Asimov the Wonderful

"Profession" by Isaac Asimov in the ...

“Profession” by Isaac Asimov in the July 1957 issue. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Though I didn’t read much YA fiction as a kid, I read a lot of science fiction, and the science fiction I read was mostly by Isaac Asimov. Asimov, probably one of the most prolific authors of all time, taught me about seeing things on a huge scale. His books about future history, societies, and worlds were very different from the other kind of books I loved – intimate character-driven stories — and they showed me how to think big, and keep a story moving. In Asimov’s stories and books, ideas drove the plot, and the characters were shaped by them. Reading Asimov, you felt like some kind of professor god, who knew everything at once, and saw history as a giant chess game. The ideas he explored in his short stories — the power of education, the force of social pressure, the dangers of relying too much on technology and not enough on the human brain — still inspire much of my thinking today. Later, when I grew into an interest in real history (as opposed to the made-up, future history of Asimov’s novels), I realized I’d been learning all that time I thought I was just having fun. Asimov taught me how to see the narrative line running through all things.

In college, I had the rare privilege of working, briefly, as an intern at Analog Magazine, which helped launch such science fiction greats as Asimov, Heinlein, and Frank Herbert. By that time (in the late 80’s), Asimov had set up his own magazine, which had offices next door to Analog. I was always hoping to catch sight of him some time in the office there. Sadly, I never did. I would have liked to thank him for being such a big part of my childhood. Then again, back in college, I’m sure I wouldn’t have had the nerve to say a word. Still, I have ever single paperback of his science fiction I ever bought. They’ve followed me through several moves, and, in part, helped inspire my son to love science and space, so that he’s now on his way to becoming our own, home-grown Rocket Scientist.

Really, thank you, Mr. Asimov.

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