960s and 1970s. The 1950s are a transitional period in this scheme; however, Robert Silverberg, who came of age in the 1950s, saw that decade as the true Golden Age.

Gnome Press American small-press publishing company

Gnome Press was an American small-press publishing company primarily known for publishing many science fiction classics. Gnome was one of the most eminent of the fan publishers of SF, producing 86 titles in its lifespan — many considered classic works of SF and Fantasy today. Gnome was important in the transitional period between Genre SF as a magazine phenomenon and its arrival in mass-market book publishing, but proved too underfunded to make the leap from fan-based publishing to the professional level. The company existed for just over a decade, ultimately failing due to inability to compete with major publishers who also started to publish science fiction. In its heyday, Gnome published many of the major SF authors, and in some cases, as with Robert E. Howard's Conan series and Isaac Asimov's Foundation series, was responsible for the manner in which their stories were collected into book form.

The history of Dianetics possibly begins in the 1920s. Its originator L. Ron Hubbard claimed that his ideas of Dianetics originated in the 1920s and 1930s. By his own account, he spent a great deal of time in the Oak Knoll Naval Hospital's library, where he would have encountered the work of Freud and other psychoanalysts. In April 1950, Hubbard and several others established the Hubbard Dianetic Research Foundation in Elizabeth, New Jersey to coordinate work related for the forthcoming publication. Hubbard first introduced Dianetics to the public in the article Dianetics: The Evolution of a Science published in the May 1950 issue of the magazine Astounding Science Fiction. Hubbard wrote Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health at that time, allegedly completing the 180,000-word book in six weeks.

<i>Adventures in Time and Space</i> book by Raymond J. Healy

Adventures in Time and Space is an American anthology of science fiction stories edited by Raymond J. Healy and J. Francis McComas and published in 1946 by Random House. A second edition was also published in 1946 that eliminated the last five stories. A Modern Library edition was issued in 1957. When it was re-released in 1975 by Ballantine Books, Analog book reviewer Lester del Rey referred to it as a book he often gave to people in order to turn them onto the genre. It is now once again out of print.

John W. Campbell bibliography

This is a bibliography of works by American writer John W. Campbell, Jr.

The Hugo Awards, named after Hugo Gernsback, are presented every year for the best science fiction or fantasy works and achievements of the previous year. Results are based on the ballots submitted by members of the World Science Fiction Society.

<i>Astounding: John W. Campbell Memorial Anthology</i> book by Harry Harrison

Astounding: John W. Campbell Memorial Anthology is a 1973 anthology honoring American science fiction and fantasy editor John W. Campbell, in the form of an anthology of short stories by various science fiction authors, edited by Harry Harrison. It was first published in hardcover by Random House as a selection of the Science Fiction Book Club, and first published in paperback by Ballantine Books.

"Deadline" is a 1944 science fiction short story by American writer Cleve Cartmill, first published in Astounding Science Fiction. The story described the then-secret atomic bomb in some detail. At that time the bomb was still under development and top secret, which prompted a visit by the FBI.

<i>Analog Science Fiction and Fact</i> US science fiction magazine

Analog Science Fiction and Fact is an American science-fiction magazine published under various titles since 1930. Originally titled Astounding Stories of Super-Science, the first issue was dated January 1930, published by William Clayton, and edited by Harry Bates. Clayton went bankrupt in 1933 and the magazine was sold to Street & Smith. The new editor was F. Orlin Tremaine, who soon made Astounding the leading magazine in the nascent pulp science fiction field, publishing well-regarded stories such as Jack Williamson's Legion of Space and John W. Campbell's "Twilight". At the end of 1937, Campbell took over editorial duties under Tremaine's supervision, and the following year Tremaine was let go, giving Campbell more independence. Over the next few years Campbell published many stories that became classics in the field, including Isaac Asimov's Foundation series, A.E. van Vogt's Slan, and several novels and stories by Robert A. Heinlein. The period beginning with Campbell's editorship is often referred to as the Golden Age of Science Fiction.

<i>The 1989 Annual Worlds Best SF</i> book by Donald A. Wollheim

The 1989 Annual World's Best SF is an anthology of science fiction short stories edited by Donald A. Wollheim and Arthur W. Saha, the eighteenth volume in a series of nineteen. It was first published in paperback by DAW Books in June 1989, followed by a hardcover edition issued in September of the same year by the same publisher as a selection of the Science Fiction Book Club. For the hardcover edition the original cover art by Jim Burns was replaced by a new cover painting by Richard M. Powers.

Lafayette Ronald Hubbard, better known as L. Ron Hubbard, was an American pulp fiction author. He wrote in a wide variety of genres, including science fiction, fantasy, adventure fiction, aviation, travel, mystery, western, and romance. He is perhaps best known for his self-help book, the #1 New York Times bestseller Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health, and as the founder of the Church of Scientology.

<i>The Astounding, the Amazing, and the Unknown</i> novel by Paul Malmont

The Astounding, the Amazing, and the Unknown is an alternate historical adventure novel written by Paul Malmont, the sequel to The Chinatown Death Cloud Peril (2007). It features real-life pulp magazine authors of the past as the heroes of adventures reminiscent of their favored genres. The book was first published in hardcover by Simon & Schuster and audiobook by Brilliance Audio in July 2011. The title is drawn from those of the magazines, Astounding Science-Fiction, Amazing Stories, and Unknown, for which his main protagonists wrote.

<i>The Analog Anthology 1</i>

The Analog Anthology #1 is an anthology of science fiction stories and articles drawn from Analog magazine over its first fifty years of publication, edited by then-current Analog editor Stanley Schmidt. It was first published in paperback by Davis Publications in December 1980, and reprinted under the alternate title Fifty Years of the Best Science Fiction from Analog in 1982. A hardcover edition was issued under the alternate title Analog’s Golden Anniversary Anthology in 1981.


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  4. "Publishers Marketplace". 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."
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