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I. Asimov: A Memoir

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Arguably the greatest science fiction writer who ever lived, Isaac Asimov also possessed one of the most brilliant and original minds of our time. His accessible style and far-reaching interests in subjects ranging from science to humor to history earned him the nickname "the Great Explainer." I. Asimov is his personal story—vivid, open, and honest—as only Asimov himself c Arguably the greatest science fiction writer who ever lived, Isaac Asimov also possessed one of the most brilliant and original minds of our time. His accessible style and far-reaching interests in subjects ranging from science to humor to history earned him the nickname "the Great Explainer." I. Asimov is his personal story—vivid, open, and honest—as only Asimov himself could tell it. Here is the story of the paradoxical genius who wrote of travel to the stars yet refused to fly in airplanes; who imagined alien universes and vast galactic civilizations while staying home to write; who compulsively authored more than 470 books yet still found the time to share his ideas with some of the great minds of our century. Here are his wide-ranging thoughts and sharp-eyed observations on everything from religion to politics, love and divorce, friendship and Hollywood, fame and mortality. Here, too, is a riveting behind-the-scenes look at the varied personalities—Campbell, Ellison, Heinlein, Clarke, del Rey, Silverberg, and others—who along with Asimov helped shape science fiction. As unique and irrepressible as the man himself, I. Asimov is the candid memoir of an incomparable talent who entertained readers for nearly half a century and whose work will surely endure into the future he so vividly envisioned.


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Arguably the greatest science fiction writer who ever lived, Isaac Asimov also possessed one of the most brilliant and original minds of our time. His accessible style and far-reaching interests in subjects ranging from science to humor to history earned him the nickname "the Great Explainer." I. Asimov is his personal story—vivid, open, and honest—as only Asimov himself c Arguably the greatest science fiction writer who ever lived, Isaac Asimov also possessed one of the most brilliant and original minds of our time. His accessible style and far-reaching interests in subjects ranging from science to humor to history earned him the nickname "the Great Explainer." I. Asimov is his personal story—vivid, open, and honest—as only Asimov himself could tell it. Here is the story of the paradoxical genius who wrote of travel to the stars yet refused to fly in airplanes; who imagined alien universes and vast galactic civilizations while staying home to write; who compulsively authored more than 470 books yet still found the time to share his ideas with some of the great minds of our century. Here are his wide-ranging thoughts and sharp-eyed observations on everything from religion to politics, love and divorce, friendship and Hollywood, fame and mortality. Here, too, is a riveting behind-the-scenes look at the varied personalities—Campbell, Ellison, Heinlein, Clarke, del Rey, Silverberg, and others—who along with Asimov helped shape science fiction. As unique and irrepressible as the man himself, I. Asimov is the candid memoir of an incomparable talent who entertained readers for nearly half a century and whose work will surely endure into the future he so vividly envisioned.

30 review for I. Asimov: A Memoir

  1. 5 out of 5

    Dimitri

    One of the best things about Asimov's story collections has always been his bio ditties. By the time I discovered his positronic universe (age 12, 1997) , the great man had already departed, but he was considerate enough to publish a full autobiography, recapitulating the decades of In Memory Yet Green and In Joy Still Felt before moving onto his twilight years. It is not quite a replacement for the individual anecdotes that accompany his stories; the discussion on his work is not detailed e One of the best things about Asimov's story collections has always been his bio ditties. By the time I discovered his positronic universe (age 12, 1997) , the great man had already departed, but he was considerate enough to publish a full autobiography, recapitulating the decades of In Memory Yet Green and In Joy Still Felt before moving onto his twilight years. It is not quite a replacement for the individual anecdotes that accompany his stories; the discussion on his work is not detailed enough for that. It does breathe life into the facts of Michael White's unauthorized Isaac Asimov: A Life of the Grand Master of Science Fiction. While Asimov, like any person, glosses over a few darker aspects of his life that a biographer need not spare (divorce and infidelities, foremost), as a reader you're apt to root for him always because his reminiscence over departed friends and colleagues is a close as we still can get to appreciating Asimov as a person that you just want to sit down to dinner with and talk science (fiction). The photo selection was indispensable to match faces to praise. It's a pity he never took to travel much, but how many of us became rich by the very act that safeguarded our mental peace, to the sound of the typewriter ?

  2. 4 out of 5

    Sheila

    I just like myself, that's all, and there's nothing wrong with that. - Isaac Asimov Isaac Asimov was a Russian-born, American science-fiction and non-fiction writer, who described himself as a technological optimist, writing books that tend to celebrate the triumphs of technology rather than its disaster. He is famous for his award-winning short story The Bicentennial Man and Other Stories. He also wrote I, Robot and the Foundation series, all of which I haven't read. Perhaps, I'll never be able I just like myself, that's all, and there's nothing wrong with that. - Isaac Asimov Isaac Asimov was a Russian-born, American science-fiction and non-fiction writer, who described himself as a technological optimist, writing books that tend to celebrate the triumphs of technology rather than its disaster. He is famous for his award-winning short story The Bicentennial Man and Other Stories. He also wrote I, Robot and the Foundation series, all of which I haven't read. Perhaps, I'll never be able to. But I have no regrets reading his autobiography. It's as interesting as the man who published at least 500 books during his lifetime. Here, he tells of his love of reading during his youth in New York, his discovery of pulp magazines sold at his father's candy shop, and his first attempts at getting published in a sci-fi magazine. All standard humble beginnings. What sets Isaac Asimov apart from other sci-fi writers is that he graduated with a degree in Chemistry, lectured at Boston University, and later earned his PhD and tenure. In short, he's a credible science writer and he milked his knowledge and experience to the point that he was publishing encyclopedias and dictionaries. Editors simply loved him for his ability to make profit in most of his books. He is also funny. He published limericks and jokes. His clear thinking also made him a favorite guest speaker of various organizations, which, apart from paying him a nominal fee, would often give him a standing ovation. My favorite chapter is Letters, where he describes the kinds of letters he received from students, fans, and even scientists. It's one of my writer-fantasies---receiving letters from strangers who are connected to me through my creations so it was a delight to learn that Asimov was not one of those surly writers who can't spend a little time reading and replying to fan mail. In one of the letters where he is being corrected for an error on one of his writings, he was as humble as ever, accepting the corrections and making sure to tell his publisher to revise in the next edition. The wonder is not that I make mistakes but that I made so few Asimov, who was married twice and has two adult children living today, died of a chronic heart condition or its complications at the age of 72. I was saddened in the last few pages because even when he wasn't feeling well, he shared his thoughts about dying and friends dying, which he painfully realized is a lot like having no one left in this world who knows you as a child. Great read for those who love authors and their uneventful, but fascinating lives.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Craig

    What can one say about Asimov that he didn't say about himself.... over and over and over again? Why, nothing. He was a genius and an egoist and a great man and the face of the science fiction field for decades. He's suffered some posthumous criticism because of his attitudes that are now seen as sexist, but I would argue that he was very much a product of his times and shouldn't be judged by contemporary standards. His writings are always fascinating, the story of his life no less so than his f What can one say about Asimov that he didn't say about himself.... over and over and over again? Why, nothing. He was a genius and an egoist and a great man and the face of the science fiction field for decades. He's suffered some posthumous criticism because of his attitudes that are now seen as sexist, but I would argue that he was very much a product of his times and shouldn't be judged by contemporary standards. His writings are always fascinating, the story of his life no less so than his fiction.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Robert Lomas

    I have long been a fan of Asimov's science fiction and have also enjoyed his non-fiction. He has a clear and deceptively simple style of writing which is appealing and engaging which keeps you turning the pages. This is one of the last books he wrote and it is wonderful roller-coaster of a read. Asimov tells the story of his life as it was. He makes no bones about not liking to travel and how his hard working childhood gave him a work ethic which never failed until he died. This book, however, is I have long been a fan of Asimov's science fiction and have also enjoyed his non-fiction. He has a clear and deceptively simple style of writing which is appealing and engaging which keeps you turning the pages. This is one of the last books he wrote and it is wonderful roller-coaster of a read. Asimov tells the story of his life as it was. He makes no bones about not liking to travel and how his hard working childhood gave him a work ethic which never failed until he died. This book, however, is different from anything else of his that I have read because it deals not just with what he did but it also tells how he felt about people, events and his achievements. As the stories came closer to modern times and the little content slider showed fewer and fewer pages left to read I found myself rationing how much a read a session in order to make it last. I knew in my mind that it must end with his death but wanted to listen to him musing about life the universe and everything for as long as I could. I finished with a sense of sadness that such a wonderful story teller had writing his closing sentence but inspired by just how much he wrote over his prolific writing lifetime. I throughly recommend it to anyone who as ever enjoyed an Asimov book. Thank you Isaac for a magnificent last testament.

  5. 5 out of 5

    سعید سیمرغ

    I dare say that ‘I, Asimov’ is the most impressive book I’ve ever read and it’s influence to becoming to what I am now is undeniable. I had read it 5 times and I can count comparing the English text and Persian translated text as sixth and seventh times. I hope there will be chances of reading it still more times.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Jon

    5/5 Thank you Janet Asimov, and thank you Isaac Asimov. And thanks to all the many others scattered throughout this book and those involved in it. It was intriguing and ultimately uplifting. Asimov was a legend in so many ways and I am all too eager to defend any who would say a negative word about one of my heroes. While much of his life transpired prior to my own birth, excepting about his last 6 years or so, I read his work with reverence and deep appreciation, for he truly was and remains a gr 5/5 Thank you Janet Asimov, and thank you Isaac Asimov. And thanks to all the many others scattered throughout this book and those involved in it. It was intriguing and ultimately uplifting. Asimov was a legend in so many ways and I am all too eager to defend any who would say a negative word about one of my heroes. While much of his life transpired prior to my own birth, excepting about his last 6 years or so, I read his work with reverence and deep appreciation, for he truly was and remains a great explainer, as Carl Sagan was known to famously say of him. In reading this, I feared I would come to like Asimov less somehow. Such things CAN happen! But this book has only made me more appreciative of what Asimov has done for us all with his prolificity. We need more Isaac Asimov's! Sadly, as of 2018, we seem in short supply, or better put, no supply. This book is written in his typical clear and concise manner and while it was a seemingly dauntingly long biography, I found myself wanting to read everything with an eagerness matched only by that experienced in reading other works of his. I truly enjoyed the brevity and quantity of chapters as they were presented in topical and semi-chronological order. While not much may seem to happen throughout his life, he keeps the reader engaged with his easy conversational style and occasional humor, intended and otherwise. It is absolutely fascinating to read his accounts of interactions with other authors, publishers, and editors over the years. In reading this it almost felt as though Asimov himself were conversating with me, and I was sitting by eagerly taking in all he had to say. Now, some would claim Isaac to be full of himself, but the only thing he was full of was a deep appreciation and love of his mental faculties. He had every reason to boast, but I never found any such statements of fact regarding his remarkability to be offensive or arrogant in the slightest. He liked himself very much! Pardon my following tangents. One year, I spent much of my reading time on his science fiction, and it was then that I became a devoted fan. I was saddened to read that he didn't entirely love writing science fiction novels. He found writing Non-Fiction much more pleasurable. I have read some of it, and must say that it is indeed pleasurable to read. Beginnings was an amazing book, and I have been collecting his works for some time now, with great difficulty. Much of his non-fiction is incredibly hard to find, or very expensive to aquire on account of it being out of print. I long for the day a complete works of Isaac Asimov is published. It would only be feasible to do this in E-Book format. But what is to stop it from happening? The books exist. They're out of print and out of reach. Shall we all forever be deprived of these great works on account of their scarcity? I do hope something is done to address this one day. I must say, Janet Asimov's epilogue briefly brought a tear to my eye when I read it, but that tear dissipated as I read further and to its end, for he lived a good life, and did what he most enjoyed and had a wonderful family and excellent companionship throughout. The ending made me more appreciative of life itself. As I approached the end of the book, I began dwelling on my own end. When would it be? Would I live to 70? 80? I became a bit saddened by the tone of the last few pages, but Janet Asimov lifted my spirits with her kind words. Alas, I am left only to wonder what Isaac Asimov could have accomplished with another 5 years, or 10, or 20. The world lost a great man in April of 1992, but it has lost many more great men, and many more greats will yet be born. So we should not fear death. We should embrace life.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Anya

