Isaac Asimov Biography & Facts
Isaac Asimov (; c. January 2, 1920 – April 6, 1992) was an American writer and professor of biochemistry at Boston University. He was known for his works of science fiction and popular science. Asimov was a prolific writer, and wrote or edited more than 500 books. He also wrote an estimated 90,000 letters and postcards.Asimov wrote hard science fiction. Along with Robert A. Heinlein and Arthur C. Clarke, Asimov was considered one of the "Big Three" science fiction writers during his lifetime. Asimov's most famous work is the Foundation series, the first three books of which won the one-time Hugo Award for "Best All-Time Series" in 1966. His other major series are the Galactic Empire series and the Robot series. The Galactic Empire novels are set in the much earlier history of the same fictional universe as the Foundation series. Later, with Foundation and Earth (1986), he linked this distant future to the Robot stories, creating 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 also wrote over 380 short stories, including the social science fiction novelette "Nightfall," which in 1964 was voted the best short science fiction story of all time by the Science Fiction Writers of America. Asimov wrote the Lucky Starr series of juvenile science-fiction novels using the pen name Paul French.Asimov also wrote mysteries and fantasy, as well as much nonfiction. Most of his popular science books explain concepts in a historical way, going as far back as possible to a time when the science in question was at its simplest stage. Examples include Guide to Science, the three-volume set Understanding Physics, and Asimov's Chronology of Science and Discovery. He wrote on numerous other scientific and non-scientific topics, such as chemistry, astronomy, mathematics, history, biblical exegesis, and literary criticism.
He was president of the American Humanist Association. Several entities have been named in his honor, including the asteroid (5020) Asimov, a crater on the planet Mars, a Brooklyn elementary school, Honda's humanoid robot, ASIMO, and four literary awards.
There are three very simple English words: 'Has,' 'him' and 'of.' Put them together like this—'has-him-of'—and say it in the ordinary fashion. Now leave out the two h's and say it again and you have Asimov.
Asimov's family name derives from the first part of ozímyj khleb (озимый хлеб), meaning the winter grain (specifically rye) in which his great-great-great-grandfather dealt, with the Russian patronymic ending -ov added. Azimov is spelled Азимов in the Cyrillic alphabet. When the family arrived in the United States in 1923 and their name had to be spelled in the Latin alphabet, Asimov's father spelled it with an S, believing this letter to be pronounced like Z (as in German), and so it became Asimov. This later inspired one of Asimov's short stories, "Spell My Name with an S".Asimov refused early suggestions of using a more common name as a pseudonym, and believed that its recognizability helped his career. After becoming famous, he often met readers who believed that "Isaac Asimov" was a distinctive pseudonym created by an author with a common name.
I have had a good life and I have accomplished all I wanted to, and more than I had a right to expect I would.
Asimov was born in Petrovichi, Russian SFSR, on an unknown date between October 4, 1919, and January 2, 1920, inclusive. Asimov celebrated his birthday on January 2.Asimov's parents were Anna Rachel (née Berman) and Judah Asimov, a family of Russian-Jewish millers. He was named Isaac after his mother's father, Isaac Berman. Asimov wrote of his father, "My father, for all his education as an Orthodox Jew, was not Orthodox in his heart", noting that "he didn't recite the myriad prayers prescribed for every action, and he never made any attempt to teach them to me".In 1921, Asimov and 16 other children in Petrovichi developed double pneumonia. Only Asimov survived. He later had two younger siblings: a sister, Marcia (born Manya, June 17, 1922 – April 2, 2011), and a brother, Stanley (July 25, 1929 – August 16, 1995), who was vice-president of the Long Island Newsday.Asimov's family travelled to the United States via Liverpool on the RMS Baltic, arriving on February 3, 1923 when he was three years old. Since his parents always spoke Yiddish and English with him, he never learned Russian, but he remained fluent in both. Growing up in Brooklyn, New York, Asimov taught himself to read at the age of five (and later taught his sister to read as well, enabling her to enter school in the second grade). His mother got him into first grade a year early by claiming he was born on September 7, 1919. In third grade he learned about the "error" and insisted on an official correction of the date to January 2. He became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 1928 at the age of eight.After becoming established in the U.S., his parents owned a succession of candy stores in which everyone in the family was expected to work. The candy stores sold newspapers and magazines, a fact that Asimov credited as a major influence in his lifelong love of the written word, as it presented him with an unending supply of new reading material (including pulp science fiction magazines) as a child that he could not have otherwise afforded. Asimov began reading science fiction at age nine, at the time when the genre was becoming more science-centered.
Education and career
Asimov attended New York City public schools from age five, including Boys High School in Brooklyn. Graduating at 15, he attended the City College of New York for several days before accepting a scholarship at Seth Low Junior College, a branch of Columbia University in Downtown Brooklyn designed to absorb some of the Jewish and Italian-American students who applied to Columbia College, then, the institution's primary undergraduate school for men. Jewish and Italian-American students, even of outstanding academic caliber, were often deliberately barred from Columbia College proper because of the then-popular practice of imposing unwritten ethnic admission quotas. Originally a zoology major, Asimov switched to chemistry after his first semester because he disapproved of "dissecting an alley cat". After Seth Low Junior College closed in 1936, Asimov finished his Bachelor of Science degree at Morningside Heights campus (later the Columbia University School of General Studies) in 1939.
After two rounds of rejections by medical schools, Asimov applied to the graduate program in chemistry at Columbia in 1939; initially he was rejected and then only accepted on a probationary basis, he completed his Master of Arts degree in chemistry in 1941 and earned a Doctor of Philosophy degree in chemistry in 1948. During his chemistry studies, he also learned French and German.
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