Author Gareth Powell recently attended a book group where nobody had read any authors who came along in the past 50 years. In a bracing essay for SF Signal, he talks about the peril of focusing only on "golden age" science fiction, and neglecting how the genre has changed.
Some fans will always cling to the 'golden age' works of the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s, and I can understand why. They provide a magic door back to the simple pleasures of a simpler world – a world before global warming, oil shortages, terrorism, and economic uncertainty; relics of a world where the future was easily understood, and (largely) American, middle class and white in outlook, origin and ethnicity.
Part of me understands and sympathizes with that need for security. I still draw comfort and enjoyment from those old books. Arthur C. Clarke, Larry Niven, Philip K. Dick… These writers are the elder gods in my personal pantheon; but they are neither the beginning nor the end. Society and culture have moved on, and there's more to our genre than words written more than half a century ago....
Science fiction isn't a museum exhibit. It isn't a collection of musty old paperbacks on a dealer's table, or a cardboard box of old videos in your attic. It's a vital and evolving genre, filled with verve and possibility. To let it stagnate would be to let it die.