    I never want to meet anyone I would consider a celebrity. This autobiography has not changed my mind it has rather cemented this sentiment more firmly. This doesn't mean that my admiration for Isaac Asimov has dwindled - not in the least- but I was yet again reminded that idolizing or idealizing someone because of their creative output does a disservice to the complexity and nuanced nature of the human being behind that output. It is easy to believe one "knows" a celebrity from the things they sa I never want to meet anyone I would consider a celebrity. This autobiography has not changed my mind it has rather cemented this sentiment more firmly. This doesn't mean that my admiration for Isaac Asimov has dwindled - not in the least- but I was yet again reminded that idolizing or idealizing someone because of their creative output does a disservice to the complexity and nuanced nature of the human being behind that output. It is easy to believe one "knows" a celebrity from the things they say, do, create in public. And this image is one of extremes - smart, dumb, mean, sweet - but it is exactly that, an image, not a true representation of the whole human being. People, famous or not, are never what they seem from only superficial acquaintance. They have strengths and weaknesses. They've been unspeakably kind and incredibly cruel. They've suffered and exalted in good fortune. They've given and taken. They've lived real lives. This autobiography gives a realistic picture of Isaac Asimov from his youth through to the year before his death. It's written in a nebulously chronological order. There are 166 chapters in this 578 page book. Each chapter is focused on a subject - a person, a major event, a regular activity - which is presented chronologically within each chapter with lots of dates given. The result is a very good sense of Isaac Asimov's character from his youth to his old age - where and how he changed but at the same time this "subjective" style made it difficult to keep track of the true, entire chronology. However, it was mentioned on more than one occasion that that was not the purpose of this book. Isaac Asimov had previously written a wholly chronological autobiography and this was supposed to be in such a nebulous, "get to know me" style. The major thing I took away from reading this book is the knifes edge between hubris and healthy self-confidence and the question: On which side of the knife did Isaac Asimov fall? It is obvious to the reader that Isaac himself felt that he was on the "healthy self-confidence" side but I believe that when he is examined through the lens of US societal norms he would be on the "hubris" side. Which of course leads one to question the validity of societal norms. This intense pressure toward modesty and the idea that pride is an evil trait. Why is it bad to be proud of one's own intellect, talent, strength? Oh, it's alright for others to praise but look out if one praises one-self! Of course too much of a good thing (or bad thing) always has a detrimental affect on the character. But what about honest self-representation? Is it wrong to be proud of one's own impressive accomplishments? Is it possible to be honest and maintain the socially demanded level of humility? Is it healthy and/or right to teach our kids to (or make ourselves) under-valuate themselves just so they would be acceptable to society? I love these questions. I enjoyed getting to know a more nuanced and realistic Isaac Asimov but in the end it's these questions that this book left me with that made it truly worth reading.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Mateus Targino

    While reading the book, I identified myself a lot with some aspects of Isaac and it made me enjoy more this book, which is so well written (like anything he does) that I felt like Asimov himself was alive again and telling me his history; and when I finished it, I had the same sad feeling like he had died again. Isaac Asimov was an amazing person and, sometimes, it's good to know a human being like him to be inspired by. While reading the book, I identified myself a lot with some aspects of Isaac and it made me enjoy more this book, which is so well written (like anything he does) that I felt like Asimov himself was alive again and telling me his history; and when I finished it, I had the same sad feeling like he had died again. Isaac Asimov was an amazing person and, sometimes, it's good to know a human being like him to be inspired by.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Anna

    When reading the book, there were several similarities between Isaac and myself. I really enjoyed reading. I heard his voice clearly throughout the entire book. It wasn't rushed or artificial or too wordy. It flowed at the most perfect pace, in the most delicate of tones. I fell like he and I were true friends. :) When reading the book, there were several similarities between Isaac and myself. I really enjoyed reading. I heard his voice clearly throughout the entire book. It wasn't rushed or artificial or too wordy. It flowed at the most perfect pace, in the most delicate of tones. I fell like he and I were true friends. :)

  10. 5 out of 5

    Ayush

    If I have to sum up this book in a single sentence, I believe that would be - 'A remarkable story of a remarkable man, as narrated by the man himself.' (except the epilogue at the end of the book which was written by his second wife Janet Asimov) This is the third autobiography written by Isaac Asimov (after "In memory yet Green (1979) and "In joy still felt" published in 1980). Asimov wrote this memoir in the year 1990 (two years before his death) while lying on a hospital bed, at 70 years of a If I have to sum up this book in a single sentence, I believe that would be - 'A remarkable story of a remarkable man, as narrated by the man himself.' (except the epilogue at the end of the book which was written by his second wife Janet Asimov) This is the third autobiography written by Isaac Asimov (after "In memory yet Green (1979) and "In joy still felt" published in 1980). Asimov wrote this memoir in the year 1990 (two years before his death) while lying on a hospital bed, at 70 years of age. But the book was not published till after his death in 1992 and was published by his wife Janet Asimov. Before I say anything more about it, let me elaborate upon how I came across this book. I stumbled upon a rundown copy of this book, lying in a secondhand bookstore, covered in a thick layer of dust and although Asimov has written and edited more the 500 books and essays throughout his life, it was quite ironic that before reading this book the only thing I had read by him was an okayish review of George Orwell's 1984. I had no intention of buying it at the time but was urged on by my girlfriend to get it (she was aware of who Asimov was but funnily enough even she thought he was a Soviet Era Russian author) and I can't stress this fact enough that how grateful I am to her for persuading me to buy this because this book is an absolute delight to read. As I have already mentioned, this is the third biographical book Asimov has written and unlike the previous two, this one, instead of being a strictly chronological account of his life, is actually more of the introspective kind. The chapters, does not follow a chronological order, but are divided on the basis of various topics where, each topic contains Asimov's thoughts regarding it. THE TITLE First of all, the title, from the looks of it (again my girlfriend's observation) seems like a nod to I Robot, which is (along with the foundation novels) one of Asimov's most celebrated works. (Heck, they even made a movie out of this with Will Smith playing the role of the main protagonist) THE WRITING OF I ASIMOV The writing is plain and simple, making it an easy and quick read (it took me nearly a month to finish this). At the same time it is engaging enough that by the end of every chapter you are left with the feeling of wanting more of it. An Absolute page turner !! Asimov is a master in presenting all of his ideas with as much clarity and eloquence as possible and In my opinion does not leave any room for complaint from the reader's side. CONTENTS OF I ASIMOV Thought provoking, funny and at times makes the reader straight out sad, this book has it all. Partly it talks about Asimov's personal life and partly his professional (extremely prolific) life but what it is truly about is how these two worlds merge into one. He deals with some heavy topics like religion, life after death, failure, Antisemitism, etc succinctly and with great precision. On the personal side of the things, he talks about everything, from childhood to old-age, from loving parents to a disastrous marriage and even while handling these serious subjects, never takes himself too seriously even being able to get a chuckle or two out of the reader. On the professional side of the things the book is jam-packed with references to many icons of the science fiction world. No matter the topic, one thing that is always present in each and every chapter is the craft of 'writing'. Anyone who is even remotely interested in writing but does not have the confidence to write, this book is a must read for them. In this book, Asimov talks, in length about the craft of writing and his passion for the process of writing is truly awe inspiring. SEXUAL HARRASMENT ALLEGATIONS I could have easily given this book a solid 5 🌟 rating but unfortunately, around 200 pages in, I stumbled upon Asimov's Wikipedia page and became aware of all the sexual harrasment allegations levelled against him throughout the years. Now of course the book does not talks about any of this, but once you are aware of this you cannot help but see all the red flags. Weather he talks about his extramarital flings or him being flirtatious with women half his age it's hard to ignore these red flags. It leaves you with an eerie feeling and once you are aware of his antics it becomes quite easy to read between the lines and impossible to ignore these red flags.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Felipe Dias

