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Old 14th February 2012, 04:16 AM   #16 (permalink)
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Re: What's Your Golden Age?

I've mostly been commenting on a Golden Age and Silver Age for modern fantasy.

I realize that the Golden Age of SF is widely held to begin with John Campbell's assumption of the editorship of Astounding whenever that was -- 1939, right? -- and to extend for a few years thereafter.

My contention for SF's Golden Age falling in the 1887-1912 period is based on so many absolutely seminal classics, still very readable, of the sf genre being published then -- Wells's masterpieces and so on. Thus, if I had quickly to figure out what to do with the Campbell era (Heinlein, Asimov, Sturgeon, et al.), I might call that SF's Silver Age. That period too saw a great deal of still-readable, classic, seminal sf being published.

Alternatively, one could call the 1887-1912 period the Golden Age of British SF and the conventional sf Golden Age -- the Campbell era -- the American Golden Age of SF.

Not that any of this is worth getting mad about.
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Old 14th February 2012, 05:00 AM   #17 (permalink)
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Re: What's Your Golden Age?

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I realize that the Golden Age of SF is widely held to begin with John Campbell's assumption of the editorship of Astounding whenever that was -- 1939, right? -- and to extend for a few years thereafter.
The July '39 issue (the van Vogt debut with Asimov's Astounding debut to boot, followed by Heinlein in the next issue, and Sturgeon in the next) is the traditional start marker but Campbell officially took over with the October '37 issue - though there's often overlap: on the one hand, editors sometimes start work before they actually hit the masthead and, on the other, they often have to spend time working through the inventory of the previous editor's buys. '38 is when Campbell is generally understood to have assumed full control, having made the first of his name changes from Astounding Stories to Astounding Science Fiction with the March '38 issue.
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Old 14th February 2012, 06:13 PM   #18 (permalink)
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Re: What's Your Golden Age?

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For me, "Golden Age" means more than just "a period in which a bunch of my favorites were published." It means a period of particular importance for writers who came afterwards. My 1887-1912 nomination works exceptionally well on this basis.

I'm more knowledgeable about fantasy than sf. I stand by that original nomination for its "Golden Age." I would nominate 1954-1974 as fantasy's 20-year Silver Age. This encompasses publication of The Fellowship of the Ring and the rest of LOTR at one end, and the completion of Ballantine's Adult Fantasy series of (mostly) reprints at the other. In between you have such works as Le Guin's Earthsea trilogy, which I think may be the highwater mark of post-Tolkienian fantasy, Adams's Watership Down, Lewis's Till We Have Faces, Alan Garner's most accessible works, the Lloyd Alexdander Prydain books for youngsters, the revival and completion of Evangeline Walton's Mabinogion quartet, Peter S. Beagle's Last Unicorn, and other works that I will be embarrassed to realize I forgot. For those who like sword-and-sorcery, this period sees the revival and continuation of Conan and Kull, plus new entries such as Moorcock's stories of Elric and Dorian Hawkmoon. I can hardly read them now, but this period sees the first paperbacking, if I'm not mistaken, of the Fafhrd and Mouser stories. It also sees Lovecraft out in paper, with the Lancer and then Beagle Books editions. Borges is out in paperback during this period. This Silver Age is, like the Golden, a seminal one. Innumerable writers of fantasy in recent times are writing largely from their experience of books from that time.

By this time, sf and fantasy have become pretty well established as separate publishing categories.

I would contend that the Golden Age should be no more than 25 years and the Silver Age no more than 20 because we are dealing, as everyone seems tacitly to agree, with a period of about 125 years total, i.e. from about 1887 to the present. If you broaden the Golden or Silver Ages, you end up with not very many years left over to be less noble metals.

As for my Silver Age, some important and very good fantasy is published after 1974, but you also get the emergence of yards and yards of books that, so far as I can tell, are really quite bad, churned out to capitalize on the appetite for long fantasy series. No doubt some folks here have actually read some of this and would advocate for it. But don't we enter -- what? -- the Age of Lead, with the Shannara books and so on?!

1971:
For me it is not the times my personal favourites was published, it is more like which times has most historical important authors in Fantasy and SF . Lord Dunsany is important to modern fantasy, more important than late 1800s authors for example. His influence compared to authors earlier than him.

It is still personal bias because 25 years is too limited for historical importance and it is still subjectival which authors we find important. Plus we can only list the eras whose authors we have read. Also its near impossible to say certain times was more important than others.

So i choose my so called golden age on personal bias and historical importance put together. Weird tales era authors because that type of fantasy is loved today. I would personally choose that before Tolkein era.

Im the opposite of you, i havent read enough classic fantasy to fairly compare the different eras. I know much better classic SF, the many authors important in different times in SF.
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Old 17th February 2012, 09:07 PM   #19 (permalink)
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Re: What's Your Golden Age?

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It is still personal bias because 25 years is too limited for historical importance and it is still subjectival which authors we find important. Plus we can only list the eras whose authors we have read. Also its near impossible to say certain times was more important than others.
I think 25 years is generous, because the history of sf covers fewer than 150 years. (Yes, I know: there are those precursors, Kepler's Somnium, Swift, etc.) So unless we're going to have a Golden Age that accounts for a lot of the whole historical period, it needs to be relatively short.
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Old 26th February 2012, 09:36 PM   #20 (permalink)
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Re: What's Your Golden Age?

