Isaac Asimov:

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The most Bobing of Dudes
Figured that it was about time we had an Asimov thread to compete with the Heinlein one. That and I've never been crazy about Heinlein as a writer or even thought he was that great for that matter.tongue

edited 25th May '12 4:42:01 PM by Bobdude

Lord of Castamere
Hmm I like his works... especially the Foundation Trilogy and The Life and Times of Multivac.

edited 25th May '12 5:14:59 PM by Anfauglith

Instead, I have learned a horrible truth of existence...some stories have no meaning.
3 whataboutme26th May 2012 12:19:05 AM from strange land, far away.
I'm currently reading the Foundation Trilogy and I also have the Robots book series, though I haven't read them yet. So far, it's fascinating. Quite a lot of characters to follow, but the twists and turns of the stories make it worth while.

The first book I read from him was his collaboration with Silverberg - "Child of Time". That's what got me interested in Asimov in the first place. It was a good book, worth the read.
Please don't feed the trolls!
4 MrAHR26th May 2012 09:58:29 AM from ಠ_ಠ , Relationship Status: A cockroach, nothing can kill it.
Ahr river
He's a good writer in some aspects. Others...not so much.
Lord of Castamere
What things do you dislike / criticize about him, if I may ask? That would be a nice topic of conversation.
Instead, I have learned a horrible truth of existence...some stories have no meaning.
6 MrAHR26th May 2012 01:28:44 PM from ಠ_ಠ , Relationship Status: A cockroach, nothing can kill it.
Ahr river
His characters tend to be a bit on the flat side, especially his females. Also, sometimes his writing-by-pants nature is rather...apparent.
Lord of Castamere
I rather agree about the flat characters... and yes, females tend to be even more one-dimensional, and I think the worst culprit regarding this are the Azazel stories. I also didn't really like the book that introduces Gaia to the Foundation Trilogy, but I don't remember which book it was. The Limits of the Foundation, I think? I'm not sure.

I should reread the Foundation Trilogy, I don't read it since ages.

edited 26th May '12 1:40:58 PM by Anfauglith

Instead, I have learned a horrible truth of existence...some stories have no meaning.
8 MrAHR26th May 2012 04:50:10 PM from ಠ_ಠ , Relationship Status: A cockroach, nothing can kill it.
Ahr river
Yeah, although his stories are arguably more plot based, so the characters don't have to be all that memorable or well thought out.
9 tricksterson26th May 2012 05:01:52 PM from Behind you with an icepick , Relationship Status: Above such petty unnecessities
Never Trust
Bobdude: Odd you should feel that way since Asimov was an admirer of Heinlein and they were friends. Different political beliefs (although if you pay attention you'll find Heinlein's politca; beliefs are harder to pin down than you think though not as hard as his religious ones) but personal friends.

As for Asimov's virtues and vices as a writer I think the shorter his format the better his work. I like his Foundation series but, especially after the original trilogy, it suffered badly from Sequelitus.

edited 26th May '12 5:03:52 PM by tricksterson

10 MrAHR26th May 2012 05:36:12 PM from ಠ_ಠ , Relationship Status: A cockroach, nothing can kill it.
Ahr river
I mostly liked the sequels because it brought back the best robot ever. R. Daneel Olivaw. Fuck yeah.

edited 26th May '12 5:41:41 PM by MrAHR

Lord of Castamere
I think the sequels are basically Asimov needing a paycheck and adding Daneel because of the Rule of Cool. With the exception of the damned Second Foundation Trilogy, which is not even written by him.

edited 26th May '12 7:12:30 PM by Anfauglith

Instead, I have learned a horrible truth of existence...some stories have no meaning.
12 MrShine26th May 2012 10:29:51 PM , Relationship Status: Hoping Senpai notices me
[up]According to Asimov it wasn't so much him needing a paycheck as it was his publisher wanting a payoff and pressuring him to write them. That being said, while the later Federation books are a bit uneven and not the pure classics the earlier ones are, there are definitely some cool moments there. Plus badass robot is badass.
13 jtphil30th May 2012 07:25:44 AM from Philadelphia, PA
Hello, all!

I noticed this thread about my favorite sf author and thought you might find this excerpt from the final volume of Dr. Asimov's autobiography, "I. Asimov", of interest. The book was published posthumously in 1994, and Asimov speaks more frankly than he had done in the past.

In this passage from pp. 76-78 Asimov goes into some detail about his "friendship" with Robert Heinlein and also talks about his and Heinlein's writing styles.

And remember, I'm just quoting Isaac!

