Isaac Asimov

(1920 - 1922), American writer and Professor of Biochemistry

Born to a Russian-Jewish family, Isaac Asimov became an American citizen and went on to write hundreds of novels in the science fiction genre. Having been inspired by the Roman Empire, Isaac Asimov created the first science fiction novel that paid attention to politics and power dynamics instead of the technological elements.


Life Facts

  • Isaac Asimov was born in Petrovichi, Russia.
  • Isaac Asimov’s birthday falls between October 4, 1919, and January 2, 1920.
  • Isaac Asimov married twice. His first wife was Gertrude Blugerman, and in 1973, they got divorced. His second wife was Janet Opal Jeppson.
  • Isaac Asimov never learned Russian.

Interesting Facts

  • Isaac Asimov was a professor of Biochemistry at Columbia University.
  • Isaac Asimov has a Russian and Yiddish native name.
  • Besides contributing immensely to the science fiction genre, Isaac Asimov also published non-fiction books and journals.
  • Isaac Asimov served in the army during the second world war.


Famous Books by Isaac Asimov

‘Foundation’ is one of Isaac Asimov’s best novels. The book, which got inspired by the fall of the Roman Empire, became a sensation in the science fiction world. Foundation tells the stories of five different eras. In the first story, Hari Seldon, the creator of psychohistory, discovers that the Galactic Empire is declining. However, he devised a solution to soften the fall by preventing a 30,000-year dark age; this made him form the Foundation, a coalition of scientists whose task was to gather all the information known to humankind. Hari and his followers get banished to Terminus. The second story shows the now settled Foundation struggling in the political web created by the four newly independent kingdoms of the Outer Periphery. Salvor Hardin, Mayor of Terminus, devises a strategy that makes him avert the crises. After the time vault built to contain a message from Hari Seldon opens, a recording shows that Hardin was on the right path. The third story shows the political battle between the Foundation and Anacreon. The fourth story shows the dynamics between the traders and the planet Askone. After a Foundation mater trader gets captured, another mater trader, Limmar Ponyets, gets sent to negotiate. The last story in the novel tells the story of Hober Mallow, a master trader who fights through the political antagonism of some members of the Foundation to become the mayor of Terminus.

‘I, Robot’ is one of the bestselling novels written by Isaac Asimov. ‘I, Robot’ got created as different short stories. However, they got combined to make a single novel. The novel tells the story of a futuristic world where man and robot co-exist. With the creation of robots, three laws get formed to govern the behavior and protect the integrity of humanity. The story features Dr. Susan Calvin, who narrates to a reporter in the 21st century. Though a novel called ‘I, Robot’ already existed before his own story, Isaac Asimov expressed admiration for Eando Binder’s work.

‘Foundation and Empire’ is the sequel to Isaac’s famed ‘Foundation.’ The novel combines two separate short stories to continue the timeline of the Foundation. ‘The General’ tells the story of General Bel Riose, a Galactic empire General in charge of Siwenna. After learning of the Foundation, he paints them as a threat to the Galactic Empire. Riose captures and interrogates a Foundation trader, Lathan Devers, to discover secrets of the Foundation.

However, Lathan reveals to Onum Barr that he had let himself get captured to get information on Riose’s operations. With the information on Riose’s plan, the people of Siwenna successfully rebel against the General and joins the Foundation. The second story takes place 100 years after the first. With the Galactic Empire no longer existing, the Foundation becomes the ruling power in the galaxy. However, a threat springs into existence in the form of a man known as the Mule. The Foundation discovers that the Mule was never in Seldon’s psychohistory predictions. The Mule cuts off the Foundation’s power leading to their fall. Soon the Mule learns of a second Foundation and swears to subdue them.


Biography

Isaac Asimov was born to Anna Rachel and Judah Asimov in Petrovichi, Russia. Though his father was an Orthodox Jew by faith, he never practiced his faith. In 1921, 17 children, including Isaac, got ill from pneumonia. However, Isaac came out alive as the only survivor.

At the age of three, his family moved from Russia to Brooklyn in the United States. With him already knowing English, he had little struggle living in the US. However, had to teach himself and his sister how to write. After solidifying their residency in the United States, Rachel and Judah got ownership of a chain of candy stores that sold newspapers and magazines; these newspapers ended up influencing Isaac Asimov’s love for writing. At the age of eight, Isaac had become a full-fledged citizen of the United States, and at the age of nine, he began reading pulp science fiction.

Isaac graduated from the Boys High School in Brooklyn at age 15. After graduating high school, he started attending the City College of New York, where he spent only a few days before leaving for a scholarship at Seth Low Junior College.

First choosing Zoology, Isaac changed his mind and switched to Chemistry after rejecting to partake in the dissection of a cat. In 1936, Seth Low Junior College closed, forcing him to finish his Bachelor’s degree at the Morningside Heights campus, later known as Columbia University for General Studies, in 1939. After completing his Bachelor’s degree, he applied to many medical schools and got rejected. However, he got accepted into a chemistry graduate program at the University of Columbia; on probation. In 1941, he earned a Master of Arts degree in chemistry, and in 1948, a Doctor of Philosophy.

In September 1945, Isaac got drafted into the army, and for the next three years, he served as a chemist at the Philadelphia Naval Yard’s Naval Air Experimentation Station.

After completing his Doctorate, he began working as a biochemistry teacher at Boston University School of Medicine in 1949, where he earned $5,000 (the equivalent of about $54,000 today). While working as a professor, Isaac had begun writing the Foundation stories, and by 1952, he was earning more from writing than from teaching. In 1955, he got promoted to Associate Professor. However, he stopped doing research because of his writing; this led to his dismissal as a professor. In 1979, Isaac’s writing career had become massive; this earned him an honorary professor title at Boston.

On Valentine’s Day 1942, Isaac met Gertrude Blugerman, who later became his wife on July 26. He and Gertrude moved into an apartment in West Philadelphia as he got drafted into the army. While he was in the Army, Gertrude moved back to Brooklyn, and in 1948, they moved to Stuyvesant Town, Manhattan. In May 1949, they moved to Boston but later moved to Sommerville in July. In 1951, they moved to Waltham, and finally, in 1956, they moved to West Newton.

Gertrude and Isaac had two children, David and Robyn Joan, born in 1951 and 1955. they got divorced in 1973, and on November 30 of the same year, he married Janet O. Jeppson.

After the publication of ‘Foundation,’ Isaac rose to fame and soon became one of the three most famous science fiction writers of his time. His mutton-chop sideburns became a signature look for him. Soon, he started getting invites to science fiction conventions.

In 1977, Isaac suffered from a heart attack, and in December 1983, he underwent triple bypass surgery. On April 6, 1992, Isaac died from heart and kidney failure.


Literary Career

Isaac Asimov started his professional writing career in 1939 by writing and selling short stories. In 1941, Isaac was a graduate student at the University of Columbia. While trying to formulate a story idea for John Campbell, he got the idea for writing the story of a Galactic Empire. In August 1941, Isaac began writing the first story in ‘Foundation.’ Soon, Isaac found himself not wanting to continue. However, he changed his mind after a conversation with Fred Pohl.

By December 1949, Isaac had completed all the stories of the Foundation trilogy. In 1951, Gnome press published the first four Foundation stories together. In 1961, Doubleday got publishing rights to ‘Foundation.’ From there, it began receiving traction. Isaac kept writing till 1992, the year he died.


Literature by Isaac Asimov

Explore literature by Isaac Asimov below, created by the team at Book Analysis.