In the 1957 Modern Library edition of Healey and McComas's Adventures in Time and Space, they seem to suggest (p. xxi of undated the Random House reprint) that 1939-1945 was a/the golden age of sf (the great years of the Campbell-Astounding period). That's just six years. A becomingly modest number of years, I would say.

I'd say that's the Golden Age of American SF, but that the Golden Age of SF per se is that era of H. G. Wells, Doyle, Haggard, Hodgson, earliest ERB, etc. You get alien invasion, time travel, "cosmicism," lost civilizations, near-future war (When William Came), the wonder-child (The Hampdenshire Wonder), the ecological catastrophe (? Machen's The Terror), etc. More sophisticated versions of some of these came along later, but something is owed to the early expression of standard themes, and I would contend that many of these remain very readable. (I admit I haven't read all of them.)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/When_William_Came
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Hampdenshire_Wonder
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Old 27th February 2012, 05:58 AM   #21 (permalink)
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Re: What's Your Golden Age?

I'm comfortable with the Healey/McComas 1939 - 1945 recommendation. Doyle and Wells seem completely modern to me --- make that better than modern. ERB is better than a lot of people give him credit for.
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Old 27th February 2012, 09:15 PM   #22 (permalink)
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Re: What's Your Golden Age?

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ERB is better than a lot of people give him credit for.
That calls for a response -- to which books would you refer sf/fantasy readers as being his best? (Why?)

It's not an entirely idle question. Last year I revisited ERB a bit, not having read any of his books since I was about 15 (but at around 14-15 I read the 11 Martian books, the Pellucidar books, the Caspak books, the Moon books, Beyond the Farthest Star, The Outlaw of Torn, The Mad King, a few Tarzans I suppose... some of these more than once). I found At the Earth's Core entertaining but bogged down about halfway through A Princess of Mars.

I think my first ERB book was probably A Fighting Man of Mars, the sight of the Ace cover of which



brings back quite a sense of the lad I was over 40 years ago!
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Old 28th February 2012, 06:26 AM   #23 (permalink)
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Re: What's Your Golden Age?

I don't know what his best books are but I had no trouble with these:



Good solid adventures. I was especially impressed with THE MONSTER MEN. The ending caught me so by surprise it took both my thumbs up to put my jaw back in place. Your cover, by the way, is stunning. I'd love to have all the John Carter books in those forty cent editions.
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Old 29th February 2012, 07:52 PM   #24 (permalink)
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Re: What's Your Golden Age?

Btw, I've been reading Michael Dirda's On Conan Doyle. If you like those "Golden Age" authors for sf and fantasy ... so does he, so you would probably like borrowing this book. Doyle, Haggard, Dunsany, Burroughs, Wells... he's read 'em, although he doesn't necessarily say a lot about all of them. Mentions Lovecraft, Howard, and Tolkien too. Not bad for a book published by Princeton University Press.
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Old 23rd September 2013, 05:03 PM   #25 (permalink)
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Re: What's Your Golden Age?

I'm finding it easy to reinforce your argument, Extollager. G. K. Chesterton's The Man Who was Thursday and his collection, The Innocence of Father Brown (since Sherlock Holmes was mentioned) were published within this time range (1908 & 1911, respectively). As was Max Beerbohm's Zuleika Dobson (1911; unfortunately, "Enoch Soames" misses by 4 years, 1916, darn it). (Also, darn it, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde just misses -- 1886.)

Following up on something you mentioned, Arthur Machen's "The Great God Pan", "The Inmost Light" and The Three Imposters (1890, 1894 and 1895, respectively), and Algernon Blackwood's "The Willows" (1907) and "The Wendigo" (1910) appeared in that time.

Other books to appear in that time period,
Tales of Soldiers and Civilians (1890; including "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge") by Ambrose Bierce
Can Such Things Be? (1893; mainly weird horror like "The Damned Thing") by Ambrose Bierce (some stories written before 1887 in both collections, but the collections post-1887)
The King in Yellow (1895) BY Robert W. Chambers
The Picture of Dorian Gray (1891) by Oscar Wilde
The Ape, the Idiot, and Other People (1897; includes "The Monster-Maker) by W. C. Morrow

Much Decadent literature, like the Wilde, showed up at this time, like La-Bas by J. K. Huysmans (1891). As did The Beetle (1897) by Richard Marsh, which is said to have been more popular for quite a long time than its contemporary, Dracula. Also, Turn of the Screw (1898) by Henry James.

Note that during that time period, the short story was probably more important to ghost/horror, s.f. and fantasy than the novel. With today's novel-centric point of view among readers, that fact can be lost, but stories like "The Willows," "The Great God Pan," "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge," "The Yellow Sign" and "The Monster-Maker" all are part of the foundation on which contemporary sf/fantasy/horror are built. I'm positive, with just a little more digging, I could come up with some other titles/authors, perhaps more obscure, but still important to the development of these genres.


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Old 2nd December 2013, 09:08 PM   #26 (permalink)
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Re: What's Your Golden Age?

Ew! Tough call, but I think I'd have to go with 1950 to 1975. I have to include the '50s, in part because of literature, but also because I've often asserted that th 1950s' sci-fi movies rocked. We were gaining enough scientific knowledge to make the premises believable, and yet not enough to understand yet what won't work. It was spectacular in those days.

At the other end, I have to reach to 75 to include such classics that will stick in my head forever such as Mote in God's Eye, Ringworld, The Andromeda Strain, and Rendezvous with Rama.
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