Isaac Asimov

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Name: Isaac Asimov
Also Known As: Isaak Azimov (birth name), Paul French (pen name)
Occupation: writer, chemistry professor
Medium: fiction, nonfiction
Works: Foundation; I, Robot
Official Website(s):
Fan Website(s): Isaac Asimov Home Page
On Fanlore: Related pages
Isaac Asimov, Joan Winston, Anna Tornheim Hassan (1978)
from Bellerophon #20, Al De La Rosa illustrates a scene from Asimov's "Foundation's Edge" (1983)

Isaac Asimov (1920-1992) was a well-known American science fiction writer active during the Golden Age of Science and beyond. He has been described as one of the "Big Three" classic SF writers, along with Arthur C. Clarke and Robert A. Heinlein. He also wrote mysteries and nonfiction, including commentary on science fiction fandom. See Wikipedia for more.

In SF he is best known for his Foundation series, his robot stories, inventing the word robotics, and inventing "the three laws of robotics".

He was also briefly a member of the Futurians, although he was not apparently involved in the drama.

Some Asimov Fan Poetry

Shortly after Asimov's death, a fan wrote a tribute:

With a mind that was truly magnificent
Dear Isaac did seem quote omnificent
No subject was left unturned
By this rare fellow sideburned
Thank goodness he was so proficient! [1]

Asimov: Star Trek Supporter

From an official second season promotion pamphlet for Star Trek: TOS:

"A" for action... "B" for believability [sic]:

In the upcoming 1967-68 season, the U.S.S. Enterprise will continue on the audience-winning course charted by series creator Gene Roddenberry in his STAR TREK writer's guide. Believability [sic], the very first point underlined in this guide, is probably the key to the series' popularity with better educated, more discriminating viewers. Each STAR TREK episode is packed with action and adventure, but the characters and plot situations are never allowed to veer away from the immutable truths of human nature and a solid platform of scientific fact. No less an authority than Dr. Isaac Asimov, a biochemistry professor and author widely regarded as one of the world's top science fiction writers, has called STAR TREK "...the first good television science fiction." Episodes of the series have been shown in college classrooms and STAR TREK is reported to be a solid favorite in campus, dormitories from coast to coast.

Fan response to Spock was immediate and overwhelming. As early as April 1967, science fiction author (and fan) Isaac Asimov wrote a tongue-in-cheek article called "Mr. Spock is Dreamy!" for TV Guide, in which he described and tried to explain the female reaction to Spock:

Captain Kirk (for those, if any, who are not STAR TREK fans) is a capable hero and a full-blooded human. Mr. Spock is half-alien and is a creature of pure reason and no emotion. Naturally Captain Kirk responded to every danger with an appropriate twist of his handsome and expressive face. Spock, however, kept his long, serene face unmoved. Not for an instant did he allow emotion to dim the thoughtful gleam of his eye; not for a split second did he allow that long face to grow shorter. And my daughter said, "I think Mr. Spock is dreamy!"[2]

Asimov: K/S

The foundations for K/S were actually laid by Isaac Asimov along with some of the Star Trek creators, including Robert Justman and Gene Roddenberry Himself.

According to Justman in Inside Star Trek: The Real Story, Captain Kirk had been intended from the beginning as the central, focal character in the series, and William Shatner was paid accordingly; but fan response to Mr. Spock was much greater. In order to turn audience attention back toward the Captain, Roddenberry asked for ideas. In a November 1966 letter reprinted in 'Inside Star Trek [3], Isaac Asimov suggested that the scripts and actors should show the two men becoming close friends, including incidents where they save each other's lives. That way, when viewers thought of Spock, they would also think of Kirk, and they would think highly of him because Spock did. Asimov also suggested that Kirk be given lots of intriguing, interesting things to do, e.g. solving mysteries, going incognito, etc. Roddenberry and Gene Coon worked this out, and wrote to Asimov: "Shatner will come off ahead by showing he is fond of the teenage idol; Spock will do well by displaying great loyalty to his Captain. In a way it will give us one lead, the team."[4]

Kirk did get many opportunities after that to dress up and to have plenty of adventures with dashing, heroic deeds. The idea of solving mysteries also seems to have been passed on to Jean-Luc Picard.