    This is a great book to get familiarized with Asimov's life and with the scope of his writings. It is easy to read this book and think Asimov was self involved and full of himself. He was undeniably self involved, but I think justifiably so and only to a point. In this book, Asimov is fair in his judgment of the things he went through. He acknowledges his successes (and they were, indeed, plentiful) as well as the failures. Also, it is an autobiography after all, which makes sounding self involv This is a great book to get familiarized with Asimov's life and with the scope of his writings. It is easy to read this book and think Asimov was self involved and full of himself. He was undeniably self involved, but I think justifiably so and only to a point. In this book, Asimov is fair in his judgment of the things he went through. He acknowledges his successes (and they were, indeed, plentiful) as well as the failures. Also, it is an autobiography after all, which makes sounding self involved practically inevitable. Asimov's writing is funny and engages the reader even when talking about mundane topics. At points, however, the book felt like little more than a collection of causes and dates of the deaths of Asimov's friends. Granted, he did outlive many of his contemporary fellow writers and other professionals in his industry, but it is very hard not to get the feeling he was somewhat obsessed with the death of his colleagues. I was also surprised with the lack of comments about his son David. Many times throughout the book he speaks of how he's proud of his daughter Robyn and how he could die in comfort because, among his many accomplishments, he raised an amazing daughter (again, Robyn). It makes me wonder what happened with David and Asimov's relationship and why it seems like Asimov almost denies the David's existence. Besides that, as I have mentioned, the book is a great guide to the broad spectrum of topics that Asimov wrote on. I'd recommend this book for people who are big Asimov fans. Unfortunately, though, it probably won't interest anyone else all that much. By the way, I can't believe this book took me more than a year to finish. Only reading it on my phone during quick 10 minute bus rides certainly contributed to the long read time, but still... Damn...

  12. 5 out of 5

    Jim Razinha

    Asimov certainly had no lack of self confidence but was quick to point out his own shortcomings. A nice, if long, read in which Asimov shares his memories and thoughts on his life. Reading about Lester del Rey, John Campbell, Pohl, Sprague de Camp, Heinlein and so many associated with the early years of science fiction through Asimov's lens adds to my list of authors I want to get to in the next few years (Asimov's Robot and Foundation arc in 2011, Heinlein now in 2012 and Clarke for 2013, then? Asimov certainly had no lack of self confidence but was quick to point out his own shortcomings. A nice, if long, read in which Asimov shares his memories and thoughts on his life. Reading about Lester del Rey, John Campbell, Pohl, Sprague de Camp, Heinlein and so many associated with the early years of science fiction through Asimov's lens adds to my list of authors I want to get to in the next few years (Asimov's Robot and Foundation arc in 2011, Heinlein now in 2012 and Clarke for 2013, then?) Good stuff.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Carina

