Summer vacation from my Vacation in the Golden Age

Not to bury the lead: I am taking a summer vacation from my Vacation in the Golden Age. I’ve felt this coming on for a few weeks now, and have finally decided to do it. So effective immediately, I am taking a break from my Vacation posts. The posts resume their normal schedule just after Worldcon, on September 17, 2012.

Why take this vacation?

  1. I have struggled lately to keep up with my reading. I think part of it is that I am growing restless. I don’t want this Vacation to be something that becomes a chore or burden. I pushed off Episode 39 once already and still haven’t made much progress, and that tells me it’s time to take a break.
  2. Since beginning my Vacation, I’ve read roughly 3 million words of stories and articles in Astounding in the space of 18 months. I can use a break from that as well.
  3. I do most of my Vacation reading during my lunch hour because there isn’t much other time available to me during the day. However, some recent developments in my fiction and non-fiction writing have made me want to shift gears back to writing. For the summer, anyway, I’d rather swap out the reading and use my lunch hour for writing. (I’m not yet ready to discuss these “developments” but I will in time.)

I want to make it clear that this is by no means an end to the Vacation in the Golden Age. I fully intend to complete the entire run, as I set out to do. But as any ambitious person eventually realizes, the task I set out for myself was a greater effort than I initially realized. The posts will resume in September, once Worldcon is over.

In the meantime, all of the first 38 Episodes remain available and I may do a kind of “summer reruns” thing. This also gives folks who have yet to catch up a fair chance at doing so. The Episodes alone total something like 170,000 words.


  1. In the comments to Episode 38, I said that the August 1942 closes out the initial phase of Austounding’s Golden Age. So this is the logical point for you to take a breather.

    I argue that starting with September 1942, Campbell enters his Silver age. The old guard of Heinlein, LRon, deCamp and Rogers are gone to war, Asimov and Del Rey sharply curtail their production, and van Vogt, Smith (George O., not E.E.), Jones, Jameson and the Kuttners henceforth dominate the fiction. The artwork – both cover and interior – becomes more prefunctory, and the magazine itself – due to wartime paper rationing – starts to shrink and look a little shabby.

    Mapping out the rest of this Vacation, there will be a false dawn in 1947 when JWC brings the old band back together (another logical place to take a pause). This abortive Second Golden Age is curtailed by the rise of rival markets two years later, and is followed rapidly by a descent into madness.

    1. Mark, Barry Malzberg has told me that he thinks 1947 was Astounding’s single greatest year. And then, as you point out, F&SF and Galaxy emerge and Campbell’s Astounding goes into decline for the remaining two decades of his life.


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