Justin Heiner
Mr. Gorski
English 11CP
26 May 1997

A Legend That WIll Live on Forever

Isaac Asimov was born in the small town of Petrovichi, Russia on January 2, 1920. At least that's what it now says on his birth certificate. Asimov's parents changed his birthdate temporarily to September 7, 1919 so that he would be able to get into sc hool one year early. Later, when he discovered that his birthday wasn't actually on September 7, 1919 he changed it to January 2, 1920(Questions). His parents weren't sure when he was born, but he couldn't have been born later than January 2, 1920 altho ugh he could have been born as early was October 4, 1919. Asimov says, "My parents were always uncertain and it really doesn't matter. I celebrate January 2, 1920, so let it be"(Memory 30). The events that took place in Asimov's life created an ideal atmosphere for a unique perspective on life, thus creating a new perspective on writing.

In early 1923, the three year old Isaac Asimov and his family left Russia in search for a better life. They arrived in New York City on February 3; one month after they left Russia. Five years later, in September of 1928, he was given United States citi zenship. When the Asimov family came to the United States, they needed a way to support themselves. Since Isaac's mother and father, Judah Asimov and Anna Rachel Berman Asimov did not know how to write in English, they could not get jobs as common labor ers. With no opportunity to get jobs in New York, they decided to become entrepreneurs. They set up a little mom-and-pop candy store that was open from sunrise to well past sunset every day of the week. Judah got about four hours of sleep per night and needed Isaac to help him out every day after school. This left virtually no free time or social life for Isaac. Being isolated from his friends most of the time may have been the seed for his career in writing because he had more time to think about mo re important subjects than a group of kids can.

Asimov was considered a infant prodigy by his family and teachers. Asimov himself says, "When asked if I was an infant prodigy...I have taken to answering, 'Yes, indeed, and I still am'"(Memoir 2). When Isaac was four years old he had already learned t o read, so the next step for him was to enter school. The reason that the school let him in was because his parents had changed his birthdate to 1919 so everybody would think that Isaac was five years old instead of four. When Asimov was in the third gr ade, his teacher was asking each student when their birthdate was. "In all innocence," he says, "I said January 2, 1920, and the teacher frowned and told me it was September 7, 1919"(Memory 51). The fact that his birthdate had been changed irked him so much that he had the school records changed back to his actual birthdate.

When Asimov was eleven years old, he qualified to be in the ninth grade; the equivalent to a high school freshman. The day he was handed his report card, he went to the library to acquire an adult library card. The librarian told him that he could not g et an adult library card till he was in high school. She even addressed him as "little boy". He replied with, "I am in high school." He said this with a very proud look on his face. The librarians discussed with each other whether or not this child sh ould be given an adult card. Eventually he was given an adult card and, in turn, he was allowed access to the "mysterious stacks containing adult books"(Memory 104). Being allowed into the adult stacks and the magazines specified as being for adults on ly led him to find out something new about himself. He learned that he was a storyteller. He read the science fiction magazines that were available to him and retold them to anybody who was willing to listen. Storytelling led him further into his inter est in science fiction and eventually into science fiction writing itself.

In 1935, when Asimov was fifteen years old, he entered Seth Low Junior College. He had applied to Columbia College but had been rejected for numerous reasons, one of which was the fact that he was only fifteen years old and the requirement for entering t he college was sixteen years. So, Asimov suffered through one year of Seth Low Junior College. After that year, the college was shut down because it was not successful enough. For the rest of his college career he attended classes at Columbia College, listened to the lectures, took the tests, and was marked by their standards. Since Asimov was still technically enrolled at Seth Low, Columbia College only have him a B.S.; the rest of the class got a B.A. Years later, he was invited by Columbia College to speak to them. He was also given an honorary doctorate. Apparently, they did not seem to remember that he had been marked as a lesser student while he was still attending college there. Asimov says, "And when Columbia College itself invited me to s peak to them, I had enough clout to insist on doing so only if I were made a member of the class of 1939"(Memoir 53-55).

