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Before the Golden Age: A Science Fiction Anthology of the 1930s
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Before the Golden Age: A Science Fiction Anthology of the 1930s

(Before the Golden Age - Full Original Text)

4.18  ·  Rating details ·  170 ratings  ·  21 reviews
26 science fiction stories, complete in one volume, originally published before 1939 (when the Golden Age of SF began), with autobiographical remarks by Asimov before each story. Includes a previously unpublished story by Asimov, "Big Game".
Complete text in one volume.
Part 1: 1920 to 1930 by Isaac Asimov

Part Two: 193
Hardcover, 912 pages
Published April 1st 1974 by Doubleday
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Oct 09, 2008 marked it as started-and-not-finished  ·  review of another edition
Over the last ten years, I've dipped into this book intermittently at times, most recently in 2008, so it's been parked on my "being read intermittently" shelf since then. But I've recently decided to move it to "started and not finished." It isn't awful as such, like some of the permanently-abandoned books on that shelf; it's just that I've realized that I'm not really excited about finishing it, when there are so many other books out there I actually want to read and would be excited about! (I actu ...more
Nandakishore Varma
I read these stories from the toddler years of SF with great delight. One can see the child growing up from infancy to early childhood. I can easily pick out two favourites in "Sidewise in Time" and "The Parasite Planet".

A worthy addition to the library of any aficionado.
Sep 05, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This thousand-page monster is one of the longest books I have read for a very long time. I didn't rush through it: I picked it up in a second-hand bookshop in 2003 and began reading it soon after; I finished the final story on the last day of December 2010. Seven years from beginning to end -- exactly as long as the time-frame (1931-1938) covered by the anthology itself, for this is a chronological showcase of Nineteen Thirties pulp SF edited by Isaac Asimov.

The guiding principle beh
Mary JL
Sep 19, 2009 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Asimov fans; fans of classic sf
Recommended to Mary JL by: No one-fan of Author
Shelves: main-sf-fantasy
This is an anthology edited by Isaac Asimov. He picked stories from the 1930's that he felt were memerable or important in the development of science fiction at the time.

He surrounds each stories with autobiographical interludes; telling about his life and times at the time he read the story. So we get a peek at Asimov's life and a peek at lots of old,Classic SF stories.

Of the 26 stories, some of course are much more dated than others. A few I found really pretty bad. How
Nov 10, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
this book was amazing, but probably has a pretty specific audience. some of the stories are awkward by today's standards - both literary and science-y - but always fascinating as a sort of sociological record of the thirties. the best part is definitely asimov's commentary. he has written a sort of autobiographical intro as well as a page or two between each story placing them in the context of his life and burgeoning science fiction interest. asimov is brilliant and he knows it and he's still b ...more
Phil Friel
Before the Golden Age: A Science Fiction Anthology of the 1930's Isaac Asimov could sure put together a mean anthology, and this has to be one of his best. There are so many great stories in this book that I won't list them all, but my favourite has to be Jack Williamson's classic Wellsian tale "The Moon Era". This is an absolute gem of a story, which featured a complex and sympathetic alien protagonist (the "mother") several years before the first appearance of Tweel, in Stanley G. Weinbaum's c ...more
Jul 12, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Nerdy, geeky, cheesy, but endlessly fun. These are all words that come to mind when thinking about Isaac Asimov’s Before the Golden Age anthology. In 1974 the famous and prolific science-fiction writer put together this collection of stories from the 1930’s. It is certainly worth a good read for various reasons.

The stories are framed by an autobiographical narrative by Asimov about his high school years when he worked in his father’s candy store. The store kept a stock of pulp science-fiction
Jul 15, 2013 rated it really liked it
This huge old dinosaur of a book from the early 1970's collected what Asimov felt to be the best of old dinosaurs from the 1930's; the pre-Campbell golden-age era. The stories are for the most part crude by modern standards in so far as characterization and, in some cases, narration, but they are filled with the sense-of-wonder element that popularized the genre. Asimov's lengthy autobiographical interludes are interesting but occasionally grow a little tedious, but it's easy to skim them and la ...more
I'm enjoying these stories from the early days of science fiction in the 1930s, as quaint as some of them seem nowadays. Interesting that in these stories the travel through space or matter is the result of individuals, not concerted efforts by large groups or nations. Several stories explore the relationships between what might be called the microcosmoses and macrocosmoses, where the protagonist either shrinks or grows and finds multiple levels of universes built on the same patterns. May 26, 2 ...more
S. M.
Mar 24, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An entertaining mix of sci-fi history and Asimov autobiography. It's an excellent selection of science fiction stories that influenced the Golden Age authors. The stories got progressively better; I thoroughly enjoyed most of them, and it was fascinating to see the advanced ideas that were being used as early as the '30s...also rather comical the sheer number of phenomena they attributed to "cosmic rays."