While Solow and Justman do not speak of fan fiction at all, let alone K/S; but it is possible that this is what fans picked up on as they began to speculate about just how close they were.

Asimov: Star Trek Conventions

Asimov was a guest of honor at:

Isaac Asimov wrote a piece for the program book about his experiences at the Star Trek Lives! cons and at the Schuster Star Trek Conventions in New York City. In 1979, the article was revised and published in the first issue of Starlog Magazine in an article called The Conventions as Asimov Sees Them.

Asimov Had Quite a Reputation Regarding Attractive Female Guests

Dr. Isaac Asimov was there and in his usual inimitable fashion helped to save the day. I never get tired of hearing him talk on his favourite subject, himself. Also, two of our club members added to the frivolity of Dr. Asimov's autograph session. Both of them -- and they shall remain anonymous -- arrived at the autograph table with several items to be signed by the good Doctor. Dr. Asimov usually makes "requests" of the young, attractive women who wish to obtain his autograph.

Our first member asked Dr. Asimov if he would sign her "Foundation." [5] The good Doctor, expecting to see a copy of his famous works, was surprised and delighted when a piece of feminine, intimate apparel was placed in front of him. He did, however, state that he regretted that the attractive young lady was not wearing it at the time. Our second member asked Dr. Asimov if he would autograph the "most valuable thing she possessed." When he agreed, (the good Doctor has rarely been known to refuse a pretty face), she lifted her T-shirt and presented her exposed mid-riff for signing. Dr. Asimov was overjoyed and licking his pen, set out to work with a will. The ultimate egotist, he insisted on kissing this signature upon completion. [6]

[Ellison said of Harlan Ellison]: You can even have your back to him and be unaware that he is within five states of where you are standing, but from the way all the young ladies in the place are shaking, you know at once that that must be Harlan behind you somewhere, and he may not even be doing anything. [7]

For many girls, the high point of the 1975 Star Trek Convention (the February con in NYC) came the last day when Isaac Asimov was signing autographs in room 104. It seems that a lot of the girls left with more than just autographs -- well, let me put it this way. Chris Doherty gleefully reports that when Asimov kissed the editor of 2-5YM, she said, "You're nice." Proving that a) Isaac Asimov is a dirty old man and b) that that editor does not respond well under pressure. [8]

Some of the best cons are fannish history. Only a few faded programs, an illegible autograph (Eugene who?), a tear-stained hotel bill remain. And some of the landmarks are disappearing. The Commodore, bane of hu-fanity, has been razed. No more will ash trays and water bombs plummet down its roof. With the destruction of the twelfth floor goes the 30-minute wait to change elevators. Lost are the haunts of the leering pilots and Greek-speaking stewards, the computer reservation system that charged eight days in the bridal suite to your account, the blue plastic lobby furniture. No more will Mr. Gerrold's dulcet voice selling original xeroxed scripts boom over the whining PA system, no more will Devra Langsam trip over curled carpets, no more will Ike Asimov drool over nubile, young trekkies, no more will the committee crud be caught from the drinking water. It is the End of an Era. [9]

Asimov got up to talk — which, next to writing, is probably the thing he does best. He started out by mentioning that a descendent of his, Admiral Asimov, had been mentioned on the Buck Rogers TV show. As soon as the name was out, his phone started to ring. One of the calls was from his son. He pointed out that his son would now have to provide a few descendants. Since his son did not seem to be about to do so, he would take the only other course possible: apply to the audience for help. Surely there was some pretty girl out there ready to help create the line of the future illustrious Admiral Asimov...? [10]

Sparring with Harlan Ellison

Asimov and Harlan Ellison had a con schtick:

Alan: … Isaac Asimov was on the panel and all of a sudden, whatever he’s been talking about, and all of a sudden, Harlan Ellison walks in the back of the room, and he yells out, “You’re full of shit!”.

I: [laughs]

Alan: And they… I gotta believe this was staged. And they get into this hilarious yelling contest between the two of them about whatever the topic was, and I don’t even remember what the topic was, but it was just the two of them, they’re best friends, but they always did this at conventions, it was part of the show, part of the shtick that they did. It was just having these arguments with each other. [11]

Also See

  • "An Expert's Verdict: Trek Wins" by Asimov, printed in Pastak #3 (1976)