87 Authors of the Sci-Fi/Fantasy Golden Age

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How well do you know your genre?

I’m on a mission to become better acquainted with mine.

If you’ve ever read Battlefield Earth, you’ve seen the mega list of names to which Hubbard dedicated the book – the Golden Age authors of the magazines from the ’30s and ’40s, such as Amazing Stories and John W. Campbell Jr.’s Astounding Science Fiction.

Though hardly the beginning of the genre, the Golden Age was that sweet spot, when it was just beginning to bud, to find its voice – before the genre grew too big for one person to read in a lifetime.

Though I’ve read a lot of science fiction, I’ve only read seven of these authors. Seven!

I want a better grasp on the classics than that. I’m starting with Before the Golden Age: A Science Fiction Anthology of the 1930s, compiled by Isaac Asimov. These are his favorite stories from when he was growing up – ones that influenced his own journey to writerdom. Some of these authors aren’t on Hubbard’s list, but of course I’m going to read them anyway.

How have you studied your genre? What authors most influenced your writing style? Tell me in the comments!

And if sci-fi and fantasy are your game, take a gander at this infographic. Hubbard’s full list is in text below, so you can copy and paste anywhere (I made myself a little Evernote checklist).

infographic listing 87 authors of the Golden Age of Science Fiction and Fantasy

Click and it can be yours.

And the text version:

Science Fiction & Fantasy Golden Age Authors

He mentions these first:
Robert A. Heinlein

A.E. van Vogt

John W. Campbell, Jr.

And then all these:

Forrest J. Ackerman

Poul Anderson

Isaac Asimov

Harry Bates

Eando Bender

Alfred Bester

James Blish

Robert Bloch

Nelson Bond

Anthony Boucher

Leigh Brackett

Ray Bradbury

Fredric Brown

Arthur J. Burks

Edgar Rice Burroughs

Karel Capek

E.J. Carnell

Cleve Cartmill

Arthur C. Clarke

Hal Clement

Groff Conklin

Ray Cummings

L. Sprague de Camp

Lester del Rey

August Derleth

Ralph Milne Farley

Hugo Gernspack

Mary Gnaedinger

H.L. Gold

Edmond Hamilton

Robert E. Howard

E. Mayne Hull

Aldous Huxley

Malcolm Jameson

David H. Keller

Otis Adelbert Kline

C.M. Kornbluth

Henry Kuttner

Fritz Leiber

Murray Leinster

Willy Ley

Frank Belknap Long

H.P. Lovecraft

R.W. Lowndes

J. Francis McComas

Laurence Manning

Leo Margulies

Judith Merril

Sam Merwin, Jr.

P. Shuyler Miller

C.L. “Northwest Smith” Moore

Alden H. Norton

George Orwell

Raymond A. Palmer

Frederik Pohl

Fletcher Pratt

E. Hoffman Price

Ed Earl Repp

Ross Rocklynne

Eric Frank Russell

Nathan Schachner

Idris Seabright (Margaret St. Clair)

Clifford D. Simak

C.A. Smith

E.E. “Doc” Smith

Olaf Stapeldon

Theodore Sturgeon

John Taine

William F. Temple

F. Orlin Tremain

Wilson Tucker

Jack Vance

Donald Wandrei

Stanley G. Weinbaum

Manly Wade Wellman

H.G. Wells

Jack Williamson

Russell Winderbotham

Donald A. Wollheim

Farnsworth Wright

S. Fowler Wright

Philip Wylie

John Wyndham

Arthur Leo Zagat

 

About Stephanie Orges

Stephanie is an award-winning copywriter, aspiring novelist, and barely passable ukulele player. Here, she offers writing prompts, tips, and moderate-to-deep philosophical discussions. You can also find her on and Pinterest.
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15 Comments

  1. In all honesty, I’ve read a very small fraction of the fantasy fiction, even of those I’ve been told are very good. I think I am, in part, afraid to have the genre too ingrained in my mind, but perhaps that is a false fear. At any rate, I should read more than I do.

    • I think the danger is in reading too much in ONE genre – it puts your brain into a box as far as story arcs, narrative techniques and even phrasing. Things can get homogenized. But I don’t think you have that problem.

