ISAAC ASIMOV (/ˈaɪzək ˈæzɪmɒv/ ; born ISAAK OZIMOV; c. January 2, 1920 – April 6, 1992) was an American writer and professor of biochemistry at Boston University . He was known for his works of science fiction and popular science . Asimov was a prolific writer , and wrote or edited more than 500 books and an estimated 90,000 letters and postcards . His books have been published in 9 of the 10 major categories of the Dewey Decimal Classification .
Asimov wrote hard science fiction and, along with Robert A. Heinlein
Arthur C. Clarke , he was considered one of the "Big Three"
science fiction writers during his lifetime. Asimov's most famous
work is the _Foundation_ Series ; his other major series are the
_Galactic Empire_ series and the _Robot_ series . The _Galactic
Empire_ novels are explicitly set in earlier history of the same
fictional universe as the _Foundation_ series. Later, beginning with
_Foundation\'s Edge _, he linked this distant future to the
Asimov also wrote mysteries and fantasy , as well as much nonfiction.
Most of his popular science books explain scientific concepts in a
historical way, going as far back as possible to a time when the
science in question was at its simplest stage. He often provides
nationalities, birth dates, and death dates for the scientists he
mentions, as well as etymologies and pronunciation guides for
technical terms. Examples include _Guide to Science _, the
three-volume set _
Understanding Physics _, and _Asimov's
Asimov was a long-time member and vice president of Mensa
International , albeit reluctantly; he described some members of that
organization as "brain-proud and aggressive about their IQs". He took
more joy in being president of the
American Humanist Association .
5020 Asimov , a crater on the planet
* 1 Biography
* 1.1 Early life * 1.2 Education and career * 1.3 Personal life * 1.4 Illness and death
* 2 Writings
* 2.1 Overview
* 2.3.1 Coined terms
* 2.4 Other writings * 2.5 Awards and recognition
* 3 Writing style
* 3.1 Characteristics
* 3.2 Limitations
* 3.2.1 Sexuality * 3.2.2 Alien life * 3.2.3 Portrayal of women
* 4 Views
* 4.1 Religion * 4.2 Politics * 4.3 Social issues * 4.4 Environment and population * 4.5 Other authors
* 5 Influence * 6 Television, music, and film appearances
* 7 Selected bibliography
* 7.2 Mysteries
* 7.2.1 Novels
* 7.2.2 Short-story collections
* 126.96.36.199 Black Widowers series * 188.8.131.52 Other mysteries
* 7.3 Nonfiction
* 8 References
* 8.1 Notes * 8.2 Sources
* 9 Further reading * 10 External links
Asimov was born between October 4, 1919 and January 2, 1920 in Petrovichi near Klimovichi , then Gomel Governorate in the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic (now Smolensk Oblast , Russia) to Anna Rachel (née Berman) and Judah Asimov, a family of Jewish millers . His exact date of birth within that range is unknown, but Asimov himself celebrated it on January 2. The family name derives from a word for winter crops , in which his great-grandfather dealt. This word is spelled озимые (_ozimye_) in Russian, and азімыя (_azimiya_) in Belarusian. Phonetically, both words are almost identical because in Russian 'О' in the first unstressed syllable is always pronounced as 'А'. Accordingly, his name originally was Исаак Озимов (_Isaak Ozimov_) in Russian; however, he was later known in Russia as _Ayzek Azimov_ (Айзек Азимов), a Russian Cyrillic adaptation of the American English pronunciation. Asimov had two younger siblings: a sister, Marcia (born Manya, June 17, 1922 – April 2, 2011), and a brother, Stanley (July 25, 1929 – August 16, 1995), who was vice-president of _ New York Newsday _.
In 1921 Asimov and 16 other children in Petrovichi caught double pneumonia ; only Asimov survived.
His family emigrated to the United States when he was three years
old. Since his parents always spoke
Yiddish and English with him, he
never learned Russian, but he remained fluent in
Yiddish as well as
English. Growing up in
EDUCATION AND CAREER
Asimov began reading science fiction pulp magazines at a young age. His father, as a matter of principle, forbade reading the pulps, as he considered them to be trash, but Asimov persuaded him that because the science fiction magazines had "Science" in the title, they must be educational. Around the age of 11, he began to write his own stories, and by age 19, after he discovered science fiction fandom , he was selling stories to the science fiction magazines. John W. Campbell , then editor of _Astounding Science Fiction _, had a strong formative influence on Asimov and eventually became a personal friend.
New York City
When he failed to secure admission to medical school, Asimov applied
to the graduate program in chemistry at Columbia; initially rejected
and then only accepted on a probationary basis, he completed his M.A.
in chemistry in 1941 and earned a
Ph.D. in biochemistry in 1948. In
between, he spent three years during
World War II
In 1959, after a recommendation from Arthur Obermayer , Asimov's friend and a scientist on the U.S. missile protection project, Asimov was approached by DARPA to join Obermayer's team. Asimov declined on the grounds that his ability to write freely would be impaired should he receive classified information. However, he did submit a paper to DARPA titled "On Creativity" containing ideas on how government-based science projects could encourage team members to think more creatively.
Asimov married Gertrude Blugerman (1917,
Asimov was a claustrophile: he enjoyed small, enclosed spaces. In
the third volume of his autobiography, he recalls a childhood desire
to own a magazine stand in a
New York City
Asimov was afraid of flying , only doing so twice in his entire life (once in the course of his work at the Naval Air Experimental Station and once returning home from the army base in Oahu in 1946). Consequently, he seldom traveled great distances. This phobia influenced several of his fiction works, such as the Wendell Urth mystery stories and the _Robot_ novels featuring Elijah Baley . In his later years, Asimov found enjoyment traveling on cruise ships ; on several cruises, he was part of the entertainment program, giving science-themed talks aboard ships such as the RMS _Queen Elizabeth II_ .
