Thank You, Hailey for This New Free Author Tool!

Quick shoutout to Hailey and the Centerline Arts Group, thank you for this new free author tool! Got a very nice email yesterday from Bianca and the Centerline Arts Group, who wanted to tell me how much they enjoyed the Free Author Tools page. “Our group still can’t meet in person because of the pandemic so we’ve been meeting virtually to write & critique each other’s work,” Bianca says. “Your site gave us some fun material to reference so we wanted to share a personal thank you :). I asked the gang if they had any questions or favorites to share. One of our young writers Hailey sent us this article on maintaining good posture while writing and how to prevent writer’s cramps/pains … She thought you would like it too.”

I’m always on the look out for new free author tools to share, so I took a quick look. Turns out, this is an *EXCELLENT* resource for protecting your hands and fingers while composing your stories. As a result, I’m happy to pass along A Writer’s Guide To Healthy Wrists And Hands!

Always makes me feel warm and fuzzy to know that the Free Author tools can help other writers. I took a look and Hailey’s suggestion was spot-on! So glad she thought of it, it shows the power of authors helping authors. Now Hailey and the Centerline Arts Group join the community of Inkican, where creative people can lift each other up. Thank you Hailey and Bianca for for this new free author tool!

 

Deathclock Machine – SciFi Flash Fiction Now Available

Deathclock Machine - SciFi Flash Fiction Now Available

Pleased to say that Deathclock Machine – a scifi flash fiction now available, is another freebie I’m releasing from Inkican. The short story features a person who invents a machine that can tell when you are going to die. Here’s how it starts:

“You can literally predict my death.”

“That’s right.”

“You must be a riot at parties.”

“Not really,” he smiles. “As you can imagine, I have to have a lot of time on my hands to invent something this.”

“Start again. How did you come upon this ability to predict people’s death?”

“It’s all math,” he replied.

Like other scifi ‘jazz standards,’ Deathclock Machine is an improvisation on some old story tropes that I enjoy bringing my own perspective on. If it sounds like something you’d like to check out, I have some details for you.

First off, I’m not requiring you pay for Deathclock Machine. If you want to, great, all proceeds go toward my Author Success Sequence. Otherwise, if you want to check out something from me for free, no obligation, you can pick it up at any of the seven book stores on the left.

Support me – Buy it for $0.99   Hey, I get it – you need to know I’m worth it. Go ahead, Get It For Free
Let Me Tell You a Scifi Story Science Fiction Short Stories  Apple Barnes & Noble Kobo Scribd Thalia Bol.de Angus & Robertson

I’m sure you might be interested to see how the Deathclock Machine works, but if you’ve read my other stories before, then you know I enjoy taking your expectations and turning them inside out. Hope Deathclock Machine, this scifi flash fiction now available, gives you a fun little ride!

New Scifi Novel Project: Cinderellavator

New Scifi Novel Project: Cinderellavator

You haven’t heard from me because I’ve been doing some internal story development. Happy to say that those 3AM insomnia-based brain dumps are starting to bear fruit. I’m working on a new scifi novel project: Cinderellavator.

While I can’t share the details, I can talk about a few of the big ideas leading me to this story. Space elevators have been a scifi dream since the 1890s. According to Wikipedia, ‘most ideas for space elevators have focused on purely tensile structures, with the weight of the system held up from above by centrifugal forces. In the tensile concepts, a space tether reaches from a large mass (the counterweight) beyond geostationary orbit to the ground. This structure is held in tension between Earth and the counterweight like an upside-down plumb bob. The cable thickness is adjusted based on tension, it has its maximum at a geostationary orbit and the minimum on the ground.’

Another big idea are 21st century robber barons. In the 1800s, individual businessmen became ‘robber barons,’ exacting undue influence over society by exploitative business practices. Our current discussions about wealth inequality, democracy, and economic freedom are nothing new. My intention is not to advocate anything political or social, but to explore a future where multiple generations of robber barons have created their own future. What would that look like, how could one tween girl be the person who changes everything?

I’ll talk more about this as we move farther along. For right now, I’m focused on post-Mesh projects and scifi shorts. Cinderellavator is one of four new scifi novel projects. Any questions, comments, or concerns? Reach out to me on Reddit.

