There is a question old sci-fi booksellers like to ask younger readers of the genre.
'What is the golden age of Science Fiction'?
In response, some people:
Give it a little thought then venture forth what they believe to be the approximate decade of the 'Golden Age'.
Don't answer and silently ask themselves 'Why is this dusty old fart talking to me'?
Secretly know the answer but play dumb to allow the seller a quippy moment.
Now, if you fall for the trap and take a shot an answer it will be incorrect.
The seller will slyly state.
'The Golden Age of sci-fi is'.
'12 years old'.
Or something reasonably close to that age, answers very from person to person.
I've always taken the answer to imply that it's an age, any age really, where one's imagination burns brightly at the input of new electric ideas, of forbidden knowledge attained or of fantastical images over saturated with color blazoned upon wrappers of pulps, books and magazines. Something that once seen cannot be unseen again and something that resonates so deeply in a person that it forever changes them and binds them tightly within its grasp creating a gleeful sojourner along a zealot's path.
An overly romantic take on the answer anyway.
The question can be applied to a great many things.
'What is the golden age of 'fill in the blank'?
The answer is still the same, it's not a date.
I belong to a certain alphabetic generation and because of that I was fortunate enough to have played my 3 favorite games; Dungeons & Dragons, Magic: The Gathering and World of Warcraft during what I believe were truly their chronological golden ages...though that's probably an arguable point.
But whether I was 12 or 26 or 39 mattered not as each affected me profoundly.
Each I played for a period of time and each I eventually stopped playing...for various reasons.
But, I never truly gave up on then and deep down I knew that I was simply taking a break rather than quitting.
Magic: The Gathering arrived in my world after a long hiatus from playing D&D.
To this day I cannot remember how or where I found it, it may have found me, but in late 1994 I was opening packs of Revised and Fallen Empires knowing full well I was addicted.
Ultimately Magic got 10 years of my attention but by 2004 I was no longer enjoying it. Competitive play, which I willingly went into, had sucked all the fun out of the game and more matches of rage and anger took the place of casual joyful play.
After several months of soul searching I sold my collection and promised myself not to return until I had forgotten how to play and/or became excited about the game again, like I was in 1994.
And that, was that.
I wasn't looking for it but once again Magic found me when I stumbled upon an article about the newest Magic set: Adventures in the Forgotten Realms (AFR) a Dungeons & Dragons themed expansion.
And just like that, Magic was back in my life.
The old obsessions returned immediately as I read the article, wanting to collect the entire set.
Just AFR, nothing else, just this one set...and any other subsequent D&D related expansions.
Things had changed since I last opened a pack and looking through the card list I needed to wrap my head around alternative art cards, full art, extended art, showcase and commander cards, which had a foil version and which did not, dungeon cards, art cards and...what the fring was a collector pack?
Mostly though I wanted to play, did it really have a D&D feel?
So I set off on my quest to discover the answers to my questions and now feel ready to offer up my modest insights and opinions about the cards and observations on play with a little hindsight and perspective from a 17 year break from the game.
And though this will not be timely subject matter as AFR was released 5 months ago, a veritable eternity, I feel a deeper dive is in order to explore the set, the game and myself I suppose as I return to a once loved the reviled game in my life.
This will take some time to work through.
For the time being, I will simply start with this post.
Now, what's next?