The Astounding, the Amazing, and the Unknown, my new novel, is what I like to call faction — a hybrid of fact and fiction. A fact: Thanks to editor John W. Campbell, golden age science fiction writers Robert Heinlein, Isaac Asimov, and L. Sprague de Camp were hired by the Navy to work on military research at the Philadelphia Naval Yard during World War II. A fact: L. Ron Hubbard was a pulp science fiction writer, a friend of Heinlein’s, and was court martialed for, well, basically incompetency during the war — yet he always claimed he was off on super-secret missions in the Pacific. A fact: Nikola Tesla built a strange communication tower at Wardenclyffe, Long Island. A fact: a legend has grown up since the 1960s that experiments in Philadelphia may have led to a ship being transported from the harbor, to Virginia, and back again. A fact: a spring-fed river appears under the Empire State Building and runs underground to Washington Square. Somewhere beyond those facts, my fiction begins.
I do a tremendous amount of research preparing for my novels. I have a responsibility to the real lives of the people I’m turning into characters; to plausibly connect what we know about their lives with what we don’t. One thing I really like to do, whenever possible, is visit the locations I’m writing about. Two things that I write about often in describing a locale are smells and sounds — two things that I don’t have to imagine if I visit a place. So, I thought for this Geeks of Doom guest blog post that I’d share some of the real world settings I visited and photographed (and one I visited but didn’t photograph and had to borrow photos from).
The Astounding, The Amazing, and The Unknown By Paul Malmont Hardcover | Kindle
Simon & Schuster
Release date: July 5, 2011
The Astounding, The Amazing, And The Unknown is a vibrant, highly suspenseful race to solve a Nikola Tesla mystery, defeat the Nazis, and help end World War II. In a desperate attempt to make that happen, the U.S. Navy forms a team of some of the best and brightest imaginations from the world of popular science fiction pulp magazines of their time. The team includes Isaac Asimov, Robert Heinlein, Walter Gibson (of The Shadow fame), and a pre-Scientology L. Ron Hubbard, all of whom were regular contributors to the pulps named in the title of this book.
Using equal parts imagination and scientific research, the team attempts to accomplish their government-mandated goal of thwarting the enemy by creating death rays and invisibility cloaks for naval ships. In the midst of their research, the group stumbles upon an unconfirmed experiment of Tesla’s that may have either led to free electricity across America or a super-bomb capable of completely obliterating a whole country half a world away, as well as an old rivalry between two scientists that may have led to murder. It’s up to the team to sort out the mystery and complete Tesla’s experiment before the military shuts down the project altogether or someone else shuts them up permanently.