Very soon, I will be resuming my Vacation in the Golden Age. The first 40 episodes of my Vacation, covered all of the issues of Astounding Science Fiction from July 1939 (the opening of the “Golden Age” of science fiction) through the October 1942 issue. I described my reasons for taking a vacation in the Golden Age back when I first got started. Why I stopped might not have been as clear, but I think there were three reasons:
- The series began to feel like an obligation, rather than a fun exercise in science fiction nostalgia. I began to feel pressure to get each one out, often rushing them, and not enjoying the issues as I might have.
- More and more, my time was growing limited. I wasn’t writing as much fiction as I wanted to, and other obligations were squeezing out the time I had to read the magazines.
- Burnout. I’d been reading the magazines for close to 2 years, covering 40 issues and hundreds of stories and articles, and writing more than 100,000 words of commentary. I needed a break.
So why start things up again now? Well, I’ve been feeling the desire to get back to the old magazines for a long time, but there were some things that I needed to be sure of. One of those things was my fiction writing. I did not want to sacrifice my writing time for reading old issues of Astounding. I needed to wait until I was sure that I wouldn’t do that. If you’ve been following along, you know that I’ve now written every day for the last 174 days, and I’ve missed only 2 days in the last 318. My daily writing habit is well-established now and I don’t worry about missing it. I always write.
Yesterday, I read Jennifer Campbell-Hick’s story, “Malfunction” in the Raygun Chronicles anthology (edited by Bryan Thomas Schmidt). Jennifer was a fellow Launch Pad Astronomy Workshop attendee this summer. Her story was magnificent, with echoes of Asimov’s robot stories and reminiscent of stories from the Golden Age. I think reading her story was what pushed me over the top and decided me on resuming my Vacation.
Still, I needed some ground rules for this new effort. I’d been thinking about these unconsciously for a while, but I formulated them into a set of “rules” that will help guide me through this next phase. They are:
- My fiction writing takes precedence. Given a limited time supply and a choice between reading Astounding or getting in my writing for the day, I’ll go with writing first and then reading if there is time left over.
- Because of #1, I’m not going to work on a set schedule as I did last time. I started my Vacation trying to read an issue each week, and then went to every other week. For this resumption, I plan on going at whatever pace is the least stressful. The whole point is to enjoy this Vacation, and share that enjoyment, without the pressure of getting an episode out every other week, or on some other set schedule.
In practice, I suspect this means that episodes will come out on fairly regular cycles, although what those are yet, I don’t know. Sometimes, there will be longer delays between episodes, and other times, they will be close together.
This morning, I have started reading (with a great deal of joy) the November 1942 issue of Astounding, and when I’ve finished, I’ll post the episode. When I am close to finishing, I’ll give some warning over various social media, so if you want to keep up, you can follow me on Twitter (@jamietr), follow my new Twitter account dedicated to my Vacation (@goldenagesf), or my Facebook page.
I’m looking forward to getting back into this, and looking forward to the great discussions we had in the comments to the post. And as always, I’m open to suggestions, so drop them in the comments below.
In the meantime, if you want a preview of what’s coming in Episode 41, here’s the table of contents1 for the November 1942 issue of Astounding:
And if you haven’t read the series so far, or are looking to refresh yourself before Episode 41 comes out, there are 40 previous episode of my Vacation in the Golden Age available online.
- Yes, it really is signed by Jack Williamson and A. E. van Vogt. ↩