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Encyclopedia > Golden Age of Science Fiction

The Golden Age of Science Fiction, often recognized as a period from the late 1930s or early 1940s through the 1950s, was an era during which the science fiction genre gained wide public attention and many classic science fiction stories were published. In the history of science fiction, the Golden Age follows the "pulp era" of the 1920s and 30s, and preceeds New Wave science fiction of the the 1960s and 70s. According to historian Adam Roberts, "the phrase [Golden Age] valorises a particular sort of writing: 'Hard SF', linear narratives, heroes solving problems or countering threats in a space-opera or technological-adventure idiom."[1] The 1930s (years from 1930–1939) were described as an abrupt shift to more radical and conservative lifestyles, as countries were struggling to find a solution to the Great Depression, also known in Europe as the World Depression. ... The 1940s decade ran from 1940 to 1949. ... // Recovering from World War II and its aftermath, the economic miracle emerged in West Germany and Italy. ... Science fiction is a form of speculative fiction principally dealing with the impact of imagined science and technology, or both, upon society and persons as individuals. ... This article is on science fiction literature. ... New Wave science fiction was characterised by a high degree of experimentation, both in form and in content, and a highbrow and self-consciously literary or artistic sensibility previously comparatively alien to the science fiction aesthetic. ... Hard science fiction, or hard SF, is a category of science fiction characterized by an emphasis on scientific detail and/or accuracy. ...


The saying "The golden age of science fiction is twelve", from the science fiction fan Peter Graham [Hartwell 1996], means that many readers use "golden age" to mean the time when they first developed a passion for science fiction, often in adolescence. Science fiction fandom or SF fandom is the community of people actively interested in science fiction and fantasy literature, and in contact with one another based upon that interest. ...

Contents

From Gernsback to Campbell

One leading influence on the creation of the Golden age was John W. Campbell, who became legendary in the genre as an editor and publisher of many science fiction magazines, including Astounding Science Fiction. Under Campbell's editorship, science fiction developed more realism and psychological depth to characterization than it exhibited in the Gernsbackian "super science" era. The focus shifted from the gizmo itself to the characters using the gizmo. Most fans agree that the Golden Age began around 1938-39[2]; the July 1939 issue of Astounding Science Fiction [1] containing the first published stories of both A. E. van Vogt and Isaac Asimov is sometimes considered the precise start of the Golden Ages. To meet Wikipedias quality standards, this article or section may require cleanup. ... Astounding Stories was a seminal science fiction magazine founded in 1930. ... Hugo Gernsback (August 16, 1884 - August 19, 1967) was an inventor and magazine publisher who also wrote science fiction and whose publication included the first science fiction magazine. ... Gizmo is a placeholder name for any small technological item. ... Astounding Stories was a seminal science fiction magazine founded in 1930. ... Alfred Elton van Vogt (April 26, 1912 – January 26, 2000) was a Canadian-born science fiction author who was one of the most prolific, yet complex, writers of the mid-twentieth century Golden Age of the genre. ... Dr. Isaac Asimov (c. ...


Developments in the genre

Many of the most enduring science fiction tropes were established in Golden Age literature. Isaac Asimov established the canonical Three Laws of Robotics beginning with the 1941 short story Liar!, as well as the quintessential space opera with the Foundation series. Another frequent characteristic of Golden Age science fiction is the celebration of scientific achievement and the sense of wonder; Asimov's short story Nightfall exemplifies this, as in a single night a planet's civilization is overwhelmed by the revelation of the vastness of the universe. Robert Heinlein's 1950s novels, such as The Puppet Masters, Double Star, and Starship Troopers, express the libertarian ideology that runs through much of Golden Age science fiction.[3] In literature, a trope is a familiar and repeated symbol, meme, theme, motif, style, character or thing that permeates a particular type of literature. ... Dr. Isaac Asimov (c. ... To meet Wikipedias quality standards, this article may require cleanup. ... Liar! (1941) is science-fiction short story by Isaac Asimov. ... Classic pulp space opera cover, with the usual clich̩ elements. ... Hari Seldons holographic image, pictured on a paperback edition of Foundation, appears at various times in the First Foundations history, to guide it through the social and economic crises that befall it. ... Frequently invoked in discussions of science fiction, the sense of wonder is that experience unique to the genre. ... Nightfall (1990), a novel which Robert Silverberg produced by expanding and updating Asimovs original story. ... Robert A. Heinlein Robert Anson Heinlein (July 7, 1907 РMay 8, 1988) was one of the most influential authors in the science fiction genre. ... In 1951, Robert A. Heinlein published a science fiction novel, The Puppet Masters, in which American secret agents battle parasitic invaders from outer space. ... When two stars are so nearly in the same direction as seen from Earth that they appear to be a single star to the naked eye but may be separated by the use of telescopes, they are referred to as a double star. ... Starship Troopers is a science fiction novel by Robert A. Heinlein, first published (abridged) as a serial in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction (October, November 1959, as Starship Soldier) and published hardcover in 1959. ... See also Libertarianism and Libertarian Party Libertarian,is a term for person who has made a conscious and principled commitment, evidenced by a statement or Pledge, to forswear violating others rights and usually living in voluntary communities: thus in law no longer subject to government supervision. ...


