Alec Nevala-Lee

Thoughts on art, creativity, and the writing life.

The last resolution

with 10 comments

By just about any measure, this was the most rewarding year of my professional life. My group biography Astounding: John W. Campbell, Isaac Asimov, Robert A. Heinlein, L. Ron Hubbard, and the Golden Age of Science Fiction was released by HarperCollins in October. I published one novelette, “The Spires,” in Analog, with another, “At the Fall,” scheduled to come out sometime next year. My novella “The Proving Ground” was anthologized and reprinted in several places, including in the final edition of the late Gardner Dozois’s The Year’s Best Science Fiction. I wrote a few new pieces of nonfiction, including an essay on Isaac Asimov and psychohistory for the New York Times, and I saw John W. Campbell’s Frozen Hell, based on the original manuscript of “Who Goes There?” that I rediscovered at Harvard, blow past all expectations on Kickstarter. (The book, which will include introductions by me and Robert Silverberg, is scheduled to appear in June.) My travels brought me to conventions and conferences in San Jose, Chicago, New Orleans, and Boston. Perhaps best of all, I’ve confirmed I’ll be spending the next three years writing the book of my dreams, a big biography of Buckminster Fuller, which is something that I couldn’t have imagined a decade ago. Even as the world falls apart in other ways, I’ve been lucky enough to spend much of my time thinking about what matters most to me, even if it makes me feel like the narrator of Borges’s “Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius,” who continues to work quietly in his hotel room as the civilization around him enters its long night.

In good times and bad, I’ve also found consolation on this blog, where I’ve posted something every day—and I have trouble believing this myself—for more than eight years. (My posts on science fiction alone add up to a longer book than Astounding, and they account for only a fraction of what I’ve written here.) At the moment, however, it doesn’t look like I’ll be able to keep up my streak. I won’t stop posting here entirely, but I can’t maintain the same pace that I have in the past, and I’ve resolved to take an extended break. For a long time, I planned to skip a day without any advance notice, but it seems appropriate for me to step away now, at the end of this very eventful year. I expect that this blog will go silent for a week or two, followed by occasional posts thereafter when anything grabs my attention, and I may well miss my morning routine enough to return eventually to something approximating my old schedule. In the meantime, though, I want to thank everyone who has hung in there, whether you’re a longtime reader or a recent visitor. Eight years ago, I started this blog without any thought about what it might become, but it unexpectedly turned into the place where I’ve tried to figure out what I think and who I am, at least as a writer, during some of the best and worst years of my life. I’m no longer as optimistic as I once was about what comes next, but I’ve managed to become something like the writer I wanted to be. And a lot of it happened right here.

10 Responses

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  1. Hello. Im new to your blog, but I’ve enjoyed reading your posts. Congratulations on your astonishing success this year, and special congratulations on your Astounding success. I’ll look forward to reading Astounding and to your occasional posts here. Best wishes for the new year. James


    January 1, 2019 at 12:34 pm

  2. Congrats on an amazing 2018!

    Will you attend Comic-Con in San Diego 2019?


    January 1, 2019 at 1:24 pm

  3. When I read your blog I’m amazed by your productivity. I can’t imagine how you can blog so often, and at such lengths for some essays and still have time to be a professional writer. I’m getting old and wish I could be just as productive. I assume your younger mind must work 10x faster than mine. It takes me several hours to complete a 1,000-word essay so some of your longer daily pieces would take me a week. Yeah, I know you have a lot of quote days, but even those take a certain amount of time. Alec, you must not have any other diversions and can concentrate like crazy.

    I expect you’ll become the next Walter Isaacson if you cut back on blogging.


    January 2, 2019 at 8:27 am

  4. @nomnom: Thanks! I don’t plan on attending Comic-Con at the moment—my big trip this year will probably be to Dublin for Worldcon. But if that changes, I’ll let you know!


    January 2, 2019 at 9:53 pm

  5. All the best for 2019. Still looking for that short fiction collection.


    January 5, 2019 at 4:25 pm

  6. @Darren: Stay tuned!


    January 5, 2019 at 4:26 pm

  7. I hope you do come back. I discovered your blog recently and I’ve been chewing through your archives. Really great stuff.


    January 11, 2019 at 6:54 am

  8. I’m a reader since 2013. So many great insights on writing from so many angles. Many of your posts stayed with me and the quote of the day often turned me onto new books and authors. Thank you very much!


    January 12, 2019 at 3:34 am

  9. Hi

    What a great year you have had. I completed the book on Astounding, it was an excellent examination of Campbell’s influence and provided me with insights as to why the science fiction from that period took the direction it did. I can’t say I loved it because the writers, were such flawed individuals, that it was sometimes quite distressing. But I am really glad I had a chance to read it now, especially as a friend and I are currently reading some of his old Analog’s from the 1960’s and 1970’s, and it helped me understand the nature of the type of stories I am reading. I love science fiction art and your recent essay was great. I really think your insight “As I note in the article, it took years for the stories inside the magazine to catch up to the dreams of its readers, but the artwork was often remarkable from the beginning.” is quite true. Even for non readers of science fiction, the Paul covers for Amazing, Air Wonder Stories, etc. and the similar covers for Popular Mechanics, the comic strips in the newspapers, advertising all pointed to a science fiction future even if you never read a word of science fiction.

    I just finished The Proving Ground, and I read The Spires some time ago, very good work. You certainly covered a range of subject matter, from something quite topical in Proving Ground to a very Fortean brush with reality in Spires.

    You must be exhausted. All the best for 2019.



    January 17, 2019 at 11:22 am

  10. @Guy: Thanks for the kind words! It’s been a great year indeed—and I’m indeed exhausted.


    January 17, 2019 at 9:49 pm

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