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Literature / Opus 100

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FRANKLY, I never planned it this way. I never planned anything at all in my writing career. I don't even have an agent to do my planning for me. I just worked along, from day to day, as the spirit moved me, rather like the cheerful idiot I seem to be, and everything broke right.

Written by Isaac Asimov, this collection/Novel was first published in 1969 by Houghton Mifflin. In the introduction, Dr Asimov claims this book came about from a luncheon with the publishers. The idea suggested by the representatives of Houghton Mifflin was to write essentially an Autobiographical novel of his first 99 published books, with Opus 100 being a hundred book celebration of his career.

Works wholly reprinted by Opus 100

Opus 100 provides examples of:

  • Autobiography: This is the first autobiography published by Dr Asimov, and it focuses on his journey as a writer; his earliest attempts at storytelling, to his first few novels, to his most recent efforts as both a Science Fiction writer, and a writer of science fact. This novel takes its name from being the one hundredth book he published.
  • Composite Character: On page 222, Dr. Asimov tells readers that Cleon II and General Bel Riose of "The Dead Hand" are mostly based on Justinian and Belisarius from sixth century Rome, but also had bits of Tiberius and Sejanus from first century Rome. These characters were chosen based on his interest in history, covered in "Part 8".
  • Compressed Adaptation: In addition to reprinting some of his shorter works, Dr Asimov also includes excerpts from about forty more works that were published within his first hundred books. Such segments range from a few sentences to most of a chapter.
  • Death of the Author: Dr Asimov describes his introduction to this concept at the end of "Part 3. Mathematics"; when a German philosopher told him, "What makes you think, just because you wrote the story that you know anything at all about it?"
  • Dedication: Dr Asimov dedicated this book "To Time and Circumstance, which have been kind to me."
  • Framing Device: This Autobiography is also an excuse for Dr Asimov to reprint excerpts from his books and columns, and a small collection of his short fiction. He breaks everything into eleven sections, talking about them in relative isolation, even when they overlap due to his eclectic nature.
  • In Case You Forgot Who Wrote It: In "Part 4. Physics", Dr Asimov describes how, in his first hundred books, several publishers had decided to include "Asimov's" in the title.
  • Know-Nothing Know-It-All: At the end of "Part 6. Biology", Dr Asimov describes when a radio talk show host had expected him to be an expert on brains because of his recent book, The Human Brain. Asimov, however, refused, explaining that everything he knew (and more than he could remember) went into the book. The only thing he admitted to being an expert on? Sounding like an expert.
  • Lame Pun Reaction: Dr Asimov relates an anecdote where he suggested a baby name for his friends, Mr and Mrs Mamber. He told them that if they had a daughter, named "Rebekah", then she'd inevitably get the nickname "Ree", and become known as "Ree Mamber". According to Dr Asimov, they refused to associate with him for the rest of the night.
  • My Friends... and Zoidberg: Dr Asimov describes his relationship with publishers as wonderful, except for Gnome Press. He was very happy when Doubleday obtained their publishing licenses and began reprinting the four books Gnome Press had owned. These four books were I, Robot and The Foundation Trilogy.
  • Science Marches On: The author grumbles about the tendency of scientists to get things wrong and updating their understanding. His problem is that it makes his well-researched stories appear to be Artistic License.
  • Separated by a Common Language: Dr Asimov, raised in America, describes his surprise to find that his book, Quick And Easy Math had been changed by the British publisher to Quick and Easy Maths.
  • Shout-Out: As a description of his life to the point of publishing one hundred books, many popular Pulp Magazine titles are mentioned for having inspired or published his work, as well as various other publishers and magazines he had been published in. Here are other titles and authors he mentions.
  • Spell My Name With An S: Starting on page 102, Dr Asimov begins sharing examples of when publishers had gotten his name wrong on the covers of his books, introduced because he had seen a British version of one of his books change the title to Quick and Easy Maths.
  • Sports Widow: Dr Asimov describes being married to a writer as a fate worse than death because he is "physically home and mentally absent". This book was published while he was married to his first wife, Gertrude Blugerman, who disliked his decision to write. Janet Jeppson would have a different opinion.