In 1942, after Asimov had graduated from college, he met a woman at a Valentines day party. One of Asimov's friends had set them up on a blind date together. Asimov fell in love with her immediately, although she had doubts about her love for him. Six months after they met each other they were married. The marriage was immediately a failure. Many factors were involved in causing their marriage to fall apart so soon. One reason was that their sexual life was not very good. Asimov says, "We were both virginal and sex didn't work out too well, with neither of us possessing experience"(Memoir 106). Secondly, they were never really in love in the first place. Isaac fell in love with her, but she never really loved him back. He convinced her to go ou t on the date with her, and he convinced her to marry him. Asimov was convinced that she never truly loved him. The third reason that their marriage broke up was because of smoking. She was a smoker and he wasn't. For some odd reason, he did not mind smoking, but severely disliked living with a smoker. Those three reasons eventually led to their divorce. The only reason that they didn't get a divorce sooner was because of their two children. Asimov was intent on keeping the family intact until the children grew up. This shows strong family values that he portrays in his science-fiction novels later on in his life. On November 16, 1973 the unlikely and unprosperous couple ended their marriage(Questions).

After Asimov's divorce in 1973 he decided to move to New York to live closer to his future wife, who was also his secret girlfriend during the period of time in which he and Blugerman were having marriage trouble. On November 30, 1973, after Asimov and J anet Jeppson had been living together for a considerable amount of time, they got married. Both people involved in this marriage were truly in love with the other individual. This situation help the marriage prosper and be fruitful(Memoir 337-339). J eppson was a major influence on Asimov's writings because she provided the support that Asimov needed after his divorce and through the rest of his life. The marriage between Asimov and Jeppson lasted until Asimov's death on April 6, 1992.

Isaac Asimov's literary works were the one piece of him that will last for generations and will be remembered by most Americans. One of the things that some people find most astonishing when researching for information on Asimov is the fact that most of the biographical text about him was also written by him. Asimov wrote two autobiographies, In Memory Yet Green, In Joy Still Felt, and A Memoir. Three books are listed here, but he wrote only two autobiographies. In Memory Yet Green and In Joy Still Fe lt were at one time one autobiography. If both pieces of literature were included in one book would take well over fifteen hundred pages, so it wasn't practical to release both volumes at once. A Memoir was written just before he died and contains a com prehensive recollection of his entire life as he remembered it. The difference between the two autobiographies is that one of them was a direct year by year recollection of what Asimov encountered in his lifetime, while the other autobiography included h is whole life and reasons why he turned out the way he did. A Memoir is more about understanding Asimov's life, while In Memory Yet Green, and In Joy Still Felt was more about getting the facts down on paper.

In his lifetime, Asimov created three major series of science-fiction novels. The first series was the Robot Series, the second was the Empire Novels, and the third was the Foundation Novels. The Robot Series was about the futuristic Earth during the time when robots and humans intermingled. The series takes place in the time before the Empire and well before the Foundation was created. This series of novels included a total of five books which were made up of roughly 35 stories. The first book, The Complete Robot was a collection of 31 short stories about the time of the robots pu blished in one novel(Questions). The rest of the books cover the time period when the robots began to take over the Earth and discusses what eventually happened to the robots.

Asimov created these novels as a moral reminder of how we should be living our lives and what will happen if we let technology take over and rule over us. One of the major influences that this particular series had on the world was that before this book was written, robots were used mostly as harmful figures. This novel portrayed robots as being helpers of mankind, which changed the way many people thought about robots.

The Empire novels are the second works in the history of the foundation. The Empire novels cover the time period in which the Empire flourished and spread to different planets. These books deal with the issues of overpopulation, war, and hatred between people and planets. There are three books that were included in the Empire novels. Those were: The Currents of Space, The Stars Like Dust, and Pebble in the Sky. One of the most interesting facts about Asimov's style of writing is the order he writes t he books in. If you take a series of books written by Asimov, none of them are in chronological order relating to the time they were written. For example, the Empire novels were written in a backwards fashion, with the last book in the series written in 1950, the middle book was written in 1951, and the first book was written in 1952. This may have to do with how important he feels each novel is. If he wrote a book first, it must have the main point behind the series in it, or there would be no series at all.