Asimov was an able public speaker and was a frequent fixture at
science fiction conventions , where he was friendly and approachable.
He patiently answered tens of thousands of questions and other mail
with postcards and was pleased to give autographs. He was of medium
height, stocky, with mutton chop whiskers and a distinct New York
accent . His physical dexterity was very poor. He never learned to
swim or ride a bicycle; however, he did learn to drive a car after he
moved to Boston. In his humor book _Asimov Laughs Again_, he describes
Asimov's wide interests included his participation in his later years
in organizations devoted to the comic operas of
Gilbert and Sullivan
and in The Wolfe Pack, a group of devotees of the Nero Wolfe
mysteries written by
In 1984, the
American Humanist Association (AHA) named him the
Humanist of the Year. He was one of the signers of the Humanist
Manifesto . From 1985 until his death in 1992, he served as president
of the AHA, an honorary appointment. His successor was his friend and
Kurt Vonnegut, Jr
Asimov was a founding member of the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal (now the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry ) and is listed in its Pantheon of Skeptics.
ILLNESS AND DEATH
Asimov suffered a heart attack in 1977, and had triple bypass surgery
in December 1983, during which he contracted
LAWS OF ROBOTICS
Three Laws of Robotics _by Isaac Asimov_ (in culture )
* v * t * e
Asimov's career can be divided into several periods. His early career, dominated by science fiction, began with short stories in 1939 and novels in 1950. This lasted until about 1958, all but ending after publication of _ The Naked Sun _. He began publishing nonfiction in 1952, co-authoring a college-level textbook called _ Biochemistry and Human Metabolism_. Following the brief orbit of the first man-made satellite Sputnik I by the USSR in 1957, his production of nonfiction, particularly popular science books, greatly increased, with a consequent drop in his science fiction output. Over the next quarter century, he wrote only four science fiction novels. Starting in 1982, the second half of his science fiction career began with the publication of _Foundation\'s Edge _. From then until his death, Asimov published several more sequels and prequels to his existing novels, tying them together in a way he had not originally anticipated, making a unified series. There are, however, many inconsistencies in this unification, especially in his earlier stories.
Asimov believed his most enduring contributions would be his "Three
_ The first installment of Asimov's Tyrann_ was the cover story in the fourth issue of _ Galaxy Science Fiction _ in 1951. The novel was issued in book form later that year as _ The Stars Like Dust _. _ The first installment of Asimov's The Caves of Steel _ on the cover of the October 1953 issue of _ Galaxy Science Fiction _, illustrated by Ed Emshwiller
Asimov first began reading the science fiction pulp magazines sold in
his family's confectionery store in 1929. In the mid-1930s, he came
into contact with science fiction fandom , particularly the circle
that became the
Futurians . He began writing his first science fiction
story, "Cosmic Corkscrew", in 1937; finished it on June 19, 1938,
inspired by a visit to the offices of _Astounding Science Fiction _;
and personally submitted it to _Astounding_ editor John W. Campbell
two days later. Campbell rejected "Cosmic Corkscrew", but encouraged
Asimov to keep trying, and Asimov did. In October, he sold the third
story he finished, "
Marooned Off Vesta ", to _
Amazing Stories _, then
a monthly sci-fi magazine edited by
Raymond A. Palmer
In September 1941, _Astounding_ published the 32nd story Asimov wrote, "Nightfall ", which has been described as one of "the most famous science-fiction stories of all time". In 1968 the Science Fiction Writers of America voted "Nightfall" the best science fiction short story ever written. In his short story collection _Nightfall and Other Stories _, he wrote, "The writing of 'Nightfall' was a watershed in my professional career..... I was suddenly taken seriously and the world of science fiction became aware that I existed. As the years passed, in fact, it became evident that I had written a 'classic'."
"Nightfall" is an archetypal example of social science fiction , a term coined by Asimov to describe a new trend in the 1940s, led by authors including Asimov and Heinlein , away from gadgets and space opera and toward speculation about the human condition .
By 1941, Asimov had begun selling regularly to _Astounding_, which was then the field's leading magazine. From 1943 to 1949, all of his published science fiction appeared in _Astounding_.
In 1942, he published the first of his _Foundation_ stories—later collected in the _Foundation_ trilogy : _Foundation _ (1951), _ Foundation and Empire _ (1952), and _ Second Foundation _ (1953)—which recount the fall of a vast interstellar empire and the establishment of its eventual successor. Taken together, they are his most famous work of science fiction, along with the _Robot_ series . In 1966 they won the Hugo Award for the all-time best series of science fiction novels. Many years later, due to pressure by fans on Asimov to write another, he continued the series with _Foundation\'s Edge _ (1982) and _ Foundation and Earth _ (1986), and then went back to before the original trilogy with _ Prelude to Foundation _ (1988) and _ Forward the Foundation _ (1992). The series features his fictional science of psychohistory , in which the future course of the history of large populations can be predicted.
His "positronic" robot stories —many of which were collected in _I,
The robot series has led to film adaptations. With Asimov's
collaboration, in about 1977
Harlan Ellison wrote a screenplay of _I,
Robot_ that Asimov hoped would lead to "the first really adult,
complex, worthwhile science fiction film ever made". The screenplay
has never been filmed and was eventually published in book form in
1994. The 2004 movie _I,
Besides movies, his _Foundation_ and _Robot_ stories have inspired other derivative works of science fiction literature, many by well-known and established authors such as Roger MacBride Allen , Greg Bear , Gregory Benford , David Brin , and Donald Kingsbury . At least some of these appear to have been done with the blessing of, or at the request of, Asimov's widow, Janet Asimov .
In 1948, he also wrote a spoof chemistry article , "The Endochronic
Properties of Resublimated
Thiotimoline ". At the time, Asimov was
preparing his own doctoral dissertation , and for the oral examination
to follow that. Fearing a prejudicial reaction from his graduate
school evaluation board at
In 1949, book publisher Doubleday 's science fiction editor Walter I.