The Golden Age also saw the re-emergence of the religious or spiritual themes—central to so much proto-science fiction before the pulp era—that Hugo Gernsback had tried to eliminate in his vision of "scientifiction". Among the most significant such Golden Age narratives are: Bradbury's The Martian Chronicles; Clarke's Childhood's End; Blish's A Case of Conscience; and Miller's A Canticle for Leibowitz.[4] The Martian Chronicles is a 1950 science fiction book by Ray Bradbury that chronicles the colonization of Mars by refugee humans from a troubled Earth, and the conflict between aboriginal Martians and the new colonists. ... It has been suggested that Karellen be merged into this article or section. ... A Case of Conscience is a science fiction novel by James Blish, first published in 1959. ... A Canticle for Leibowitz is a post-apocalyptic science fiction novel by Walter M. Miller, Jr. ...


Cultural significance

As a phenomenon that affected the psyches of a great many adolescents during World War II and the ensuing Cold War, science fiction's Golden Age has left a lasting impression upon society. The beginning of the Golden Age coincided with the first Worldcon in 1939 and, especially for its most involved fans, science fiction was becoming a powerful social force. The genre, particularly during its Golden Age, had significant, if somewhat indirect, effects upon leaders in the military, information technology, Hollywood and science itself, especially biotechnology and the pharmaceutical industry. Combatants Allied powers: United Kingdom Soviet Union United States Republic of China and others Axis powers: Germany Italy Japan and others Commanders Winston Churchill Joseph Stalin Franklin Roosevelt Chiang Kai-shek Adolf Hitler Benito Mussolini Hideki Tōjō Casualties Military dead: 17,000,000 Civilian dead: 33,000,000 Total... For other uses, see Cold War (disambiguation). ... It has been suggested that World Science Fiction Society be merged into this article or section. ... This article does not cite its references or sources. ... ... The structure of insulin Biotechnology is technology based on biology, especially when used in agriculture, food science, and medicine. ... Pharmacology (in Greek: pharmacon is drug, and logos is science) is the study of how chemical substances interfere with living systems. ...


The impression of many parents at the time, however, was often tinged with dismay and intolerance, sometimes sparked by the racy cover illustrations of pulp science fiction. The stereotypical cover of a science fiction pulp magazine depicted a brass-bikini-clad woman at the mercy of a bug-eyed monster.


Prominent Golden Age authors

Beginning in the late 1930s, a number of highly influential science fiction authors began to emerge, including: Year 1930 (MCMXXX) was a common year starting on Wednesday (link is to a full 1930 calendar). ...

