That's economic depression, but I'd guess one tends to lead to the other--writers thinking this isn't the time to be a writer, sales down, big book chains skipping more books, lower advances. All the bad stuff we're hearing.
I have close to an hour to think about things on the way into work, and this morning I spent most of it on the recent round of publishing industry doom articles. Then crossing all of that with failures in every industry. You know, everything's going to hell--you've read them all, heard about it, watched it, income reduction, high fuel prices, high food prices, couples putting off marriage, rethinking plans to have children, home foreclosures, what the Fed's doing, what the candidates are going to do about it, depression anyone?
I have no idea if there's a connection, just wondering…
The 1930s, the decade in the center of the Great Depression, also happened to be when our favorite genres really jumped into high gear. It's the decade of the science fiction magazine. Many started out before the 30s, but that's where they really started taking off--Amazing, Astounding, Weird Tales, Wonder. Did lower cost, shorter forms--short stories and novellas--have an impact?
It's also prime time for the big editors and influencers John W. Campbell, Hugo Gernsback, and others. Before the end of the decade we have all those names…so many of them starting out in the 1930s, several continuing to be successful, names like Theodore Sturgeon, Robert Heinlein, Isaac Asimov, A. E. Van Vogt, E. E. Smith, Robert Bloch, H.P. Lovecraft, Henry Kuttner, C. M. Kornbluth, Alfred Bester, James Blish, L. Sprague de Camp, Lester del Rey, Clifford Simak, Edgar Rice Burroughs, H. G. Wells, C. L. Moore, Clark Ashton Smith, Robert E. Howard, Aldous Huxley, C. S. Lewis. All of them continued working, and most started out--sold first stories--in the 1930s.
We have Batman launching his career fighting crime. We have the First World Science Fiction Convention in New York in 1939.
So what the hell happened in the 1930s--what was it about the '30s? We have our favorite genres--SF, fantasy, horror, weird--taking cultural hold like never before. A growing fanbase reading more--and convening in NYC. Was it building quietly, exploring, taking root since Jules Verne, or before, and we simply reached critical mass in the 1930s? What about the new formats, all the magazines launched at the end of the 20s and all through the 30s? Lower cost paperbacks, novellas becoming popular? Were any of these authors making a decent living off their writing then? Who could afford to buy books and magazines when people were standing in line for bread? Who were these SF readers?
Any connection to the explosive growth in SF and a sliding economy? We have new delivery forms--ebooks, rss feeds, free books, more content online, more shelf space for graphic novels. Will we look back on this decade or the next and say it was another 1930s for SF and fantasy?
In case you're thinking I had all of this in my head...nope. Just the general idea, knowing that the 1930s was a special era for SF. I Googled around and I would have left off half the names if I hadn't found this: