My fascination with science fiction can be credited mostly to Asimov. His “Nightfall” took me for a thrill ride and all these years later, thinking of the story still makes my inner fangirl go SQUEE. Haven’t read it yet? Please do. Oh yes, start with the short story before you try the novella. The longer form is fine, but the short is just awesome.
There is little to tell about Isaac Asimov that is not widely known already. Asimov, along with Robert A. Heinlein and Arthur C. Clarke, was considered one of the “Big Three” science fiction writers during his lifetime.
Asimov was born Isaak Yudovich Ozimov in Petrovichi, Russia, between October 4, 1919, and January 2, 1920. Asimov chose January 2 as a birthdate himself, because there were no birth records at the time in Russia and no one knew the exact date.
- He liked to be in small, confined spaces. He was a claustrophile. That probably happened because of his sensitive skin, which would burn with even a 10 minute exposure to sun.
- Asimov only flew two times in his life.
- He almost collaborated with Paul McCartney. In 1974, Paul McCartney approached Asimov with an idea for a movie–about a band who discovered they were being impersonated by a group of extraterrestrials. Asimov wrote up a treatment titled “Five and Five and One,” featuring parasitic energy beings who crashed on Earth and had to look for suitable hosts to continue their survival.
- Asimov was prolific and wrote or edited more than 500 books and an estimated 90,000 letters and postcards.
- He loved to write limericks, he wrote volumes of them.
- He was an atheist and a humanist. Asimov took great offense at the idea that people without religion were incapable of basic morality. He objected to Ronald Reagan’s statement that, “No one who disbelieves in God and in an afterlife can possibly be trusted.”
- Asimov was proud of his role as the honorary president of the American Humanist Association.
- He was succeeded by his friend Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. as president.
- He was also a member of Mensa, although a reluctant one.
- The asteroid 5020 Asimov is named after him. As is Honda’s humanoid prototype robot ASIMO.
- Asimov is credited for coining the word “robotics”.
- In his robot series “I, Robot”, he developed the “Three Laws of Robotics”. This is set of rules of ethics for robots and intelligent machines that has greatly influenced how people look at the subject.
- Asimov died in 1992, due to complications from HIV, which he had contracted during a blood transfusion.
I could go on and on. But I will tear myself away now. Until next week.