Poul Anderson portrayed on the cover of a special edition of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction; painting by Kelly Freas. ... Dr. Isaac Asimov (c. ... Alfred Bester Alfred Bester (born December 18, 1913 in New York City, died September 30, 1987) was a science fiction author and the winner of the first Hugo Award in 1953 for his novel The Demolished Man. ... James Benjamin Blish (East Orange, New Jersey, May 23, 1921 - Henley-on-Thames, July 29, 1975) was an American author of fantasy and science fiction. ... Nelson Slade Bond (November 23, 1908 - November 4, 2006) was an early writer of science fiction and fantasy, he also wrote a great deal of sports and crime fiction. ... Leigh Brackett (December 7, 1915 - March 18, 1978), was a writer of fantasy and science fiction, mystery novels and - best known to the general public - Hollywood screenplays, most notably The Big Sleep (1945), Rio Bravo (1959), The Long Goodbye (1973) and The Empire Strikes Back (1980). ... Ray Douglas Bradbury (born August 22, 1920) is an American literary, fantasy, horror, science fiction, and mystery writer best known for The Martian Chronicles, a 1950 book which has been described both as a short story collection and a novel, and his 1953 dystopian novel Fahrenheit 451. ... Fredric Brown (October 29, 1906, Cincinnati – March 11, 1972) was a science fiction and mystery author. ... Samuel Youd (born February 12, 1922 in Lancashire) is a British science fiction author. ... Sir Arthur Charles Clarke (born December 16, 1917) is a British author and inventor, most famous for his science-fiction novel 2001: A Space Odyssey, and for collaborating with director Stanley Kubrick on the film of the same name. ... Harry Clement Stubbs (May 30, 1922 - October 29, 2003), better known by the pen name Hal Clement, was an American science fiction writer, a leader of the subgenre hard science fiction. ... L. Sprague de Camp from the cover of Time and Chance: an Autobiography, Donald M. Grant, 1996 Lyon Sprague de Camp, (November 27, 1907, New York City – November 6, 2000, Plano, Texas) was an American science fiction and fantasy author. ... Lester del Rey (Ramon Felipe Alvarez-del Rey) (June 2, 1915 - May 10, 1993) was an American science fiction author and editor. ... Philip Kindred Dick (December 16, 1928 – March 2, 1982) was an American writer, mostly known for his works of science fiction; additional to forty-four books currently in print, Dick wrote several short stories and minor works published in pulp magazines. ... Gordon Rupert Dickson (November 1, 1923 - January 31, 2001) was a Canadian science fiction author. ... Philip José Farmer (born January 26, 1918) is an American author, principally known for his science fiction and fantasy novels and short stories. ... Robert Anson Heinlein (July 7, 1907 – May 8, 1988) was one of the most popular, influential, and controversial authors of hard science fiction. ... To meet Wikipedias quality standards, the lead section of this article may need to be expanded. ... Cyril M. Kornbluth (July 23, 1923–March 21, 1958 — pen-names: Cecil Corwin, S.D. Gottesman, Edward J. Bellin, Kenneth Falconer, Walter C. Davies, Simon Eisner, Jordan Park) was a science fiction author and a notable member of the Futurians. ... Henry Kuttner (April 7, 1915 - February 4, 1958) was a science fiction author born in Los Angeles, California. ... To meet Wikipedias quality standards, this article or section may require cleanup. ... Walter Michael Miller, Jr. ... Catherine Lucille Moore (January 24, 1911 – April 4, 1987) was an American science fiction and fantasy writer. ... (Oliver, Chad (Canada, 1985 - )) For gay love and affection, email: oliverf@uwindsor. ... Frederik Pohl (born November 26, 1919) is a noted American science fiction writer and editor, with a career spanning over sixty years. ... Ross Rocklynne (born Ross Louis Rocklin February 21, 1913 in Ohio) (died October 29, 1988) was a science fiction author in the Golden Age of Science Fiction. ... Eric Frank Russell (January 6, 1905 - February 28, 1978) was an English science fiction author, producing some of the best humorous science fiction of his time. ... At the 63rd World Science Fiction Convention in Glasgow, August 2005 Robert Silverberg (January 15, 1935, Brooklyn, New York) is a prolific American author best known for writing science fiction, a multiple winner of both the Hugo and Nebula Awards. ... Clifford Donald Simak ( August 3, 1904 - April 25, 1988) was an American science fiction author. ... Theodore Sturgeon (February 26, 1918 Staten Island, New York – May 8, 1985) was an American science fiction author. ... William Tenn is the pseudonym for the science fiction work of Philip Klass (born May 9, 1920). ... Alfred Elton van Vogt (April 26, 1912 – January 26, 2000) was a Canadian-born science fiction author who was one of the most prolific, yet complex, writers of the mid-twentieth century Golden Age of the genre. ... Jack Vance John Holbrook Vance (b. ... John Wyndham (July 10, 1903 – March 11, 1969) was the pen name used by the often post-apocalyptic British science fiction writer John Wyndham Parkes Lucas Beynon Harris. ...