    "The man is very immodest, but he has much to be immodest about". Asimov himself quotes a critic of his as saying this about him. Honestly it is true, and is going to be the truest thing I can say about this book - Asimov was not a modest man, he refers to himself as a child genius multiple times and repeatedly mentions how prolific he was as a writer, and yet there is something about the way he writes that lets you know he isn't bragging when he says that. He's just being honest and upfront (he "The man is very immodest, but he has much to be immodest about". Asimov himself quotes a critic of his as saying this about him. Honestly it is true, and is going to be the truest thing I can say about this book - Asimov was not a modest man, he refers to himself as a child genius multiple times and repeatedly mentions how prolific he was as a writer, and yet there is something about the way he writes that lets you know he isn't bragging when he says that. He's just being honest and upfront (he was part of Mensa so child genius could be apt after all, and writing (or being involved with) over 400 books certainly makes you prolific). So yes, one sentence from a critic pretty much sums up my thoughts of this book. Granted there are layers to this - some parts (the addition from Janet on page 206 and her epilogue) that made me rather tearful in a way, other parts (certainly in the latter stages of the book) resulted in more morbid thoughts. In other areas I was smirking, laughing and rolling my eyes. This isn't the first autobiography I have read, but it is the first that feels like what an autobiography is seen to be. It covers the entirety of Asimov's life (the others I have read covered aspects only - such as their time during WW2, or in the ambulance service - the other biographies that cover a greater period were written by people who aren't even middle-aged so didn't have the feel of age and time passing that this book does), and not only does it give us an insight into the author, but it tells us about the times he was living in and how those times changed all with his personal slant. (On a personal note I wish he'd mentioned a bit more about his return to the Foundation and Robot series after his hiatus of 30 years but the bits we do get were fascinating.) Despite the book covering his entire life it reads almost as if you'd sat down with Asimov and he was reminiscing with you - at no point does reading this become a slog. It was a pleasure to read (barring the teeny font that made reading a bit harder at times... and now don't I sound old?!?!) from start to finish. In my reviews of Asimov's books (mainly the Foundation/Robot series) I am sure I must have touched upon how good this man was at foreseeing how things could be "in the future". So often he says something which was true in the 40's and 50's, true when he wrote it down here in the 80's, and is still true now in 2018 - and how many authors can we say are that on the ball and remain on the ball for over 70 years?? For example - taken from page 174: "The greatest single problem facing humanity today is the multiplicity of people. No environmental problem can possibly be solved till the population is stabilized and brought under control." Still true today in my opinion! Or from page 421 "There are no nations! There is only humanity. And if we don't come to understand that right soon, there will be no nations, for there will be no humanity." Yes, another point that really, really, needs to be realised by more of us... and soon. Between Christmas and New Year 2017 I read Asimov Laughs Again which was the last book published in his lifetime. In my review of that book I said that I had learnt that he was a potential Hodophobe, falsely self-deprecating, funny, dirty-minded and quick-witted. This book rounds out his character (and tones down the dirty-mindedness - I suppose though Limericks tend towards that so of course that element would be emphasised in a book containing them and be less obvious in an autobiography). Some anecdotes are repeated across the books but they were generally the better anecdotes so it was quite pleasant reading them again in a different context. Of the two books though I think this is so much better. I can see me reading this book again, probably after I have re-read some of his series of books again at some point, and I get the feeling I'll likely be rating it jut as highly when I do get round to re-reading it - whenever that will be. If you are a fan of Asimov's writing I cannot recommend this enough (especially as it contains a list of all his works at the back for further reading assistance!).

  14. 4 out of 5

    Arun Divakar

    At a time in my life when I was going through a slump in reading, the one book that pulled me out of it was Asimov’s Robot stories. This was also the first time that I had read Asimov and quite enjoyed his uncluttered and simple writing style. A quick glance through my read list also confirmed the presence of Asimov on through almost every other year that I have been a member of this site. Out of sheer habit or interest (Yet to figure out which) I do pick up Asimov books every now and then. The At a time in my life when I was going through a slump in reading, the one book that pulled me out of it was Asimov’s Robot stories. This was also the first time that I had read Asimov and quite enjoyed his uncluttered and simple writing style. A quick glance through my read list also confirmed the presence of Asimov on through almost every other year that I have been a member of this site. Out of sheer habit or interest (Yet to figure out which) I do pick up Asimov books every now and then. The autobiography to me was a sneak peek into the mind of Asimov and while I did get that here, there was much more that I had not bargained for. I finished the book with mixed feelings. A lot of interest I had with the book had to do with the topics and authors that Asimov would possibly cover. On the Sci-Fi front this would reading much more about Heinlein, Clarke, Ellison, Fred Pohl etc. and Asimov does write personal notes about each of them. They were all members of the same group of writers who were regulars at conventions and in most cases started writing around the same time. While the topics did cover them, Asimov does not go into the details of their work or what he thinks of their books. What I expected was the kind of in depth thoughts on books and what I got was a personal note of mention. Quite later in the book, Asimov does say that his reading is more pre-work for the wring he does which is to say that we don’t hear much about what he thinks of the works of others. There are mentions of various books and yet these are few and far between. What we get instead are a lot of detail on his family, life as he sees it, a string of jobs and a good deal on the writing process. The family parts weren’t really engaging but then all that was made up in the pieces about writing. Asimov writes in depth on the art of writing the various forms : The novel, the short story, the essay, non-fiction and on editing anthologies. This is the best part of the book for the man was an indefatigable writer and the love he has for writing certainly shines through the words. Recommended for the pieces on writing ! Otherwise I wasn’t very engaged with the book and skipped quite a bit.

  15. 4 out of 5

    ABC

    This book is a real bargain if you consider that Isaac Asimov commanded thousands of dollars for a forty minute speech. It ends on a touching note and it made me cry. It is all the more poignant because in addition to his other health problems, he contracted AIDS from a blood transfusion but kept it a secret. (You can google for more info.) It is a very long book and I read it over a long period of time. Each chapter is like a little essay, so it doesn't really have to be read at once. It does go This book is a real bargain if you consider that Isaac Asimov commanded thousands of dollars for a forty minute speech. It ends on a touching note and it made me cry. It is all the more poignant because in addition to his other health problems, he contracted AIDS from a blood transfusion but kept it a secret. (You can google for more info.) It is a very long book and I read it over a long period of time. Each chapter is like a little essay, so it doesn't really have to be read at once. It does go on a little too long about the publishing world and his health problems, but in general it was very good. My biggest thought from this book: At the beginning he talks lovingly of his daughter Robyn and mentions he has a son. I wondered: "What about his son?" Later there is a short chapter in which he says that his son has problems dealing with society, but is basically a good person. He had his son tested and his IQ is normal. However, his son is such that he can't be employed, but it is okay with Asimov because fortunately he has the money to support his son. Well, I was VERY curious, so I googled. It turns out that in the 90's (after Asimov's death, I think) the son was found to have the largest stash of child pornography in California. So it is a sad story. I wish Asimov would have talked more about his son. It is painfully obvious his daughter is dear to him, but his son is not. I can't help but wonder: Did Asimov ignore his son because of his son's problems? Or did his son have problems because his father ignored him? Hmmmm.... I don't know.

  16. 5 out of 5

    James

    This one was better than I expected. I made my way through the 563 pages during a recent overseas trip. I was turned off in the initial chapters because Asimov has such an ego. However, as the pages and personal anecdotes passed, so to did the megalomania (for example, the dire need to see his name in print was just appalling). I even grew closer and closer to Isaac, and I couldn't help but pity the poor guy almost like you would a distant relative or a close childhood friend. You just overlook This one was better than I expected. I made my way through the 563 pages during a recent overseas trip. I was turned off in the initial chapters because Asimov has such an ego. However, as the pages and personal anecdotes passed, so to did the megalomania (for example, the dire need to see his name in print was just appalling). I even grew closer and closer to Isaac, and I couldn't help but pity the poor guy almost like you would a distant relative or a close childhood friend. You just overlook the vanity and appreciate his finer points. The finer characteristics include a sense of integrity and honesty that mere mortals find hard to come by these days. Then midway through, his ago picks up velocity once again. I'm still amazed by his prolifity. How can anyone find the time to not only read and reference the many topics--fiction and non fiction-- he wrote about, but actually fit pen to paper and produce so many words day in and day out. It was well worth the investment in time. The personal anecdotes, social commentary, reflections on his interactions with other sci fi luminaries, etc. all provide a worthy behind-the-scenes "Guide to Asimov."

