Isaac Asimov  

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There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there always has been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that "my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge." -- Isaac Asimov, Column in Newsweek (21 January 1980)

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Isaac Asimov (January 2, 1920 - April 6, 1992) was an American science fiction author.

Contents

Science Fiction

Asimov began contributing stories to science fiction magazines in 1939; his most famous single story is "Nightfall" (1941). 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.

His other novels and collections of stories include:

Other Science Fiction Novels

(later novels here)

Science Fiction Short Story Collections

The short story, The Bicentennial Man was made into a movie starring Robin Williams. His Nightfall (1941) is thought by many to be the finest science fiction short story ever written.

Murder Mysteries

  • The Death Dealers (1958) (later republished as A Whiff of Death)
  • Murder at the ABA (1976)

Non-fiction

He published Asimov's Guide to the Bible in two volumes -- 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.

Among Asimov's books on various topics in science or general information, written with lucidity and humour, are:

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).

Quotes

  • "Early in my school career, I turned out to be an incorrigible disciplinary problem. I could understand what the teacher was saying as fast as she could say it, I found time hanging heavy, so I would occasionally talk to my neighbor. That was my great crime, I talked."
  • "I prefer rationalism to atheism. The question of God and other objects-of-faith are outside reason and play no part in rationalism, thus you don't have to waste your time in either attacking or defending."
  • "If I could trace my origins to Judas Maccabeus or King David, that would not add one inch to my stature. It may well be that many East European Jews are descended from Khazars, I may be one of them. Who knows? And who cares?"
  • "In 1936, I first wrote science fiction. It was a long-winded attempt at writing an endless novel...which died. I remember one sentence, "Whole forests stood sere and brown in midsummer.". That was the first Asimovian science-fiction sentence.
  • "Night was a wonderful time in Brooklyn in the 1930s. Air conditioning was unknown except in movie houses, and so was television. There was nothing to keep one in the house. Furthermore, few people owned automobiles, so there was nothing to carry one away. That left the streets and the stoops. The very fullness served as an inhibition to crime."
  • "No one can possibly have lived through the Great Depression without being scarred by it. No amount of experience since the depression can convince someone who has lived through it that the world is safe economically."
  • "True literacy is becoming an arcane art and the United States is steadily dumbing down."
  • "Until I became a published writer, I remained completely ignorant of books on how to write and courses on the subject...they would have spoiled my natural style; made me observe caution; would have hedged me with rules."
  • "When I read about the way in which library funds are being cut and cut, I can only think that American society has found one more way to destroy itself."


See also:





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