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.
Isaac Asimov was a Russian-born, American author, a professor of biochemistry, and a highly successful writer, best known for his works of science fiction and for his popular science books.
Professor Asimov is generally considered one of the most prolific writers of all time, having written or edited more than 500 books and an estimated 90,000 letters and postcards. He has works published in nine of the ten major categories of the Dewey Decimal System (lacking only an entry in the 100s category of Philosophy).
Asimov is widely considered a master of the science-fiction genre and, along with Robert A. Heinlein and Arthur C. Clarke, was considered one of the "Big Three" science-fiction writers during his lifetime. Asimov's most famous work is the Foundation Series; his other major series are the Galactic Empire series and the Robot series, both of which he later tied into the same fictional universe as the Foundation Series to create a unified "future history" for his stories much like those pioneered by Robert A. Heinlein and previously produced by Cordwainer Smith and Poul Anderson. He penned numerous short stories, among them "Nightfall", which in 1964 was voted by the Science Fiction Writers of America the best short science fiction story of all time, a title many still honor. He also wrote mysteries and fantasy, as well as a great amount of nonfiction. Asimov wrote the Lucky Starr series of juvenile science-fiction novels using the pen name Paul French.
Most of Asimov's popularized science books explain scientific concepts in a historical way, going as far back as possible to a time when the science in question was at its simplest stage. He often provides nationalities, birth dates, and death dates for the scientists he mentions, as well as etymologies and pronunciation guides for technical terms. Examples include his Guide to Science, the three volume set Understanding Physics, and Asimov's Chronology of Science and Discovery.
Asimov was a long-time member and Vice President of Mensa International, albeit reluctantly; he described some members of that organization as "brain-proud and aggressive about their IQs" He took more joy in being president of the American Humanist Association. The asteroid 5020 Asimov, the magazine Asimov's Science Fiction, a Brooklyn, NY elementary school, and two different Isaac Asimov Awards are named in his honor.
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 ?
مدت ها بود که در خواندن کتابی غرق نشده بودم و خواندن این کتاب چنین فرصتی را به من ارزانی داشت شنیده بودم که یکی از بهترین زندگی نامه های موجود است خودم هم واقعا به این نتیجه رسیدم خیلی طرفدار داستان های علمی تخیلی نیستم شناخت زیادی هم از آسیموف نداشتم اما آسیموف توانست در زندگی نامه خودش همدلی من را نسبت به زندگی و فعالیت هایش به دست آورد و من را با خود همراه سازد با تجربیاتش آشنا کند شخصیت های موثر در زندگی اش را به بهترین نحو معرفی کند و توصیه های بسیاری که می تواند در زندگی یک نویسنده علمی تخیلی یا هر نویسنده ای یا هر انسانی به کار آید به زیباترین شکل بیان کند فکر کنم کتاب یک بار بیشتر چاپ نشده باشد و با برچیده شدن انتشارات کاروان کم یاب باشد اما اگر به هر نحو به دستش آوردید فرصت خواندنش را از دست ندهید
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.
به جرأت میتوانم بگویم که «من، آسیموف» تأثیرگذارترین کتابی بوده که در تمام عمرم خواندهام و تأثیر آن در تبدیل شدن به چیزی که اکنون هستم انکار ناپذیر است. تا پیش از این پنج بار این کتاب را خوانده بودم و اکنون با مقایسۀ ترجمۀ فارسی و متن انگلیسی، ششمین و هفتین مرتبۀ خواندن را به پایان رساندم. امیدوارم باز هم فرصنی برای خواندن مجدد این کتاب فوقالعاده پیدا کنم. پ.ن: امروز هم برای هشتمین بار این کتاب فوقالعاده رو خوندم و باز هم با خوندن فصل آخرش گریهم گرفت
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.
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.
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.
Arguably one of the best things I've ever read. Not to exaggerate, but it could be THE best thing l've ever read, even better than his novels and stories themselves. Asimov is a master writer that could write anything and it would surely be awesome 💖✨
Una lectura realmente gratificante, llena de reflexiones, anécdotas e historia de la edad de oro de la ciencia ficción. Conocí los detalles íntimos de sus relatos y novelas mas famosas y de su vida cotidiana, además de las personas que mas influenciaron en su vida.
Uno de los autores mas prolíficos que hayan existidos, más de 450 publicaciones así lo demuestran. No sólo en la ciencia ficción, si no sobretodo en el área de la no ficción, de la divulgación histórica y científica pudo aportar inestimablemente.
En fin, llevo este libro en mi corazón, me ha dejado infinidades de enseñanzas para mi vida y un montón de notas curiosas de la ciencia ficción que tanto me gusta.
