Before the Golden Age

Before the Golden Age: A Science Fiction Anthology of the 1930s is an anthology of 25 science fiction stories from 1930s pulp magazines, edited by American science fiction writer Isaac Asimov. It also includes "Big Game", a short story written by Asimov in 1941 and never sold. The anthology was first published in April 1974, and won the 1975 Locus Award for Best reprint anthology.[1]

The anthology was inspired by a dream Asimov had on the morning of 3 April 1973. In his dream, Asimov had prepared an anthology of his favorite science fiction stories from the 1930s and was delighted to get a chance to read them again. After waking, he told his fianceé Janet Jeppson about the dream, and she suggested that he actually do such an anthology. Doubleday agreed to publish the anthology, and Asimov's friend Sam Moskowitz provided him with copies of the relevant science fiction magazines. Asimov completed work on the anthology on 10 May.

The stories were selected by Asimov, and the main selection criterion was the degree to which they influenced him when he was growing up in the 1930s. The prefatory material and individual introductions to the stories fill in the details about the early life of the child prodigy, which effectively makes the volume an autobiographical prequel to his earlier collection The Early Asimov.

The anthology was first published as a large hardcover by Doubleday in 1974 and re-issued as three smaller paperbacks by Fawcett Books the following year. The series was re-issued multiple times in the period of 1975-1984 in sets of either three or four paperbacks. As of 2018, it is out of print.

Before the Golden Age
First edition cover
EditorIsaac Asimov
CountryUnited States
GenreScience fiction
Publication date
April 1974
Media typePrint (hardback & paperback)
LC ClassPZ1.A815 Be PS648.S3


In addition to the 26 stories, the anthology includes introductions and extensive commentary by Asimov.[2]










Theodore Sturgeon praised the anthology as "uniquely and delightfully Asimov," describing it as "a much-wanted aggregate of the long-remembered, mostly long-lost masterpieces of ragged-pulp sf which fired up so many of the writers [from] the Golden Age of John Campbell's Astounding."[3] Alexei and Cory Panshin described Before the Golden Age as "a book that needed doing," saying that Asimov was perhaps the only writer who "could have the clout and the personal investment of love necessary to produce an anthology like this."[4]

Gerald Jonas, however, reviewing the anthology and related books for The New York Times, noted that "a little of this looking backward goes a long way," faulting "the defects of style, the prolixities, [and] the flaws of narrative construction" in the stories.[5] (Asimov, in his introduction to the book, had cheerfully conceded these stories to be "clumsy, primitive, and naive", "old-fashioned and unsophisticated".)


  1. ^ Science Fiction Awards Database: Isaac Asimov
  2. ^ Index to Science Fiction Anthologies and Collections
  3. ^ "Galaxy Bookshelf", Galaxy Science Fiction, September 1974, pp.120-21
  4. ^ "Books", F&SF, December 1974, pp.65-67
  5. ^ "Of Things to Come", The New York Times, November 21, 1976
Ace Comics

Ace Comics was a comic book series published by David McKay Publications between 1937 and 1949 — starting just before the Golden Age of Comic Books. The title reprinted syndicated newspaper strips owned by King Features Syndicate, following the successful formula of a mix of adventure and humor strips introduced by McKay in their King Comics title in April 1936; some of the strips were transferred from King Comics and continued in Ace Comics from issue #1. Ace Comics #11, the first appearance of The Phantom, is regarded by many to be a key issue in the history of comics, as it introduced to the comics format one of the first of the costumed heroes, leading to the Golden Age of superheroes in comics.

Autobiographies of Isaac Asimov

Isaac Asimov (1920–1992) wrote three volumes of autobiography. In Memory Yet Green (1979) and In Joy Still Felt (1980) were a two-volume work, covering his life up to 1978. The third volume, I Asimov: A Memoir (1994), published after his death, was not a sequel but a new work which covered his whole life. This third book won a Hugo Award.Before writing these books, Asimov also published three anthologies of science fiction stories which contained autobiographical accounts of his life in the introductions to the stories: The Early Asimov (1972), Before the Golden Age (1974), and Buy Jupiter and Other Stories (1975).

Big Game (short story)

Big Game is a short story (1,000 words) by the American science fiction writer Isaac Asimov. He wrote it in November 1941 when he was 21, failed to sell it to any magazine, and eventually lost the manuscript. When in 1972 Asimov compiled a collection of his earliest stories, The Early Asimov, he listed "Big Game" as the last of eleven stories which he had failed to publish anywhere and which he thought were lost forever. However a fan of his, Matthew B. Tepper, discovered the missing manuscript in a collection of Asimov's old papers which were archived in the library of Boston University and sent it to him. Asimov included it in an anthology he was editing at the time, Before the Golden Age (1974), although he pointed out that he had re-used the plot of the rejected story to write "Day of the Hunters" in 1950.