Fighting Woke Culture in Sci-Fi

A lot of noise this week about ‘woke culture,’ and some of that spills over to the sci-fi community. Taking this opportunity to say that if you want to fight ‘woke culture’ in sci-fi you have to realize the truth: there is no such thing as ‘woke sci-fi.’ Scifi has been woke since forever. Put down the virtual torches and pitchforks, we shouldn’t be fighting woke culture in sci-fi. The only battle we should be fighting is the fight over who gets to sit in the middle seat at the next Marvel or Star Wars movie opening.

From it’s very beginning, sci-fi has championed the progress of humanity as a whole. Seats at the table for everyone. Address social issues in a non-confrontational way. Ever since Mary Shelley warned us of the dangers of Galvanism back in 1818, and Metropolis challenged our views on social classes in 1925, we’ve used scifi as a way to examine our motivations and reflect on our choices. Now in 2021, we’re returning to the time-honored tradition with some new voices in the room.

Calling things ‘woke’ seems to be both pejorative and political, and science fiction doesn’t have to be either of those things. In a polarized world where everyone that isn’t for you is against you, science fiction has refused to be a walled garden with no room for neighborly friendship. So let’s be clear: We don’t have to fight ‘woke culture’ in sci-fi: our culture has been ‘woke’ forever. Now it’s becoming woke for everyone. Continue reading if you’d like some tips on how to bridge the gap between your scifi garden and your neighbors.


We don’t have to fight ‘woke culture’ in sci-fi: our culture has been ‘woke’ forever.

Now it’s becoming woke for everyone.


Listen 

Taking a page from this doctor’s breakdown on how they de-escalate an anti-vaxer patient, engage with a conflicting opinion by asking: ‘What are your concerns?’ and then listen. Ask them to remember that you own no stock in Disney or Universal, any scifi discussion comes from a place of love and respect for our genre. I say something like ‘my only interest is tell you the best scifi I can write.’ You may choose to say something like ‘every friend who tried movies I recommend has enjoyed them. I thought you might, too.’

Fighting Woke Culture in Sci-Fi

Respond with Sensitivity

If someone attacks a movie, author, or other scifi stakeholder you care about, it’s tempting to strike back in defense of your friend. Remember that other people’s perspectives may include trauma you aren’t aware of. Think about how long it took for the public to acknowledge the harm of the Tulsa race massacre. Your scifi sibling may be dealing with some other painful baggage that they are working through and coming from a place of pain. Be sensitive in how you respond:

“I hate *author*” – I hear you, some people dig *author* and some don’t. Let me tell you what I enjoy, and then you can tell me what you enjoy about your favorite authors.

“*Scifi stakeholder* was a horrible person!” – I agree, they did some bad things and we need to hold their legacy accountable for the values and choices of their era. No one is suggesting we tolerate that kind of behavior today, but we can still appreciate the elements of their art that we enjoy.

“No one’s telling me I have to like *author*/*Movie*/*scifi stakeholder*!” – Of course not, your choices are your business. There are a lot of people who do like *author*/*Movie*/*scifi stakeholder* and they’re enjoying their moment with what they enjoy. You can still enjoy *author*/*Movie*/*scifi stakeholder* and hang out with other people who do, too.

As the Reddit post recommends, ‘Listen even more … Answer questions … Keep it light and approach them with humility. Read [scifi] history. it will make you more empathetic. Read about how people treated Nichelle Nichols on Star Trek, or Black SF writers’ problems with getting published if you are really flummoxed as to where your scifi siblings are coming from.’

Welcome Your Scifi Siblings 

Our entry into science fiction happened because we saw something fascinating and reached out for it. It was never about who we were; it was about what we liked.  The rest of the community looked past our weirdness, our otherness, and said ‘hey, if you like this then you’re cool. Come on in to the party.’ Our scifi siblings love science fiction. There’s room in our garden for all of them!

You don’t have to take my word for any of this. Scifi has grown and evolved before, and it’s going to continue to grow and evolve. One of the most powerful scifi voices we lost in the past few years – Stan Lee – had this to say when it comes to inclusiveness:

“I love being with people, it’s the most incredible thing in the world, that world may change and evolve, but the one thing that will never change, we’re all part of one big family. …That man next to you, he’s your brother, that woman over there, she’s your sister, we’re all part of one universe that moves ever upward and onward to greater glory. In other words, Excelsior!”

