"[In] the Golden Age... there was an emphasis on writing for young people, to essentially hook them and get them excited about the genre, so they would become lifelong science fiction readers. And in those works, juveniles written by people like Heinlein and Asimov and Andre Norton and such, there was this sense that technology was good. Part of this was because many of these authors were trained as scientists themselves, engineers [or] physicists. There was the idea — a sense of wonder — that young people could grow up in to this new technological world and really change it and make it their own. And so even the ones that seemed negative in some ways — for example Robert Heinlein's Starman Jones was a story that had a very negative view of the way the Earth was developing, people couldn't get into jobs they wanted unless they were essentially born into a family that held one of those jobs. There was little advancement... but because space was out there, a young man could go out there — and in this case, most of the time it was a young man — and make his way. And that negative view of how things might turn out was in fact just the spark the heroic character needed to light a fire under him and motivate him to go out and make his own way. And actually, in the end, change the world.
"And some of the things I see now, particularly in science fiction juveniles, are of a different character. And part of that I think is because the authors writing them are not trained in the sciences, they're trained in the humanities. And they are looking back at the legacy of what science is doing, has done, on everything from environmental issues to questions of weaponry and warfare, and they're sort of taking stock of this, and I wouldn't say necessarily that it's all pessimism, but you don't see the same sense of wonder balanced in the same way. It's become more self-critical, particularly in these works that are hitting the, say, 14 to 18 year old readers and bringing them into the genre for the first time." — Professor Amy Sturgis, interviewed by NPR station WFPL for "The Subversive Side Of Science Fiction" (Full podcast at link). [via Geekend]