از تموم شدن این کتاب هم خوشحالم و هم ناراحت؛ خوشحالم که بعد از شش ماه تمومش کردم و ناراحتم که چرا تموم شد. آخه تازه به روایت صادقانه زندگی جذاب آیزاک آسیموف عادت کرده بودم. این روایت با تمام زندگینامههایی که تا حالا خوندم فرق داشت، فقط شرح یه سری وقایع نبود افکار آسیموف به این رخدادها جون داده بودن. در این چند ماه بارها خودم رو به جای آسیموف گذاشتم و راههای نرفته زندگیم رو پیش چشمانم دیدم، جواب سوالهایی رو گرفتم که برای فهمیدنشون عمری تجربه نیاز بود. از مطالعه این کتاب لذت بسیار بردم و وظیفه خودم میدونم به این خاطر از چند نفر تشکر کنم. سپاسگزارم از جناب آقای مهرداد تویسرکانی، مترجم کتاب، و تمام عزیزانی که در به وجود آمدن این کتاب نقشی داشتند. همچنین از دوست عزیزم ممنونم که به من اعتماد کرد و کتاب محبوبش رو که مدتهاست چاپ نمیشه چند ماه نزد من به امانت گذاشت. این کارت خیلی برام ارزش داشت.
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.
من اتوبیوگرافیهای زیادی نخواندهام اما در بین همین تعداد انگشتشمار، "من، آسیموف" قطعا بهترین زاتوبیوگرافی بوده که خواندم. از روانی و شیرینی زبان آسیموف نمیگویم چون به اندازهی کافی خود او به این موضوع اشاره میکند. اما چیزی که برای من بسیار ارزشمند و جذاب بود این است که آسیموف میگوید اتفاق خاصی در زندگی من نیوفتاده است و یک زندگی آرام و عادی داشتهام. شاید هم همینگونه باشد. با یک نگاه کلی به نظر میآید تمام اتفاقات، روند عادی یک زندگی است. اما چیزی که فوقالعاده است خود آسیموف است. روندی چنین آرام و به قول خود او بدون هیجان موجب شده پدیدهای به اسم آیزاک آسیموف بوجود بیاید. نویسندهای که تمام وقت نوشته است وو بیش از هرکسی اثر تولید کرده است. کسی که از نوشتن لذت برده و هنرمند بودن و نویسنده بودن را بهانهای برای دوری از اجتماع، تنهایی، افسردگی و ... نکرده است. خواندن تک به تک کارهای به ظاهر سادهی آسیموف برای من درسی بود. درسی برای فرار از تنبلی، عزم جزم و لذت بردن از کاری که برای آن ساخته شدهایم. زندگینامهی آسیموف از آن دسته کتابهایی است که آدم را به فکر وامیدارد اما برخلاف اکثر آثار فکورانهای که با خواندنشان غصهدار میشویم یا بیشتر به پوچی میرسیم، با خواندن این کتاب به زندگی امیدوار میشویم.
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.
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.
MUY BUENA, aunque hubo algunas partes que se me hicieron un poco tediosas, en especial esas en que hablaba mucho sobre libros, y aunque el humor verde DEFINITIVAMENTE ya no está de moda (si es que alguna vez lo estuvo).
Pero a mí ME ENCANTAN las autobiografías, en especial cuando son como éstas <3
Citas que destaqué:
1. Sobre su mamá.
La labor de mi madre en la vida se puede definir con una sola palabra: "trabajo". En Rusia había sido la mayor de muchos hermanos y tenía que ocuparse de ellos, además de trabajar en la tienda de su madre. En Estados Unidos tuvo que criar a tres hijos y trabajar sin descanso en la tienda de caramelos.
Se daba perfecta cuenta de las limitaciones de su vida, de su falta de libertad. A menudo se hundía en la autocompasión y, aunque no puedo culparla por ello, frecuentemente se desahogaba conmigo. Y puesto que subrayaba que yo era parte de la culpa que tenía que soportar, me hacía sentir profundamente responsable.
Una vida tan dura hizo que tuviera un genio muy vivo y la mayoría de las veces yo pagaba los platos rotos. No niego que le diera motivos, pero me golpeaba con frecuencia y no con suavidad. Esto no quiere decir que no me quisiera con locura, porque me adoraba. Sin embargo, me hubiese gustado que lo demostrara de otra manera.
2. Sobre el semitismo y antisemitismo.
No obstante, me sorprendió que los prejuicios fueran universales, y que todos los grupos que no eran dominantes, que no estaban en lo alto de la escala social, fueran víctimas potenciales. En la Europa de los años treinta fueron los judíos los que se convirtieron en víctimas de manera espectacular, pero en Estados Unidos no eran los judíos los peor tratados. Aquí, como podía ver todo aquel que no cerrara los ojos de forma deliberada, eran los afroamericanos.
