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Castro Valley, California
|Genre||Science fiction, Biography, Thriller|
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 ,and which the science fiction writer Barry N. Malzberg called "the most important historical and critical work my field has ever seen." He is currently at work on a biography of the architect, designer, and futurist Buckminster Fuller.
Nevala-Lee was born in Castro Valley, California in 1980and graduated from Harvard College with a bachelor's degree in Classics. He currently lives in Oak Park, Illinois. His novels include The Icon Thief, City of Exiles, and Eternal Empire, all published by Penguin Books, and his short fiction has appeared in Analog Science Fiction and Fact , Lightspeed Magazine , and two editions of The Year’s Best Science Fiction . He has written for such publications as the New York Times , the Los Angeles Times, Salon , The Daily Beast , Longreads , The Rumpus , and the San Francisco Bay Guardian . 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. 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. Nevala-Lee also uncovered an unpublished manuscript, "A Criticism of Dianetics," co-authored by L. Ron Hubbard in 1949, which the noted Scientology critic Tony Ortega has described as "a stunning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."
Nevala-Lee’s debut novel, The Icon Thief, is a conspiracy thriller inspired by the work of artist Marcel Duchamp.A sequel, City of Exiles, is partially based on the Dyatlov Pass incident, , while the concluding novel in the trilogy, Eternal Empire, incorporates elements from the myth of Shambhala. 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.” 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,” 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." The Wall Street Journal has called Nevala-Lee "a talented science fiction writer," and Jim Killen of Tor has written that he has earned "a reputation as one of the smartest young SFF writers out there."
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—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." In a starred review, Publishers Weekly described it as "a major work of popular culture scholarship," while Kirkus Reviews referred to it as "first-rate...a welcome contribution to the study of popular literature." Writing in the Wall Street Journal, the scholar Michael Saler praised it as an "engrossing, well-researched history," and in a review for Nature , the critic Rob Latham called it "multifaceted and superbly detailed...A rich, gripping cultural and historical study." 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."
James Sallis of The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction praised Astounding as a "wonderfully researched, expansive biography,"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." 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," and the editor Patrick Nielsen Hayden described it elsewhere as "one of the greatest works of science fiction history ever." 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." 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."
|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|
|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|
|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; 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|