I’ve noticed a few comments around the Web (for example, on Peter David’s blog) that with Arthur C. Clarke’s passing the last of the great SF authors of the golden age are gone and this marks the end of an era.
Although Clarke was the last of the “Big Three” to die, the label of the Big Three always seemed rather arbitrary to me, and there are in fact several popular, acclaimed and beloved science fiction writers still alive who were contemporaries of Asimov, Heinlein and Clarke in the 1940s:
- Ray Bradbury, born 1920, first published 1941.
- Jack Vance, born 1916, first published 1945.
- Frederick Pohl, born 1919, worked as an editor and agent in the industry starting in 1939.
I think placing these gentlemen on a lower tier or in a later generation than the Big Three is splitting hairs – or, at most, a matter of opinion. The era of the golden age greats may be nearing an end, but it’s not there yet.