Tag Archives: John W. Campbell Jr.

In Defense of Guys with Screwdrivers

So earlier this month, Jasyn Jones made the statement in a blog post that John Campbell did not usher in a Golden Age of Science Fiction.  His thesis is that Campbell, when he became editor of Astounding, ushered in a golden age in which science fiction rose from being a genre of poorly written fiction with wooden characters and bad science to great heights.  Indeed, this is the general narrative.  Jones reasserts his thesis that this ain’t so in a followup post.

For those who are new to the field and think it began when you started reading it or shortly beforehand or have been around for a while and simply haven’t been paying attention, John W. Campbell, Jr., took over the editorial reigns of Astounding from F. Orlin Tremaine in 1938 and dominated the field for a dozen years until F&SF and Galaxy came along in 1950.  Indeed, Isaac Asimov says as much in the opening paragraphs of his introduction to his anthology of Pre-Campbell science fiction, Before the Golden Age (Doubleday, 1974).  Note to self: reread this book and blog about it.

Now, before I get started on this post, I want to say that I mean no disrespect to Mr. Jones and none of what follows in in any way meant to be a personal attack.  Furthermore, I think he brings up a number of valid points, and for the most part I agree with him.  My differences are more with some of the attitudes that have been expressed in reaction to the posts in question, as well as other posts in other places.  I’ve not had a chance to read all of them, so rather than post links, I’ll let you hunt them down if you’re so inclined.

But since I grew up reading a great deal of Campbellian SF, much of it in the Ballantine Best of series and DAW’s Isaac Asimov Present the Great SF, I’m rather fond  of the science fiction written by “guys with screwdrivers”, as Campbellian SF is being called.  So I’d like to express my admiration of it. Continue reading

It’s Randall Garrett’s Birthday

randall garrettOne of the most neglected and underrated writers of the mid-20th Century was Randall Garrett.  If he is remembered at all today, it is for his Lord Darcy series, about which more in a bit.

Randall Garrett was born on this day, December 16, in 1927.  He passed away in 1987.  I’d like to think my knowledge of the early science fiction and fantasy pulp writers is fairly extensive, but on Twitter 1whoknewcthulhu (@srm991) is always posting birthday notices about writers I’ve never heard of.  You should follow him if you aren’t already.

Or in this case, a favorite writer whose birthday I didn’t know.  (Why wasn’t I aware of this?  We share a birthday.  At least we did while I was still having birthdays.  Ever since I got married, I don’t have birthdays.  I have anniversaries.  That means I’ll always be [redacted] years old, while my wife will continue to age.  For some reason she gets upset when I say this.  But I digress.) Continue reading

What Do H. P. Lovecraft and John W. Campbell, Jr. Have in Common?

Things From Outer SpaceThings From Outer Space
Hank Davis, ed.
Baen
mass market paperback $7.99
ebook $6.99 Amazon, $8.99 publisher’s website

This book came out at the end of August.  I’m still reading it, so this isn’t going to be a review of the whole book.  That will come after I finish reading it.  I am going to discuss John Campbell, Jr.’s classic “Who Goes There?”, which is the lead story and the inspiration for the anthology.

I’m also going to discuss H. P.. Lovecraft’s “At the Mountains of Madness”.  That’s not the Lovecraft story in the book, btw.  Davis chose “The Colour Out of Space”.  Probably because it fit the theme better than AtMoM.

I have read somewhere, and it was long enough ago that I don’t recall where, that Campbell may have been inspired to write “Who Goes There?” after reading “At the Mountains of Madness” in Astounding Stories in 1936.

I don’t know if this is true, but there are some strong similarities between the stories.  There are some key differences as well. Continue reading