Saturday, 11 February 2017

Isaac Asimov 1920-1992

Isaac Asimov is my personal favourite science fiction author. I grew up reading his novels, especially what was originally the Foundation trilogy, later added to. I also particularly loved the robot novels.

He was born Isaak Osimov in Petrovichi, Russia, in 1920. Petrovichi is very proud of their native son, and have honored the place of his birth with a memorial stone. His family emigrated to the United States when he was three years old. He became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 1928 at the age of eight.



As well as being a writer he was a professor of biochemistry at Boston University. He was known for his works of science fiction and popular science, but also wrote mysteries and fantasy, as well as much nonfiction, especially his popular science books.

Asimov was a prolific writer, and wrote or edited more than 500 books. It took nineteen years for him to publish his first 100 books, ten years to publish the next 100, and only five years to bring the total up to 300. If you do the maths, I don’t see how he could write so much so quickly. It takes me about a year to produce a book!

He also wrote hundreds of short stories, including the social science fiction "Nightfall", which in 1964 was voted by the Science Fiction Writers of America the best short science fiction story of all time.

He 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 the science fiction magazines had "Science" in the title, so they were 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.

Azimov knew Gene Roddenberry and was "special science consultant" on Star Trek: The Motion Picture for advice he gave during production.

The Oxford English Dictionary credits his science fiction for introducing the words 'positronic' (an entirely fictional technology), 'psychohistory' (which is also used for a different study on historical motivations) and 'robotics' into the English language.

Isaac Asimov was recognized by the 111th Congress on March 9, 2010 in House Resolution 1055, "supporting the designation of National Robotics Week as an annual event".

Asimov was a long-time member and vice president of Mensa International, albeit reluctantly. He took more joy in being president of the American Humanist Association.

If you’re interested in a review of all of Azimov’s books in one place, go to Jenkins’ Spoiler-Laden Guide to Isaac Azimov.

[adapted from Azimov Online and Wikipedia]


Ann Marie Thomas is the author of three medieval history books, a surprisingly cheerful poetry collection about her 2010 stroke, and the science fiction series Flight of the Kestrel. Book one, Intruders, is out now. Follow her at http://eepurl.com/bbOsyz

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