Early this week, I received in the mail a copy of Alva Rogers’ book, A Requiem for Astounding. It was generously sent to my by Mark McSherry, who has commented frequently on my Vacation posts. This book is probably the most famous history of Astounding Science Fiction, from its start in 1930 through 1960 when Campbell changed the name of the magazine to Analog.
The book has been taunting me all week. I’ve been tempted to just pick it up and read it cover-to-cover, but I don’t want the spoilers. Part of the joy in this Vacation on which I’ve embarked is to read and discover these issues, authors and stories the way fans experienced them back when the first appeared. Having said that, the book will be an invaluable tool, providing some of the inside story for the issues as I go through them. To that end, I plan on using the book to augment my write-ups. I’ll write them up as usual, and only after the write-ups are done will I go to the book to find what nuggets lie there, compare what Rogers wrote to my own thoughts and explore how we agree and differ. These should find there way into the final write-ups each week.
It was exceedingly generous for Mark to send along the extra copy he had, and it is certainly to the benefit of this Vacation.
Thank you, Mark!
I was hoping you would say something like, “I’ve been tempted to just pick it up and read it cover-to-cover, but I don’t want the spoilers. Part of the joy in this Vacation on which I’ve embarked is to read and discover these issues, authors and stories the way fans experienced them back when the first appeared. Having said that, I plan to send this book as a present to my good friend Michael A. Burstein.”
Michael, you crack me up. I’d be happy to bring the book to Readercon if you can somehow wrangle your way there for a little while. 🙂
You are welcome Jamie!
Since there is no Table of Contents, I’ll list them so there is less chance of spoilers.
I- The Beginning: Clayton Astounding 1930-1933
II- The Tremaine Era: First Phase 1933-1935
III- The Mid-Thirties: 1935-37
IV- The Interregnum: 1937-1939
V- The Dawn of the Golden Age: 1939-1940
VI- The Golden Age Begins: 1940
VII- The Golden Age: 1941
VIII- The “Bedsheet” Astounding: 1942-1943
IX- Smaller…And Smaller: 1943
X- The Golden Age-Final Phase: 1944-1946
XI- The Golden Age Turns To Silver: 1947
XII- The Threshold Of Maturity: 1948
XIII- Coming Of Age: 1949
XIV- Twenty Years In Restrospect
XV- Maturity: 1950
XVI- The Final Years: 1951-1959
“Requiem” – which I came close to thumbing to pieces when I was thirteen – was for a while my sole reading guide into that terra-incognita of early SF. Thanks to Alva, I by-passed the Heinlein juveniles (which was everybody else’s gateway drug into SF prior to Star Trek & Wars (I didn’t get around to them until I was in my thirties)) and went straight into his ‘adult’ future history stories. On the downside, it was Alva’s fault that I tormented myself during the summer of 1975 by trudging my way through the Lensman saga.
“Requiem” is fan writing, sometimes charming and sometimes club-footed. There are way too many blow-by-blow plot synopsises of the Foundation, Future History and, yes, Lensman yarns and not nearly enough evocations of what is was like for a 12 to 17 year old boy to mainline on his favorite drug every third Friday of each month.
Since the future is faster paced, our host is generously passing out the nickel bags once a week.
At this point, I’m only glancing at Requiem in small slices as it relates to the issue that I’m reading. I don’t want any spoilers, if I can avoid them. Like you, I could never get into the Heinlein juveniles, but that was more because when I was younger, I thought of “juvenile” (what would now be called YA) as beneath me. I was a “grown-up” reader. My first Heinlein novel was Double Star, and it was in my opinion his best, although I was fond of both The Door Into Summer and Friday. It took me three tries to get through Stranger In a Strange Land and when I finally finished it, I didn’t like it at all. In between those was The Puppet Masters (which hooked me in college, despite being rather silly), Starship Troopers, which is an important novel because the dialog it has created down through the generations), Podkayne of Mars, which I liked (and I liked the original ending best), and The Moon is a Harsh Mistress.
LOL – I’ve had a copy for years and it is excellent; try reading it period-for-period along with Clarke’s “Astounding Days”
Clarke’s “Astounding Days” has an embarrassing flub. Early on Sir Arthur confuses the John Berryman of “Special Flight” with the Pulitzer Prize winning poet John Berryman, up to the point of offering up little lament about the later’s suicide. Couldn’t the fact checkers at Gollancz catch that boner?