Bradbury accepted Asimov's unpublished novelette "Grow Old Along With
Me" (40,000 words) for publication, but requested that it be extended
to a full novel of 70,000 words. The book appeared under the Doubleday
imprint in January 1950 with the title of _
Pebble in the Sky _.
Doubleday went on to publish five more original science fiction novels
by Asimov in the 1950s, along with the six juvenile Lucky Starr novels
, the latter under the pseudonym of "Paul French". Doubleday also
published collections of Asimov's short stories, beginning with _The
Martian Way and Other Stories _ in 1955. The early 1950s also saw
Gnome Press publish one collection of Asimov's positronic robot
stories as _I,
When new science fiction magazines, notably _Galaxy _ magazine and
_The Magazine of
Then, too, it has had the strangest effect on my readers. Frequently someone writes to ask me if I can give them the name of a story, which they 'think' I may have written, and tell them where to find it. They don't remember the title but when they describe the story it is invariably "The Last Question". This has reached the point where I recently received a long-distance phone call from a desperate man who began, 'Dr. Asimov, there's a story I think you wrote, whose title I can't remember—' at which point I interrupted to tell him it was "The Last Question" and when I described the plot it proved to be indeed the story he was after. I left him convinced I could read minds at a distance of a thousand miles.
In December 1974, former Beatle
Beginning in 1977, Asimov lent his name to _Isaac Asimov\'s Science Fiction Magazine _ (now _Asimov\'s Science Fiction _) and penned an editorial for each issue. There was also a short-lived _Asimov\'s SF Adventure Magazine _ and a companion _Asimov's Science Fiction Anthology_ reprint series, published as magazines (in the same manner as the stablemates _Ellery Queen\'s Mystery Magazine 's_ and _Alfred Hitchcock\'s Mystery Magazine 's_ "anthologies").
During the late 1950s and 1960s, Asimov shifted gears somewhat, and
substantially decreased his fiction output (he published only four
adult novels between 1957's _
The Naked Sun _ and 1982's _Foundation\'s
Edge _, two of which were mysteries). At the same time, he greatly
increased his nonfiction production, writing mostly on science topics;
the launch of
Meanwhile, the monthly _Magazine of
In addition to his interest in science, Asimov was also greatly interested in history. Starting in the 1960s, he wrote 14 popular history books, including _The Greeks: A Great Adventure_ (1965), _The Roman Republic_ (1966), _The Roman Empire_ (1967), _The Egyptians_ (1967) and _The Near East: 10,000 Years of History_ (1968).
He published _Asimov\'s Guide to the Bible _ in two
Asimov was also a noted mystery author and a frequent contributor to _Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine_. He began by writing science fiction mysteries such as his Wendell Urth stories, but soon moved on to writing "pure" mysteries. He published two full-length mystery novels, and wrote 66 stories about the Black Widowers , a group of men who met monthly for dinner, conversation, and a puzzle. He got the idea for the Widowers from his own association in a stag group called the Trap Door Spiders and all of the main characters (with the exception of the waiter, Henry, who he admitted resembled Wodehouse's Jeeves) were modeled after his closest friends.
Toward the end of his life, Asimov published a series of collections of limericks , mostly written by himself, starting with _Lecherous Limericks _, which appeared in 1975. _Limericks: Too Gross_, whose title displays Asimov's love of puns , contains 144 limericks by Asimov and an equal number by John Ciardi . He even created a slim volume of Sherlockian limericks. Asimov featured Yiddish humor in _Azazel, The Two Centimeter Demon _. The two main characters, both Jewish, talk over dinner, or lunch, or breakfast, about anecdotes of "George" and his friend Azazel. Asimov's _Treasury of Humor _ is both a working joke book and a treatise propounding his views on humor theory . According to Asimov, the most essential element of humor is an abrupt change in point of view, one that suddenly shifts focus from the important to the trivial, or from the sublime to the ridiculous.
Particularly in his later years, Asimov to some extent cultivated an image of himself as an amiable lecher. In 1971, as a response to the popularity of sexual guidebooks such as _ The Sensuous Woman _ (by "J") and _ The Sensuous Man _ (by "M"), Asimov published _The Sensuous Dirty Old Man_ under the byline "Dr. 'A'" (although his full name was printed on the paperback edition, first published 1972).
Asimov published three volumes of autobiography . _In Memory Yet Green_ (1979) and _In Joy Still Felt_ (1980) cover his life up to 1978. The third volume, _I. Asimov: A Memoir_ (1994), covered his whole life (rather than following on from where the second volume left off). The epilogue was written by his widow Janet Asimov after his death. The book won a Hugo Award in 1995. Janet Asimov edited _It\'s Been a Good Life _ (2002), a condensed version of his three autobiographies. He also published three volumes of retrospectives of his writing, _ Opus 100 _ (1969), _ Opus 200 _ (1979), and _Opus 300_ (1984).
In 1987, the Asimovs co-wrote _How to Enjoy Writing: A Book of Aid and Comfort_. In it they offer advice on how to maintain a positive attitude and stay productive when dealing with discouragement, distractions, rejection, and thick-headed editors. The book includes many quotations, essays, anecdotes, and husband-wife dialogues about the ups and downs of being an author.
Asimov and _
In 1973, Asimov published a proposal for calendar reform , called the World Season Calendar. It divides the year into four seasons (named A–D) of 13 weeks (91 days) each. This allows days to be named, e.g., "D-73" instead of December 1 (due to December 1 being the 73rd day of the 4th quarter). An extra 'year day' is added for a total of 365 days.
AWARDS AND RECOGNITION
Asimov won more than a dozen annual awards for particular works of science fiction and a half dozen lifetime awards. He also received 14 honorary doctorate degrees from universities.