Durante dos siglos han sido esclavizados, y a pesar de que esta esclavitud se terminó formalmente, los afroamericanos han permanecido en una situación de semiesclavitud en la mayoría de los estamentos de la sociedad estadounidense. Se les ha privado de los derechos comunes, se les ha tratado con desprecio, y se les ha mantenido al margen de cualquier posibilidad de participación en lo que se llamó el sueño americano. Yo, aunque judío y además pobre, recibí una educación de primera en una universidad prestigiosa y me preguntaba cuántos norteamericanos habrían tenido una oportunidad.
Me molesta tener que denunciar el antisemitismo, a no ser que se denuncie la crueldad del hombre contra el hombre en general. Tal es la ceguera de mucha gente que he conocido, judíos, que después de condenar al antisemitismo con un tono desmesurado, pasan en un instante a hablar de los afroamericanos y, de repente, empiezan a sonar como un grupo de pequeños Hitler. Y cuando lo hago notar y me opongo con energía, se vuelven en mi contra, furiosos. Sencillamente, no se dan cuenta de lo que están haciendo.
3. Sobre las apuestas.
Desde muy joven, me di cuenta de que a mí eso no se me daba bien. Si perdía mis objetos atesorados con gran mimo, no había manera de reemplazarlos. Mi padre no iba a darme cantidades infinitas de esas chucherías y yo lo sabía bien. Solo jugaba "por diversión", o sea, juegos en los que la gloria de ganar lo era todo, pero en los que cada uno se quedaba con sus cosas. Para la mayoría de la gente, jugar por diversión no es nada divertido, así que tenía pocas oportunidades de hacerlo a mi manera.
Al recordar esto, parece bastante mezquino por mi parte que nunca quisiera apostar ninguna de mis chucherías a ninguna habilidad, pero también eso me resultó ´til. Me libró toda mi vida de la tentación de aventurarme en el juego.
Solo una vez quebranté este rígido estado de pureza. A los veintitantos años sucumbí a la tentación de "ser uno de ellos" y participé en una partida de póquier porque me aseguraron que las apuestas serían muy bajas. Más tarde, abrumado por la culpa, se lo confesé a mi padre, y le dije que había jugado al póquer por dinero.
- ¿Qué tal te fue? - me preguntó mi padre, muy tranquilo.
- Perdí quince centavos - respondí.
- Gracias a Dios - dijo -. Imagínate si los hubieses ganado.
Sabía del poder de adicción de ese vicio.
Existe un "modelo" de carta que considero un disparate. Es el que empieza: "Sou fulano de tal de 7mo grado de la escuela tal, y mi profesor me ha pedido que escriba a un autor y le haga algunas preguntas sobre su trabajo". A continuación siguen las preguntas más triviales que pueda imaginar, siempre las mismas. ¿Cuándo empecé a escribir? ¿Cómo? ¿Por qué? ¿Dónde consigo mis ideas? ¿Voy a escribir una nueva obra?
Cuando empezaron a llegar las contestaba brevemente, pero cuando ya eran montones, mi enfado fue en aumento. Por todo el país hay profesores estúpidos que piden a sus alumnos que asalten a escritores ocupados y les pidan lo que, sin duda, es un trabajo escolar. ¿Qué derecho tienen? Para trabajar, solo cuento con el tiempo, es mi materia prima, y cada día que pasa mi suministro de tiempo disminuye en veinticuatro horas. ¿Debo malgastarlo contestando preguntas estúpidas de niños a los que jamás se les habría ocurrido molestarme si no hubieran sido incitados por profesores obtusos que no alcanzan a pensar mejores tareas par sus alumnos? Además, otros escritores tienen secretarias que responden a sus cartas, pero yo no.
Desde muy joven, me di cuenta de que los conservadores, que están más o menos satisfechos con las cosas tal y como son, e incluso como eran hace cincuenta años, son "amantes de sí mismos". Es decir, tienen la tendencia de que les guste la gente que se parece a ellos, y recelan de los demás.
6. MI FAV.
Con frecuencia, cuando surge el tema de mis viajes, me preguntan si he visitado Israel alguna vez. No, no lo he hecho. Llegar a Israel sin subir a un avión es un asunto demasiado complicado. Tendría que ir en barco y en tren, y estoy seguro de que me llevaría más tiempo del que dispongo y sería mucho más complicado de lo que podría soportar. Por tanto, suponen que, si no voy o no puedo ir, como soy judío, debo tener el corazón destrozado, pues tengo que visitar Israel.
