The Golden Age of SF is 12 and the unbound time of SF

“The Golden Age of SF is 12”

You’ve heard that phrase, right?

For me, it may be the SF I read when I was 12, but I was not yet reading contemporary SF at that point. Thanks to an older brother introducing me to HIS Science fiction, I was reading for the most part slightly older science fiction than the contemporary at the beginning.

The 1984 Hugo novel nominees, for novels in 1983, when I was 12:

Startide Rising by David Brin [Bantam, 1983]
Tea with the Black Dragon by R. A. MacAvoy [Bantam, 1983]
Millennium by John Varley [Berkley, 1983]
Moreta: Dragonlady of Pern by Anne McCaffrey [Ballantine Del Rey, 1983]
The Robots of Dawn by Isaac Asimov [Doubleday, 1983]

I read none of these in 1983 or 1984. It would take me a couple of years to discover Brin, Varley, McCaffrey. It was a long time before I hit on MacAvoy. I was reading Asimov at that point, Asimov was one of my first authors but I was reading used paperbacks, not new ones. So I didn’t get to this one for a while.

Similarly, I hit Cyberpunk and Neuromancer a few years after its Annus mirabilis of 1984. I wanted to “catch up” with all the back history of the field, you see.

Zelazny’s Merlin novels were the first novels I was eagerly trying to read “in real time”. As time went on, I slowly started to shift toward new or recently published SF. It was the mid to late 90’s when I started reading Hugo and Nebula nominees in the year they came out, as a way of staying abreast of the field.

When I started reviewing seriously enough to have publishers start sending me books was when I started managing to read books *before* official release, but that wasn’t until about 5 or 6 years ago.