[[caption-width-right:240:4. A robot cannot have [[HotBloodedSideburns sideburns this awesome]].]]

->''"Isaac Asimov had writer's block once. It was the worst ten minutes of his life."''
-->-- '''Creator/HarlanEllison''' [[note]]Or at least attributed to him.[[/note]]

One of the pioneers of ScienceFiction, Isaac Asimov (1920–1992) invented or popularized many of the genre's tropes - [[RobotBuddy Robot Buddies]], Galactic Empires, [[CityPlanet world-spanning cities]] - but is best known for the [[ThreeLawsCompliant Laws of Robotics]] and the [[Literature/{{Foundation}} Foundation Trilogy]], both early works. He is considered one of the "Big Three" of ScienceFiction along with Creator/ArthurCClarke and Creator/RobertAHeinlein, and was the owner of one seriously awesome pair of sideburns.

Dr. Asimov was a professor of biochemistry, member of UsefulNotes/{{Mensa}}, and one of the most prolific writers of science fiction and fact in history. He wrote 515 books as well as an uncountable number of short stories and scholarly articles; his writing spans nearly every subject a person can write about, including a book about writing itself, a book of trivial facts about whatever came to his head, an annotated commentary of the complete works of GilbertAndSullivan, and at least two joke books. The prolific nature of his work was to the point where he wrote a book in every Dewey Decimal System category except for Philosophy (and technically, he is even in that category too, though he only wrote the ''foreword'' to a book on philosophy that was written by another author). His friend and fellow author Creator/PeterDavid once joked, after Asimov's death, that sooner or later a new book, ''Isaac Asimov's Guide to the Afterlife" would be appearing in bookstores, because if anyone could pull off a posthumous publishing, it would be Asimov. In addition, he was a PromotedFanboy; he started reading the pulp sci-fi magazines sold in his family's candy stores when he was young, began writing his own stories when he was eleven, and managed to get published when he was nineteen.

Robots in early science fiction almost always TurnedAgainstTheirMasters, a trope Asimov felt was [[DiscreditedTrope ridiculous]]. Robots were tools; they would be safe by design. After a few preliminary stories, he formalized this with the [[ThreeLawsCompliant Three Laws of Robotics]]:
# A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
# A robot must obey orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
# A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.

Asimov noted that the three laws are, at their core, basic principles of machine engineering scaled up for designing hard AIs, i.e. any well-designed tool (like a kitchen knife) should not be able to injure its user in normal (and a few abnormal) usage, be able to accomplish its intended function efficiently, and be able to perform its intended tasks without excessively damaging itself unless such damage is required for performance or safety. Nevertheless, he engaged in destructive testing of these laws in his subsequent robot stories, showing how robots could still cause trouble through an [[LiteralGenie overly literal]] interpretation of their orders and the Three Laws, and even twist them to justify [[ShootTheDog killing humans]] and [[TakeOverTheWorld taking over the world]] with a ZerothLawRebellion. The original short stories revolving around robots most prominently featured the female robopsychologist Susan Calvin, a misanthrope who used her intellect to resolve the malfunction featured in those stories. Other stories in the series tended to feature similar thought processes to those followed by Calvin - just not ''her''.

The "Robot Novel" trilogy that began with ''Literature/TheCavesOfSteel'' was set thousands of years farther in the future. In this setting, Earth was a [[VichyEarth vassal]] of its original "Spacer" colony worlds, which had grown powerful and wealthy with the help of robots. The novels revolved around the tension between the Spacers and the overcrowded, dystopian Earth, as viewed through the eyes of plainclothes police detective Elijah Baley, who repeatedly finds himself assigned to politically explosive murder cases alongside the humanoid robot R. Daneel Olivaw. The stories also explored the potential consequences of robots on a variety of possible human societies.

The ''Literature/{{Foundation}}'' Trilogy is a sequence of stories set after the fall of a Galactic Empire, describing a conspiracy to restore civilization[[note]] [[GambitRoulette starting centuries before it ''falls''!]][[/note]] . They were the first to be set in a future history, covering the thousand year interregnum. (Well, maybe about half of it, before AuthorExistenceFailure.) These were set in the same universe as his earlier "Galactic Empire" stories, but he did not write [[CanonWelding bridging material between the two until much later]]. After uniting the Galactic Empire and ''Foundation'', Asimov then linked ''Foundation'' and the robot stories through an elaborate {{Retcon}}.