  17. 4 out of 5

    Joan

    I enjoyed this so much! This is Asimov as I remember him. Clear and simple in his writing. He also, while obviously thinking highly of himself, was perfectly aware of his faults to an unusual degree. Remember, this was a guy often compared to Leonardo Da Vinci in the huge range of his interests and writings. I do not recommend this to someone who has not read Asimov in the past. It likely wouldn't make a huge amount of sense or interest. This is for someone who has read several of the "Good Doct I enjoyed this so much! This is Asimov as I remember him. Clear and simple in his writing. He also, while obviously thinking highly of himself, was perfectly aware of his faults to an unusual degree. Remember, this was a guy often compared to Leonardo Da Vinci in the huge range of his interests and writings. I do not recommend this to someone who has not read Asimov in the past. It likely wouldn't make a huge amount of sense or interest. This is for someone who has read several of the "Good Doctor's" titles, preferably both fiction and nonfiction and has an interest in Asimov. Highly recommended if you are an Asimov admirer!

  18. 5 out of 5

    Tina

    Asimov's dry, matter of fact way of speaking is perfect. He's the ultimate joker, in that he's not quite sure why you're laughing since he is being sincere. I read this before any of his other work, and it led to finding it incredibly easy to hear his voice in his writing, making it all that much more enjoyable. Remember, kids; it's not vanity if it's true. Asimov's dry, matter of fact way of speaking is perfect. He's the ultimate joker, in that he's not quite sure why you're laughing since he is being sincere. I read this before any of his other work, and it led to finding it incredibly easy to hear his voice in his writing, making it all that much more enjoyable. Remember, kids; it's not vanity if it's true.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Thibault Delavaud

    Very touching book. Asimov was very proud of himself of course but he knew perfectly his strentghs and weaknesses. He talks very openly in this book about his success and failures. He analyses his life with lucidity. Reading this book really helps to understand who was the man behind Foundation and the Robot series and most of all, why Asimov was such a science lover and a beliver in progress.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Dawson

    If you like Asimov, it behooves you to read his autobiography.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Glen Engel-Cox

    While I read both Robot novels as well as the Foundation trilogy in my formative years, I was never an Isaac Asimov fan, instead inclined towards Robert A. Heinlein, whose mid 1960s novels of time travel and sex captivated my attention much more. (Of the other of the big three, Arthur C. Clarke, I had read only one novel, so clearly didn't prefer him either.) As I moved into my college years, I formed an irrational resentment towards Asimov, based somewhat on the new novels that instantly became While I read both Robot novels as well as the Foundation trilogy in my formative years, I was never an Isaac Asimov fan, instead inclined towards Robert A. Heinlein, whose mid 1960s novels of time travel and sex captivated my attention much more. (Of the other of the big three, Arthur C. Clarke, I had read only one novel, so clearly didn't prefer him either.) As I moved into my college years, I formed an irrational resentment towards Asimov, based somewhat on the new novels that instantly became bestsellers yet were staid and dull by 1980s SF standards that was quickly embracing the much rougher terrain offered by cyberpunk. I had subscribed to Isaac Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine by the mid-1980s, because that's where cyberpunk was being published, and the monthly editorial by Isaac Asimov struck me as both egotistical and self-serving in all the worst ways. As a budding writer, I also had started to note a writer's style, and Asimov's unadorned, straight- forward approach was much less appealing than the flash of other authors. Time has a way of making you re-evaluate the opinions of youth, and 30 years later I find that I have a better appreciation for writing that is clear and simple. And while my fiction writing career never took off quite like I expected, I can remember those halcyon days and lambast myself for being a young punk (and not one of the cyber variety). I'm not even sure why I picked up this third volume of Asimov's autobiography to read. But I'm glad I did because it helped me to reconcile my memories of the 1980s with my modern self. There's no doubt that Asimov had an ego, but it was well- deserved: he had carved out a writing career based on productivity, consistency, and loyalty. What I discovered is that I had more in common with Asimov than I realized. Like me, he found school easy up to a point, after which he realized that he wasn't going to go any further. His skill instead was at explaining things, leading him to be an excellent teacher even if he was a mediocre researcher. Again, I was astonished to discover such a statement of humility and understanding of his own limitations, something that had never come out in his editorials. This was just one of several surprising admissions herein. Much of the book is personal; it is an autobiography, and as he says, his favorite subject was himself, but along the way you get a much more complete vision of the person behind that self-aggrandizement. He's brutally honest about his first marriage and the reason it failed, as well as his infidelities. He was often quick to take offense, but also willing to forgive if apologized to. That same quality led him to be incredibly loyal to both friends and publishers, way beyond the expectations of the time. He often states that he never progressed beyond writing the type of science fiction that was popular in the 1950s, but it becomes clear that that wasn't the only part of his psychology that was beholden to those times. In later years, the casual lechery (innocent as it might have been) would cause some concern, but by then his reputation shielded him from most complaints. The best thing about this book is just how very frank it is: about his low-level misogyny (he belonged to a number of male-only groups throughout his life), how much he earned in certain advances and his relationship with editors and publishers, his atheism, his health, and, throughout it all, his dedication to writing.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Thomas