He Who Shrank

"He Who Shrank" by Henry Hasse is a science fiction novelette printed as the featured story in the August 1936 issue of Amazing Stories magazine (illustrated on the cover and in interior page by Leo Morey) about a man who is forever shrinking through worlds nested within a universe with apparently endless levels of scale. It was reprinted in the 1946 collection Adventures in Time and Space, edited by Raymond J. Healy and J. Francis McComas, and in Isaac Asimov's anthology of 1930s science fiction Before the Golden Age.

Henry Hasse

Henry Louis Hasse (February 7, 1913 – May 20, 1977) was an American science fiction author and fan. He is probably known best for being the co-author of Ray Bradbury's first published story, "Pendulum", which appeared in November 1941 in Super Science Stories.

Hasse's novelette "He Who Shrank" is anthologized in both the classic 1946 collection Adventures in Time and Space, edited by Raymond J. Healy and J. Francis McComas, and in Isaac Asimov's memoir of 1930s science fiction Before the Golden Age.

Isaac Asimov

Isaac Asimov (; c. January 2, 1920 – April 6, 1992) was an American writer and professor of biochemistry at Boston University. He was known for his works of science fiction and popular science. Asimov was a prolific writer who wrote or edited more than 500 books and an estimated 90,000 letters and postcards. His books have been published in 9 of the 10 major categories of the Dewey Decimal Classification.Asimov wrote hard science fiction. Along with Robert A. Heinlein and Arthur C. Clarke, Asimov was considered one of the "Big Three" science fiction writers during his lifetime. Asimov's most famous work is the "Foundation" series; his other major series are the "Galactic Empire" series and the Robot series. The Galactic Empire novels are set in earlier history of the same fictional universe as the Foundation series. Later, with Foundation and Earth (1986), he linked this distant future to the Robot stories, creating a unified "future history" for his stories much like those pioneered by Robert A. Heinlein and previously produced by Cordwainer Smith and Poul Anderson. He wrote hundreds of short stories, including the social science fiction novelette "Nightfall"; in 1964, it was voted the best short science fiction story of all time by the Science Fiction Writers of America. Asimov wrote the Lucky Starr series of juvenile science-fiction novels using the pen name Paul French.Asimov also wrote mysteries and fantasy, as well as much nonfiction. Most of his popular science books explain concepts in a historical way, going as far back as possible to a time when the science in question was at its simplest stage. Examples include Guide to Science, the three-volume set Understanding Physics, and Asimov's Chronology of Science and Discovery. He wrote on numerous other scientific and non-scientific topics, such as chemistry, astronomy, mathematics, history, biblical exegesis, and literary criticism.

He was president of the American Humanist Association. The asteroid 5020 Asimov, a crater on the planet Mars, a Brooklyn elementary school, and a literary award are named in his honor.

Isaac Asimov Presents The Great SF Stories 1 (1939)

Isaac Asimov Presents The Great SF Stories 1 (1939) is an American collection of short stories, edited by Isaac Asimov and Martin H. Greenberg, originally published by DAW books in March 1979. It contains science fiction stories selected by the editors that were published in the year 1939. The book is part of a 25 volume series. Each successive volume in the series contains stories from the next year, continuing through 1963. The series starts with 1939 because Asimov had previously published a three volume anthology series titled, "Before the Golden Age", covering years 1931 - 1938, which he considered to be definitive for those years. According to DAW, The Great SF Stories 1 (1939) "is the first in what Isaac Asimov plans to be a definitive series of sf anthologies, covering year by year the truly memorable stories that have progressively brought science fiction to its present prominence". The second volume of the series is Isaac Asimov Presents The Great SF Stories 2 (1940).

Each volume in the series begins with a two part introduction that describes the important events of 1939 "in the world outside reality" (normal historical events) and "in the real world" (event within the science fiction community). Each stories also features a short introduction by each editor.

Isaac Asimov short stories bibliography

This is a list of short stories by American writer Isaac Asimov. Asimov is principally known for his science fiction, but he also wrote mystery and fantasy stories.

This list includes Asimov's Foundation short stories, which were later collected into three novels known as the Foundation Trilogy.

Last Guardian of Everness

Last Guardian of Everness is a fantasy novel by John C. Wright (the author's first such novel, having been written before The Golden Age). It has a sequel, Mists of Everness.

Locus Award

The Locus Awards are an annual set of literary awards by the science fiction and fantasy magazine Locus, a monthly based in Oakland, California, United States. The award winners are selected by polling magazine readers.

The awards are presented at an annual banquet. The publishers of winning works are honored with certificates, which is unique in the field.The Locus list was inaugurated in 1971 for publication year 1970 and was originally more of a list than an award, intended to predict the Hugo Awards, and then to provide suggestions and guidance for them.