* 1957 –
Thomas Alva Edison Foundation Award, for _Building Blocks
of the Universe_
* 1960 –
Howard W. Blakeslee Award from the American Heart
Association for _The Living River_
* 1962 –
Boston University 's Publication Merit Award
* 1963 – special
Hugo Award for "adding science to science
fiction" for essays published in the Magazine of
* 2010 – In the US Congress bill about the designation of the
* "Whereas the second week in April each year is designated as
* 2015 – Selected as a member of the New York State Writers Hall of Fame .
One of the most common impressions of Asimov's fiction work is that his writing style is extremely unornamented. In 1980, science fiction scholar James Gunn , professor emeritus of English at the University of Kansas wrote of _I, Robot_:
Except for two stories—"Liar! " and "Evidence "—they are not stories in which character plays a significant part. Virtually all plot develops in conversation with little if any action. Nor is there a great deal of local color or description of any kind. The dialogue is, at best, functional and the style is, at best, transparent..... The robot stories and, as a matter of fact, almost all Asimov fiction—play themselves on a relatively bare stage.
Gunn observes places where Asimov's style rises to the demands of the situation; he cites the climax of "Liar!" as an example. Sharply drawn characters occur at key junctures of his storylines: Susan Calvin in "Liar!" and "Evidence", Arkady Darell in _Second Foundation_, Elijah Baley in _ The Caves of Steel _, and Hari Seldon in the _Foundation_ prequels. Asimov addresses this criticism at the beginning of his book _Nemesis _:
I made up my mind long ago to follow one cardinal rule in all my writing—to be 'clear'. I have given up all thought of writing poetically or symbolically or experimentally, or in any of the other modes that might (if I were good enough) get me a Pulitzer prize. I would write merely clearly and in this way establish a warm relationship between myself and my readers, and the professional critics—Well, they can do whatever they wish.
Other than books by Gunn and Patrouch, a relative dearth of "literary" criticism exists on Asimov (particularly when compared to the sheer volume of his output). Cowart and Wymer's _Dictionary of Literary Biography _ (1981) gives a possible reason:
His words do not easily lend themselves to traditional literary criticism because he has the habit of centering his fiction on plot and clearly stating to his reader, in rather direct terms, what is happening in his stories and why it is happening. In fact, most of the dialogue in an Asimov story, and particularly in the Foundation trilogy, is devoted to such exposition. Stories that clearly state what they mean in unambiguous language are the most difficult for a scholar to deal with because there is little to be interpreted.
Gunn's and Patrouch's respective studies of Asimov both take the stand that a clear, direct prose style is still a style. Gunn's 1982 book goes into considerable depth commenting upon each of Asimov's novels published to that date. He does not praise all of Asimov's fiction (nor does Patrouch), but he does call some passages in _The Caves of Steel_ "reminiscent of Proust ". When discussing how that novel depicts night falling over futuristic New York City, Gunn says that Asimov's prose "need not be ashamed anywhere in literary society".
Although he prided himself on his unornamented prose style (for which he credited Clifford D. Simak as an early influence ), Asimov also enjoyed giving his longer stories complicated narrative structures , often by arranging chapters in nonchronological ways. Some readers have been put off by this, complaining that the nonlinearity is not worth the trouble and adversely affects the clarity of the story. For example, the first third of _The Gods Themselves_ begins with Chapter 6, then backtracks to fill in earlier material. (John Campbell advised Asimov to begin his stories as late in the plot as possible. This advice helped Asimov create "Reason ", one of the early _Robot_ stories. See _In Memory Yet Green_ for details of that time period.) Patrouch found that the interwoven and nested flashbacks of _The Currents of Space _ did serious harm to that novel, to such an extent that only a "dyed-in-the-kyrt Asimov fan" could enjoy it. Asimov's tendency to contort his timelines is perhaps most apparent in his later novel _Nemesis_, in which one group of characters lives in the "present" and another group starts in the "past", beginning 15 years earlier and gradually moving toward the time period of the first group.
Asimov was sometimes criticized for the general absence of sexuality (and of extraterrestrial life ) in his science fiction. He claimed he wrote _ The Gods Themselves _ to respond to these criticisms, which often came from New Wave science fiction (and often British) writers. The second part (of three) of the novel is set on an alien world with three sexes, and the sexual behavior of these creatures is extensively depicted.
Asimov once explained that his reluctance to write about aliens came from an incident early in his career when _Astounding_'s editor John Campbell rejected one of his science fiction stories because the alien characters were portrayed as superior to the humans. The nature of the rejection led him to believe that Campbell may have based his bias towards humans in stories on a real-world racial bias. Unwilling to write only weak alien races, and concerned that a confrontation would jeopardize his and Campbell's friendship, he decided he would not write about aliens at all. Nevertheless, in response to these criticisms, he wrote _ The Gods Themselves _, which contains aliens and alien sex. The book won the Nebula Award for Best Novel in 1972, and the Hugo Award for Best Novel in 1973. Asimov said that of all his writings, he was most proud of the middle section of _The Gods Themselves_, the part that deals with those themes.
In the Hugo Award -winning novella "Gold ", Asimov describes an author clearly based on himself who has one of his books (_The Gods Themselves_) adapted into a "compu-drama", essentially photo-realistic computer animation . The director criticizes the fictionalized Asimov ("Gregory Laborian") for having an extremely nonvisual style, making it difficult to adapt his work, and the author explains that he relies on ideas and dialogue rather than description to get his points across.