Even Stan Lee isn’t a perfect person, but he had the perfect answer to a moment like this. We draw back in fear, or we can step forward in love. Myself, I’m not doing much stepping anywhere, but I know that every scifi fan all over the world is welcome in the world of Inkican. I hope that you are doing the same.

Fighting woke culture in scifi distracts us from our true mission of human progress. It’s a lost cause, and we have other things to do. For me personally, I’m still sending out queries for MESH and praying that it crosses the right desk at the right time to find it’s home. In the meantime, I keep lighting our lights. One day our scifi siblings will see us in the distance and come home. Now, more than ever, we need each other.

 

 

Surviving a World of Emotional Abuse

Surviving a World of Emotional Abuse

Part of my job as an author is to tell stories that people can relate to, and it forces me to learn new ways to reach out. This is a central part of my personal healing journey, and I’m happy to say that I’m pretty good it. This post is a little more personal – I responded to someone’s tweet lamenting our generations’ challenges with trust, loyalty, and relationships. My response boiled down to: “Of course you’re messed up.” That leads me to something I want to share with all of you on this Thursday afternoon. Practice a little acceptance and self-care today. If you’re feeling a little ‘messed up’ after the past fourteen months, a little bit crazy, hey: I see you. It’s not you, it’s civilization. You’re surviving a world of emotional abuse.

I don’t say this lightly. Forty-plus years of abuse and abuse survival have given me a measure of freeness when it comes to identifying relationships that have become abusive. In fact, you can read these 21 signs of an emotionally abusive relationship. If civilization was your relationship partner, you’d realize very quickly that it’s used aggressive verbal communication, isolated you from others, threatened your children, manipulated you. Current events have bruised and battered you mentally and emotionally, leaving you with symptoms of depression and anxiety that are directly related to your relationship with civilization. Even emotionally heathy people can be sucked into an abusive relationship, it’s even easier when the relationship is everything happening around you.

Surviving a World of Emotional Abuse

I don’t know a lot, but I do know dysfunction. Growing up with abuse and dysfunction gives you some special knowledge about survival, threat avoidance, and humanity. They also leave you with emotional ‘scars’ that are really defense mechanisms that easily work against you once you’re out of a dangerous environment. Those PTSD mechanisms that help soldiers avoid death and destruction in war don’t work in a peacetime environment that requires etiquette and protocol. Abuse touches you on a deep, personal level. I’m sure you’ve heard it before: ‘the consequences of abuse can last for years,’ ‘abuse impacts you physically and mentally,’ and how some abuse victims ‘don’t know who they are outside of that abuse.’

So if that can happen when one person is abusive toward you, think about how that impacts an entire society when it’s civilization doing this to you. Think about the systemic abuse suffered by minorities, think about how institutionalized disparities in opportunity and wealth have impacted Gen X, Xenniels, Millienials, and Gen Z. If you start to look at the behavior of society in general terms, you start to understand that many of these erratic behaviors can be explained as characteristics of Emotionally Abused People.

This topic is too big for a single blog post, so let me leave it at this for now: It’s okay to feel messed up. It’s okay if you have trouble completing things. It’s okay if you’re off-kilter in your special, weird way. You are, or were, surviving an abusive situation. Recovering from that trauma is going to take some time, and it’s going to take time for other people, too. Trauma scratches the lens through which you see the world. That’s going to mess you up in ways you never thought possible. When abused people make bad choices, turning them into abusers, we can hold them accountable without losing empathy for them.

So don’t be afraid to recognize it. You’re surviving a world of emotional abuse. The good news is, humanity has survived every horrible thing that’s happened up to this point. It’s going to survive this moment, too. If you need a brain taco, don’t be afraid to ask.

Photo by __ drz __ on Unsplash

This Redditor Solved Interstellar – SciFi Breakdown

Maybe you’re like me, and you never connected to Christopher Nolan’s ‘Interstellar’ as much as you wanted to. That always bothered me, because although I loved the movie, I didn’t love it as much as I thought I should and I could never sort out what the problem was. Until now. I stumbled across a thread and realized ‘This Redditor Solved Interstellar for me.’ I’m passing along this scifi breakdown in case it helps you rediscover your lost love for this masterpiece of storytelling.

