Isaac Asimov, or Isaak Yudovich Ozimov (birth name) was a famous American science-fiction writer, with Russian origins. A prolific author and a professor of biochemistry at the university of Boston. With a bibliography of more than 500 popular science books, Asimov had yet to be considered one of the “Big Three” Sci-Fi writers at his time, along with Arthur C. Clarke and Robert A. Heinlein. He is best known globally for his “Foundation” series, “I, Robot” series, and the “Galactic Empire” series.
Asimov also wrote many fantasy and mystery stories, alongside with short stories and books on other subject than science fiction, especially astronomy, society, biology; and religion.
Asimov was an atheist and a humanist as he opposed to superstitious beliefs and railed against pseudoscientific claims. Despite the fact that his parents were orthodox Jewish, they never forced their beliefs upon him.
His early life:
Isaac Asimov was born circa October 4, 1919- January 2, 1920 in Petrovichi shtetl near Klimovichi (now Smolensk) in Russia to an Orthodox Jewish family of millers. His father was Judah Ozimov and his mother Anna Rachel Ozimov (born Berman). He had a younger sister “Marcia” and a younger brother “Stanly”.
As Isaac was merely three years old, the Ozimov family migrated to the United States and settled in Brooklyn, New York, and changed their family name to become Asimov. At the age of eight, Isaac became a naturalized U.S. citizen.
Isaac taught himself how to read at the age of five, and spoke both English and Yiddish fluently, and since his parents didn’t use Russian to speak to him, he never learnt it. He became an avid reader as soon as he could read, and started writing his own stories around the age of 11. He also used to help his father with his candy shops as a youngster, taking advantage of this occupation to read science fiction pulp magazines at their stores. As he was 19, he began selling science fiction stories to magazines.
He integrated the New York Public School in 1925. In 1935, he graduated from boys High school of his own neighborhood, then moved to continue his studies at Seth Low Junior college, Colombia University earning his Bachelor of Science in 1939 at University Extension after his college had been closed in 1938. He applied to Columbia’s graduate chemistry program after his failure to secure his access to medical school and got his MA and PhD in biochemistry from the same institution in 1941 and 1948 accordingly.
From 1942 to 1945, Asimov worked at the Philadelphia Navy Yard Station as a chemist, and lived in an apartment in West Philadelphia with his first wife Gertrude Blugerman whom he married on July 26, 1942 after he met her on a Valentine’s Day blind date in the same year. Then he served in the U.S. Army after the end of the Second World War for nine months rising to the rank of Corporal in a short period before being honorably discharged, avoiding narrowly a possible participation in testing the atomic bomb at Bikini Atoll in 1946.
In 1949, Asimov moved to live in Boston alongside with his wife and had two children: David, and Robyn Joan.
After achieving his doctorate degree, Asimov started a teaching career at the Boston University’s Medical School as an assistant professor of biochemistry in 1951 then an associate professor four years later. However, in 1958 he became a full-time writer as the income he gained from his writings had exceeded his professor’s salary. In 1979, he was promoted to a full professor, and he gave few occasional lectures and became one of the best Boston University’s lecturers.
In 1970, Asimov and his first wife separated, and he moved to live in Manhattan, New York where he met Janet O. Jeppson and married her after his divorce in 1973 and lived there with her till his death on April 6, 1992 at the age of 72 from a heart and kidney failure after dealing secretly and privately with an AIDS infection which he contracted from a blood transfusion.
A selection of his works:
Asimov started writing at a very early age. He was fascinated with science fiction magazines which inspired him lots of ideas as he wrote eight chapters of fiction story at merely the age of 11. In 1938, Asimov completed his first science fiction story “Cosmic Corkscrew”. A year later, he managed a first publication of his story “Marooned Off Vesta” in Amazing Stories magazine.
In 1941, Asimov became famous for his short story “Nightfall” which was voted best science fiction short story of all times by the Science Fiction Writers of America in 1968. This story describes the Lagash Planet where night falls once every 2049 years because of a complex solar system with six stars. As this unique “Nightfall” occurs, people will go mad because they have never seen stars before, and their civilization will collapse. This is why Aton will team up with other members of the Sara Observatory to construct a hideout and prepare to safe their civilization from the engulfing darkness.
In 1950, he published his first science-fiction novel entitled “Pebble” and a year later he released the first book in his trilogy “Foundation Trilogy: Foundation” followed by the other two books of the series “Foundation and Empire” and finally “Second Foundation” which were extended many years later by other books under the pressure of his fans to complete the series, and thus appeared “Foundation’s Edge” in 1982, “Foundation and Earth” in 1986, then “Prelude to Foundation” in 1988 and “Forward the Foundation” in 1992. This series narrated the story of the collapse and the rebirth of a galactic empire in a future universe.
Another brilliant work of Asimov is the “I, Robot” series, which he started collecting them from his Positronic Robot stories in 1950 where appeared his famous Three Laws of Robotics which became later a basic rule in programming our modern machines. This piece of work revolutionized the science fiction writing world, and inspired many other authors.
Asimov also wrote another short story about robots “The Bicentennial Man” which was expended later with the collaboration of Robert Silverberg into a novel “The Positronic Man”.
In the late 50s and 60s, Asimov turned to writing adult novels, and published four of them, “The Naked Sun” was one of them, published in 1957. He also wrote many social and scientific essays such as “Science: Knock Plastic” in 1967 and “Thinking About Thinking”.
At the same period, Asimov wrote about the bible and forwarded his “Asimov’s Guide To The Bible” in two volumes covering both the old and the new testament.
