The Astounding, the Amazing, and the Unknown
Based on an incredible true episode of World War II history, Paul Malmont’s new novel is a rollicking blend of fact and fiction about the men and women who were recruited to defeat the Nazis and ended up creating the future.
In 1943, when the United States learns that Germany is on the verge of a deadly innovation that could tip the balance of the war, the government turns to an unlikely source for help: the nation’s top science fiction writers. Installed at a covert military lab within the Philadelphia Naval Yard are the most brilliant of these young visionaries. The unruly band is led by Robert Heinlein, the dashing and complicated master of the genre. His “Kamikaze Group,” which includes the ambitious genius Isaac Asimov, is tasked with transforming the wonders of science fiction into science fact and unlocking the secrets to invisibility, death rays, force fields, weather control, and other astounding phenomena—and finding it harder than they ever imagined.
When a German spy washes ashore near the abandoned Long Island ruins of a mysterious energy facility, the military begins to fear that the Nazis are a step ahead of Heinlein’s group. Now the oddball team, joined by old friends from the Pulp Era including L. Ron Hubbard (court-martialed for attacking Mexico), must race to catch up. The answers they seek may be locked in the legendary War of Currents, which was fought decades earlier between Nikola Tesla and Thomas Edison. As the threat of an imminent Nazi invasion of America grows more and more possible, events are set in motion that just may revolutionize the future—or destroy it—while forcing the writers to challenge the limits of talent, imagination, love, destiny, and even reality itself.
Blazing at breathtaking speed from forgotten tunnels deep beneath Manhattan to top-secret battles in the North Pacific, and careening from truth to pulp and back again, The Astounding, the Amazing, and the Unknown is a sweeping, romantic epic—a page-turning rocket ship ride through the history of the future.
Malmont returns to the pulp magazine-inspired territory of The Chinatown Death Cloud Peril, this time assembling a clutch of science fiction writers to defeat the Germans in WWII. Based at the Philadelphia Navy Yard, the crew's task is to use their science backgrounds and lively imaginations to tackle such projects as weather control, force fields, and invisibility. Under the leadership of Robert Heinlein and counting Isaac Asimov and L. Sprague de Camp among its members, the Kamikaze Group has few results to show its Navy hosts until a German spy washes ashore near Nikola Tesla's Wardenclyffe Tower, prompting the government to suspect Nazi interest in Tesla's research. Heinlein and company head out to investigate, picking up L. Ron Hubbard on the way, and what they find leads them on a wild trip toward what might be the ultimate weapon needed to win the war. Malmont lovingly embraces the fact-fiction synthesis employed by the writers he brings to life, and while the narrative is erratically paced and overstuffed with digressions about which character wrote what, it's all lovingly done, and fans of the original pulps will surely enjoy the ride.
I grew up reading the great Pulp Writers and it gives me great pleasure to see Asimov, Heinlein, and L. Ron Hubbard in their Very Own Adventure. Set during The War, there are enough Mysterious Actual Events mixed into the fiction to make the History Geek in me as happy as the Science Fiction Fan. (from a day when being a "fan" meant more than pushing the LIKE button on Facebook)
The most fun I have had reading a book in a long, long time. And reading it on my iPad added a whole 'nother dimension, wondering how those authors would react to this JetPack for Readers here in THE FUTURE,