A must-read for the sci-fi buff who can't get his hands on any 1930s sci-fi maga
Dec 06, 2015 rated it really liked it
This is a massive (900-page) collection of science fiction stories written between 1932 and 1938. Why those years? Well, 1932 is when young Isaac Asimov first started reading SF, "borrowing" the magazines his father sold in the family candy store in Brooklyn. In 1938, two things happened: Asimov published his own first story, and John Campbell took full control of Astounding Stories magazine, the premier publisher of SF in those days, thus ushering in the beginning of the "Golden Age of Science ...more
Jan 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This massive (over 900 pages) anthology was assembled by Isaac Asimov. These are science fiction stories from the pulp magazines that he read when he was growing up, and he includes his thoughts and biographical information as well, so that we can get a picture of his youthful wonder and of the work that inspired him to become a writer. Some of the stories may seem unsophisticated by today's standards, and a few have some racist overtones, but so did much of the fiction back then. I just chalked ...more
Nicholas Bobbitt
Pre-Golden Age SF is apparently a dime a dozen. Sadly, not a lot of it is worth more than that.
Jim Syler
Mar 18, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fun, buy
This is an excellent compilation of stories from the “Pulp era” of science fiction, when the standards for what constituted good science fiction were generally lower and broader than what came after. That doesn't mean that the stories were uninteresting! We have adventure, excitement, thought exercises, aliens and super science. It’s just that most of the stories have the feel of a Buck Rogers serial film, with an excited announcer breathlessly describing the next installment. The characterizati ...more
Dec 25, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Many familiar stories here from anthologies galore!
May 18, 2011 rated it liked it
An inconsistent collection, but with some stories worth digging for. In particular the two Tumithak stories by Charles R. Tanner I found immensely entertaining, and when I went online to see if the other two stories (post 1940, so outside the scope of this anthology) were available, I was thrilled to find that the author's estate have made all his stories publicly available at Highly recommended.

Some of the stories are understandably dated, but others are just grossly reactionary an
Paul Hammer
Sep 13, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great collection to read and a good survey of the pulp era.
Oct 07, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My rating is probably skewed; I read this when I was still very young, because it was an ASIMOV book, and thus good. I remember that some of the stories were somewhat corny, but not which ones. the style of fiction is somewhat different than what is written now, and the fore- and afterwords were written with his characteristic voice.
A good book for those looking for long-lost tropes, anecdotes(I think) and some good, old-fashioned men-from-mars type sci-fi.
Feb 15, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
only 7 stories from complete offering in my book, a few really fine, other not so much, Heinleins "overtimed" acclaimed By his bootstraps (not a fun of so overarranged time travelling, but this is funny and sarcastic), Accursed galaxy and Tumithaks 2 adventures worth read, others are average and forgettable ...more
Jun 04, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
1/1/91. No library.
Harold Cardona
Jul 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Great compilation. My favoirite Story; Tuminak of the Corridors.
René Beaulieu
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Mar 22, 2010
Alan Maxwell
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Sep 27, 2018
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Nov 26, 2013
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Graham Vingoe
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Kevin Vernon
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Jeroen De Wijn
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Sep 07, 2011
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Lawrence Stadulis
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Isaac Asimov was a Russian-born, American author, a professor of biochemistry, and a highly successful writer, best known for his works of science fiction and for his popular science books.

Professor Asimov is generally considered one of the most prolific writers of all time, having written or edited more than 500 books and an estimated 90,000 letters and postcards. He has works publish

Other books in the series

Before the Golden Age (5 books)
  • Before the Golden Age 1
  • Before the Golden Age 2
  • Before the Golden Age 3
  • Before the Golden Age 4
  • Before the Golden Age, Book 3
“In Hamilton's The Universe Wreckers... it was in that novel that, for the first time, I learned Neptune had a satellite named Triton... It was from The Drums of Tapajos that I first learned there was a Mato Grosso area in the Amazon basin. It was from The Black Star Passes and other stories by John W. Campbell that I first heard of relativity.

The pleasure of reading about such things in the dramatic and fascinating form of science fiction gave me a push toward science that was irresistible. It was science fiction that made me want to be a scientist strongly enough to eventually make me one.

That is not to say that science fiction stories can be completely trusted as a source of specific knowledge... However, the misguidings of science fiction can be unlearned. Sometimes the unlearning process is not easy, but it is a low price to pay for the gift of fascination over science.”
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