Isaac Asimov had a profound impact on science fiction and
its development. Asimov's robots amazed us, his fiction
lured us, and his horror thrilled us. With over 200 books
and countless short stories, he left us with a detailed map
to vividly explore our imaginations ("Isaac Asimov").
On the 2nd of January in 1920, a son was born to Mr. Judah
Asimov and Mrs. Anna Rachel Asimov in Petrovichi, U.S.S.R.
His name was, and is Isaac Asimov. When Asimov was three he
and his family emigrated to the United States and settled
in Brooklyn, New York. There his father, handicapped by his
lack of English and job experience, bought a candy store in
1926 (Gunn 7). Asimov was a child prodigy and taught
himself to read at age five. He had an unusual ability to
learn and a remarkable memory. Although he changed schools
a multitude of times, Asimov was always at the head of his
class and skipped half of kindergarten, half a year of
first grade, and half a year of third grade (Gunn 8).
Asimov completed junior high in two years, instead of three
and moved on to high school at the age of twelve. Here he
met the limits to his intellectual abilities. He found that
students could study harder and accomplish more than he
could "understand- once-and-remember-forever," (Gunn 9). In
1935, Asimov entered Seth Low Junior College. There his
writing increased and one of his letters was published in
Astounding, his favorite science fiction magazines. Four
years later, he received his bachelors degree from Columbia
and entered graduate school there, majoring in chemistry
In 1941, Asimov moved to Philadelphia to work as a chemist
for the U.S. Navy Yard. There he was free from the candy
stores for the first time in his life. He also met his
future wife and was married in 1942. After being drafted in
1945, he returned to Columbia at the end of the war. In
1948, Asimov earned his Ph.D. and was hired a year later as
an instructor in biochemistry at the Boston University
School of Medicine. A few years later he was promoted to
assistant professor (Gunn 217-218). In 1951, Asimov and his
wife were blessed with a son, David. Four years later,
another child was born, a daughter, Robyn.
In 1958 he left his full-time teaching job and began a
career of full-time free- lance writing, his true life
love. Although his writings after this point were
non-fiction rather than fiction, he still wrote an
occasional science-fiction short story (Gunn 218). In the
later years of Asimov's career he assessed his own writing
and in the introduction of Nebula Award Stories Eight, he
wrote: "I began by writing science fiction, yes, and for
over thirty years I've found that my training in science
fiction made it possible for me to write anything. I have
written mysteries, both novels and short stories,
nonfiction books on every branch of science, and textbooks
for both the graduate level and the grade-school level. I
have written history books, discussions of the Bible,
Shakespeare, Byron, and Milton and I have written satires
and joke books. I have written about 150 books as of now,
and I tell you, that of all the different things I write,
science fiction is by far the hardest thing to do" (Nebula
Award Stories Eight xi).
Asimov, Isaac, et al., ed. Nebula Award Stories Eight.
Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1973.
Gunn, James. Isaac Asimov: The Foundations of Science
Fiction. New York: Oxford University Press, 1982.
"Isaac Asimov." Funk and Wagnalls New Encyclopedia. South
Bend: Notre Dame University Press, 1973.