Portrayal Of Women
Asimov was criticized for a lack of strong female characters in his early work. In his autobiographical writings, such as _Gold _ ("Women and Science Fiction"), he acknowledges this and responds by pointing to inexperience. His later novels, written with more female characters but in essentially the same prose style as his early science-fiction stories, brought this matter to a wider audience. For example, the August 25, 1985 _Washington Post_'s "Book World" section reports of _Robots and Empire_ as follows:
In 1940, Asimov's humans were stripped-down masculine portraits of
Americans from 1940, and they still are. His robots were tin cans with
speedlines like an old
For a brief while, his father worked in the local synagogue to enjoy the familiar surroundings and, as Isaac put it, "shine as a learned scholar" versed in the sacred writings. This scholarship was a seed for his later authorship and publication of _Asimov\'s Guide to the Bible _, an analysis of the historic foundations for both the Old and New Testaments. For many years, Asimov called himself an atheist ; however, he considered the term somewhat inadequate, as it described what he did not believe rather than what he did. Eventually, he described himself as a "humanist " and considered that term more practical. He did, however, continue to identify himself as a nonobservant Jew, as stated in his introduction to Jack Dann 's anthology of Jewish science fiction, _ Wandering Stars _: "I attend no services and follow no ritual and have never undergone that curious puberty rite, the bar mitzvah . It doesn't matter. I am Jewish."
When asked in an interview in 1982 if he was an atheist, Asimov replied, "I am an atheist, out and out. It took me a long time to say it. I've been an atheist for years and years, but somehow I felt it was intellectually unrespectable to say one was an atheist, because it assumed knowledge that one didn't have. Somehow it was better to say one was a humanist or an agnostic. I finally decided that I'm a creature of emotion as well as of reason. Emotionally I am an atheist. I don't have the evidence to prove that God doesn't exist, but I so strongly suspect he doesn't that I don't want to waste my time." Likewise he said about religious education: "I would not be satisfied to have my kids choose to be religious without trying to argue them out of it, just as I would not be satisfied to have them decide to smoke regularly or engage in any other practice I consider detrimental to mind or body."
In his last volume of autobiography, Asimov wrote, "If I were not an
atheist, I would believe in a God who would choose to save people on
the basis of the totality of their lives and not the pattern of their
words. I think he would prefer an honest and righteous atheist to a TV
preacher whose every word is God, God, God, and whose every deed is
foul, foul, foul." The same memoir states his belief that
Asimov said about using religious motives in his writing: "I tend to ignore religion in my own stories altogether, except when I absolutely have to have it. ...and, whenever I bring in a religious motif, that religion is bound to be seem vaguely Christian because that is the only religion I know anything about, even though it is not mine. An unsympathetic reader might think that I am "burlesquing" Christianity, but I am not. Then too, it is impossible to write science fiction and really ignore religion."
Asimov became a staunch supporter of the Democratic Party during the
New Deal , and thereafter remained a political liberal . He was a
vocal opponent of the
Asimov vehemently opposed
After Asimov's name appeared in the mid-1960s on a list of people the Communist Party USA "considered amenable" to its goals, the FBI investigated him. Because of his academic background, the bureau briefly considered Asimov as a possible candidate for known Soviet spy ROBPROF, but found nothing suspicious in his life or background.
Though from a Jewish family, Asimov appeared to hold an equivocal
Asimov considered himself a feminist even before Women\'s Liberation became a widespread movement; he argued that the issue of women's rights was closely connected to that of population control. Furthermore, he believed that homosexuality must be considered a "moral right" on population grounds, as must all consenting adult sexual activity that does not lead to reproduction. He issued many appeals for population control , reflecting a perspective articulated by people from Thomas Malthus through Paul R. Ehrlich .
In a 1988 interview by
ENVIRONMENT AND POPULATION
Asimov's defense of civil applications of nuclear power even after
Three Mile Island
In the closing years of his life, Asimov blamed the deterioration of
the quality of life that he perceived in
New York City
It's going to destroy it all... if you have 20 people in the apartment and two bathrooms, no matter how much every person believes in freedom of the bathroom, there is no such thing. You have to set up, you have to set up times for each person, you have to bang at the door, aren't you through yet, and so on. And in the same way, democracy cannot survive overpopulation. Human dignity cannot survive it. Convenience and decency cannot survive it. As you put more and more people onto the world, the value of life not only declines, but it disappears.
Asimov stated, both in his autobiography and in several essays, that he enjoyed the writings of J. R. R. Tolkien . He paid tribute to _The Lord of the Rings _ in a " Black Widowers " story. (In his letter to Charlotte and Denis Plimmer, who had previously interviewed him for _Daily Telegraph Magazine_, Tolkien said that he enjoyed the science fiction of Isaac Asimov.)
He admired a number of his contemporaries, in particular fellow science-fiction author and science writer Arthur C. Clarke , with whom he entered into the lighthearted "Treaty of Park Avenue", which stipulated that Clarke was free to refer to himself as the best science fiction writer in the world (Asimov being second-best), provided he admitted that Asimov was the best science writer in the world (Clarke being second-best). He freely acknowledged a number of his fellow writers as superior to himself in talent, saying of Harlan Ellison , "He is (in my opinion) one of the best writers in the world, far more skilled at the art than I am."
Paul Krugman , holder of a Nobel Prize in Economics , has stated Asimov's concept of psychohistory inspired him to become an economist.
John Jenkins, who has reviewed the vast majority of Asimov's written output, once observed:
It has been pointed out that most science fiction writers since the 1950s have been affected by Asimov, either modeling their style on his or deliberately avoiding anything like his style.
Along with such figures as
Bertrand Russell and
"I found myself doing research on a biochemical topic. In that area of study I obtained my Ph.D., and in no time at all I was teaching biochemistry at a medical school. But even that was too wide a subject. From books to nonfiction, to science, to chemistry, to biochemistry--and not yet enough. The orchard had to be narrowed down further. To do research, I had to find myself a niche within biochemistry, so I began work on nucleic acids... And at about that point, I rebelled! I could not stand the claustrophobia that clamped down upon me. I looked with horror, backward and forward across the years, at a horizon that was narrowing down and narrowing down to so petty a portion of the orchard. What I wanted was all the orchard, or as much of it as I could cover in a lifetime of running... I have never been sorry for my stubborn advance toward generalization. To be sure, I can't wander in detail through all the orchard, any more than anyone else can, no matter how stupidly determined I may be to do so. Life is far too short and the mind is far too limited. But I can float over the orchard as in a balloon."
