I apologize for the campaign-esque sound of the title. I’m still trying to get 2016 out of my head. Anyway, I said yesterday at Adventures Fantastic that I’m going to be reading more of the classics of the field. Furthermore I specifically named Asimov’s robot stories as one of the things I’ll be reading.
It’s Asimov’s 97th birthday today. He was born January 2, 1920, in Russia. I first read the robot stories in 7th grade. It’s been more than a decade (going on two decades now) since I last read one of them. I’ve read a few Asimov stories over the past year; I’m about a third of the way through The Winds of Change right now.
The robot stories have all been collected in The Complete Robot. I’ve got a copy around somewhere, if I an ever find the darn thing. I’m looking forward to diving into them. Robots used to be pretty ubiquitous in science fiction, but you don’t see them that much these days. They’ve been supplanted by AIs. Still, I like the old-fashioned robots, and Asimov did them better than anyone.
On this day in 1910, John W. Campbell entered the world. It was a very different world when he left it on July 11, 1971. He envisioned much of that world and much of what followed his passing.
John Campbell was arguably the most influential science fiction and fantasy editor of the 20th Century. (Feel free to disagree in the comments.) Campbell began writing science fiction for the pulps. At first he published space opera under his own name. Not content to be a well regarded writer in the field, he began publishing moody, thoughtful stories under the name Don A. Stuart. He took the pen name from his wife’s maiden name, Dona Stuart. His most famous story under either byline is “Who Goes There?” by Don A. Stuart, which was filmed as The Thing From Another World (1951), The Thing (1982), and The Thing (2011). Continue reading →
I said in my post on Asimov’s birthday a few days ago that I was going to read some stories from The Winds of Change. I did, getting through the first four stories before my eyelids grew heavy. The third story is the oldest in the book, “Belief” from 1953. Asimov notes in his introduction to the story that this was its first appearance in one of his American collections. (The reasons are beyond the scope of this post.)
I thought I had read it somewhere, perhaps in The Great SF Stories, but the ISFDB said otherwise. It did, however, show that the story had been published in a later collection, The Alternate Asimov’s. I had a copy I had picked up years ago that I’d never read, primarily because I didn’t have time to read the original and final versions of the novels The End of Eternity and Pebble in the Sky. The Alternate Asimovs contains the original versions of those novels. It also contains both version of the novelette “Belief”.
It seems the version of the story John W. Campbell, Jr. published in Astounding wasn’t Asimov’s preferred version. Campbell required Asimov to rewrite the ending significantly. I read the original version, and found the experience quite enlightening. Continue reading →
If he were alive, Isaac Asimov would have celebrated his 94th birthday today. I never had the privilege of meeting Dr. Asimov, but I grew up reading his works. I’ve not read everything he wrote, but I’ve read quite a bit. I’m speaking of his science fiction here, not his total output. Wikipedia says he wrote over 500 books.
Asimov was one of the first science fiction authors I read when I graduated to adult science fiction. This would have been in junior high. (I’ve always been ahead of my time.) I think I came across one of his robot stories in an anthology edited by Robert Silverberg that was in the school library. It wasn’t long before I was hunting down his short fiction (in addition to his robot stories), the Foundation series, and some of his other novels. His later Foundation novels were among the first science fiction I purchased new in hardcover that wasn’t a book club edition.
It’s been quite a while since I read any of Asimov’s work. As I stated in my reading goals post, I want to get back to basics this year and reread some of the works and authors that first attracted me to science fiction. I picked up a paperback copy of The Winds of Change a few months ago in a second hand shop. It’s a later collection, and I haven’t read it. I’ve loved the colors on the cover for years and finally gave in to temptation and bought it. I think I’ll spend some time this evening reading it and raising a glass to the legacy of Isaac Asimov.