Dr. Isaac Asimov was a Russian-born science fiction author, known most noticeably for his works entitled the Foundation Series. Dr. Asimov wrote two major series—the Galactic Empire series (which includes the Foundation series) and the Robot Series. Asimov’s novels explain the concepts of the scientific world in a historical way, going back to when the scientific world was at its earliest beginnings. Asimov was also a member of Mensa, but his passion lay within the American Humanist Association, of which he was President.
At the age of five, Asimov taught himself to read the magazines lining the shelves of the general store that his parents owned. When he was eleven, Asimov began writing his own stories, and in a few short years, they were being sold to several pulp magazines. In 1939, he graduated from Columbia University and then in 1948, graduated with a PhD in Chemistry.
Asimov’s fear of flying influenced several of his works, particularly the Robot Series. The early parts of his career revolved around science fiction, but towards the end, his works centred on non-fiction and popular science books. The second half of Asimov’s science fiction career began with the publication of Foundation’s Edge in 1982. From that point on until his death, he published sequels and prequels to his novels, often weaving and linking them together in ways he had not originally imagined.
Within the Foundation Series, Asimov developed the Three Laws of Robotics. He has also been credited within his science fiction writing, for introducing words such as positronic, psychohistory, and robotics. He believed that robotics was just a natural analogue of mechanics and hydraulics. Asimov was given full credit in Star Trek: The Next Generation for inventing the androids, which were beings with positronic brains.
Despite being praised for his works within the Artificial Intelligence and science-fiction genre of writing, Asimov was also criticised for the lack of both masculinity, femininity, and aliens in his works. One of his early works was rejected because the aliens in the story were superior to humans, making Asimov reluctant to write about aliens. To combat the criticisms, he wrote the book he is most proud of, “The Gods Themselves” which was bursting with both human and alien masculinity and femininity.
In 1985, the Washington Post, reported on Asimov’s novels, stating, “…the Robot tales depended on an increasingly unworkable distinction between movable and unmovable Artificial Intelligences…there are no computers whose impact is worth noting, no social complexities, no genetic engineering, aliens, arcologies, multiversies, clones or sin; his heroes feel no pressure of information…they suffer no deformation from the winds of the Asimov future…”
Many of Asimov’s writings contained elements that appeared inconsistent if not illogical at times. For example, he would describe powerful robots from his imaginary future using punch cards while on the other side of the aisle his engineers were still using old fashioned slide rules. There are also internal contradictions, where robots cannot lie, but then some robots will lie in order to obey the Three Laws of Robotics.
Asimov died in 1992 from heart and renal failure, a result of a complication of AIDS. He had contracted HIV from an infected blood transfusion while undergoing heart bypass surgery in 1983.
I do not fear computers. I fear the lack of them.Isaac Asimov