Major film studio

A major film studio is a production and distribution company that releases a substantial number of films annually and consistently commands a significant share of box office revenue in a given market. In the American and international markets, the major film studios, often simply known as the majors, are commonly regarded as the six diversified media conglomerates whose various film production and distribution subsidiaries collectively command approximately 80–85% of U.S. box office revenue. The term may also be applied more specifically to the primary motion picture business subsidiary of each respective conglomerate.

The "Big Six" majors are all film studios active since Hollywood's Golden Age. Three of them – Paramount Pictures, Warner Bros. Pictures, and 20th Century Fox – were members of the "Big Five", but the other three – Universal Pictures, Columbia Pictures, and Walt Disney Studios – did not gain their market shares until much later. The former two were part of the "Little Three" in the next tier down, and the latter one was an independent production company during the Golden Age. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) and RKO were the other two Golden Age "Big Five" majors, that exist today only as a mini-major and a small independent company. United Artists was a distribution company for several independent producers during the Golden Age, later began producing films, grew to major status, then merged with MGM.

While the main studios of the Big Six are located within 15 miles (24 km) of each other, Disney is the only one that has been owned by the same conglomerate since its founding and is also the sole member whose parent entity is still located near Los Angeles on Disney's studio lot and in the same building, whereas the five others were previously owned by many different companies years ago and now report to conglomerates that are respectively located elsewhere in Boston (Paramount), Dallas (Warner Bros.), Burbank (Disney), New York City (Fox), Philadelphia (Universal), and Tokyo (Columbia); moreover, Disney and Columbia are the only ones whose parent companies are still headquartered near the Pacific Ocean. Paramount is the only one still based in Hollywood with Columbia being in Culver City and Fox in Century City; furthermore, Paramount, Columbia, and Fox are the only ones still located within and near the Los Angeles city limits. Both Disney and Warner Bros. are located in Burbank and Universal is in the unincorporated area of Universal City.

Most of today's Big Six also control subsidiaries with their own distribution networks that concentrate on arthouse pictures (e.g. Fox Searchlight Pictures) or genre films (e.g. Sony's Screen Gems); several of these specialty units were shut down or sold off between 2008 and 2010. The six major studios are contrasted with smaller production and/or distribution companies, which are known as independents or "indies". The leading independent producer/distributors such as Lionsgate, and STX Entertainment are sometimes referred to as "mini-majors". From 1998 through 2005, DreamWorks SKG commanded a large enough market share to arguably qualify it as a seventh major, despite its relatively small output. In 2006, DreamWorks was acquired by Viacom, Paramount's corporate parent. In late 2008, DreamWorks once again became an independent production company; its films were distributed by Disney's Touchstone Pictures until 2016, at which point distribution switched to Universal.

The Big Six major studios are today primarily backers and distributors of films whose actual production is largely handled by independent companies – either long-running entities or ones created for and dedicated to the making of a specific film. The specialty divisions often simply acquire distribution rights to pictures in which the studio has had no prior involvement. While the majors still do a modicum of true production, their activities are focused more in the areas of development, financing, marketing, and merchandising. Those business functions are still usually performed in or near Los Angeles, even though the runaway production phenomenon means that most films are now mostly or completely shot on location at places outside Los Angeles.

Since the dawn of filmmaking, the U.S. major film studios have dominated both American cinema and the global film industry. U.S. studios have benefited from a strong first-mover advantage in that they were the first to industrialize filmmaking and master the art of mass-producing and distributing high-quality films with broad cross-cultural appeal. Today, the Big Six majors routinely distribute hundreds of films every year into all significant international markets (that is, where discretionary income is high enough for consumers to afford to watch films). It is very rare, if not impossible, for a film to reach a broad international audience on multiple continents and in multiple languages without being picked up by one of the majors for distribution.

Proxima Centauri (short story)

"Proxima Centauri" is a science fiction short story by American writer Murray Leinster, originally published in the March 1935 issue of Astounding Stories. Unusually for the time, the story adhered to the laws of physics as they were known, showing a starship that was limited by the speed of light, and which took several years to travel between the stars. In his comments on the story in Before the Golden Age, Isaac Asimov thought that "Proxima Centauri" must have influenced Robert A. Heinlein's later story "Universe" and stated that it influenced his own Pebble in the Sky.

Robot series (Asimov)

The Robot series is a series of 38 science fiction short stories and five novels by American writer Isaac Asimov, featuring positronic robots.

Sidewise in Time

"Sidewise in Time" is a science fiction short story by American writer Murray Leinster that was first published in the June 1934 issue of Astounding Stories. "Sidewise in Time" served as the title story for Leinster's second story collection in 1950.

