First published in New Worlds #99, October 1960.
Interestingly, J G Ballard reviewed The Golden Age of Science fiction for the Guardian. He mentions the stories in passing, praising the selection rather faintly as one of ‘accurate judgements’, but he’s not unjustifiably annoyed at some of Amis’s comments in the introduction. Ballard quotes the same section as I did in my note about The Old Hundredth.
The perpetrators of all this are whipped unmercifully. Moorcock's fiction "gives rise to little more than incurious bewilderment." Aldiss, in Barefoot in the Head, "interlards an adventure story with stylistic oddities, bits of freak talk, poems, some of them ‘concrete'." As for Ballard, on whom no verdict can be harsh enough: "Solipsistic… mystification and outrage… physical disgust… stories with chapters subdivided into numbered paragraphs [not true]… has never been in the genre at all."
According to Ballard the old man is out of touch; saying his hatred of modern SF is bound up with his hatred of modern life in general. He’s just a bitter old critic who backed the wrong horse.
To some extent Amis's distaste for science fiction can be put down to simple pique. Sharp observer though he was of 1940s and 1950s s-f, his prediction in New Maps of Hell that science fiction would become primarily a satirical and sociological medium proved totally wrong. In fact, American s-f veered away into interplanetary fantasy (Le Guin, Zelazny, Delaney), while the British writers began to explore the psychological realm of inner space.
However, it’s a long race and sometimes it has a surprise finish. Coming in on the inside straight was a dark horse that I think proves Amis right: cyberpunk.