    Asimov, Isaac. I, Asimov. Doubleday, 1994. I, Asimov, an almost 600-page memoir, written when his health was failing and published after his death, won Isaac Asimov his final Hugo. It was his third published autobiography. It gives the reader a good feeling for what it must have been like to know him—at least a bit. His assessment of his own talent seems about right—that he was a writer who would always be known more for the quantity and variety of his work rather than for the quality of any sing Asimov, Isaac. I, Asimov. Doubleday, 1994. I, Asimov, an almost 600-page memoir, written when his health was failing and published after his death, won Isaac Asimov his final Hugo. It was his third published autobiography. It gives the reader a good feeling for what it must have been like to know him—at least a bit. His assessment of his own talent seems about right—that he was a writer who would always be known more for the quantity and variety of his work rather than for the quality of any single creation. He wrote obsessively. The book count mattered to him, and in the end he had more than 400 original book-length titles to his name. He never agreed with critics and readers about which were his best stories. Though he eventually became a tenured full professor at Boston University, he was never much interested in research and was best known for his lively lectures. He was much in demand as a public speaker, and he would have done more but for his fear of flying and general unwillingness to travel. He was well known for his sense of humor and adlib limericks to fit any occasion. The memoir tells us quite a lot about his public and professional life. He tells us of many enduring friendships with his competitors and colleagues. There are sketches of famous science fiction writers of his era, from Robert Heinlein to Robert Silverberg, and portraits of his many editors—especially of John Campbell, for whose Astounding magazine he wrote many of his most famous stories, including the bulk of the Foundation series. The memoir tells us much less about his intimate relationships and emotional life. For instance, we know almost nothing about his relationship with his son David, for whom he established a trust fund. Asimov completed the memoir just months before his death. His daughter Robyn provides an epilogue with the bare facts of his final illness and death, though she does not mention that he suffered from AIDS acquired from triple-bypass surgery in the early 1980s. As far as I can tell, there has been no major objective critical biography of his life and work. A book by Michael White seems to have been carelessly researched. Asimov has lately become the target of criticism for his boorish behavior towards women, which he seems to have thought was a loveable aspect of his character. It has been reported that the secretaries in his publisher’s office called him “the man with a hundred hands.” A few years after his death, Asimov’s son was arrested for possessing a large horde of child pornography. Finally, it would be enlightening to know his first wife’s side of the story of their failed marriage. Someone also needs to do a major critical assessment of his novels. Until these holes are filled, I Asimov will have to do. 4 stars.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Ahmed Farzad

    It is one of the best book I’ve ever read! It was a long and amazing journey. So many insights, it was hell of a ride! Thank you Asimov, For this writing. The ending part of the book discussed an amazing topic. The realisation of death, the end of a journey, how would it look like? I’ve always wondered. Asimov’s told the story of his share in that topic. Thus I think his autobiography gives his work a poetic end.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Joy Cagil

    I, Asimov is the story of a genius who knew he was a genius and basked under the idea of it. I started reading this book because I love to read authors’ autobiographies and Asimov was an author I didn't know much about. The author talks of his early life experiences up until the 18th chapter and he refers to them every now and then until the end. After that, he names many other authors and publishers, giving each one a short chapter. Among those are Frederik Pohl, John Wood Campbell, Cyril M. Ko I, Asimov is the story of a genius who knew he was a genius and basked under the idea of it. I started reading this book because I love to read authors’ autobiographies and Asimov was an author I didn't know much about. The author talks of his early life experiences up until the 18th chapter and he refers to them every now and then until the end. After that, he names many other authors and publishers, giving each one a short chapter. Among those are Frederik Pohl, John Wood Campbell, Cyril M. Kornbluth. Donald Allen Wollheim, Robert Anson Heinlein, Lyon Sprague de Camp, Clifford Donald Simak, Jack Williamson, Lester del Rey, Theodore Sturgeon, Arthur C. Clark, and just about every science-fiction writer. He says, as a writer, he is not a revisionist and dislikes revising; however, he puts away and saves half-finished work only to go back to it years later. He says money wasn’t important to him but being published was. About his work, he writes, “chief of these (things other than money) is the gift of being able to write what I want to write in the way I want to write it, and do it with comfortable certainty that it would be published. This, Doubleday made possible for me quite early on.” For this reason, although he ends up working with many other publishing houses, he stays loyal to Doubleday until the end. Although the author was pushed into becoming a medical doctor, he ended up becoming a biochemistry professor and received close to twenty honorary degrees. When he moved from New York to Boston, he found to his surprise Boston to be full of science fiction fans. Boston was the city he met Hal Clements and Ben Nova, who became a lifelong friend. When the space race with the Soviets took hold, he switched from fiction to non-fiction to help people understand the facts of sciences as his patriotic duty. He insists in several places in the book that he loves to write non-fiction better than writing fiction because he does it so easily with the aid of his “working library,” which means the information in it he uses all the time. He also tried his hand in annotating historical and literary books, guides to science, and mysteries. Still, when things changed and the publishers came to him with the requests of science fiction novels, he began writing science-fiction again. In one or two places, it surprised me to read that he liked writing science-fiction, the least, as he said, “Every other kind of writing is easier than science fiction.” About science fiction, he writes, “In writing a science fiction novel, you must invent a futuristic social structure which is complex enough to be interesting in itself apart from the story and which is self-consistent. You must invent a plot that only works within that social structure. The plot must develop without unduly obscuring the description of the social structure, and the social structure must be described without unduly slowing the plot.” He never paid much attention to critics. In fact, about them and the way he writes he says, “Some critics object to this, but there are idiots in every walk of life.” Although his science-fiction and mystery writing preferences are conservative like that of the earlier writers before him, such as Hercule Poirot and Agatha Christie, politically he was a liberal who was also a member and later the head of Humanists’ Society. Among the many clubs he belonged, he loved The Trap Door Spiders, The Dutch Treat Club, and The Gilbert and Sullivan society. The latter is because he had a good ear and voice and he could sing. Asimov was a good speaker, too. After an unprepared talk on robots became a success, he never prepared for a talk again. Toward the end of the book when his health was giving up, he talked more on death itself and the death of his friends. Still, at the end when his time was approaching, he declared he had a great life and he lived and worked such as he wished. The author throughout refers a lot and in detail to his personal life and his relationships with his first wife, his children, and especially his second wife Janet, a psychiatrist, whom he truly liked and who worked with him on several occasions. What touched me the most is the epilogue in the book written by Janet Asimov after the author’s passing. She says in its last paragraph, “Once when Isaac and I talked about old age, illness, and death, he said it wasn’t so terrible to get sick and old and to die if you’ve been part of life completing itself as a pattern. Even if you don’t make it to old age, it’s still worthwhile, there’s still pleasure in that vision of being part of the pattern of life—especially a pattern expressed in creativity and shared in love.” The book, despite its breadth as a large volume close to 600 pages, has been easy to read for the sincere, conversational tone of it, though a bit on the repetitive side, which is understandable, knowing that the author tended to focus on certain eras and ideas more than others. As to my impression of it, while reading the book, I felt a certain intimacy as if I sat down and listened to the author himself. In the end, I am so glad I bought and read this book. I think it is priceless.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Claudette R