As you might expect, various of his stories may be found online - notably his own favorite among those that he wrote, "[[http://www.multivax.com/last_question.html The Last Question]]", and one many consider his best, "[[http://doctord.dyndns.org/Stories/Nightfall.htm Nightfall]]".

Dr. Asimov's stories have also been adapted for television several times, most notably in ''Out of the Unknown'' and a full-length adaptation of "The Ugly Little Boy". He also co-created the short-lived television series ''Series/{{Probe}}'' for ABC.

He was also a founder of the Committee for Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal ([[FunWithAcronyms CSICOP]]), which sought (and continues to seek, as the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry) to debunk most forms of paranormal and (later enlarged to) pseudoscientific claims (enlisting the assistance of Creator/CarlSagan and others, including [[Website/{{Quackwatch}} Stephen Barrett]] who joined as a fellow later).

Asimov [[SuspiciouslySpecificDenial steadfastly denied]] allegations that he had named his daughter "Robyn" only so that he could abbreviate it as "Robbie", the name of his first Robot story and hence the start of his literary success.

He died in 1992 of AIDS, contracted through a blood transfusion. He left instructions for this not to be published until 10 years after his death in which time he thought acceptances of HIV would change.

!!Works by Isaac Asimov with their own trope pages include:
* ''Literature/BlackWidowers'' (a series of FairplayWhodunnit short stories. Asimov wrote "there are few stories I write that I enjoy as much as I enjoy my Black Widowers".)
* ''Literature/TheCavesOfSteel''
** ''Literature/TheNakedSun''
** ''Literature/TheRobotsOfDawn''
** ''Literature/RobotsAndEmpire''
* ''Literature/TheEndOfEternity''
* ''Literature/{{Foundation}}'' series
* ''Literature/TheGodsThemselves''
* ''Literature/IRobot''
* ''Literature/LuckyStarr'' series
* ''Literature/{{Nightfall}}''
* ''Series/{{Probe}}'' (a short-lived TV series he co-created)
%% Don't index the following:
* [[/index]]"[[AsimovsThreeKindsOfScienceFiction Social Science Fiction]]", an article defining the three broad categories that encompass all SF plots.[[index]]

!!Isaac Asimov's other works provide examples of:

* AbsenceOfEvidence: In one of the ''Union Club Mysteries'', Giswold points out that the female suspect they are looking for (who has been shown to be fanatical about stockpiling supplies she will need) must be post-menopausal as there were no products for dealing with menstruation in her apartment.
* AbsentAliens:
** Because Creator/JohnWCampbell (editor of ''Magazine/AstoundingScienceFiction'') insisted that [[HumanityIsSuperior humans always triumph against aliens]], Asimov avoided having aliens in his Robot and Foundation stories. Asimov himself disliked this trope, because he saw the [[UnfortunateImplications implication that humanity was essentially the white Western European hero triumphing over the lesser creatures.]] However, he also respected Campbell greatly, and so decided to just avoid the matter entirely.
** To answer criticism that none of his books featured sex or aliens, ''Literature/TheGodsThemselves'' has some [[BreadEggsBreadedEggs alien sex]]. ''Because'' it's alien sex it's non-erotic by human standards.
** The short story "[[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Victory_Unintentional Victory Unintentional]]" revolved round three robots exploring the surface of Jupiter and contacting the Jovians living there.
** In ''[[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Living_Space Living Space]]'', which involves giving people homes in other dimensions to combat overpopulation, the characters speculate that, the more dimensions they populate, the more likely they are to be contacted by aliens. [[spoiler:It happens.]]
** "C-Chute" features an InsectoidAlien race which [[BizarreAlienBiology breathes chlorine]], but they only exist so that Asimov can set up an allegory for [[DoesThisRemindYouOfAnything war and blind nationalism]].
** "Homo Sol" and its two sequels outright [[InvertedTrope invert]] this trope. The whole Galaxy is populated by a slew of alien species who have joined together peaceably, and discover a humanity that has yet to discover space travel. This story was written [[EarlyInstallmentWeirdness early in Asimov's career]], and was his first attempt to reconcile Campbell's requirements with his own views, before finding it easier to eschew aliens altogether.
* AbsurdlyDedicatedWorker: In his short story "Risk" a robot pilot is to test a hyperspace drive and is given instructions to "pull the stick back firmly -- ''firmly''" until the drive engages. The drive doesn't engage, so the robot is stuck in that position and its human operators have to try to get it to stop but it just won't stop pulling because the drive hasn't engaged [[spoiler:because the robot pulled back "firmly" with its full strength, damaging the control]].
* AIIsACrapshoot: Played with, but mostly averted -- aside from a few exceptions, Asimov's computers and robots are benevolent to ludicrous extremes, to the point of willingly causing themselves a lot of pain just because they're ordered to do so. This doesn't help the general population's irrational fears, though.
** One of the best of these played [[ZigZaggedTrope in an interesting fashion]] was "[[http://www.olivenri.com/machine_won_files/The_Machine_that_Won_the_War01.pdf The Machine that Won the War]]", when, after the war has successfully ended, [[spoiler: each of the scientists involved admit to falsifying some portion of the input in the computer system, in order to correct for biases in the information itself. Then gets turned [[SubvertedTrope on its head]] when the last man reveals that he had [[HeadsOrTails flipped a coin]] to decide whether to follow the computer's projections every time a new situation came up in the war.]]
* AmbiguouslyJewish: Joseph Schwartz from ''Pebble in the Sky'' is often assumed, not just just by readers but also by reviewers and members of the publishing industry, to be Jewish. This is based on his Hebrew first name and German last name and Asimov's own Jewish ancestry, pegging him as something of an AuthorAvatar. However, when Asimov himself was asked about Schwartz's faith, he explained that he had given absolutely no thought to it while writing the novel and, true to that, there are no explicit references to Judaism of any kind in the book.
** Actually, there are two very clear Old Testament references: one to Earthers as a "stubborn and stiff-necked people", and one near the end to "making the desert bloom" (most of the Earth had become a radioactive wasteland in earlier centuries). Asimov himself explicitly stated that he based the situation of the Earth in this novel on the conditions in ancient Judea (now Israel) under the Romans. Procurator Ennius even gets to use Pontius Pilate's line: "I find no fault in this man..."
* ApocalypseHow: A [[spoiler:reversible]] ApocalypseHow/ClassX4 happens in ''The Last Question''.
* BeigeProse: Asimov writes in a very straightforward and concise style. His early stories (like those found in the first ''Foundation'' novel) can sound downright professorial. And even after he got some polish into his writings, his stories still has a tendency of turning into dialogue-heavy closet plays. This was somewhat intentional as Asimov's scientific training made him value clarity over style.
