Alec Nevala-Lee

Thoughts on art, creativity, and the writing life.

Science fiction studies


Astounding: John W. Campbell, Isaac Asimov, Robert A. Heinlein, L. Ron Hubbard, and the Golden Age of Science Fiction. Forthcoming from Dey Street Books, an imprint of HarperCollins, on August 14, 2018.

Selected Nonfiction

“Karl Rove’s Labyrinth.” The Daily Beast. November 20, 2012. Essay on Karl Rove’s surprising love of the Argentine writer Jorge Luis Borges.

“Lessons from The X-Files.” Salon. September 17, 2013. The twentieth anniversary of The X-Files and its lessons for modern television.

“Xenu’s Paradox: The Fiction of L. Ron Hubbard and the Making of Scientology.” Longreads. February 1, 2017. An overview of the science fiction and fantasy stories of the controversial founder of dianetics and the Church of Scientology. Featured on The A.V. Club on March 12, 2017.

Reviews of Classic Stories

Astounding Stories #1: Galactic Patrol
Astounding Stories #2: For Us, the Living
Astounding Stories #3: “The Legion of Time”
Astounding Stories #4: Sinister Barrier
Astounding Stories #5: Death’s Deputy and Final Blackout
Astounding Stories #6: “Microcosmic God” and “E for Effort”
Astounding Stories #7: “Mimsy Were the Borogoves”
Astounding Stories #8: The World of Null-A
Astounding Stories #9: “The Mule”
Astounding Stories #10: “Way in the Middle of the Air”
Astounding Stories #11: The Moon is Hell
Astounding Stories #12: “Izzard and the Membrane”
Astounding Stories #13: “The Cold Equations”
Astounding Stories #14: The Heinlein Juveniles
Astounding Stories #15: The Space Merchants
Astounding Stories #16: “Witches Must Burn”
Astounding Stories #17: The Thiotimoline Papers
Astounding Stories #18: “Noise Level”
Astounding Stories #19: They’d Rather Be Right

Blog Posts

“Asimov’s ABCs.” Isaac Asimov on the secret of group creativity. October 28, 2014.
“Pohl and the pulpsters.” Frederik Pohl and the world of the pulp writer. July 28, 2015.
“Who went there?” John W. Campbell and The Thing. March 2, 2016.
“Smoking on spaceships.” A short history of smoking in science fiction. March 15, 2016.
“The myth of the competent man.” Science fiction’s most persistent delusion. April 12, 2016.
“Back to the Futurians.” Science fiction fandom in the thirties as a social network. July 26, 2016.
“Days of Futurians Past.” New Fandom and the Futurians. July 27, 2016.
“Return to Dimension X.” The golden age of radio science fiction. August 9, 2016.
“Advertising the future.” A history of advertising in Astounding. September 8, 2016.
“Beyond cyberspace.” John W. Campbell, Norbert Wiener, and cybernetics. October 7, 2016.
“To be or not to be.” Alfred Korzybski’s ideas and their influence on science fiction. October 11, 2016.
“Fear of a female planet.” The absence of women in science fiction. December 7, 2016.
“The Slan solution.” The supermen of Slan, “Solution Unsatisfactory,” and dianetics. December 12, 2016.
“From Xenu to Xanadu.” L. Ron Hubbard and Donald Trump. February 2, 2017.
“A Hawk from a Handsaw.” Uri Geller, Robert Anton Wilson, and a few sinister hawks. February 15-17, 2017.
“The Imaginary Dr. Kutzman.” A lost refutation of dianetics by L. Ron Hubbard. February 23, 2017.
“The moon is a harsh fortress.” Hubbard’s “Fortress in the Sky” and its influence on Heinlein’s The Moon is a Harsh Mistress. February 27, 2017.
“The dianetics epidemic.” Dianetics as a viral phenomenon. March 2, 2017.
“The innumerable ways of being a man.” Sir Richard Francis Burton’s influence on Hubbard. March 8, 2017.
“Falls the Shadow.” John W. Campbell’s parallels to Orson Welles. March 17, 2017.
“The Mule and the Beaver.” The sources of Isaac Asimov’s remarkable productivity. March 22, 2017.
“The vision thing.” Two cinematic versions of “Who Goes There?” April 21, 2017.
“The dark side of the moon.” Charles Manson and science fiction. March 24, 2017.
“The acid test.” Attitudes toward LSD and other drugs in science fiction. April 27, 2017.
“Of a Fyre on the Moon.” The Fyre Festival and Voyage Beyond Apollo. May 1, 2017.
“Hubbard in the Wild.” L. Ron Hubbard’s sojourn in Alaska. May 25, 2017.
“The bed of the future.” Howard Hughes, Hugo Gernsback, Heinlein, and the ultimate bed. June 27, 2017.
“The science fiction sieve.” John W. Campbell and the boundaries of science fiction. June 28, 2017.
“The saucer people.” Flying saucers in Astounding. July 7, 2017.
“The search for the zone.” Twin Peaks and Heinlein’s “Universe.” July 10, 2017.
“Children of the Lens.” Science fiction and the early video game Spacewar. July 14, 2017.
“Bester of Both Worlds.” The genius of Alfred Bester. August 11, 2017.
“The creeps of the cosmos.” William S. Burroughs and Scientology. August 16, 2017.
“Handbook for morals.” The mass-buying tactics of the Church of Scientology. August 25, 2017.
“Asimov’s close encounter.” Asimov’s vendetta against Close Encounters of the Third Kind. August 30, 2017.
“The First Foundation.” Campbell, Asimov, Jack Williamson, and psychohistory. September 5-7, 2017.
“The passion of the pulps.” More on the absence of women in science fiction. September 12, 2017.
“Sci-Fi and Si.” Si Newhouse, Condé Nast, and Analog. October 2, 2017.
“Two against the gods.” Hubbard and William Bolitho’s Twelve Against the Gods. October 4, 2017.
“The Heirs of Sputnik.” Sputnik, science fiction, and the Cold War. October 6, 2017.
“The flicker effect.” W. Grey Walter, John W. Campbell, and the Dream Machine. October 10, 2017.
“When Del met Elron.” An encounter between Hubbard and comedy legend Del Close. October 20, 2017.
“The Strange Land.” More on Charles Manson and science fiction. November 20, 2017.

Written by nevalalee

December 8, 2017 at 8:25 am

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