TELEVISION, MUSIC, AND FILM APPEARANCES
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To Tell The Truth _,
Main articles: Isaac Asimov bibliography (chronological) and Isaac Asimov bibliography (alphabetical)
Depending on the counting convention used, and including all titles, charts, and edited collections, there may be currently over 500 items in Asimov's bibliography—not counting his individual short stories, individual essays, and criticism. For his 100th, 200th, and 300th books (based on his personal count), Asimov published _ Opus 100 _ (1969), _ Opus 200 _ (1979), and _Opus 300_ (1984), celebrating his writing.
Asimov's books span all major categories of the Dewey Decimal Classification except for category 100, philosophy and psychology . Although Asimov did write several essays about psychology, and forewords for the books _The Humanist Way_ (1988) and _In Pursuit of Truth_ (1982), which were classified in the 100s category, none of his own books was classified in that category.
An online exhibit in West Virginia University Libraries ' virtually complete Asimov Collection displays features, visuals, and descriptions of some of his over 600 books, games, audio recordings, videos, and wall charts. Many first, rare, and autographed editions are in the Libraries' Rare Book Room. Book jackets and autographs are presented online along with descriptions and images of children's books, science fiction art, multimedia, and other materials in the collection.
For a listing of Asimov's books in chronological order within his future history, see the _Foundation_ series list of books .
"Greater Foundation" Series
The _Robot_ series was originally separate from the _Foundation_ series. The Galactic Empire novels were published as independent stories, set earlier in the same future as _Foundation_. Later in life, Asimov synthesized the _Robot_ series into a single coherent "history" that appeared in the extension of the _Foundation_ series.
* THE ROBOT SERIES:
* _ The Caves of Steel _. 1954. ISBN 0-553-29340-0 . (first Elijah Baley SF-crime novel) * _ The Naked Sun _. 1957. ISBN 0-553-29339-7 . (second Elijah Baley SF-crime novel) * _ The Robots of Dawn _. 1983. ISBN 0-553-29949-2 . (third Elijah Baley SF-crime novel) * _ Robots and Empire _. 1985. ISBN 978-0-586-06200-5 . (sequel to the Elijah Baley trilogy)
* GALACTIC EMPIRE NOVELS:
The Currents of Space _. 1952. ISBN 0-553-29341-9 . (Republic of
Trantor still expanding)
The Stars, Like Dust
* FOUNDATION PREQUELS:
* _ Prelude to Foundation _. 1988. ISBN 0-553-27839-8 . (occurs before _Foundation_) * _ Forward the Foundation _. 1993. ISBN 0-553-40488-1 . (occurs after _Prelude to Foundation_ and before _Foundation_)
* ORIGINAL _FOUNDATION_ TRILOGY:
* _Foundation _. 1951. ISBN 0-553-29335-4 . * _ Foundation and Empire _. 1952. ISBN 0-553-29337-0 . , Published with the title 'The Man Who Upset the Universe' as a 35c Ace paperback, D-125, in about 1952 * _ Second Foundation _. 1953. ISBN 0-553-29336-2 .
* EXTENDED FOUNDATION SERIES:
* _Foundation\'s Edge _. 1982. ISBN 0-553-29338-9 . * _ Foundation and Earth _. 1986. ISBN 0-553-58757-9 . (last of the Foundation series)
Lucky Starr Series (as Paul French)
Main article: Lucky Starr series
* _ David Starr, Space Ranger _ (1952) * _ Lucky Starr and the Pirates of the Asteroids _ (1953) * _ Lucky Starr and the Oceans of Venus _ (1954) * _ Lucky Starr and the Big Sun of Mercury _ (1956) * _ Lucky Starr and the Moons of Jupiter _ (1957) * _ Lucky Starr and the Rings of Saturn _ (1958)
Norby Chronicles (with Janet Asimov)
Main article: Norby
* _Norby, the Mixed-Up
Novels Not Part Of A Series
Novels marked with an asterisk * have minor connections to the _Foundation_ and _Robot_ series.
The End of Eternity _ (1955) *
See also: Isaac Asimov short stories bibliography
Black Widowers Series
Main article: Black Widowers
* _Tales of the Black Widowers _ (1974) * _More Tales of the Black Widowers _ (1976) * _Casebook of the Black Widowers _ (1980) * _Banquets of the Black Widowers _ (1984) * _Puzzles of the Black Widowers _ (1990) * _The Return of the Black Widowers _ (2003)
* _Asimov\'s Mysteries _ (1968) * _ The Key Word and Other Mysteries _ (1977) * _ The Union Club Mysteries _ (1983) * _ The Disappearing Man and Other Mysteries _ (1985) * _ The Best Mysteries of Isaac Asimov _ (1986)
COLLECTIONS OF ASIMOV\'S ESSAYS – originally published as monthly
columns in the _Magazine of
Fact and Fancy _ (1962)
View from a Height _ (1963)
Adding a Dimension _ (1964)
Of Time and Space and Other Things _ (1965)
From Earth to Heaven _ (1966)
Science, Numbers, and I _ (1968)
The Solar System and Back _ (1970)
The Stars in their Courses _ (1971)
The Left Hand of the Electron _ (1972)
The Tragedy of the Moon _ (1973)
* _Asimov On Astronomy_ (updated version of essays in previous
collections) (1974) ISBN 978-0-517-27924-3
* _Asimov On Chemistry_ (updated version of essays in previous