    Excellent. I enjoyed learning about his views on religion, life after death, self-pity, etc. I have never read any Asimov book but I am now inspired to read his science fiction especially in consideration that Foundation is being made into a TV series. His productiveness is truly amazing; the book finishes with his bibliography and it is 15 pages long.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Gigs Stoyanova

    I took my time with this book out of respect for the author. At the beginning there were some doubts that I might get disappointed in my favorite writer, but the more I read, the more I realised how personal and intimate thoughts he shared and felt that he had trust in his readers. He wrote the book in a difficult time and the pages where he sounded a bit negative and pessimistic were in the end all explained. Overall, I am happy I saw alittle bit of Asimov's universe. I took my time with this book out of respect for the author. At the beginning there were some doubts that I might get disappointed in my favorite writer, but the more I read, the more I realised how personal and intimate thoughts he shared and felt that he had trust in his readers. He wrote the book in a difficult time and the pages where he sounded a bit negative and pessimistic were in the end all explained. Overall, I am happy I saw alittle bit of Asimov's universe.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Steve

    Having read many Asimov books over the years I found it wonderful to learn about this prolific author and what made him tick. His writing style made a collection of potentially random anecdotes flow together in a very interesting way. As autobiographies go, this was by far the most transparent account I have read. Dr. Asimov has no shortage of opinions, and whether or not I agreed with him did not affect my enjoyment of the book. The sections were he talked about the early days of science fictio Having read many Asimov books over the years I found it wonderful to learn about this prolific author and what made him tick. His writing style made a collection of potentially random anecdotes flow together in a very interesting way. As autobiographies go, this was by far the most transparent account I have read. Dr. Asimov has no shortage of opinions, and whether or not I agreed with him did not affect my enjoyment of the book. The sections were he talked about the early days of science fiction and the various authors were especially interesting.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Neil

    An interesting autobiography, from the perspective of a man coming near to the end. That perspective colors everything here, as does the fact that this is Asimov's second go at his autobiography. He glosses over most of the events of his youth, when most of his best fiction writing happened, instead focusing on things like speaking engagements, clubs, and the prolific, diverse stream of anthologies and nonfiction projects where most of his literary energy went in the last half of his life. Asimo An interesting autobiography, from the perspective of a man coming near to the end. That perspective colors everything here, as does the fact that this is Asimov's second go at his autobiography. He glosses over most of the events of his youth, when most of his best fiction writing happened, instead focusing on things like speaking engagements, clubs, and the prolific, diverse stream of anthologies and nonfiction projects where most of his literary energy went in the last half of his life. Asimov gained a huge reputation based on a few stories--Foundation and the robots--that were basically churned out for the pulp magazines. Reading between the lines, one can see that he became afraid of destroying his position in the "Big Three" by contributing much more in the way of science fiction. He also got distracted by a plethora of other projects. The trouble is that most of those projects were relative trifles that will never be back in print again. When he finally did return to writing fiction, the product wasn't quite as satisfying to the majority of readers. So despite all of his reputation for being prolific, there isn't really much substance left on which to base his position. Because his early writing was socially unsophisticated, transposing the gender relationships of his own life to the future, some of his best known science fiction doesn't hold up brilliantly either. There's also a hint of some other uglier things in this autobiography. Asimov admits candidly to being terribly self-centered, and reading between the lines I wonder what that cost those who were close to him. He jokes about being a flirt, but one has to wonder how far it went beyond that. For literary greatness, this book really needs to be edited, but there's a certain charm to the rambling. Sometimes the long-ago sleights and minor stories that would have been trimmed by a more careful editor are revealing in an interesting way. One often gets the feeling he is settling old grudges or trying to justify some embarassing behaviors. It's not always flattering, but the result is rather candid for an autobiography. What's most affecting here is the unintentional and sad decline at the end of the writing. Asimov is sick and dying and scared. The end comes rather abruptly because he just can't process his own decline. I think I'm done with Asimov. I just don't get that much pleasure from his work, but this is a case where the work, though highly flawed, is flawed in interesting ways that made me think. I don't regret the time I've spent reading him.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Geoffreyjen

    I thoroughly enjoyed this book about Asimov's life. Since reading this, I have started reading other biographies and autobiographies of science fiction writers. Asimov's books on science and astronomy were among the elements that inspired me to become a scientist, so I owe Asimov a big debt. Furthermore, I find myself drawn to reread his Foundation series and Robots series on a regular basis. Somethings about his writing annoy me, but I keep coming back because there is a compelling vision there I thoroughly enjoyed this book about Asimov's life. Since reading this, I have started reading other biographies and autobiographies of science fiction writers. Asimov's books on science and astronomy were among the elements that inspired me to become a scientist, so I owe Asimov a big debt. Furthermore, I find myself drawn to reread his Foundation series and Robots series on a regular basis. Somethings about his writing annoy me, but I keep coming back because there is a compelling vision there. This book helped me understand more where this all came from... not completely, but in part. Recommended.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Vicki

    This book was fascinating! Isaac has long been one of my favorite authors (my favorite book of his is "The Positronic Man"), but I never realized how prolific a writer he was. He wrote over 400 books on many different subjects, both fiction and non-fiction. I also learned that he had many of the same life views that I do. I truly wish I could have met him. This is a great book for not only Asimov fans, but general science fiction fans and people who like to write. This book was fascinating! Isaac has long been one of my favorite authors (my favorite book of his is "The Positronic Man"), but I never realized how prolific a writer he was. He wrote over 400 books on many different subjects, both fiction and non-fiction. I also learned that he had many of the same life views that I do. I truly wish I could have met him. This is a great book for not only Asimov fans, but general science fiction fans and people who like to write.

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