Wiki article on the Golden Age of Science Fiction mentions a couple of major developments associated with it, but is pretty thin on comprehensive analysis:

  • Space opera came to prominence
  • Three Laws of Robotics
  • Celebration of scientific achievement and the sense of wonder (though, frankly, this seems to be dated back to Jules Verne? - DVK)
  • Libertarian ideology
  • Re-emergence of the religious or spiritual themes in opposition to Hugo Gernsback's "scientifiction".

Is there a good analysis or summary of all the major tropes, developments etc... which characterized Golden Age of Science Fiction?

I'd prefer a pointer to existing analysis (with a brief summary if it's extended) - could be published or online.

  • 1
    When I was a kid, the Golden age was mid 30's thru 40'sThe article quotes Silverberg (b 1935)? Libertarian ideals only came to the fore with Heinlein's 50's drift to conservatism. Not sure when the 50's got included in the golden age, but it's a recent development. Nov 10, 2013 at 16:07
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    Space opera came to prominence in 1928 with the appearance of Edward Elmer Smith's Skylark of Space and Edmond Hamilton's Interstellar Patrol series. I think most people nowadays would call that "Before the Golden Age".
    – user14111
    Nov 12, 2013 at 2:44
  • @WayfaringStranger I'd generally agree libertarianism didn't come to the fore until the 1960s onwards. Certainly RAH's drift to conservativism in the 1950s was part of it. 1950s science-fiction is closer to 30s & 40s SF than current forms of the field. Once it's far enough in the past, it all gets mashed together.
    – a4android
    Nov 7, 2019 at 8:11
  • @user14111 Space opera was strong in the late 1920s & early 1930s. Generally this shows the Wikipedia was written by someone who isn't as knowledgeable as one might hope.
    – a4android
    Nov 7, 2019 at 8:14

1 Answer 1


I just leafed through a few books ("Cambridge Companion to Science Fiction", David Seeds likewise named "Companion to Science Fiction", Adam Roberts "Science Fiction" and even Suvins "Positions and Suppositions"). They all mention an "Golden Age" of Science Fiction, but do no use the term in any analytical fashion.

Suvin puts the "Golden Age" in the range from 1938-1958, so the inclusion of the fifties is not entirely new (referring to Wayfarers comment - the Suvin book is from the 70s). However Roberts says that "Fans talk unironically about "the "Golden Age" and [...] mean something quite specific: The late 1930s and early 1940s [...]".

I think that quote is also a clue to your question - professional literature critics prefer to categorize thematically or by the mode of publishing (e.g. "the magazine years") or, if they talk about time periods, they tie their categories to a relevant (to the genre) social movement (e.g. "postmodernism").

So my educated guess would be that there is no "professional" assement of Golden Age tropes (and you should look into fandom, which is not really my area of expertise).

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