Asimov's most influential and major work that he wrote was the Foundation Novels. The foundation novels were a set of books that made up a chronological timeline of the fall of the Galactic Empire, the rise of the Foundation, and the rediscovery of the t ruth. The reasoning behind choosing a series of novels as a major work instead of just choosing one novel to be a major work is because the full impact of the series is not experienced if all of the books are not read and taken as one work. A person cou ldn't just read one book out of the series and understand what the main point behind the series is. He would have to read the full set of books to fully understand the meaning behind the novels. For that reason, the Foundation series is considered one w ork, and should be taken that way by readers.

The time periods that each book in the Foundation series covers is of importance to the reader because the reader needs to know which order to read the books in. It doesn't help to read the third book first, the second book last, and the fifth book secon d. The first novel in the Foundation series (also the last Foundation novel written by Asimov) was Prelude to Foundation. This book covers the time when Hari Seldon, creator of psychohistory, is searching for answers on how to use psychohistory and wher e to start to gain information on psychohistory. The second book in the series is Forward the Foundation. This is the sister novel to Prelude to Foundation. It covers the time that Hari Seldon is putting psychohistory to use for the first time. The ne xt book in the series is Foundation, the novel that originally started off the series. This book is actually a collection of four stories that were put into one novel. It describes the time when the Empire is crumbling and the Foundation is gaining stre ngth in the galaxy. Foundation and Empire is the next book in the series. This book covers the time period when the Foundation is gaining independence from the Empire so they can start rebuilding the Empire. Second Foundation was written as a filler bo ok to add some more moral and ethical issues into the series. It is about the time when the Mule came into existence and threatened "The Seldon Plan." Foundation's Edge and Foundation and Earth are two novels which cover the same issue and time period. These two books cover two people's search for Earth and whether or not they find it. These books are also crucial to the completion and the fulfillment of "The Seldon Plan"(Questions). An interesting question is brought up about why Isaac Asimov's books and Arthur Charles Clarke's books sound so much the same when you read them. The answer to this question is that there i s a reason why their books sound so much alike. This reason is because they were very good friends during the periods in which both writers were popular. The two authors knowing each other and sharing ideas constantly created a likeness between the way the two authors wrote and the characters that were in the novels.

The main reason that these books were written was to make a point to the world. There were many small reasons that the books were written, but the main reason that Asimov wrote these books was to give the world a message, hoping that the people reading h is works will be smart enough to understand what the meanings were. The main message that Asimov wanted to get across to the world was that a person should always search for the truth and never give up. A more subtle message in the book was that we only have one universe and we should take care of it the best we can. Another subtle message was to accept other cultures that are different from ours, because people might have to deal with other cultures even though they think they never will. Don't make foolish mistakes was another message that Asimov wanted to get across to the readers. The last subtle point that he wanted to get across was that humans shouldn't be afraid of exploration and new ideas. In fact, humans should embrace these new ideas.

An impact on society that Asimov had was that he changed the way people thought about ideas and cultures. He also encouraged the ideas that war is bad and overpopulation is bad. Aside from these lesser impacts on society, the main impact that he had on society was that he helped to revolutionize the ideas of space flight. Many of his ideas regarding space flight and the research of worlds that are described in the Foundation series were brought to life because of the popularity of the ideas when he wro te the books.

Over all, Isaac Asimov has written over four hundred books, essays, and short stories. His books have changed the way people view the world. His career in grade school, high school, and college adequately prepared him for a career writing the kind of science fiction that is lifelike and will last for generations. Like his ashes being scattered after he died, Asimov's books will live on for generations feeding the minds throughout the world and forever having an impact on society and the people living in it. The unique placement of events in Asimov's life did indeed help him, an d the world, create a new perspective on life.

This essay was created by Justin Heiner and is copyrighted by laws pertaining to the Internet. No part of this essay may be copied in any means whatsoever without the expressed permission of the author.