      The way I see it, reading in your genre can help show you details you might have missed – and helps you understand what elements are in the genre that make people love it, as well as what cliches to avoid. Reading more widely helps you find new ways to tell the story – and ways to avoid the aforementioned cliches. That’s the theory, at least. We’ll see if it works. : /

      • It probably does work. I find that writer’s block is well-combated by taking in more stories and writing, which is evidence that the theory is sound. I also find, though, that I am a sponge. Everything I take in comes out in my writing in some form or another… usually it’s mixed up with so many other things that only I know what the elements are (though sometimes even I am mystified by the alchemy), but it takes constant vigilance to keep from mindlessly regurgitating things.

        Alchemy… that is a good word for what we do, isn’t it? It never occurred to me before, but chances are, I read it somewhere. 😉

  2. That is a pretty extensive list, I’ve heard of 8 and only attempted to read the novels of 2. That’s pretty poor showing isn’t it? Sci fi and fantasy are things that I have wanted to get into but have generally struggled.

    I have a “thing” in my head on how I would want the scifi I read to be, epic in terms of locations, not too sciency, urgh, I dunno really, I’ev never really gotten into it enough to form an opinion.

    I know many many years ago when I tried the Lensmen series from E E Doc Smith, I couldn’t get into it at all so I am not really sure what I am looking for in my sci fi. Same with Fantasy, I read about 3 or 4 books of the Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan and it was ok, but nothing really compelled me to read more.

    • Hmmmm. I haven’t read either of the authors you’ve mentioned, but I’m guessing Doc Smith is a hard sci-fi writer – which means the story is more like a vehicle for the technical stuff (“too sciency”). That stuff is interesting and well worth reading, but not an “edge-of-your-seat”er. You have to kind of push to get through it.

      If you’re looking for something you don’t want to put down, I’d suggest Anne McCaffrey (specifically the Harper Hall trilogy), which is sci-fi that feels like fantasy (dragons and planets!); Shannon Hale (fantasy – great retelling of Grimm’s Goose Girl); or Margaret Peterson Haddix (sci-fi, but not too technical). They’re all Young Adult, but don’t hold that against them. Very good reads. Or if you’ve read the Hunger Games; those are sci-fi books that really suck you in.

      And – oh my goodness, Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game and its sequel, Speaker for the Dead. Both sci-fi and two of the best books I’ve ever read. The movie that recently came out was pretty good, but of course doesn’t do it justice.

      As for something on this list, I highly recommend Ray Bradbury. His writing is gorgeous, very non-technical.

      But if I could only recommend one of these to you, it would be Ender’s Game.

      • And stefania, I have read some R. Jordan. Can’t say I am a fan. I can’t remember if I have ranted to you about him before (I have ranted so many times over the years), but this is my take:
        Beautiful imagery and very good world-building, in a physical sense, but the story felt forced, as if he were calculating how it should run rather then letting it grow organically, and his characters were mostly… uninspiring/unsympathetic? I got the impression that he thinks he knows how women think, and was trying to represent them in a balanced way, but just ended up being frustrating or insulting, and the men? Blah or bleh. By the time I put the books down, I actually kind of wanted to see the main character die, and I didn’t care much what happened to anyone else. :/ Not a good sign, really.

        Of course, that is just my opinion. I’ve met plenty of people who agree with me, but also plenty who love Jordan and think he is a genius. I think it most likely that the latter group want something different from their books than I do.

        I will say that I would love to see the world he created in the hands of someone who better understands people and narrative. That would be truly epic (as opposed to trying to be epic). 😉

        • Ah, now that opens up a whole nother / another whole topic – authorial…um…authority? I’ve just been having a discussion with Evan about authorial intent, and if the readers interpret a story differently than the author, which one is right? Do books, as John Green claims, belong to their readers?

          My position is that the author is more likely to be right, but isn’t always. On the other hand, that’s assuming there is an absolute truth / right and wrong as regards to fiction (not just reality), which I’m not sure is absurd or not.

          • ooo… I have pondered this a lot, too. I think the discussion hinges on what one means by “right.”