So as we all know, Interstellar features Matthew McConaughey, Matt Damon, and Anne Hathaway as they search for a new planet to support life in the face of Earth’s failing natural ecosystem. The discussion of time and multiverse travel always rubbed me the wrong way because it seemed like a logical tautology (“It is what it is”) but it never explained how the humans were able to achieve multiverse travel on their own. There seemed to be an assumption that future humans had solved the problem and then reached back to our multiverse to give us the clue. I never liked that answer.

But happily, it turns out I was wrong anyway – strap in and prepare for your mind to be blown: This Redditor solved Interstellar, and you’ll be glad they did. Incoming Scifi Breakdown in 3 … 2 … 1 …

This Redditor Solved Interstellar - SciFi Breakdown

I think “They” are AI from the future. If you reconstruct the movie with this idea it eliminates every paradox. The movie begins with Cooper and his children capturing a drone with highly efficient fuel cells. The fuel cells suggest that machines can out live human beings as they do not need food, and instead are efficiently powered by solar energy. The film plays with the idea of an artificial “humor setting” over and over again. Study AI and you realize that humor is one of the great frontiers of AI technology. A machine that understands humor and knows how to use a seemingly illogical human expression is a machine that is artificially intelligent, therefore, TARS is an early AI.

In the original timeline, humanity did go fully extinct, however, they left behind AI (Powered by solar energy) which evolved to a point where it could carry out the prime directive as determined by Isaac Asimov. This law of robotics is:

A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.

In short, humanity went extinct, and was resurrected from the dead by AI. 

And …

This theory completely eliminates every paradox in the film, most notably, why would future human beings need to manipulate space and time to save themselves if they were already alive to do it? Also, how could future humans exist unless a wormhole was opened in the first place? This is inexplicable until you focus on TARS. If you re-watch the film with the AI theory in mind, it becomes apparent that man needs machine, and machine needs man, and it is logical for AI to save humanity for reasons which aid the machine. This is demonstrated when Cooper attempts to dock with the damaged Endurance, TARS questions Cooper and states that it is “impossible” based on his analysis of the situation. Cooper responds, “No, it’s necessary.” This is the key difference between man and machine. The human being will go beyond the impossible to the possible. A human being will create the logical out of the illogical.

 

I’m not going to post the entire thread – you can read it here – This Redditor goes to great pains to explain logically how the plot of Interstellar worked and I’m grateful for their scifi breakdown. It definitely means I’ll be re-watching Interstellar now. This explanation might help you as well, in your scifi discussions. No need to argue, just hold out the information and let it speak for itself.

Back to writing!

Sci-Friday #111 – The Brilliance of Fozzie Bear and Frank Oz

For this Sci-Friday, enjoy a special moment of joy between Jim Henson as Kermit the Frog and Frank Oz as Fozzie Bear at the World Puppetry Festival in 1980. Henson and Oz, similar to the outtakes of The Muppet Movie, improve for five straight minutes and the result is nothing short of brilliance:

Like all great characters, Fozzie is textured and complex. Frank Oz describes Fozzie Bear as “desperately insecure” and cites the character’s close friendship with Kermit the Frog to be essential to his core. Oz elaborates that, “With Kermit, he would want to find a way to be funny. That’s not altruistic for Fozzie. He’s not trying to make people feel better. He just wants to be a great comedian. But the main thing is that he would need to be with Kermit. He feels alone without Kermit.”

The voice behind Fozzie is Frank Oz, who’s been ‘that guy’ of the Muppet show, TV, and other movies. He was the original voice behind Miss Piggy, Fozzie Bear, Animal, and Sam Eagle in The Muppet Show, and Cookie Monster, Bert, and Grover in Sesame Street. He’s also Yoda. Not only that, Oz has directed several great movies including The Dark Crystal (1982), The Muppets Take Manhattan (1984), Little Shop of Horrors (1986), Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (1988), What About Bob? (1991), In & Out (1997), Bowfinger (1999), The Score (2001), Death at a Funeral (2007), and an episode of the US TV series Leverage (2011). He was also the lawyer in Knives Out.