My friendship with Heinlein, by the way, did not follow the smooth and even course that marked all my other science fiction friendships. That this would be so appeared almost at once when we worked together at the NAES. I never openly quarreled with him (I try never to quarrel openly with anyone) and I never turned my back on him. We greeted each other warmly when we met right down to the end of Heinlein’s life.

There had to be a certain circumspection in the friendship, how- ever. Heinlein was not the easygoing fellow that other science fiction personalities I knew and loved were. He did not believe in doing his own thing and letting you do your thing. He had a definite feeling that he knew better and to lecture you into agreeing with him. Campbell did this too, but Campbell always remained serenely indifferent if you ended up disagreeing with him, whereas Heinlein would, under those circumstances, grow hostile.

I do not take well to people who are convinced they know better than I do, and who badger me for that reason, so I began to avoid him.

Furthermore, although a flaming liberal during the war, Heinlein became a rock-ribbed far-right conservative immediately afterward. This happened at just the time he changed wives from a liberal woman, Leslyn, to a rock-ribbed far-right conservative woman, Virginia.

Ronald Reagan did the same when he switched wives from the liberal Jane Wyman to the ultraconservative Nancy, but Ronald Reagan I have always viewed as a brainless fellow who echoes the opinions of anyone who gets close to him.

I can’t explain Heinlein in that way at all, for I cannot believe he would follow his wives’ opinions blindly. I used to brood about it in puzzlement (of course, I never would have dreamed of asking Heinlein—I’m sure he would have refused to answer, and would have done so with the utmost hostility), and I did come to one conclusion. I would never marry anyone who did not generally agree with my political, social, and philosophical view of life.

To marry someone at complete odds with myself in those basics would be to ask for a life of argument and controversy, or (in some ways, worse) one that comes to the tacit understanding that these things were never to be discussed. Nor could I see any chance of coming to agreement. I would certainly not change my own views just for the sake of peace in the household, and I would not want a woman so feeble in her opinions that she would do so. No, I would want one compatible with my views to begin with and I must say that this was true of both my wives.

Another point about Heinlein is that he was not among those writers who, having achieved a particular style, cling to it during their lives, despite changing fashions. I have already mentioned that E. E. Smith was such a clinger and so, I must admit, am I. The novels I have been writing lately are the kind I wrote in the 1950s. (I have been criticized for this by some critics, but the day I pay attention to critics is the day the sky will fall.)

Heinlein, on the other hand, tried to keep up with the times, so that his later novels were “with it” as far as post-1960s literary fashions were concerned. I say “tried” because I think he failed. I am no judge of other people’s writings (or even of my own) and I don’t wish to make subjective statements about them, but I am forced to admit that I always wished that he had kept to the style he achieved in such stories as “Solution Unsatisfactory” (October 1941 ASF), which he wrote under the pseudonym of Anson Mac Donald, and such novels as Double Star, published in 1956, which I think is the best thing he ever wrote.

He made a mark outside the limited magazine world of science fiction too. He was the first of our group to break into the “slicks,” publishing “The Green Hills of Earth” in The Saturday Evening Post.

I was quite envious of this for a while till I reasoned out that he was advancing the cause of science fiction generally and making it easier for the rest of us to follow in that direction. Heinlein was also involved with an early motion picture that tried to be both sensible and science-fictional—Destination Moon. When the Science Fiction Writers of America began to hand out their Grand Master Awards in 1975, Heinlein received the first by general acclamation.

He died on May 8, 1988, at the age of eighty to an outpouring of sentiment from even the non-science-fiction World. He had kept his position as greatest science fiction writer unshaken to the end.

In 1989, his book Grumbles from the Grave was published posthumously. It consists of letters he wrote to editors and, chiefly, to his agent. I read it and shook my head and wished it hadn’t appeared, for Heinlein (it seemed to me) revealed, in these letters, a meanness of spirit that I had seen in him even in the NAES days but that I feel should not have been revealed to the world generally.

edited 30th May '12 7:31:38 AM by jtphil

Properly read, the Bible is the most potent force for atheism ever conceived. —Isaac Asimov
14 tricksterson30th May 2012 01:41:44 PM from Behind you with an icepick , Relationship Status: Above such petty unnecessities
Never Trust
Interesting that he should consider Heinlein's second wife a "rock-ribbed conservative" since Heinlein himself once described her as one of only two "genuine bomb throwing anarchists" he knew. Forget who the second one was.

But then of course Asimov was speaking in from a purely neutral, objective viewpoint so who are we to doubt him?