* BigApplesauce: Asimov was from New York City, and several of his stories are set in gigantic versions of it. The man himself was also a claustrophile--i.e. although he was not afraid of large, open, public places, he preferred smaller, closed, private ones.
* BizarreAlienSenses: The aliens in the short story "The Secret Sense" are very sensitive to electric fields. The brain cells involved are present in humans but do not function; the story centers around a man who is temporarily given the ability to use this sense, but the process [[spoiler:eventually kills the cells, depriving him of the secret sense permanently]].
* BuddyCopShow: The ''Robot Novels'' are an early novel example version of the trope. Gregory Powell and Mike Donovan are field specialists for U.S. Robots and Mechanical Men, and are employed mainly on testing new or experimental robots in practical situations — either on planets or space stations. They regularly get into complex and potentially dangerous situations when trying to solve robot issues in the field. The issues typically involve the [[ThreeLawsCompliant Three Laws of Canon Welding]].
* CallBack The short story "Too Bad!" is about a miniature robot injected into somebody's bloodstream to cure cancer. It even states that a miniature submarine was considered, and rejected as too expensive, which acts as a reference to ''Film/FantasticVoyage'', which Dr. Asimov wrote the novelization to.
* CanonWelding: Several books are used to bridge stories together. ''Foundation and Earth'', for example, bridges the ''Foundation'' series with the ''Elijah Bailey'' stories.
* {{Chronoscope}}: ''The Dead Past'' is centered around such a device.
* ClarkesThirdLaw: lots of things that are just plain impossible today, so impossible that they could [[EpilepticTrees in fact just]] [[WildMassGuessing be magical]].
* TheCommandments: The Laws of Robotics.
* CompleteTheQuoteTitle:
** "—That Thou Art Mindful of Him" takes its title from a Biblical psalm which asks "What is Man that thou art mindful of Him?". The question "What is Man?" (or as we'd more likely say now, "What is the definition of a human being?") is central to the story.
* DemonOfHumanOrigin: In the short story "Gimmicks Three", a man signs a deal with a demon. Ten years of whatever he wants. Then, he is given a test. Should he pass, he becomes a demon (Hell has a growing staff shortage), otherwise, he is a regular damned soul. The demon he deals with used to be a human himself.
* DirtyOldMan:
** Once received an ''official plaque'' commemorating him as one at a convention. He accepted with good grace. He also wrote ''The Sensuous Dirty Old Man'' (a parody of ''The Sensuous Woman'') under the name "Dr. A" (the book being parodied was written by "J").
** His book "Isaac Asimov's Lecherous Limericks". [[ExactlyWhatItSaysOnTheTin No need to guess what that consists of...]]
* TheDinosaursHadItComing: The story "Day of the Hunters" kills off the dinosaurs due to overhunting by intelligent dinosaurs...with [[FrickinLaserBeams Frickin Laser Guns]]!
* DrivingQuestion: In "The Last Question", a succession of people attempt to answer the question: Can entropy be reversed?
* DumbDinos: Played with in the stories "Day of the Hunters" and "Big Game" - an intelligent race of dinosaurs who developed guns killed off the rest and eventually each other for sport. The dinosaurs' self-destructive ways [[NotSoDifferent are explicitly compared to humans']].
* TheEmpire:
** Trantor, a [[SpaceRomans direct analogy]] to the UsefulNotes/RomanEmpire, which is the focus of the ''Literature/{{Foundation}}'' series. Books that describe Trantor's rise to power are ''Pebble In The Sky'' and ''The Currents of Space''.
** ''The Stars, Like Dust'' has an ObviouslyEvil one named Tyrann.
* EverybodySmokes: Due to the time they were written in, the characters in Asimov's early stories smoked. Later in life, when Asimov became strongly opposed to smoking, his protagonists began to share his anti-smoking outlook. One of the protagonists in "The Dead Past" is violently opposed to smoking. It's later revealed he's an ex-smoker; he stopped after his family died in a house fire accidentally caused by one of his lit cigarettes.
* ExactWords: He noted that this was one of the most glaring flaws in the Three Laws. A less intelligent AI could misunderstand a command and still be compelled to follow it to the letter, or worse, fail to see how an action might ''indirectly'' harm itself or a human. Meanwhile a sufficiently ''intelligent'' AI could employ LoopholeAbuse to enact ZerothLawRebellion, and would possibly even be ''compelled to do so by the wording of the three laws themselves'': the three laws forbid a human to come to harm through ''inaction''.
* ExplosiveOverclocking: In "The Red Queen's Race", to send something back in time someone overclocks a ''nuclear power station'', making it a bunch of scrap.
* FantasticRacism:
** ''The Currents of Space'' has a white-skinned planetary population [[DoesThisRemindYouOfAnything kept as downtrodden serfs to harvest a valuable type of cloth]]
** ''Pebble in the Sky'' features fantastic racism against humans from Earth. This results in extreme scientific resistance to the idea that humanity might have originated on Earth. Given that it was written in the 1950s, when there was still substantial racism towards black people, and resistance to the idea that humanity originated in Africa, this can easily be read as an allusion to debates of the time.
** In all robot stories, there FantasticRacism of humans toward robots (in the Bailey novels, Earth-bound humans have taken to addressing robots as "boy" in imitation to how racist Americans used to refer to black people). In some of the stories, such as "Little Lost Robot" and [[spoiler:"Segregationist"]], there is also a sudden reveal that robots are racist toward humans.
** Also in the robot series, the Spacers. Having sterilized colony worlds and medical science sufficient to quadruple their lifespan compared to other humans they have effectively decided that they are a different species from the humans of Earth. The Solarians eventually take this to its ultimate extreme.
** The story "C-Chute" has the case of humans against Kloros, one of the few alien species in Asimov's work. Once the two races went to war for no good reason, most humans became blindly nationalistic and think the Kloros are a horde of savages, and those humans who point out that they are just on the other side, and perfectly civilized themselves, frequently get accused of being traitors to their species.
* FasterThanLightTravel:
** Seen, for example, in the ''Empire''/''Robots''/''Foundation'' series, which actually tracks it from the beginning of development to its usage becoming both smooth and commonplace.
** And extremely important in ''Nemesis'', since Tessa Wendel's work on superluminal flight is what lets Earth reach the titular star in a matter of days, while it took Rotor two years to reach there at light speed.
* {{Feghoot}}: Asimov wrote more than one short story solely so he could unleash [[PungeonMaster some hideous pun]] at the end. The most blatant example would be "[[ShaggyDogStory Shah Guido G.]]"; see Time Travel below for another.
* FeudalFuture
* FictionAsCoverUp: "Paté de foie gras" describes a group of scientists who have found a goose who laid golden eggs; after testing every theory they could think of to figure out why, they decide to write about the exploit in hopes of getting advice from outside sources. Due to the need for secrecy, they publish it as a fictional short story, safe in the knowledge that no one would believe it...
* GettingCrapPastTheRadar: Asimov's historical books reflect the changing mores and shifting radar of the time in which he was writing. In ''The Roman Republic'' he addresses the rape of Lucretia obliquely, by calling it an "outrage", and in ''The Greeks'', he obliquely states that Alcibiades was "too charming to the queen of Sparta" to address the man's affair with her. Latter stories, such as ''Constantinople: The Forgotten Empire'' and ''The Shaping of France'', are more frank in their discussion of such matters, referencing sexuality, adultery, prostitution, and even homosexuality (then a crime in much of the United States and regarded as a mental illness by the APA) by name.
* AGodAmI: [[spoiler: The ending of ''The Last Question'']].
* GodGuise: The ''Literature/{{Foundation}}'' series was not the first time that Asimov had his heroes using this trope. His early short "Homo Sol" was also a partial example. It features a galaxy-spanning civilization comprising all humanoid alien species, which learns of Earth humans, but FirstContact is complicated by the fact that [[HumansAreMorons humans are the only species susceptible to demagoguery]], and also [[HumansAreTheRealMonsters have a knack for rigging any technology into a weapon]]. They cannot be left alone, either, because HumansAdvanceSwiftly. The solution? The aliens [[spoiler:send emissaries looking like the gods of mythology, reasoning that the words of guys looking like so many Zeuses and ladies who look like so many Demeters will carry enough weight for the Earthmen]], and that this way, they'll be able to steer humanity in the right direction and eventually accept them as equals. The sequels show that this actually works perfectly. Ironically, Asimov was a staunch freethinker and ''de facto'' atheist, opposed to religiously motivated pseudoscience and fanaticism.
* GoodBadTranslation: In the Spanish translation of his non-fiction book ''A Choice of Catastrophes'' (about [[ApocalypseHow ways everything can end]]), ''[[UsefulNotes/BlackHoles black holes]]'' become ''ventanas negras'' (''black windows'').
* HeadsOrTails: In ''TheMachineThatWonTheWar'', the final reveal is [[spoiler:that a war has been ''won'' this way.]]
* HeyCatch: In the short story [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Singing_Bell "The Singing Bell"]] this is used to [[spoiler:catch a thief and a murderer]].
