isaac asimov (1920 – 1992)


Isaac ASIMOV – Asimov (1920 – 1992) was born of a Russian – Jewish family who  emigrated to the United States (Brooklyn, New York) when he was three years old. His parents owned a succession of candy stores, where they sold also Science fiction pulp magazines, and he began reading them. Around the age of eleven he began to write his own stories, and by age nineteen, he was selling them to the science fiction magazines. He attended New York CityPublic Schools and, afterwards, the ColumbiaUniversity, where he graduated in 1939, later returning to earn a Ph.D. in biochemistry in 1948. Asimov married Gertrude Blugerman in 1942. They had two children, David (b. 1951) and Robyn Joan (b. 1955). They divorced in 1973, and Asimov married Janet O. Jeppson later that year. where he remained friendly and approachable. After completing his doctorate, Asimov joined the faculty of the Boston University School of Medicine where he became associate professor (1958), and  full professor of biochemistry (1979). Asimov had wide, various interests: he frequently attended science fiction conventions, he liked the operettas of Gilbert and Sullivan and was members of  groups of devotees of the Nero Wolfe and of Sherlock Holmes. He was president of the American Humanist Association and a close friend to Star Treck creator  Gene Roddenberry. Asimov died on April 6, 1992. Ten years after his death, his second wife, Janet, published his autobiography, It’s Been a Good Life in which she revealed that his death was caused by AIDS,  the virus he had contracted from a blood transfusion during a heart bypass operation in 1983. His doctors convinced him to remain silent, warning that anti-AIDS prejudice would extend to his family members.

Isaac Asimov was a Humanist and a rationalist. For many years, he called himself an atheist, later, he found the term “humanist” a useful substitute. He was a supporter of the Democratic Party during the New Deal and remained a political liberal ever after. He was a vocal opponent of the Vietnam War in the 1960s; he issued many appeals for population control, and considered himself a feminist arguing  that the issue of women’s rights was closely connected to that of population control. Furthermore, he believed that homosexuality must be considered a “moral right” on population grounds, as must all consenting adult sexual activity that does not lead to reproduction.

Works – Asimov is widely considered a master of the science-fiction genre. The  Oxford English Dictionary credits his science fiction for introducing the words positronic , psychohistory and robotics into the English language. Asimov coined the term robotics without suspecting that it already existed in the Czech language and means for “forced labor”.
The three laws of Robotics he fixed for robots are:
1) A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm
2) A robot must obey orders given to it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
3) A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.
Under the influence of the Futurians, in the mid-1930s Asimov began writing Cosmic Corkscrew (1937) and Marooned Off Vesta (Amazing Stories 1939).
In 1941, he published Nightfall, described as one of  the most famous science-fiction stories of all time. It is an archetypical example of social science fiction, as Asimov described speculations about the human condition.
In 1942 he published the first of 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.
Many years later, he continued the series with Foundation’s Edge (1982) and Foundation and Earth (1986), Prelude to Foundation (1988) and Forward the Foundation (1992).
>His positronic robot stories, many of which are published in  I, Robot (1950) transmitted a set of rules of ethics for robots: the Three Laws of Robotics are in a robot’s positronic brain, and ensure that the robot does not turn against its creators.

In 1948 he also wrote a burlesque science article, The Endochronic Properties of Resublimated Thiotimoline.
In 1949, Walter I. Bradbury accepted Asimov’s unpublished novel Grow Old Along With Me for publisher Doubleday and it appeared as Pebble in the Sky. Doubleday went on to publish the six juvenile Lucky Starr novels under the pseudonym Paul French and the collections of Asimov’s short stories, beginning with The Martian Way and Other Stories in 1955.
When new science fiction magazines,
Galaxy Magazine and The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, appeared in the 1950s, Asimov began publishing short stories in them as well. The most famous is
The Last Question (1956), on the process of entropy.
He was also greatly interested in history and wrote 14 popular history books, among which The Greeks: A Great Adventure (1965), The Roman Republic (1966), The Roman Empire (1967), The Egyptians (1967) and The Near East: 10,000 Years of History (1968).
He also wrote Guide to the Bible in two volumes explaining the history of each book and the political influences that affected it.
His interest in literature is manifested in  Guide to Shakespeare (1970), Asimov’s Annotated Paradise Lost (1974), and The Annotated Gulliver’s Travels (1980).
Never entirely lacking wit and humor, towards the end of his life Asimov published a series of collections of limericks.

Essays – His Treasury of Humor offers his views on humor theory.In 1971, as a response to the popularity of sexual guidebooks, Asimov published The Sensuous Dirty Old Man.

Autobiographies – Asimov 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 widow Janet Asimov a decade after his death. It’s Been a Good Life (2002), edited by Janet, is a condensed version of his three autobiographies. He also published three volumes of retrospectives of his writing, Opus 100 (1969), Opus 200 (1979), and Opus 300 (1984).

Films and music adaptations

1999: Bicentennial Man, directed by Chris Columbus from Isaac Asimov’s short story The Bicentennial Man
2004: I, Robot; director: Alex Proyas
In the year 2035 a techno-phobic cop investigates a crime that may have been perpetrated by a robot, which leads to a larger threat to humanity. more

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