Search This Blog

Thursday, January 02, 2014

Happy Birthday, Isaac Asimov!

I remember my first encounter with this amazingly prolific SF writer. Actually, he did a lot more than SF. He wrote just about everything and I vaguely recall him saying once that non fiction - popular science - was his first love.

But for me, he was science fiction personified. I first encountered him at my sister's home while babysitting my first nephew, David. I'd read some classic SF at school, of course - some Wells and Verne and others, including some guy called Donald Suddaby whose books are, I think, long out of print, but you can still find him on a Google search. And there was the TV science fiction - I had been a Star Trek fan since childhood and loved the Doctor. There were the Irwin Allen shows when I was growing up too - for a long time, I found Lost In Space irritatingly silly, though looking back I have come to appreciate and enjoy its 1960s campiness - and the music was by Alexander "Star Trek" Courage and a certain "Johnny Williams" - yes, THAT John Williams!

  But Asimov was my introduction to real, modern SF. My sister was a major fan(probably still is)and had all his works on her shelves. On a Saturday night, my best bet was to read the short fiction. And I did - all of it that was available at the time. I read more in the following years, but that was the time of the classics. Foundation, the robot books, the science fictional mysteries...

Even if you haven't heard of most modern SF writers, I bet you've heard of Asimov, even if it's only through the movies based on them, such as The Bicentennial Man and I, Robot.


And writers are still using Asimov's Laws Of Robotics, the ones about a robot not hurting a human or allowing one to come to harm,  without necessarily realising where they come from. I have only recently asked one of the writers in my issue of Andromeda Spaceways to do a small rewrite to remove a mention of the laws of robotics because they belong to Asimov. Asimov is only one of a number of writers who have so affected fiction that people don't know it comes from a book. For example, Merlin is often mentioned as living backwards - something that only happened in T.H. White's The Sword In The Stone, but now everyone uses it.

Asimov grew up in the Golden Age of SF, when the pulps were on all the news stands and the good writers got their start among a lot of schlock and went on to become famous. He managed to persuade his father, who thought SF was rubbish, that it was educational because it had "science" in its name.

 If you want his biography, it's on Wikipedia - this is just an appreciation of the man whose writing gave me the "sensawunda" that made me a fan of speculative fiction.

Here, if you're interested, is a link to an article that quotes what he predicted in 1964 about the year 2014 - enjoy!

No comments: