Peter Graham's Golden Age Aphorism (was Re: Golden Age of Science Fiction)

[Posted to rec.arts.sf.fandom, e-mailed to SF history people who might be able to find the right issue of *Void*. We still need a citation.]

On Sun, 23 Apr 2006, David Langford wrote:

On 23 Apr 2006 06:49:28 -0700, "Bill Patterson" <WHPatterson@xxxxxxxxx>

I think Peter Graham is credited in Clute & Nichols, too -- but I need
to find the source. Could you put a date and publication on it.

I can't find a mention of Peter or Pete Graham in the SFE text. The GOLDEN
AGE OF SF entry begins "It has been said, cynically, that the Golden Age of
sf is 14." -- but ages 12 and 13 are also cited, without source.

Peter Graham originally wrote "The Golden Age of science fiction is twelve" in *Void* around 1957. [1]

Terry Carr quoted it a lot, and is probably responsible for making it famous.

David Hartwell put it in *Age of Wonders* in 1984, without attribution [2].

Patrick Nielsen Hayden, in editing the revised edition, persuaded Hartwell to attribute the quote to Peter Graham in 1996 [3].

Peter Nicholls quotes the line without attribution under "Golden Age of SF" in the encyclopedia he compiled with John Clute [4][5].

Gary Farber told me about this, in 1997. [6 and accompanying thread.]

Some people think the originator was Carr. Some think it was Hartwell. Some think it was Nicholls or Clute. It was really Peter Graham.

Any year now, we will see the line attributed to Mark Twain.
Or possibly Winston Churchill.

Clip this article out and paste it into your SF reference books.


1. *Void* was a prominent fanzine founded by the Benford brothers, which Graham edited for a while. Sorry, I don't know the issue or page number for the quote. Someone should nail this down. Peter Graham lived from 1939 to 2004. Gary Farber writes: "Best remembered for co-editing VOID, the fanzine originally founded by twin brothers Greg and Jim Benford when they were young teens in Germany; Jim dropped off at issue 14; Pete and Terry Carr became co-editors; Ted White was added a couple of issues later, and it was one of the leading zines from around 1959 until the Boondogle period (1964)."

2. Hartwell, David, *Age of Wonders*, Walker, New York 1984, p. 1. The title of Hartwell's chapter is "The Golden Age of Science Fiction is Twelve," and this chapter has been reprinted in anthologies of criticism. One source indicates that the essay originated in *Top of the News* 39 in 1982, p. 39-53.

3. Hartwell, David, *Age of Wonders*, Tor, New York 1996.

4. As "It has been said, cynically, that the Golden Age of sf can be dated back exactly t when the reader was 14 years old." Peter Nicholls. "Golden Age of SF" entry in Nicholls, Peter, *The Science Fiction Encyclopedia*. Dolphin Books/Doubleday, 1979, p.258.

5. As "It has been said, cynically, that the Golden Age of sf is 14." Nicholls G.A.o.SF entry in Clute, John, and Nicholls, Peter, *The Science Fiction Encyclopedia*, St. Martin's Griffin, New York 1995, p. 506.

6. See
and the associated "View Thread."

Bill Higgins