            First off, I’ll set academics scrounging for dissertation material, and those who spin or bend text to fit a preconceived idea, to the side. There’s dishonesty there that will only stumble upon truth by accident.

            Now, I believe in absolute/objective truth, truth external and independent of mankind (reality includes fiction, so I think it makes sense for there to be a.t. in fiction, too, but that could be a darned interesting discussion).

            I could be mistaken, or dishonest with myself about my motives for writing something, but I think that an author is most likely to be right about the original intent of the work and to know the characters, setting, plot and intended theme the best.

            However, each time a book is read, it becomes a new book, a combined effort of author and reader. Each time it is different because each reader is different (even when we read things over, we have changed some in the interim). Readers, I think, can stumble upon truths that the author did not actively see or intend, because Truth is outside the author, too.

            As an writer, if I do a good job, I may be able to communicate something effectively to my readers, but as with conversation, the interpretation will always be out of my control. The interpretation may get my intent very wrong, but in doing so, may find something else that is true.

            Say I listen to a song and glean meaning from it that I know the songwriter did not intend. The meaning I have found, for me, is still a real thing, and though it is not true to the intent of the writer, it may yet be True in the greater context of the Truth that no one person can lay claim to.

            In short, if someone says, of a writer, “so and so intended THIS meaning” then they had better have the writer’s word for it. They can easily be wrong if they are reading into the writer’s motives. I can say “the subtext of this story is this: yadayadayada” and I can be right or wrong, because subtext suggests authorial intent, whether conscious or subconscious. If I say “This story means THIS to me, and this character represents such-and-such to me,” then I am referring to my reading of the work, and what I say is true. 😉

            Not sure whose side I came down on, if either. 🙂

          • I think you hit the nail on the head. I think I agree with you on all of these points.

            That still leaves the question whether Absolute Truth applies to fiction. Which seems ridiculous, but like you, I feel like it would. Maybe that’s a blog post topic in and of itself.

            There’s also the distinction between discussing what a book means and discussing whether or not the events in it happened “correctly.” I.e., is this fictional history accurate? For instance, this discussion sprang partially from J.K. Rowling’s recent suggestion that perhaps Harry and Hermione should have ended up together. My head is starting to spin…

    • Just in case it helps, I love the Fantasy genre and write in it, but I didn’t like the Wheel of Time books I read, and the farther I got into the series, the less I liked it. I quit around book 4 or 5.

      So… I do not consider Jordan to be the type of Fantasy fiction I like. If you can express what you are looking for in the genre, I, or someone better read than I, can point you in a better direction. The genres of Fantasy and SciFi are so vast and varied that it is easy to come across something you don’t like (or something you do!) 🙂

  3. I would love to see your thoughts on it. As with most things of this nature, the definition of terms seems critical.

    O_o I had not heard of that statement by Rowling. Here’s the question I have, though. I assume she is not proposing to re-write the books with the change, but is merely considering her own choices in retrospect?

    1: I constantly think of stories as having alternate realities. In my own writing, I consider these points and try to choose wisely. When I read other works, sometimes I dislike the “timeline” or “reality” chosen by the writers. That is, I think a writer or writers made a bad choice (or at least a choice that is disagreeable to me). This must be how a lot of fan fiction is born.

    2. However, canon is canon. Apart from areas a writer leaves ambiguous, something either happens in story or does not. Change something, and it becomes a different story with different implications, meanings and future (time-travel paradox!).

    3. If a writer changes something after publication, thus releasing a different version, then the two can be critically compared, like two parallel timelines… not necessarily in terms of “right” or “wrong” but in terms of storytelling. For instance, “Han shot first.” Lucas may see Han differently than the fans do, but he effectively created two versions of the character that exist independently of him, and people can pick their favorite.

    4. When I say that I want to see Jordan’s world in someone else’s hands, I am not saying that his books are wrong. They’re what they are, and I do not like what they are. Again, returning to the fanfictiony part of human psychology, I want to take elements of art that I like, discard those I do not, and create something new. 🙂

    (And for the record, I like the fact that she went the unexpected and odd route with the romances in her books. I can see Harry and Hermione working ok, but I’m not a huge fan of Harry while I adore Hermoine, so I was never a shipper.)

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