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Reports & Essays: Biography - Literary Authors

"AND""OR"

Isaac Asimov
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 (Gunn 217). 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). Works Cited: 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.

 



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