The Sidewise Award for Alternate History, established in 1995 to recognize the best alternate history stories and novels of the year, was named in honor of "Sidewise in Time."

Space (mathematics)

In mathematics, a space is a set (sometimes called a universe) with some added structure.

While modern mathematics uses many types of spaces, such as Euclidean spaces, linear spaces, topological spaces, Hilbert spaces, or probability spaces, it does not define the notion of "space" itself.A space consists of selected mathematical objects that are treated as points, and selected relationships between these points.

The nature of the points can vary widely: for example, the points can be elements of a set, functions on another space, or subspaces of another space. It is the relationships that define the nature of the space. More precisely, isomorphic spaces are considered identical, where an isomorphism between two spaces is a one-to-one correspondence between their points that preserves the relationships. For example, the relationships between the points of a three-dimensional Euclidean space are uniquely determined by Euclid's axioms, and all three-dimensional Euclidean spaces are considered identical.

Topological notions such as continuity have natural definitions in every Euclidean space.

However, topology does not distinguish straight lines from curved lines, and the relation between Euclidean and topological spaces is thus "forgetful". Relations of this kind are sketched in Figure 1, and treated in more detail in the Section "Types of spaces".

It is not always clear whether a given mathematical object should be considered as a geometric "space", or an algebraic "structure". A general definition of "structure", proposed by Bourbaki, embraces all common types of spaces, provides a general definition of isomorphism, and justifies the transfer of properties between isomorphic structures.

The Early Asimov

The Early Asimov or, Eleven Years of Trying is a 1972 collection of short stories by Isaac Asimov. Each story is accompanied by commentary by the author, who gives details about his life and his literary achievements in the period in which he wrote the story, effectively amounting to a sort of autobiography for the years 1938 to 1949. (The book was followed by Before the Golden Age in 1974 and Buy Jupiter and Other Stories in 1975, which also included autobiographical material.)

The book is dedicated to John W. Campbell, the editor who bought many of the stories collected in this book.

The Man Who Evolved

"The Man Who Evolved" is a science fiction short story by American writer Edmond Hamilton, first published in the April 1931 issue of Wonder Stories. In his comments on the story in Before the Golden Age, Isaac Asimov called it the first science fiction short story (as opposed to novel) that impressed him so much it stayed in his mind permanently. In her introduction to The Best of Edmond Hamilton, Leigh Brackett called the story "a fine example of Hamilton's skill in encapsulating an enormous theme into the neat and perfect compass of a short story".

The Men and the Mirror

"The Men and the Mirror" is a short science fiction story by author Ross Rocklynne, published in Astounding Science Fiction in July 1938, since reprinted in Rocklynne's collection of the same title (1973) and in Isaac Asimov's anthology Before the Golden Age (1974). The story is one of three stories by Rocklynne featuring the protagonist Jack Colbie of the Interplanetary Police and his pursuit of interplanetary criminal Edward Deverel (all three are in his collection The Men and the Mirror).

Wonder Stories

Wonder Stories is an early American science fiction magazine which was published under several titles from 1929 to 1955. It was founded by Hugo Gernsback in 1929 after he had lost control of his first science fiction magazine, Amazing Stories, when his media company Experimenter Publishing went bankrupt. Within a few months of the bankruptcy, Gernsback launched three new magazines: Air Wonder Stories, Science Wonder Stories, and Science Wonder Quarterly.

Air Wonder Stories and Science Wonder Stories were merged in 1930 as Wonder Stories, and the quarterly was renamed Wonder Stories Quarterly. The magazines were not financially successful, and in 1936 Gernsback sold Wonder Stories to Ned Pines at Beacon Publications, where, retitled Thrilling Wonder Stories, it continued for nearly 20 years. The last issue was dated Winter 1955, and the title was then merged with Startling Stories, another of Pines' science fiction magazines. Startling itself lasted only to the end of 1955 before finally succumbing to the decline of the pulp magazine industry.

The editors under Gernsback's ownership were David Lasser, who worked hard to improve the quality of the fiction, and, from mid-1933, Charles Hornig. Both Lasser and Hornig published some well-received fiction, such as Stanley Weinbaum's "A Martian Odyssey", but Hornig's efforts in particular were overshadowed by the success of Astounding Stories, which had become the leading magazine in the new field of science fiction. Under its new title, Thrilling Wonder Stories was initially unable to improve its quality. For a period in the early 1940s it was aimed at younger readers, with a juvenile editorial tone and covers that depicted beautiful women in implausibly revealing spacesuits. Later editors began to improve the fiction, and by the end of the 1940s, in the opinion of science fiction historian Mike Ashley, the magazine briefly rivaled Astounding.

This page is based on a Wikipedia article written by authors (here).
Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license; additional terms may apply.
Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.