Presented in AABB rhyming structure, the poem is also a Homage to Sir William Schwenck Gilbert's poetic style. It borrows heavily from "If you're anxious for to shine", written for Patience. In this work, Dr Asimov presents advice on writing Science Fiction. The advice reflects on his success with the Foundation series, claiming it comes mostly from using nonsense scientific terms, stealing ideas from other places, and clever male characters.
Another poem written by Isaac Asimov with a similar theme was "How To Succeed At Science Fiction Without Really Trying".
This poem has been reprinted several times; The Best From Fantasy And Science Fiction: Fourth Series (1955), Earth is Room Enough (1957), The Far Ends Of Time And Earth (1979), The Eureka Years (1982), The Best Science Fiction Of Isaac Asimov (1986), The Complete Stories, Volume 1 (1990), and Asimov Laughs Again (1992).
Examples of tropes within this work:
- Always Male: (Conversational Troping) While the poem assumes the potential new author is male, it also recommends that the author focus on a male cast, and the main protagonist should both be clever and avoid romance.
- Artistic License Physics: (Conversational Troping) Despite being known for his Hard Science Fiction, this work specifically advises potential authors to use "tesseractic fallacies in slick and mystic style", meaning it's okay to misuse scientific jargon to attract fans.
- Books on Trope: Gives advice on tropes/tricks of popular Science Fiction for potential new writers. (Take it with a grain of salt.)
- Chaste Hero: (Conversational Troping) This poem advises that aspiring authors should avoid romantic subplots, making their male heroes avoid getting entangled with distracting women.
- Dedication: Dr Asimov prefaces this poem with an apology to W. S. Gilbert.
- Guile Hero: (Conversational Troping) This poem advises that the main character (male, of course) be thinking about politics and dirty tricks, as well as scheming with psychohistory.
- Homage: This poem takes Sir William Schwenck Gilbert's humorous rhyming, drawing upon "If you're anxious for to shine", a Patter Song from Patience. The poem advises aspiring Science Fiction authors on what to imitate, based on Dr Asimov's own success.
- Lyric Swap: A recurring rhyme in this poem is "And all the fans will say, as you walk your [changes] way". The second-to-last word is either spatial, thoughtful, or narrow. The rhyme that follows is also clearly related, but changes even more dramatically each time it's used.
- "If that young man indulges in flights through all the Galaxy, Why, what a most imaginative type of man that type of man must be."
- "If that young man involves himself in authentic history, Why, what a very learned kind of high IQ, his high IQ must be."
- "If all his yarns restrict themselves to masculinity, Why, what a most particularly pure young man that pure young man must be."
- Pandering to the Base: (Conversational Troping) This poem gives various bits of advice on how to write the sort of Science Fiction that sells well. While written in 1954, the advice is still as good as it ever was.
- Patter Song: This song acts as an Homage to Sir William Schwenck Gilbert's "If you're anxious for to shine" from Patience. The poem has a number of phrases that evoke a Tongue Twister sense by including rhymes within the lines.
- Self-Parody: Isaac Asimov's poem is mocking his Foundation series (it's even in the name). It points out his borrowing from Roman history, as well as his Technobabble, such as hyperspace drives and psychohistory. The advice isn't actively bad, since he obviously gained considerable success with the series, but it does emphasize some of the negative traits that not everyone enjoys, such as his avoidance of any romantic subplots and male-dominated cast of characters.
- Sincerest Form of Flattery:
- The apology at at start of the poem admits that Dr Asimov was imitating W. S. Gilbert when he was composing this poem.
- This work subtly admits that Dr Asimov's success comes from imitating historical society (such as The Roman Empire).
- This work subtly admits that Dr Asimov's success comes from imitating Edward Gibbon (for his The History Of The Decline And Fall Of The Roman Empire).
- This work subtly admits that Dr Asimov's success comes from imitating Thucydides (for his The History Of The Peloponnesian War).
- Techno Babble: (Conversational Troping) Dr Asimov advises the reader to use scientific jargon (even if it's wrong) in their own works, because that's what the fans enjoy.