Isaac Asimov (January 2, 1920 - April 6, 1992) was a Russian-born American author and biochemist, a highly successful and extraordinarily prolific writer best known for his works of science fiction and for his science books for the layperson. He also wrote mysteries, many of which were collected in the Black Widowers books. He published over 500 volumes. He was a long-time member of Mensa. There is an asteroid named in his honor called (5020) Asimov.
|Table of contents|
2 Beliefs and politics
3 Cause of death
4 Science Fiction
7 Selected Bibliography
7.1 Science Fiction8 Related topics
7.2 Murder Mysteries
9 External links
Asimov was born in Petrovichi, Russia, to a Jewish family that emigrated to the United States when he was three years old. He grew up in Brooklyn, New York, graduating from Columbia University in 1939 and taking a Ph.D there in 1948. He then joined the faculty of Boston University, with which he remained associated thereafter, but in a non-teaching capacity.
Beliefs and politics
Isaac Asimov was a humanist and a rationalist. He didn't oppose genuine religious conviction in others but was against superstitious, unfounded beliefs. He was afraid of flying, only doing so twice in his entire life. Asimov was also a claustrophile, that is, he enjoyed small, enclosed spaces (the opposite of a claustrophobe).
On most political issues Asimov was a progressive, but he was a staunch supporter of the United States Democratic Party. In a television interview in the early 1970s he publicly endorsed George McGovern. He was unhappy at what he saw as an irrationalist tack taken by many progressive political activists from the late 1960s onwards. His defense of civil applications of nuclear power even after the Three Mile Island incident damaged his relations with some on the left. He issued many appeals for population control reflecting the perspective first articulated by Paul Ehrlich. In the closing years of his life Asimov blamed the deterioration of the quality of life that he perceived in New York on the shrinking tax base caused by middle class flight to the suburbs. His last non-fiction book, Our Angry Earth (1991, co-written with science fiction author Frederik Pohl), deals with elements of the environmental crisis such as global warming and the destruction of the ozone layer.
Cause of death
Asimov died on April 6, 1992, having been infected with HIV from tainted blood transfused during heart bypass surgery in 1983. That AIDS was the cause of his death was only revealed ten years later, in Janet Asimov's biography It's Been a Good Life.
Asimov began contributing stories to science fiction magazines in 1939; his short story "Nightfall" (1941) is described in Bewildering Stories, issue 8, 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 anthology 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'."
In 1942 he began his Foundation stories -- later collected in the Foundation Trilogy: Foundation (1951), Foundation and Empire (1952), and Second Foundation (1953) -- which recount the collapse and rebirth of a vast interstellar empire in a universe of the future. Taken together, they are his most famous work of science fiction. Many years later, 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).
His robot stories -- many of which were collected in I, Robot (1950) -- were begun at about the same time and promulgated a set of rules of ethics for robots (see Three Laws Of Robotics) and intelligent machines that greatly influenced other writers and thinkers in their treatment of the subject. One such short story, The Bicentennial Man was made into a movie starring Robin Williams.
He also wrote a spoof science article The Endochronic Properties of Resublimated Thiotimoline in 1948, which he feared would affect his chances of obtaining his doctorate.
He published Asimov's Guide to the Bible in two volumes -- covering the Old Testament in 1967 and the New Testament in 1969 -- and then combined them into one 1300-page volume in 1981. Replete with maps and tables, the guide goes through the books of the Bible in order, explaining the history of each one and the political influences that affected it, as well as biographical information about the important characters.
He also published two volumes of autobiography: In Memory Yet Green (1979) and In Joy Still Felt (1980). A third autobiography, I. Asimov: A Memoir, was published in April 1994. The epilogue was written by his second wife, Janet Asimov (née Jeppson), shortly after his death.
Asimov also wrote several essays on the social contentions of his day, including "Thinking About Thinking" and "Science: Knock Plastic" (1967).
Short Story Collections
Short Story Collections