Proof That Science Fiction Writers Get Better With Age

Illustration for article titled Proof That Science Fiction Writers Get Better With Age

Number-loving blogger John Redford had a simple question: Do SF writers get better as they age? To find out, he studied the average age that authors won prestigious Hugo Awards, and created this chart.

He also looked at the typical amount of time between when an author started publishing, versus when she or he won a Hugo. Redford writes:

The youngest winner was Roger Zelazny at age 29 for "This Immortal", the oldest were Vinge, Clarke, and Asimov at 63, and the average age is 45. The shortest interval from first-published-work to award was again Zelazny at 4 years, while the longest was Asimov at 44 for "Foundation's Edge". No surprise there – Zelazny burst on the scene like a nova, and Asimov was a star for generations. The average time from start to award was 17 years. Quite a few people had late starts – having first published in their mid-30s – and still won. I would say that the author who changed the most from his early work to his winning novel was Frederick Pohl, whose 1978 "Gateway", written when he was 61, is quite different from his famous 50s satires like "The Space Merchants".

Overall, then, it looks like writers do improve with age, at least up to 20 years or so into their careers.


Good news for those of us who started writing science fiction in our, ahem, later years.

via A Niche In The Library of Babel

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Wait... I don't get this at all.

I see no way that the chart presented leads to the conclusion that a writer gets better with age.

All it shows is that they received their awards after they started publishing, which is kind of an obvious conclusion.

To me, in order to show that a particular writer got better with age, one would have to look at successive intervals between several award-winning events for that writer. If those intervals decrease as the writer gets older, then you could say that that particular writer got better as s/he aged.

If that's true for a statistically significant fraction of writers, then it could be argued that writers in general get better with age.