The Muppets proved that you don’t need a huge budget if you have a big heart. Fozzie Bear and Frank Oz are a big part of that success story. I hope they inspire you to show your big heart in your work, too.

I enjoy sharing fun scifi stuff every Friday. Go down the rabbit hole of every other Sci-Friday I’ve published in the past couple years. Happy Friday and enjoy your weekend! Thanks to Wikipedia for this information about Fozzie and Frank Oz.

Now Available: Paparazzi Therapist – Scifi Short Story

Now Available: Paparazzi Therapist - Scifi Short Story

Looking for something fun to balance out the news cycle noise? I’ve got the solution right here. I’m thrilled to announce publication of Paparazzi Therapist, a scifi short story for your May reading list. Woo!

This short-but-sweet tale is about clones, celebrities we love to hate, and the fame/entertainment complex. If you think Hollywood is bad now, imagine what they could do with access to clone and CRISPR technology! Here’s the premise:

Ever heard Hollywood say “if one pop star falls, another takes its place?” Well now they can do it for real, and it means the current teen idol better play nice.

I started writing after reading that two gene-edited babies announced in November really exist—and the scientist who created them did so for his own “fame and fortune,” according to Chinese state media. How long until Hollywood starts producing their fresh-faced pop stars, assembly-line style?

If this sounds like fun, click one of the buttons to get Paparazzi Therapist at your favorite bookstore:

Free Sci-Fi EBook - The Battle of Victoria Crater Now Available: Paparazzi Therapist - Scifi Short Story Now Available: Paparazzi Therapist - Scifi Short Story Now Available: Paparazzi Therapist - Scifi Short Story Thalia Bol.de Angus & Robertson

Thanks in advance for your support. Paparazzi Therapist is just another scifi short story I’ve written. I’m getting back to writing because I’ve got many more stories to tell, but you can read my other short stories published here!

‘Golden Age SciFi’ – Ask Allen Steele

Click here to Read Part I – When I first asked the ‘Golden Age Scifi – what is it’ question, I was only planning to publish my own research. It turns out that others have asked this question, and have definite gems of information to share. One of those people is one of my mentors – it’s time you met him – Allen Steele.

Yes, Allen’s one of the best-selling authors I’ve mentioned in previous blog posts. He’s not the only author I know, but he’s one of them and he’s been incredibly helpful. First, a little introduction. Allen Steele is the scifi writer you don’t know you know. Specializing in hard scifi, Steele’s won numerous awards for his novels and short stories. Along the way he’s graciously offered me (and others, I’m sure) helpful advice about writing and science fiction. Naturally, he’s a walking encyclopedia of information when it comes to Golden Age SciFi.

I shot my first blog post over to him and asked a few questions. The resulting conversation is too big for a single blog post, but I’m including this first chunk as an interesting piece of Golden Age Scifi that I was unaware of: Planet Stories’ contribution to Golden Age Scifi. The email convo started off with a simple question, but led quickly into other areas:

‘Golden Age SciFi’ - Allen Steele Weighs In

“Am I On the Right Track?”

Well, yes, I think you’ve got it nailed down, but it’s also the conventional answer (and let’s forget the tired old saw about the golden age being when you’re 12 years old; Damon Knight was responsible for that decades ago and since then it’s become a cliche that trivializes the issue). John Campbell’s Astounding represented the major thread of the literary revolution that SF went through during the late 30’s through the late 40’s, but it’s not the only thing that was going on. What’s become overlooked has been the more subtle impact caused by another magazine of the time: Planet Stories, and the rise of modern space opera.

‘Golden Age SciFi’ - Allen Steele Weighs In

Planet Stories’ Contribution to Golden Age Scifi

Planet has become almost forgotten except by pulp aficionados and genre historians like myself, and for good reasons. First, it was published only quarterly for most of its history, which lasted only from 1939 through 1955, about when the last of the classic pulps died. It was nearly as garish as Amazing Stories; a typical Planet cover featured a well-endowed girl wearing the least amount of clothing allowed by law being menaced by monsters or an alien horde, which she’s either fighting off with a ray gun or a sword or running away from while a masculine hero with a ray gun or sword rushes to the rescue. And the stories had titles like “The Menace from Venus” or “Air Pirates of Mars” or “Ravenous Denizens of Jupiter”, which were the three major locales for your typical Planet story: Venus, Mars, and Jupiter.

