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Isaac Asimov, A Sci Fi Legend

Updated on August 4, 2013

Facts and Bio on the Best Science Fiction Writer Ever, Issac Asimov

Isaac Asimov (1920 - 1992)

Born in Russia

Family immigrated to USA 1923

Raised in Brooklyn, New York City

Lived in only 3 places - NYC, Boston, Philadephia

Married twice and had 2 children

Died in USA.

That is the sum of Isaac Asimov's life in a nutshell.

But in the space of 50 years (from age 20 to age 70 roughly) the man wrote over 500 books!!!!! He also wrote thousands of essays too. He wrote on nearly every subject imaginable.

Image Source - Asimov as Lincoln

People who think they know everything, are a great annoyance to those of us who do

Asimov's Foundation Novels on Amazon

Robyn Asimov and her dad Isaac in 1989
Robyn Asimov and her dad Isaac in 1989

The making of a polymath

Do you want to know a secret?

I have never actually read any of the Foundation novels. Nor have I read any of the Robot stories either. I did see the movie I Robot - the one with Will Smith (2004). I never read Bicentennial Man but I have seen the movie of the same name starring Robin Williams and Sam Neill (1999).

I have however read The Ugly Little Boy and Nightfall. And I am currently reading Dr Asimov's memoir - I, Asimov (1994). That memoir is what has inspired me to make this lens. So that makes exactly 3 of Isaac Asimovs' books - out of over 500 he wrote - that I know I have read.

So why am I making this lens?

Because Asimov wanted to be remembered for being a prolific writer. Because I greatly admire his ability to write about all manner of different subjects. Asimov is considered to be a POLYMATH - a GENIUS. He knew a little about a lot of different things - like me.

Image Source - Asimovs legacy is Safe - 2004

Isaac Asimov and his daughter Robyn - 1989

I Asimov

I Asimov - A Memoir - 1994
I Asimov - A Memoir - 1994

This has been one of the most enjoyable memoirs I have read in a very long time. I had no idea just how widely read and written Isaac Asimov was. Nor was I aware that he had such a wonderful sense of humour.

This memoir is told in small bites - no chapter is more than 5 pages long and most of them are only 2, 3 or 4 pages long. Asimov is brutally honest about his marriages. his wives, his children (although his son does not make much of an appearance other than the fact that he was born).

Asimov also explains exactly how he came to write each and every book - even the magazine stories, the collections as well as each and every non fiction and non science book he ever wrote.

Asimov likes to name drop every single major science fiction writer that he ever met (mostly in connection with the science fiction magazines he started out writing for) and who he become friends with. He knew Gene Roddenberry - in fact Asimov's second wife Janet was a huge Star Trek fan, but she refused to call herself a Trekkie.

Asimov studied at Columbia University in New York City. He was born in Russia but raised in Brooklyn, New York City. He went to Boston University where he completed his PhD in biochemistry and later became a lecturer of biochemistry at the Boston University Medical school. But those people with PhD's usually need to do research and publish in order to survive. Isaac was driven to writing science fiction stories instead. Besides, he hated doing research. Eventually his income from writing stories grew bigger than his salary from the University so eventually he left the Boston University and returned to NYC where he became a full time writer.

Asimov was married to Gertrude (his first wife who was jewish just as he was) from 1942. They had 2 children (David in 1951 and Robyn in 1955) but the marriage did not last. Gertrude died in 1990 in Boston. Isaac died in 1992 in NYC.

Asimov had met Janet Jeppson at a writers convention in the early 1960s and they corresponded by letter over the next few years. Janet sent her letters to Asimov at Boston University, not to his home address. When Asimov was finally separated in 1970, he left Boston and moved back to NYC. Within months he was living with Janet and they were married in late 1973 after his divorce finally became final. They were married until Asimov's death in 1992. Janet Jeppson Asimov is still alive in 2011 - her death has not yet been reported.

All in all - this was a wonderfully and well written memoir and an absolute joy to read.

Image source - Cover Browser

Self-education is, I firmly believe, the only kind of education there is

Question 1

Have you ever read any of Isaac Asimov's NON-FICTION books?