End of the Golden Age

It is harder to specify the end of the Golden Age of Science Fiction than its beginning, but several coincidental factors changed the face of science fiction in the mid to late 1950s. Most important, perhaps, was the rapid contraction of an inflated pulp market: Fantastic Adventures and Famous Fantastic Mysteries folded in 1953, Planet Stories, Startling Stories, Thrilling Wonder Stories and Beyond in 1955, Other Worlds and Science Fiction Quarterly in 1957, Imagination, Imaginative Tales, and Infinity in 1958. At the same time the presence of science fiction on television and radio diminished, with the cancellation of Captain Video, Space Patrol, and Tom Corbett, Space Cadet in 1955. Science fiction had flourished in the comics in the early 1950s, where it was by no means restricted to juvenile material; however, the introduction of the Comics Code in 1954 hurt science fiction comics badly, and one of the most notable publications, EC's Incredible Science Fiction was dropped at the end of 1955. Fantastic Adventures was a fantasy and science fiction magazine published in the United States from 1939 to 1953. ... Planet Stories was a pulp science fiction magazine, which published 71 issues between 1939 and 1955. ... Against the Fall of Night by Arthur C. Clarke in Startling Stories Cover by Earle Bergey Startling Stories was a pulp science fiction magazine which also published a lot of science fantasy. ... Wonder Stories was a science fiction pulp magazine which published 66 issues between 1930 and 1936, edited by Hugo Gernsback. ... Other Worlds is Screaming Trees 1985 debut, produced by Steve Fisk. ... The Video Ranger and Captain Video in space suits at the controls of the X-9 Captain Video and His Video Rangers was an American science fiction television series. ... Clarence Doores cover painting for Space Patrol, a Ziff-Davis comic book tie-in with the radio series Space Patrol was an old-time radio science fiction serial aimed at juvenile audiences. ... Tom Corbett is the main character in a series of Tom Corbett — Space Cadet stories that were depicted in television, radio, books, comic books, comic strips, coloring books, punch-out books, and View-master reels in the 1950s. ... The Comics Code Authority (CCA) is an organization founded in 1954 to act as a de facto censor for American comic books. ... Entertaining Comics was headed by William Gaines but is better known by its publishing name of EC Comics. ... Incredible Science Fiction #33 (Jan. ...


The second half of the 1950s, therefore, opened with a marked reduction in the visibility and marketability of science fiction. At the same time, technological advances, culminating with the launch of Sputnik 1 in October 1957, narrowed the gap between the real world and the world of science fiction, challenging authors to be bolder and more imaginative in an effort not to become yesterday's headlines. Newer genres of science fiction emerged, which focused less on the achievements of humans in spaceships and laboratories, and more on how those achievements might change humanity. Sputnik 1 (Russian: , Satellite 1) was the first artificial satellite to be put into orbit, on October 4, 1957. ...


Notes and references

  1. ^ Roberts, The History of Science Fiction, p 195
  2. ^ Roberts, The History of Science Fiction, p. 195
  3. ^ Roberts, The History of Science Fiction, pp. 196-203
  4. ^ Roberts, The History of Science Fiction, pp. 210-218
  • Adam Roberts. The History of Science Fiction. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2006. ISBN 0-333-97022-5

External links

  • InfinityPlus.co.uk - 'Fear of Fiction: Campbell's World and Other Obsolete Paradigms', Claude Lalumière
  • NVCC.edu - 'A History of Science Fiction: the Golden Age'
  • SciFi.com - 'John W. Campbell's Golden Age of Science Fiction: An irreplaceable documentary illuminates the man who invented modern science fiction', Paul Di Filippo
  • TestermanSciFi.org - 'The "Golden Age" of Science Fiction (circa 1930-1959)'
  • Tor.com - 'Age of Wonders Chapter One: The Golden Age of Science Fiction is Twelve', David G. Hartwell (October, 1996)


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  Results from FactBites:
 
Science Fiction - Printer-friendly - MSN Encarta (655 words)
The fiction published from 1926 to 1962 is often called modern science fiction, and almost all the novels published as science fiction during this period appeared first as magazine serials or were revised from magazine stories.
Science fiction also began to be published in the new mass-market paperback form and in hardcover, first from small presses devoted to science fiction and then by major publishers.
Science fiction also flourished in other parts of the world, most notably in eastern Europe and Russia, where a strong science-fiction tradition developed.
Golden Age of Science Fiction - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (571 words)
The Golden Age of Science Fiction, often recognized as a period from the early 1940s through the 1950s, was an era during which the science fiction genre gained wide public attention and many classic science fiction stories were published.
The saying "The golden age of science fiction is twelve", from the science fiction fan Peter Graham [Hartwell 1996], means that many readers use "golden age" to mean the time when they first developed a passion for science fiction, often in adolescence.
TestermanSciFi.org - 'The "Golden Age" of Science Fiction (circa 1930-1959)'
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