Oh and I read Grumbles From the Grave too and didn't consider it mean spirited at all. A defensive tone yes, but not meanly so.

edited 30th May '12 1:45:00 PM by tricksterson

Pika is the bombchu!
I have yet to read any of his fiction, but I enjoy his nonfiction.
mudshark: I don't expect Nate to make sense, really.
16 tricksterson4th Jul 2012 02:02:46 PM from Behind you with an icepick , Relationship Status: Above such petty unnecessities
Never Trust
Although his Foundation and Daneel Olivaw books are required reading my favorite is a lesser known work called ;;The Gods Themselves''. Strong reccomendation.
I have read and enjoyed a large amount of his work, but have gradually come to prefer his nonfiction to his fiction. My favourite fictional works of his are, as noted immediately above, The Gods Themselves, and The End of Eternity, which have the benefit of being somewhat atypical of his normal fictional subjects, and therefore avoiding some of the overkill that can come up when you decide to make a grand unified plot of a bunch of works not originally intended to be unified.
18 DrIntrovert19th Jul 2012 04:47:44 PM from The End of Eternity.
I also enjoy Asimov's nonfiction more than his fiction. My favorite are his essays on mathematics; He's skilled at expressing completed topics simply and concisely(I really wish I could find his essay on division by zero again). Asimov and Arthur C. Clark had an agreement that Asimov was the best nonfiction author and Clark was the best fiction author.

I'd like to add Nightfall and the Black Widower short stories as good fiction.
Never let your sense of morals keep you from doing what's right.
Pika is the bombchu!
No, the agreement was Clarke was best at science fiction and Asimov was best at science nonfiction.
mudshark: I don't expect Nate to make sense, really.
Three-Puppet Saluter
I just read the first book of Foundation. It's really a phenomenal book, in that it would have been like four books of four hundred pages each in the hands of any modern writer I can think of (and let's not even talk about Neal Stephenson.) So the clever little twists have much more agility with which to punch you in the face. But it doesn't really have much of an arc to it; it's just a series of tasty tea sandwiches of intrigue. I really thought it would end with them finding out they've gone off-plan, because they anticipated the Seldon crisis a bit too early, but no. The title of the next book does hold promise, though.

Also, Salvor Hardin is a total BAMF. I'd heard Hari Seldon was an iconic sci-fi character, and he definitely does prepossess, but the solution to the Second Crisis was easily the best of all the awesome reversals in the book.
Hail Martin Septim!
Three-Puppet Saluter
Oh lord, I finished Foundation and Empire. Now that is the epic I was expecting. (It gets a bit Deathly Hallows-ish at points, actually - just this all-oppressive bleak-and-doom all around. Which is fitting, no?) Man, Asimov even warned me in no uncertain terms that shit was about to get hard-core, and I managed to willfully read uncertainty into it. One question, though: if the Mule was off Terminus since pretty much the moment it fell, how did he get to all those rebel leaders?

edited 29th Jul '12 3:51:03 PM by DomaDoma

Hail Martin Septim!
22 ATC29th Jul 2012 05:12:46 PM from The Library of Kiev
Was Aliroz the Confused
Salvor Harden is indeed one of fiction's greatest characters.
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Three-Puppet Saluter
Finished the first segment of Second Foundation. The wheels within wheels are getting to the gawping point, but hey, I like that in my fiction. The trouble is, it doesn't look like any of our major players are going to be recognizably human any more. If everyone is now getting by with mental jerk-arounds, then there's really not much that gets me invested in the Second Foundation over the Mule. But I guess the Encyclopedia excerpts show that humanity as we know it is still a thing, so I'll stay tuned for the last segment...
Hail Martin Septim!
24 Blueeyedrat8th Aug 2012 07:11:41 PM from nowhere in particular. , Relationship Status: Mu
This guy is probably my favorite author ever. I've read a lot of his short stories— I, Robot, Nine Tomorrows, etc. —and whatever novels of his I could find in the school library— The Gods Themselves, Foundation, Foundation and Empire, but not Second Foundation, which annoys me to no end. (I'm sure my dad is fond of him too, seeing as he's also a biochemist.)

I'm rather partial to the Foundation series, mostly because it's the kind of story I can see myself writing— more focused on the world itself and its mythology, following different characters and stories over generations rather than a single objective.
"I've come to the conclusion that this is a very stupid idea."
Walking the Earth
Great short story writer, but I never got into his novels.

Despite being a huge fan of the genre, Asimov is the only one of the "big three" I like.
For we shall slay evil with logic...

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