The Astounding, The Amazing, and The Unknown
by Paul Malmont
Following up on the terrific Chinatown Deathcloud Peril (CDP), Paul Malmont has written an equally good, if not better novel with The Astounding, The Amazing, and The Unknown. In CDP, Malmont wrote a story about 1930s pulp magazine writers having a pulp magazine style adventure. The results were wonderful as real writers Lester Dent, Walter Gibson and L Ron Hubbard faced grave danger.
In The Astounding, The Amazing, and The Unknown (AAU), Malmont continues in the same alternate history universe, but this time focuses on the science fiction writers having a science fiction adventure. The main characters are Bob Heinlein, L. Sprague de Camp, Isaac Asimov, along with the returning Ron Hubbard, Walter Gibson, Lester Dent and their wives and girlfriends. The setting is New York, Philadelphia, and the surrounding area late in WWII.
As in real life, in the AAU, Heinlein is running a think tank at the Philadelphia Navy Shipyard. This group is composed of a mess of scientist SF writers that are assigned to dream up the future of warfare. They have some crazy ideas and some of them even work. I hate to go into too much detail, because with a book like this, discovery is half the fun. Everyone gets the chance to be a hero and everyone plays a vital part, which is quite a feat with this many characters. Kudos to Mr. Malmont for achieving that delicate balance.
Needless to say, I think that AAU is a wonderful book that anyone interested in the golden age of Science Fiction or adventure stories should read. If you grew up reading SF in the post War era, you will love it. I started reading SF with Lester del Rey and Ray Bradbury and Asimov in the 1970s and I loved this book. The balance of truth and fiction is great (just enough truth to get you wondering about the rest.) We need more Malmont stories. If only he would give up the advertising game and write full time...
The Astounding, The Amazing, and The Unknown gets a 9 out of 10. This is a great book. Except for the tragically boring cover.