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The Foundation Novels

Prelude to Foundation
Prelude to Foundation

Having never read any of the Foundation novels, I have no idea what they are about. Nor have any movies been made about these novels - that I am aware of.

Image Source - Book Covers

More Foundation Noves by Isaac Asimov

The true delight is in the finding out, rather than in the knowing

Question 2

Have you ever read any of Isaac Asimov's Foundation or Robot novels?

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I Robot

I Robot the movie (2004)
I Robot the movie (2004)

Isaac Asimov invented the 3 laws of robotics.

1. A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.

2. A robot must obey orders given to it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.

3. A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law

I rather enjoyed Will Smith's version of the story I Robot.

But let's be clear - This movie did not follow the original book as written by Isaac Asimov. The original book consisted of 9 short stories about Robots. The plot of the movie was not the plot of the original book. But thats what Hollywood does best - make up its own stories. No wonder so many people incluidng Isaac Asimov distrusted Hollywood.

Source - Asimov's Legacy is Safe - By Robyn Asimov

Image source - I Robot - a movie starring Will Smith, released in 2004, based on a story by Isaac Asimov.

I write for the same reason I breathe - because if I didn't, I would die

Asimov's Robot novels

Nightfall

Nightfall
Nightfall

A story about a planet with several suns and where it never gets dark. BUT once every few thousand years, all the suns will be below the horizon and it will be dark for the first time in known history. What will happen when Night finally falls?

Image source - Book Covers

It seems to me that God is a convenient invention of the human mind

Question 3

Have you ever read any of Isaac Asimov's other novels or short stories?

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Isaac Asimov - on camera

Visions of the Future (1992) - Introduction to a TV documentary series that was never completed. (in 4 parts)

Also a speech for the Humanist organistion dated January 1989. (in 2 parts)

The 3 Laws of Robotics - as stated by Dr Asimov during the 1950s

Interview with isaac Asimov - 1986 - self education and generalisation

Dewey Decimal system

Asimov's works have been published in nine of the ten major categories of the Dewey Decimal System (the sole exception being the 100s - Philosophy and Psychology).

List borrowed from Wikipedia

000-099 – Computer science, Information & General Reference works

100-199 – Philosophy and Psychology

200-299 – Religion

300-399 – Social sciences

400-499 – Language

500-599 – Science

600-699 – Technology

700-799 – Arts

800-899 – Literature

900-999 – History, Geography, Travel & Biography

Your turn to sound off on Isaac Asimov? - Is Asimov one of your favorite writers?

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    • TeacherSerenia profile image
      Author

      TeacherSerenia 4 years ago

      @Barc777: Great thoughts. Thanks for sharing. You obviously have read an incredible amount his life.

    • profile image

      Barc777 4 years ago

      He's one of my favorite authors, though not my favorite SF author (that's Robert Heinlein). This blogger should read Asimov's two earlier autobiographical volumes, "In Memory Yet Green" and "In Joy Still Felt" for a better feel for his life. Asimov's brother Stanley edited a collection of Isaac's letters after Isaac's death (and, indeed, published in 1995 shortly after Stan's own), "Yours, Isaac Asimov: A Lifetime of Letters". And Janet Jeppson Asimov brught us the 2002 "It's Been a Good Life" which spans Isaac's entire life, though not in the detail of the first two volumes.

      Also revealing are his joke books "Isaac Asimov's Treasury of Humor" and "Asimov Laughs Again" and his books of limericks.

      Although Asimov says that he patterned his "spare" style of writing on Clifford Simak's work, I still find Simak's fiction more approachable. There are, for example, instances in Asimov's ficiton where characters become angry for no reason that I am able to discern.

    • Zebedee32 profile image

      Zebedee32 5 years ago

      I've read the Robots of Dawn and I, Robot. I should really get round to reading more.

    • Commandrix profile image

      Heidi 5 years ago from Benson, IL

      Asimov is one of my favorite science fiction authors! He really knew how to tell a story without relying on what most people think of as science fiction -- space battles galore and those glowing swords :P. But seriously, even if you're not a serious science fiction fan, you'll "get" Isaac Asimov because his stories were really about people.