He was also interested in literature, and wrote his “Asimov’s Guide To Shakespeare” in 1970, and “The Annotated Gulliver’s Travel” in 1980. Besides, he wrote 14 history books, such as “The Greeks: A great Adventure” in 1965 and “The Near East: 10,000 Years of History” in 1968.
As he approached to the end of his life, Asimov was involved in publishing a collection of limericks, most notably “Lecherous Limericks” in 1975 and “Sherlockian Limericks”.
In 1979, Asimov published his autobiography under the title of “In Memory Yet Green”, and another one “In Joy Still Felt” in 1980. Two years after his death, another autobiography “I. Asimov: A Memoir” was published, his widow wrote the epilogue.
Asimov’s writing had coined many terms into the English dictionary and the scientific community, such as Robotics, spome, psychohistory, and positronic. They also awarded him many Nebula and Hugo awards that exceeded a dozen annually, besides 14 honorary doctorate degrees from different universities.
The first book written by Asimov in his Foundation series.
Seldom tries to create the “Encyclopedia Galactica” in order to shrink 30 thousand years of turmoil that threaten to overcome the Empire into just one thousand years according to his psychohistory mathematical foreseeing.
The board allows Seldom to assemble the most intelligent minds to create his encyclopedia provided that all the Encyclopedists should leave Trantor, the capitol planet of the Empire, and be exiled to Terminus.
Using their intelligence, the Encyclopedists manage to save Terminus from the four powerful planets threatening their own, and develop a sophisticated technology that overcomes that of the Empire. With this technology, Terminus succeeds in adding more planets to the Foundation as their inhabitants become dependent on the newly developed technology.
Foundation and Empire:
The Foundation becomes a real threat to the Empire, the emperor intends to attack it, but withdraws as the psychohistory science tells him otherwise, and thus the Foundation wins.
At the mean while, another mutant conqueror surfaces, called the Mule. Using his ability to control the emotions of other people, he starts conquering planets by visiting them and influencing their inhabitants.
In order to stop him, Toran, Bayta Darell, Ebling Mis and a street clown called Magnifico set out in search of the Second Foundation. Bayta Darell kills Ebling Mis as he learns about the whereabouts of the Second Foundation so that he would not reveal its location to the mutant Mule but finds out that all the time, Magnifico had been the Mule, and that he played them into his plans to conquer both the Second Foundation and the original Foundations.
Cinematic adaptation of Isaac Asimov’s works:
Both of Asimov’s most famous series “Foundation” and “I, Robot” had been developed into films. The first being developed by New Line Cinema in 1998 who spent more than $1,5 to produce a film version inspired by the “Trilogy Foundation”. While the Robot series had been turned into a Will Smith starring film in 2004.
Also, his novel “The Positronic Man” was also adapted into a Robbin Williams starring movie in 1999.
Books published in order by series
|The Caves of Steel||(1954)|
|The Naked Sun||(1957)|
|The Rest of the Robots||(1964)|
|The Robots of Dawn||(1983)|
|Robots and Empire||(1985)|
Galactic Empire Books
|Pebble in the Sky||(1950)|
|The Stars, Like Dust||(1951)|
|The Current of Space||(1952)|
Original Foundation Books
|Foundation and Empire||(1952)|
Extended Foundation Books
|Foundation and Earth||(1986)|
|Prelude to Foundation||(1988)|
|Forward the Foundation||(1993)|
Lucky Starr Books
|David Starr, Space Ranger||(1952)|
|Lucky Starr and the Pirates of the Asteroids||(1953)|
|Lucky Starr and the Oceans of Venus||(1954)|
|Lucky Starr and the Big Sun of Mercury||(1956)|
|Lucky Starr and the Moons of Jupiter||(1957)|
|Lucky Starr and the Rings of Saturn||(1958)|
|Norby, the Mixed-Up Robot||(1983)|
|Norby’s Other Secret||(1984)|
|Norby and the Lost Princess||(1985)|
|Norby and the Invaders||(1985)|
|Norby and the Queen’s Necklace||(1986)|
|Norby Finds a Villain||(1987)|
|Norby Down to Earth||(1988)|
|Norby and Yobo’s Great Adventure||(1989)|
|Norby and the Oldest Dragon||(1990)|
|Norby and the Court Jester||(1991)|
|The End of Eternity||(1955)|
|The Death Dealers||(1958)|
|The Gods Themselves||(1972)|
|Murder at the ABA||(1976)|
|Fantastic Voyage II: Destination Brain||(1987)|
|The Ugly Little Boy||(1992)|
|The Positronic Man||(1993)|
Short Story Collections
|The Martian Way and Other Stories||(1955)|
|Earth is Room Enough||(1957)|
|Through a Glass, Clearly||(1967)|
|The Feeling of Power||(1967)|
|Nightfall and Other Stories||(1969)|
|The Early Asimov, Book 1||(1972)|
|The Early Asimov, Book 2||(1972)|
|The Best of Isaac Asimov||(1973)|
|Buy Jupiter and Other Stories||(1975)|
|The Bicentennial Man and Other Stories||(1976)|
|The Key Word and Other Mysteries||(1977)|
|The Complete Robot||(1982)|
|The Winds of Change and Other Stories||(1983)|
|The Union Club Mysteries||(1983)|
|Disappearing Man and Other Mysteries||(1985)|
|The Best Mysteries of Isaac Asimov||(1986)|
|The Alternate Asimovs||(1986)|
|The Best Science Fiction of Isaac Asimov||(1986)|
Black Widower Collections
|Tales of the Black Widowers||(1974)|
|More Tales of the Black Widowers||(1976)|
|Casebook of the Black Widowers||(1980)|
|Banquets of the Black Widowers||(1984)|
|Puzzles of the Black Widowers||(1990)|
|The Return of the Black Widowers||(2003)|