Okay, this sounds like junk. And because much of it really was junk, Planet was easy to dismiss, particularly if you were also reading Astounding during the same time. But since Planet’s forte was what came to be known as “space opera” — Bob Tucker was obviously thinking of Planet when he coined the term in his fanzine Le Zombie — it was the best place to go for that kind of story; Campbell seldom published it anymore in Astounding, and the stuff Ray Palmer published in Amazing was seldom anything but awful. But while the first two or three years of Planet were nearly as bad as Amazing, as the 40’s wore on something interesting began to occur in its pages.

‘Golden Age SciFi’ - Allen Steele Weighs In

How Planet Stories Got Us Ray Bradbury and Empire Strikes Back

Every successful magazine builds a stable of writers, ones whose work is mainly found in its pages and no where else. And this is what happened at Planet, which collected writers whose stories Campbell was too stuffy to buy but who wouldn’t be caught dead at Amazing. The most prolific of these was Leigh Brackett, who together with C.L. Moore was one of the most prominent female authors of SF’s Pulp Era. Brackett’s first story appeared in Planet’s third issue in 1939 and she had the cover story in its last issue in 1955, and during that period she became one of space opera’s grand masters. Her signature creation was Eric John Stark, one of SF’s first and best anti-heroes, sort of a darker version of Burroughs’ John Carter. Brackett was married to Edmond Hamilton, another space-opera master, and since she was also a Hollywood screenwriter, toward the end of her life she wrote the original treatment for the second Star Wars movie, The Empire Strikes Back. Those of us who are Brackett fans know that the movie’s great disclosure that Luke Skywalker is actually Darth Vader’s son recognize this as just the sort of surprise development Brackett would spring on her readers.

The other great writer to come from Planet Stories was Brackett’s young protégé, a kid named Ray Bradbury. While Bradbury’s first work appeared in Weird Tales, his science fiction primarily appeared in Planet; many of the stories with which he established his reputation, including most of the ones that were collected in The Martian Chronicles, were first published there. Brackett was Bradbury’s mentor; they collaborated on a story Leigh couldn’t finish, “Lorelei of the Red Mist”, when she was unexpectedly hired to work with William Faulkner on the screen adaptation of Raymond Chandler’s The Big Sleep — yeah, she was that good — and in time Bradbury became Planet’s star writer, and also one of its most controversial.

Golden Age Scifi’s Second Home

From the mid 40’s on, Planet became a magazine that introduced or supported some of the best writers to come from the Golden Age’s post-war period, a home for writers who either couldn’t crack Astounding because of Campbell’s seemingly endless list of rules or were tired of dealing with his demands for rewrites. Fredric Brown, one of SF’s best satirists, was a Planet mainstay. Poul Anderson’s Dominic Flandry made his first appearance there. Theodore Sturgeon, Gordon R. Dickson, and Alfred Bester also had stories in its pages. Even Isaac Asimov had an early story there, although it was certainly far from one of his best. Towards the end, after the Golden Age but before the end of the Pulp Era, another writer making his debut there was Philip K. Dick. A lot of this was due to another overlooked figure in SF’s history, the magazine’s editor, Jerome Bixby, a short story writer whose tale “It’s A Good Life” was adapted for The Twilight Zone; he later moved to Hollywood and, as Jay Lewis Bixby, cowrote the screenplay for Fantastic Voyage.

Planet was very influential during the Golden Age, particularly in the development of space opera from juvenile literature to a more sophisticated, if not always more mature, subgenre. Unfortunately, over the decades that followed its demise, Planet was lost between Astounding on one side and Amazing on the other, and in recent years only John W. Campbell and Astounding seems to have been remembered, with Campbell lately being accused of racism because of a callous remark he made late in life to Samuel R. Delany (neglected is the fact that, in the early 60’s, Campbell serialized in Analog one of the first SF novels to feature a Black protagonist, Blackman’s Burden by Mack Reynolds … hardly the act of a racist).

