Originally Posted by Fried Egg
I agree that there were many great works of SF and fantasy during that time but weren't there just as many afterwards? Why end the "golden age" in 1912?
I didn't make that clear. I was just thinking along these lines: if you had to specify a 25-year period as the "golden age," this would be the quarter century that I would choose. It's a pretty artificial thing, of course. One might contend that the next 15 years or so did not see a comparable flourishing of fantasy and sf, though various noteworthy works did appear in that time. Without checking any reference works, I would venture the idea that the next outstanding period begins circa 1930. In the Thirties you get The Hobbit
(1937) and Out of the Silent Planet
(1938), two masterpieces; you get most or all of the Conan stories and most or all of Lovecraft's most impressive work; I believe T. H. White's Arthurian cycle begins to appear -- and so on. Thus you have the launching of Middle-earth and of sword-and-sorcery (basically), or anyway the consolidation of the latter, in the one decade. The 1930s also see the emergence of Astounding
and a whole group of associated authors, unless I am mistaken: Asimov, Heinlein, Campbell, van Vogt, and more -- and either the launching of sf fandom or at least the first real flourishing thereof. For those who like them -- I do, but not everyone does -- the Thirties is also the period in which most of Charles Williams's thrillers (The Place of the Lion
and so on) appear, although what's perhaps his best one, All Hallows' Eve
, doesn't appear till the Forties.
But I know there's some great fantasy between my "Golden Age" and the Thirties, and immediately after the Thirties too. I'm not trying to minimize that.
What I'm saying is basically for the sake of conversation and not some serious thesis that I'm building up to. I guess you could ask yourself: if you had to limit yourself to works published only within a set of years, which years would you choose?
My next great period would be circa 1954-64, which gets in everything from The Lord of the Rings
to some of Phil Dick's best.