Of Matters Great and Small _ (1975)
* _Asimov On Physics_ (updated version of essays in previous
collections) (1976) ISBN 978-0-385-00958-4
* _The Planet That Wasn\'t _ (1976)
* _Asimov On Numbers_ (updated version of essays in previous
Quasar, Quasar, Burning Bright _ (1977)
The Road to Infinity _ (1979)
* _The Sun Shines Bright _ (1981)
Counting the Eons _ (1983)
X Stands for Unknown _ (1984)
The Subatomic Monster _ (1985)
Far as Human Eye Could See
OTHER SCIENCE BOOKS BY ASIMOV
* _The Chemicals of Life _ (1954) ISBN 978-0-451-62418-5
Inside the Atom _ (1956) ISBN 978-0-200-71444-0
Only a Trillion _ (Science Essay Collection) (1957) ISBN
* _Building Blocks of the Universe _ (1957; revised 1974) ISBN
0-200-71099-0 ISBN 978-0-200-71099-2
* _The World of Carbon _ (1958) ISBN 978-0-02-091350-4
* _The World of Nitrogen _ (1958) ISBN 978-0-02-091400-6
* _Words of Science and the
* _The Intelligent Man\'s Guide to Science _ (1965)
* The title varied with each of the four editions, the last being _Asimov's New Guide to Science_ (1984) ISBN 978-0-14-017213-3
* _The Universe: From Flat Earth to Quasar _ (1966) ISBN
* _The Neutrino _ (1966)
Understanding Physics Vol. I, Motion, Sound, and Heat _ (1966)
Understanding Physics Vol. II, Light, Magnetism, and Electricity
_ (1966) ISBN 978-0-451-61942-6
Understanding Physics Vol. III, The Electron, Proton, and Neutron
_ (1966) ISBN 978-0-451-62634-9
* _Is Anyone There? _ (Science Essay Collection) (1967), ISBN
0-385-08401-3 – where he used the term
* _Photosynthesis _ (1968) ISBN 978-0-465-05703-0
* _Our World in Space _ (1974) ISBN 978-0-8212-0434-4
* _Science Past, Science Future_ (1975) ISBN 978-0-385-09923-3
* _Please Explain _ (Science Essay Collection) (1975) ISBN
* _Asimov On Physics _ (1976) ISBN 978-0-385-00958-4
* _The Collapsing Universe _ (1977), ISBN 0-671-81738-8
Extraterrestrial Civilizations _ (1979) ISBN 978-0-449-90020-8
Visions of the Universe _ with co-author Kazuaki Iwasaki (1981)
Exploring the Earth and the Cosmos _ (1982) ISBN
* _The Measure of the Universe _ (1983)
* _Think About Space: Where Have We Been and Where Are We Going? _
with co-author Frank White (1989)
* _Isaac Asimov\'s Guide to Earth and Space _ (1991) ISBN 978-0-449-22059-7 * _Atom: Journey Across the Subatomic Cosmos _ (1991) ISBN 978-1-4395-0900-5 * _Mysteries of deep space: Quasars, Pulsars and Black Holes _ (1994) ISBN 978-0-8368-1133-9 * _The Moon _ (2003), revised by Richard Hantula ISBN 978-1-59102-122-3 * _The Sun _ (2003), revised by Richard Hantula ISBN 978-1-59102-122-3 * _Jupiter _ (2004), revised by Richard Hantula ISBN 978-1-59102-123-0 * _The Earth _ (2004), revised by Richard Hantula ISBN 978-1-59102-177-3 * _Venus _ (2004), revised by Richard Hantula ISBN 978-0-8368-3877-0
* _Asimov's Annotated "Don Juan "_
* _Asimov's Annotated "
* _Asimov\'s Guide to the Bible _, vols I and II (1967 and 1969, one-volume ed. 1981), ISBN 0-517-34582-X * _Asimov\'s Guide to Shakespeare _, vols I and II (1970), ISBN 0-517-26825-6
Main article: Autobiographies of Isaac Asimov
* _In Memory Yet Green: The Autobiography of Isaac Asimov, 1920–1954_, (1979, Doubleday ) * _In Joy Still Felt: The Autobiography of Isaac Asimov, 1954–1978_, (1980, Doubleday )
* _I. Asimov: A Memoir_, (1994, Doubleday )
* _It\'s Been a Good Life _, (2002, Prometheus Books ), condensation of Asimov's three volume biography edited by his widow, Janet Jeppson Asimov
* _The Kite That Won the Revolution _ (1963), ISBN 0-395-06560-7 * _ Opus 100 _ (1969), ISBN 0-395-07351-0 * _The Sensuous Dirty Old Man_ (1971) (As Dr. A), ISBN 0-451-07199-9
* _Isaac Asimov\'s Treasury of Humor _ (1971)
* _The Story of Ruth_ (1972), ISBN 0-385-08594-X
* _Asimov\'s Biographical Encyclopedia of Science and Technology
(1st Revised Edition)_ (1972), ISBN 0-385-17771-2
* _Our Federal Union_ (1975), ISBN 0-395-20283-3
Lecherous Limericks _ (1975), ISBN 0-449-22841-X
* _More Lecherous Limericks_ (1976), ISBN 0-8027-7102-5
* _Still More Lecherous Limericks_ (1977), ISBN 0-8027-7106-8
* _Limericks, Two Gross_, with
John Ciardi (1978), ISBN
Opus 200 _ (1979), ISBN 0-395-27625-X
* _Isaac Asimov's Book of Facts_ (1979), ISBN 0-517-36111-6
* _A Grossery of Limericks_, with
John Ciardi (1981), ISBN
* _The Roving Mind_ (1983) (collection of essays). New edition
Prometheus Books , 1997, ISBN 1-57392-181-5
* _Opus 300_ (1984), ISBN 0-395-36108-7
Our Angry Earth : A Ticking Ecological Bomb_ (1991), ISBN
* ^ _A_ _B_ _C_ _D_ Asimov, Isaac. _In Memory Yet Green_. The date
of my birth, as I celebrate it, was January 2, 1920. It could not have
been later than that. It might, however, have been earlier. Allowing
for the uncertainties of the times, of the lack of records , of the
Jewish and Julian calendars , it might have been as early as October
4, 1919. There is, however, no way of finding out. My parents were
always uncertain and it really doesn't matter. I celebrate January 2,
1920, so let it be.