I think it’s time for Planet’s place in SF history to be rediscovered and examined. Astounding wasn’t the only magazine to have a major role in the Golden Age and it shouldn’t be forgotten.

Wrapping Up

I think we all benefit when a guy like Allen Steele weighs in on Golden Age Scifi. This is powerful knowledge about our genre and deserves to be captured for now, and for future generations. Allen Steele is a fountain of great information on the history of science fiction and I really appreciated his input. I hope you did, as well.

Photo by Michal Matlon on Unsplash

What is Golden Age Sci-Fi?

Do you like science fiction? Then you owe a debt to what’s known as the Golden Age of SciFi. A period of time where many genre giants like Arthur C. Clarke, Robert Heinlein, and Isaac Asimov began their writing careers. I’ve started talking about Golden Age Scifi for reasons I’ll explain toward the end of this discussion. For now, let’s discuss: What is Golden Age Sci-Fi?

What is Golden Age Sci-Fi?

Identifying Marks of Golden Age Scifi

Golden Age Scifi stories are commonly characterized as hard SF stories that celebrate scientific achievement and progress. Another strong theme, according to Wikipedia was ‘alienation, the making strange of familiar surroundings so that settings and behaviour usually regarded as “normal” are seen as though they were the seemingly bizarre practices of an alien culture.’ At the same time,’ ‘a tradition of more literary science fiction novels, treating with a dissonance between perceived Utopian conditions and the full expression of human desires, began to develop: the dystopian novel.’

But there’s more to the story. In fact, science fiction was proving to be more than just story! According to the Encyclopedia of Scifi, ‘1938-1946 was a period … when most of the themes and motifs of sf were taking their modern shape.’ Additionally, scifi was starting to take shape as a community, since ‘gave the magazine readers something of a sense of belonging to a kind of secret brotherhood (not a sisterhood: the Golden Age stories were by and large written by men for young male readers.)’

What is Golden Age Sci-Fi?

Who Made Golden Age Scifi Happen?

Both Wikipedia and Goodreads agree on one single point: “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. The July 1939 issue of Astounding Science Fiction containing the first published stories of both A. E. van Vogt and Isaac Asimov is frequently cited as the precise start of the Golden Age.”

Others agree to a point. Yes, Campbell provided much influence on Golden Age science fiction. But why did he do it? In HiLowBrow, it’s stated: ‘Campbell and his cohort first began to develop their literate, analytical, socially conscious science fiction in reaction against the 1934 advent of the campy Flash Gordon comic strip, not to mention Hollywood’s innumerable mid-1930s Bug-Eyed Monster-heavy “sci-fi” blockbusters that sought to ape the success of 1933’s King Kong.’

So that’s an interesting takeaway for modern fans of SF. It suggests science fiction is at an intersectional point – where SF creators wearied of lightweight blockbuster SF that was heavy on the special effects and light on the ideas – we’re rushing toward a reboot of that same era as people grow tired of Star Wars and Marvels’ ‘magic punching people.’

When Was the Golden Age of Scifi?

Depends on who you ask. Some say the literary Golden Age of Scifi began as early as 1937, others say it was the 50s. Others still believe that there are three separate Golden Age eras of scifi, but most agree that the literary Golden Age ended some time in the 1960s. However, the golden age of scifi movies seems to be 1968-1984.

I would argue that it started almost ten years earlier with movies like On the Beach. So many formative science fiction films from that era, movies from 2001 to E.T. launched in that era, and their emotional impacts continue to echo through 2021.

In fact, some say ‘Golden Age’ scifi isn’t related to a specific time frame at all. They feel the Golden Age relates to the reader, somewhere between the ages of 12 and 14,  ‘when you’re looking for answers, looking to absorb reality, looking to make sense of it, and looking for something else, too.’

Wrapping Up

As you can see, lots to unpack when answering the question: ‘What is Golden Age Scifi?’ We’ve started by discussing identifying marks, influential people, and specific time periods. In the second half of this piece, we’ll talk about what makes Golden Age Scifi unique, and how it ended up saving the world. Stay tuned!

Here are some of my Golden Age scifi stories

Click Here to Read Part Two [Coming Soon]

Photo by Michal Matlon on Unsplash