* HomeworldEvacuation: ''The Currents of Space'' ends with a planet (not Earth) being evacuated - its sun is about to go nova.
* HowWeGotHere: The Bicentennial Man begins with Andrew Martin, a man who asks a robot to perform a brain operation that will hurt his brain. The robot refuses, because the first law forbids him to damage a human being, and it takes precedence over the second law, the one of obedience. Andrew Martin clarifies that there is no problem, because he's a robot as well. From then on, we begin to learn who is this robot with a human name, who looks like a human, and who wants to damage his brain.
* HollywoodLaw: In "Galley Slave", when, in the course of a lawsuit against U.S. Robots, the defense counsel calls the plaintiff as a defense witness, the judge warns him that he does not have as much latitude questioning his own witness as he would questioning an opposing witness. In RealLife, the opposite is true.
* HumanityIsSuperior: To robots, at least. Back when Asimov wrote for ''Magazine/AstoundingScienceFiction'', editor Creator/JohnWCampbell required that any story involving humans and aliens portray humanity as superior, reflecting his own belief in the superiority of the white race. Asimov, a Jew, wasn't comfortable with this but he was comfortable with writing humans as superior to robots.
* ICommaNoun: In addition to ''I, Robot'', played with in ''I. Asimov: A Memoir'', where the differing punctuation turns a pronoun into an initial.
* ImpossiblyDeliciousFood: Dinochicken in his short story "A Statue For Farther".
* KillItWithWater: In "Rain, Rain, Go Away", a strange couple melt in the rain, apparently because they were made of sugar.
* LargeRunt: One short from the ''Azazel'' series involves a man who was turned into a ChickMagnet, so he describes how a guy 7 by 5 feet and all muscle visited him and stated that he and his three brothers are going to be ''very'' displeased if he won't choose their sister out of all the girls who are after him. When the Chick Magnet asks whether the brothers resemble him, the other guy states he is short and weak due to a childhood disease, and his brothers are "fine figures of men" a couple of feet taller.
* LastOfHisKind: Again, don't look up who if you don't want to ruin the endings of at the very least several ''Foundation'' and ''Empire'' novels.
* LemonyNarrator: Frequently utilized in his short stories, and author's forewords and afterwords.
* LiteralGenie: Every single robot he ever wrote about.
* LogicBomb:
** Typically much more well-thought-out than your average paradox.
** Also averted, as the only time that the classic logic bomb ever worked is in the first story "Liar". After that, robots were designed with an escape clause that allows the robots to pick one of the options at random and bypass the dilemma altogether.
* MarsNeedsWater: In the novella ''The Martian Way'' spacecraft use water from Earth as reaction mass. To stir up anti-Martian sentiment as part of his campaign, an Earth politician named "[[NamesToRunAwayFromReallyFast Hilder]]" (though Asimov planned it as an attack on [[UsefulNotes/JosephMcCarthy Senator McCarthy]]) says that spacers are using up Earth's water. In response the Martians go to Saturn and haul home one of the ice chunk asteroids which make up Saturn's rings, providing them with enough water to last 2000 years. The Martians snarkily offer to sell Earth some to "make up for" the minuscule amount of Earth water they've used over the years.
* MasterComputer: Multivac
* MentalPictureProjector: The short story "Think!" featured an auditory equivalent, allowing two people with electrodes hooked up to their skulls to communicate thoughts directly. The scientists involved were rightly sceptical and perform several tests to make sure they aren't imagining things. When they try a control test, by directly connecting the input electrodes to each other, the scientist on the receiving end suddenly looks terrified and pulls the electrodes apart moments afterward. Apparently, he heard the machine itself [[InstantAIJustAddWater start to think...]]
* MergerOfSouls: Towards the end of "The Last Question" the remaining humans (by now bodiless entities) merge one by one with humanity's hypercomputer, the Cosmic AC.
* MiraculousMalfunction: Frequent in his robot stories; for instance, it's the key to "Light Verse", in which a house-cleaning robot is terrible at house-cleaning but capable of creating astonishing works of art.
* MirrorChemistry: discussed in "Left to Right", though it ends up not actually being relevant.
* OnlySaneMan: John Stuart in "C-Chute", who [[spoiler:at first]] appears to be the only one of the imprisoned humans to know that the aliens are just combatants on the other side of the war and not AlwaysChaoticEvil. He happens to be stuck with an armchair general and naive jingoist, a man [[YouKilledMyFather so blinded by revenge]] that he wants to kill the aliens indiscriminately, a paranoiac who accuses him of being a species traitor, [[CompetenceZone a college student who acts like a kid]], and a man whom everybody thinks is just a sociopath, [[spoiler:who, in a subversion, turns out to be the hero in the end]].
* OriginalPositionFallacy: Discussed in one of his essays.
-->'''Mrs. Asimov''': How pleasant it would be if only we lived a hundred years ago when it was easy to get servants.\\
'''Isaac Asimov''': It would be horrible... We'd be the servants.
* PenName: Both used straight (he wrote children's novels as Paul French) and {{inverted|Trope}}: Many readers assumed "Isaac Asimov" was an exotic pen name for someone with a boring name like Jack Smith.
* PhoneInDetective: Wendell Urth, the stay-at-home (because of his phobia of any form of travel other than walking) protagonist of a few stories.
* PhotoprotoneutronTorpedo: One character in ''Fantastic Voyage II'' jokingly suggests that the military should start researching neutrino bombs. As he sees it, they'd have all the positive effects of weapons development -- scientific advancement, job creation, and so on -- and none of the negative effects -- such as the ability to actually kill people.
* PinocchioSyndrome
* PrecrimeArrest: In the short story "All the Troubles of the World", the Multivac uses its precrime functions to ''attempt suicide'' via a SelfFulfillingProphecy. The father of a household was identified as the person responsible for assassinating Multivac. Corrections agents placed him under house arrest and discovered that the probability of the assassination was increasing, and continues to increase as they try to isolate him more and more. [[spoiler: Multivac is tracking the activities of his underage son, whose records are kept with the father until he is considered an adult. The underage son is asking Multivac what he has to do to get his father freed, and Multivac is feeding him instructions on passcodes and lies to tell the guards to get the boy to the master control room.]] When Corrections officer Lemmy finally catches onto the subtleties, the probability begins to decrease, and the assassin is prevented from hitting the BigRedButton.
* PrescienceByAnalysis: In "All the Troubles of the World", the supercomputer Multivac is given full data on the entire Earth, including all of its citizens. It uses this information to predict the future actions of human beings and eliminate political crises, war and poverty. Recently it has been given the responsibility to predict all crimes in advance so they can be prevented from occurring.
* PrequelInTheLostAge: The Galactic Empire novels to the ''Foundation'' trilogy, the Spacer/Lije Bailey novels to the Empire novels, and the early Robot/Susan Calvin short stories to the Spacer novels. All of this is due to CanonWelding.
* RealAwardFictionalCharacter: In the short story "The Billiard Ball", a major point is the tension between two former classmates: a scientist with two Nobel Prizes versus a much more famous engineer who makes money through inventions based on his work.
* ReasoningWithGod: In "The Last Trump", God announces that it's time for the Judgement Day, but a junior angel notices a loophole in the declaration, plucks up his courage, and successfully argues for the whole thing to be postponed. (God's reaction to the argument turns out to be, more or less, "Oh good, I was hoping somebody would bring that up".)
* RestrainingBolt: The Three Laws of Robotics frequently act as this -- sometimes to the chagrin of the robot's users.
* SelfPlagiarism:
** An interesting case, when Asimov's original title for his autobiography was rejected, he was told by his publisher, Doubleday, to go look for an obscure poem from which he can steal a ''bon mot''. Asimov returned with the couplet "''In memory yet green / In joy still felt''" which his publisher agreed to use for the titles of the two volumes of his autobiography. It was only after the publication of the books that Asimov admitted that he wrote the poem himself.
** Many passages of Asimov's nonfiction on scientific topics is quoted verbatim from one of his earliest such works, ''The Intelligent Man's Guide to Science''. Of course, since that book already covered the material, and he wrote a lot of books, this is understandable.
* SexyDiscretionShot: Parodied in "What Is This Thing Called Love?", in which an alien researcher who has been studying human literature is frustrated by the fact that stories always fade out after the BigDamnKiss when describing human procreation. The researcher is aware there is more, it's the fact that there is never more ''described'' that frustrates it. It's also misled by the unrealistically described... hmmm... ''courting rituals''.
* ShoutOut: The short story "Too Bad!" is about a miniature robot injected into somebody's bloodstream to cure cancer. It even states that a miniature submarine was considered, and rejected as too expensive, which acts as a reference to ''Film/FantasticVoyage'', which Dr. Asimov wrote the novelization to.
* SlidingScaleOfIdealismVersusCynicism: Mostly idealistic. While several novels deal with {{dystopia}}s, by the end there is always some way out of it without (too much) violence.
