Friday, June 4, 2010

Before the Golden Age - Online

What with one thing and another, a lot of old science fiction stories are showing up online. Seeing Edmond Hamilton's 1931 short story "The Man Who Evolved" available at The Nostalgia League got me to thinking about Isaac Asimov's 1974 anthology Before the Golden Age. As I've mentioned before, this was the book that first got me interested in the Gernsback Era of science fiction. And as it happens, the very first story in the anthology (after Asimov's lengthy autobiographical material) is "The Man Who Evolved". Well, that's interesting, I said to myself. I wonder how many other stories from Before the Golden Age can be found online?

And that's what this post is about. I will now attempt to post links to as many of the stories in Asimov's anthology as can currently be found online, creating the closest thing available to an online version of Before the Golden Age. If you want to read Asimov' commentary on the stories, you'll have to find yourself a dead-tree copy of the book, but if you want to read (some) of the actual stories . . . here they are:

"The Man Who Evolved" by Edmond Hamilton (from The Nostalia League)
"The Jameson Satellite" by Neil R. Jones (from The Nostalgia League)
"Submicroscopic" by Capt. S. P. Meek
"Awlo of Ulm" by Capt. S. P. Meek
"Tetrahedra of Space" by P. Schuyler Miller
"The World of the Red Sun" by Clifford D. Simak
"Tumithak of the Corridors" by Charles R. Tanner (from the Charles R. Tanner homepage)
"The Moon Era" by Jack Williamson
"The Man Who Awoke" by Laurence Manning
"Tumithak in Shawm" by Charles R. Tanner (from the Charles R. Tanner homepage)
"Colossus" by Donald Wandrei
"Born of the Sun" by Jack Williamson
"Sidewise in Time" by Murray Leinster
"Old Faithful" by Raymond Z. Gallun
"The Parasite Planet" by Stanley G. Weinbaum (from Project Gutenberg Australia)
"Proxima Centauri" by Murray Leinster
"The Accursed Galaxy" by Edmond Hamilton
"He Who Shrank" by Henry Hasse
"The Human Pets of Mars" by Leslie Frances Stone
"The Brain Stealers of Mars" by John W. Campbell, Jr. (from Scribd)
"Devolution" by Edmond Hamilton (pdf from EbookStack)
"Big Game" by Isaac Asimov
"Other Eyes Watching" by John W. Campbell, Jr.
"Minus Planet" by John D. Clark
"Past, Present, and Future" by Nat Schachner
"The Men and the Mirror" by Ross Rocklynne

So, out of 25 stories and 1 science essay chosen by Asimov for this anthology, 7 are currently available online (6 as text, 1 as pdf). If anyone out there in my vast audience knows of any online versions of the remaining 19, by all means let me know, and I'll update this post.


Anonymous said...


Fabulous! BEFORE THE GOLDEN AGE is still my favorite book. This is what the Internet is for.

I blogged about this effort on the Black Gate site ( You've already got a great start, and I hope you find more.

John O'Neill
Black Gate magazine

Lise A said...

Great idea!

Is this book based on printing the best from this period, or what's typical, or ...?

Johnny Pez said...

The idea was for Asimov to share his personal favorites from the stories of the 1930s -- stories that left a deep impression on him, or that influenced his own writing. Thus, since Asimov missed seeing Stanley G. Weinbaum's landmark story "A Martian Odyssey" when it first appeared, it's not included. Instead, he includes Weinbaum's "Parasite Planet", which he did read, and which impressed him as much as "A Martian Odyssey" impressed its readers.

Razar said...

Born of the Sun is one of my favourite short-stories of all time (along with the Tumithak of the Corridors/ Shawm), and I haven't read it for almost 20 years. I was desperately hoping to find it here...

Guess I'll have to keep looking.