"The Golden Age of Science Fiction is twelve" this doesn't mean the age 12 specifically but rather describes the age at which the author of that quote (David Hartwell) first encountered Sci-Fi. This idea of the Golden Age neatly encapsulates the sense of wonder and excitement we have when we encounter something for the first time. In future years we invariably look back at this time through rose tinted glasses. With each passing year the mythical proportions of this time grow and settle deeper into our consciousness. That's why our childhood is always described as the "Best Years of our Lives", even if they were actually horrible... given enough time they really do become the best years.
My Golden Age of D&D would be 14 and is forever 1983. This was when I encountered D&D (in the Red Box) for the first time. I'd discovered the Fighting Fantasy books a few months earlier and it was a small step for my friends and I to progress to a proper roleplaying game. Our first ever game will always stick in my mind, especially the moment when my character (a Barbarian that bore a not unsurprising resemblance to Conan) killed the Carrion Crawler outside the dungeon entrance. To quote John Kovalic, "I THACO'ed and I liked it!"
Of course before D&D I had a different Golden Age and it was my discovery of the so called 'Pulp' writers of the 1920's and 30's such as Robert E. Howard and H.P. Lovecraft. I was about 12 (so this is 1981) and I had discovered the Fantasy or Sword & Sorcery genre. Some of the forewords in the books I read mentioned other authors and the magazines they write for such as Weird Tales and Amazing Stories. It didn't take long before I encountered the Cthulhu Mythos and the works of writers like H.P. Lovecraft, Robert Bloch and August Derleth. Ironically It was my love of these so called 'Pulp' authors that lead me to the more scholarly work of Tolkien and
Going back still further (way back to 1977) was my Golden Age of Science Fiction. This was the time when I - and pretty much every kid my age - was transfixed by films like Star Wars and Close Encounters of the Third Kind. In fact I'd suggest I've actually had two golden ages of Sci-Fi, the first in the Movies and the second many years later in the printed works of Philip K. Dick and Isaac Asimov. I still love Sci-Fi but nothing will ever match the moment I first saw a huge Star Destroyer gliding onto the screen and first heard the music of John Williams.
I've been lucky to have several Golden Ages covering a wide range of genre's, and each will remain special to me. They shaped me into the Gamer I am today and for that I will be ever grateful. So what is your Golden Age and have you, like me, had more than one?