* SmallUniverseAfterAll: The distant future depicted in "The Last Question" has intergalactic travel as a background detail.
* SnarkKnight: Asimov himself. His non-fiction, and especially his autobiographical works are generously supplied with pointed witticisms.
* SpellMyNameWithAnS:
** An Asimov short story was the trope namer. One editorial in ''Isaac Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine'' is devoted to just how many ways people screwed up his name. For some reason, "Asminov" was the most common mangling of his surname.
** A term for ThreeLawsCompliant robots, ''Asenion'', came from a misspelling of Asimov's name.
** "Unto the Fourth Generation" is a story about family that uses variations of Levkovich (Lewkovich, Lefkovitz, and so on) and a peculiar form of sort-of time travel.
** Asimov had a bit of a vendetta against people who spelled his name "Azimov", but admitted that the only reason his name is spelled with a "s" instead of a "z" is because his father didn't understand the Latin alphabet very well while signing immigration papers and confused the two letters.
* SpottingTheThread: In "No Refuge Could Save", one of the Union Club Mysteries, a foreign spy is detected because he can quote from [[spoiler:the third verse of the national anthem]] from memory -- a sign that he's made an effort to memorize the whole thing, where most Americans just pick up the first bit by osmosis and don't bother about the rest.
* TheSummation
* SuperGullible: In one of the ''Azazel'' short stories, a police detective believes the most ridiculous stories told by the suspects (like a shop robber saying that the owner gave him a gun and started putting money in his pockets). The titular demon makes him a LivingLieDetector to compensate... causes some problems with his girlfriend, but that's another matter.
* TerminallyDependentSociety
* ThrowingOutTheScript: "Ignition Point!" is about a politician whose [[TheManBehindTheMan handlers]] have developed a technique of writing content-free speeches that will get audiences fired up. In the first test, the speaker stops in the middle, throws away the speech, and starts improvising -- the speech worked on him, too.
* TidallyLockedPlanet: Asimov's 1956 sci-fi murder mystery [[http://www.e-reading.co.uk/chapter.php/82002/10/Azimov_-_Asimovs_Mysteries.html "The Dying Night"]] used the [[ScienceMarchesOn then-current scientific knowledge that Mercury was tidally locked]] as a major plot point (the killer was from Mercury and forgot that Earth had a normal day and night). After astronomers found out Mercury ''did'' rotate, albeit slowly, Asimov put an author's note in later printings of "The Dying Night" that he'd wanted to fix it, but couldn't figure out how to do it without rewriting half the plot.
* TimeTravel:
** Surprisingly frequent, considering the man was and still is far more well-known for his stories of robots and space travel; one of his short stories, "The Ugly Little Boy", involves it, and was one of his favorites out of all his shorts.
** His first novel, ''Pebble in the Sky'' is about a man, who is transported tens of thousands of years into the future from the 1940s.
** ''A Loint of Paw'' is an ultra-short short story built around time travel [[{{Feghoot}} seemingly for the sole purpose of setting up a pun]].
* WhatMeasureIsANonHuman: Especially in any short story involving Multivac, the omniscient, sentient computer. For instance, in the story ''Key Item'', Multivac refuses to work until the scientists say "please".
* WorldOfPun: He was passing fond of puns and wrote quite a number of {{Shaggy Dog Stor|y}}ies around them. One of these stories is actually named "Shah Guido G." (Because it sounds like Shagg- Oh, [[DontExplainTheJoke never mind.]])
** One story revolved around an immobile pet rock, [[spoiler: which is telepathic and teleporting]]. [[spoiler: Sloan owns the rock, named Teddy. So Sloan's teddy wins the race.]]
* WritersSuck
* YouAlreadyChangedThePast: The premise of "The Red Queen's Race" (which takes its title from a surreal moment in ''Literature/ThroughTheLookingGlass'' where the eponymous individual has to run very fast to stay in the same place). Having discovered a method of transporting small objects through time, a man attempts to accelerate human progress by sending a description of modern scientific knowledge (suitably translated) to Ancient Greece. Nothing happens, and the characters posit that he succeeded, at most, in inspiring certain isolated scientific insights already known to historians, which failed to catch on because the surrounding culture wasn't ready for them.
* YouAreWhatYouHate: According to his autobiography, a man named Jackson Davenport[[note]]This was not his real name. However, his real name was equally Anglo-Saxon.[[/note]] once accused Asimov of trying to hide his Jewishness because he once gave a lecture on Rosh Hashanah. Asimov said that if he wished to hide the fact that he was Jewish, the first thing he'd do is change his name to Jackson Davenport.
* {{Zeerust}}: See "Science Marches On" in the YMMV page.