Over in the February reading thread
Extollager was promoting 1887-1912 and Fried Egg said he'd have to think about it and Connavar voted for 1924-1936 and 1959-1972. So I thought about saying something there but figured it might be time for a new thread.
For me, it's 1937-1962 if we're talking a 25 year stretch (shaving a couple of years off the end and sticking them on the beginning because I'd rather have de Camp and del Rey's first stories and the start of Galactic Patrol
than Glory Road
and whatnot) and I guess I'd pick something like 1977-2002 as an alternate. I don't know what era I actually have the most of (though it's likely 40s/50s) but I have a lot of everything from the 30s on and I don't think there's any particular era that wasn't good. 1965-75 or so would likely be a lesser period for me - but even then there was Zelazny, Spinrad, Le Guin, and some good older ones like Clarke, and Asimov's The Gods Themselves
, and less older ones like Anderson's Tau Zero
and Farmer, Dick, Silverberg, Ellison's "A Boy and His Dog", etc.
I think what makes golden ages is a group of writers working in a similar zeitgeist towards something good. While the 20s and 30s had some fun and good stuff it was, except for a brief attempt at scientifiction, mostly either literary or un-literary. With Campbell reshaping Astounding
and gathering a gigantic stable of superstars, "true" SF was (re)generated. But by the 50s Astounding
was trying to compete with Galaxy
, Asimov largely retired from fiction for a time beginning in 1959 or so, Heinlein quit writing short fiction and mostly quit writing good novels by 1959-1962. Van Vogt mostly diminished to fixups. Sturgeon did his best work in the 50s and started sputtering through the 60s and 70s. Leiber had similar issues I think mostly in the 60s. Etc. And, while something like the New Wave was necessary (though 50s radicals like Farmer, Dick, and Ellison are not given enough historical credit for what they accomplished - they're given general credit as writers but history still overestimates the New Wave/underestimates the 50s) I think it generally went a little far in a one-sided reaction and didn't produce as much enduring great work. And most of the 70s were in a sort of doldrums - post-70s hangover. Very dull, tedious work in general although there are always exceptions. But in the mid/late 70s there were authors as diverse as Cherryh and Varley breaking in and then Chairman Bruce and his unjustly more famous comrade Gibson and the gang of cyberpunks (which was a big enough tent to include the likes of Rucker and Shirley) came along and lit things up again. I think the 80s and beyond have achieved a good synthesis of Golden Age and New Wave.
So those are my candidates.
And then there's always "the golden age of SF is twelve".
For me it was actually probably 13-16 or somewhere in there but close enough.
How about you?