Pues no. En realidad no soy sionista. No creo que los judíos tengan el derecho ancestral de ocupar una tierra solo porque sus antepasados vivieron allí hace mil novecientos años. (Este tipo de razonamiento nos obligaría a entregar América del Norte y del Sur a los indios, y Australia y Nueva Zelanda a los aborígenes y maoríes). Tampoco considero válidas legalmente las promesas bíblicas hechas por Dios de que la tierra de Canaán pertenecería para siempre a los hijos de Israel (Sobre todo, porque la Biblia fue escrita por los hijos de Israel).
Cuando se fundó el Estado de Israel, en 1948, todos mis amigos judíos estaban felices; yo fui el aguafiestas. Les advertí: Estamos construyendo un gueto nosotros mismos. Estaremos rodeados por decenas de millones de musulmanes que nunca perdonarán, nunca olvidarán y nunca desaparecerán. Estaba en lo cierto, sobre todo cuando resultó que los árabes estaban asentados en la mayor parte de los abastecimientos petrolíferos del mundo. Así que las naciones del mundo, que necesitaban el petróleo, pensaron que era diplomático ser pro-árabe. (Si el tema de las reservas petrolíferas se hubiese conocido antes, estoy convencido de que Israel no se habría creado).
Pero, ¿no merecemos los judíos una patria? En realidad, creo que a ningún grupo humano le conviene pertenecer a una "patria" en el sentido habitual de la palabra. La Tierra no debería estar dividida en cientos de secciones diferentes, cada una habitada por un solo segmento autodefinido de la humanidad que considera que su propio bienestar, y su propia "seguridad nacional" están por encima de cualquier otra consideración.
Soy partidario de la diversidad cultural y me gustaría que cada grupo identificable valorara su patrimonio cultural. Por ejemplo, soy un patriota de Nueva York y si viviera en Los Ángeles, me encantaría reunirme con otros neoyorquinos expatriados y cantar Give My Regards to Broadway. No obstante, este tipo de sentimientos deben ser culturales y benignos. Estoy en contra de ello si cada grupo desprecia a los demás y aspira a destruirlos. Estoy en contra de dar armas a cada pequeño grupo autodefinido por las que reforzar su propio orgullo y prejuicios.
La Tierra se enfrenta en la actualidad a problemas medioambientales que amenazan con la inminente destrucción de la civilización y con el final del planeta como un lugar habitable. La humanidad no se puede permitir desperdiciar sus recursos financieros y emocionales en peleas interminables y sin sentido entre diversos grupos. Debe haber un sentido de lo global en el que todo el mundo se una para resolver los problemas reales a los que nos enfrentamos todos. ¿Se puede hacer esto? La pregunta equivale a: ¿puede sobrevivir la humanidad?
Por tanto, no soy sionista porque no creo en las naciones, y porque los sionistas lo único que hacen es crear una nación más para dar lugar a más conflictos. Crean su nación para tener "derechos", "exigencias" y "seguridad nacional" y para sentir que deben protegerla de sus vecinos. ¡No hay naciones! Solo existe la humanidad. Y si no llegamos a entender esto pronto, las naciones desaparecerán, porque no existirá la humanidad.
El primer libro de cienciaficción que cayó en mis manos fue Fundación. Descubrí un futuro lleno de posibilidades y a un autor que disfrutaba contando historias, ya fuesen novelas de ficción o relatos sobre ciencia, historia y cualquier otra cosa que intrigase a la imaginación de Isaac Asimov. A pesar del más de medio siglo que ha pasado desde la publicación de sus obras de referencia (Fundación y Cuevas de acero) las novelas de Asimov siguen maneniendo su encanto, sobrepasadas a veces por el desarrollo tecnológico a veces, aunque su estilo sencillo resiste bien el paso del tiempo. Cuando leí sus memorias ya había muerto hacía mucho tiempo. Tambien muchos de los amigos y conocidos que menciona en ellas. No sé que esperaba encontrar en los recuerdos de uno de mis escritores favoritos, alguna anécdota amable, algo de autobombo, alguna disculpa. Encontré el relato de un hombre que disfrutó de su trabajo y que al final de su vida solo lamentaba no haber conseguido mantener una buena relación con su hijo. "Memorias" es algo más que el relato de una vida desde el subjetivo punto de vista de su protagonista, es una crónica de la Edad de Oro de la ciencia ficción y el testamento de un escritor que disfrutaba enseñando y compartiendo su curiosidad por los secretos del universo.
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. :)
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.
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.
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...
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?)
"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!).
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.
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.
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."
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!
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.
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.
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.