* ^ _Pronunciation note_: In the humorous poem "The Prime of Life"
published in the anthology _
The Bicentennial Man and Other Stories _,
Asimov rhymes his name thusly: "Why, mazel tov , it's Asimov". In his
comments on the poem, Asimov wrote that originally it was "Why, stars
above, it's Asimov", and when someone suggested to use "mazel tov"
instead, Asimov accepted this as a significant improvement.
* ^ Asimov, Stanley (1996). _Yours, Isaac Asimov_. My estimate is
that Isaac received about 100,000 letters in his professional career.
And with the compulsiveness that has to be a character trait of a
writer of almost 500 books, he answered 90 percent of them. He
answered more than half with postcards and didn't make carbons of
them. But with the 100,000 letters he received, there are carbons of
about 45,000 that he wrote.
* ^ _A_ _B_ Seiler, Edward; Jenkins, John H. (June 27, 2008).
* ^ Blackmore, Susan . "Playing with fire / Firewalking with the
* ^ Asimov, Isaac (1979). _In Joy Still Felt: The Autobiography of
Isaac Asimov, 1954-1978_. New York: Doubleday. ISBN 0-385-13679-X .
* ^ Asimov, Isaac (1994). _I. Asimov: A Memoir_. New York:
Doubleday. ISBN 0-385-41701-2 .
* ^ List of 1995 Hugo Awards Archived May 7, 2011, at
the official website. (Retrieved 25 March 2016.)
* ^ Asimov, Isaac (2002). _It's Been a Good Life_. New York:
Prometheus Books. ISBN 1-57392-968-9 .
* ^ _A_ _B_ Asimov, Isaac (1969). _Opus 100_. Boston: Houghton
* ^ _A_ _B_ Asimov, Isaac (1979). _Opus 200_. Boston: Houghton
Mifflin. ISBN 0-395-27625-X .
* ^ _A_ _B_ Asimov, Isaac (1984). _Opus 300_. Boston: Houghton
Mifflin. ISBN 0-395-36108-7 .
* ^ Asimov, Janet ; Asimov, Isaac (1987). _How to Enjoy Writing: A
Book of Aid and Comfort_. New York: Walker & Co. ISBN 0-8027-0945-1 .
* ^ "How to Enjoy Writing: A Book of Aid and Comfort". John H.
Jenkins. Retrieved August 4, 2016.
* ^ "Letters of Note: Getting
* ^ Asimov, Isaac (1973). "The Week Excuse". _The Tragedy of the
Moon _. Doubleday and Co. pp. 48–58. ISBN 0-440-18999-3 .
* ^ _A_ _B_ "Asimov, Isaac". _The Locus Index to SF Awards: Index
of Literary Nominees_.
Locus Publications . Retrieved March 24, 2013.
* ^ Seiler, Edward; Hatcher, Richard (2014). "What awards did he
win for his writing?". Retrieved August 4, 2016.
* ^ "Book of Members, 1780–2010: Chapter A" (PDF). American
Academy of Arts and Sciences. Retrieved April 25, 2011.
* ^ "1972 Award Winners & Nominees". _Worlds Without End_.
Retrieved June 30, 2009.
* ^ _A_ _B_ _C_ "1973 Award Winners & Nominees". _Worlds Without
End_. Retrieved June 30, 2009.
* ^ _A_ _B_ "1983 Award Winners & Nominees". _Worlds Without End_.
Retrieved June 30, 2009.
* ^ "
* ^ Asimov, Isaac; Pohl, Frederik (1991). _Our Angry Earth_. New
York: Tor. ISBN 0-312-85252-5 .
* ^ Chow, Dan (December 1991). "Review: Our Angry Earth". _Locus_.
Oakland: Locus Publications.
* ^ editor,
* Asimov, Isaac. _ In Memory Yet Green _ (1979, ISBN 0-380-75432-0 ).
_In Joy Still Felt_ (1980, ISBN 0-380-53025-2 ). _I. Asimov: A Memoir_ (1994). ISBN 0-385-41701-2 (hc), ISBN 0-553-56997-X (pb). _Yours, Isaac Asimov_ (1996), edited by Stanley Asimov. ISBN 0-385-47624-8 . _It's Been a Good Life_ (2002), edited by Janet Asimov. ISBN 1-57392-968-9 .
* Goldman, Stephen H., "Isaac Asimov", in _Dictionary of Literary Biography,_ Vol. 8, Cowart and Wymer eds., (Gale Research, 1981), pp. 15–29. * Gunn, James. "On Variations on a Robot", _IASFM _, July 1980, pp. 56–81.
_Isaac Asimov: The Foundations of Science Fiction_ (1982). ISBN 0-19-503060-5 . _The Science of Science-Fiction Writing_ (2000). ISBN 1-57886-011-3 .
* Fiedler, Jean; Mele, Jim (1982). _Isaac Asimov_. New York: Ungar. ISBN 0-8044-2203-6 . * Olander, Joseph D.; Greenberg, Martin H. , eds. (1974). _Isaac Asimov_. ISBN 978-0-8008-4257-4 . * Patrouch, Joseph F. (1977). _The Science Fiction of Isaac Asimov_. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday. ISBN 0-385-08696-2 . * Touponce, William F. (1991). _Isaac Asimov_. Boston: Twayne Publishers. ISBN 0-8057-7623-0 . * White, Michael (1994). _Asimov: The Unauthorized Life_. Harmondsworth: Penguin. ISBN 0-14-004130-3 . * White, Michael (2005). _Isaac Asimov: A Life of the Grand Master of Science Fiction_. Carroll & Graf Publishers. ISBN 0-7867-1518-9 .
* Käkelä, Jari (2016). _The Cowboy Politics of an Enlightened Future: History, Expansionism, and Guardianship in Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction_. Helsinki: University of Helsinki. ISBN 978-951-51-2404-3 .
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