New York City, New York , United States
|| January 02, 1920
|Died||April 06, 1992
Jan 02, 2005 12:08am
Caucasian - Jewish - Russian - Liberal - Moderate-to-Liberal - Pro Environment - Pro-Choice - Married - AIDS - Atheist - Straight -
|Info||Asimov was born around January 2, 1920 (his date of birth for official purposes—the precise date is not certain) in Petrovichi, near Smolensk, Russia, to Anna Rachel and Judah Asimov, a Jewish family. They emigrated to the United States when he was three years old. He taught himself to read at the age of 5. He grew up in Brooklyn, New York. His parents owned a candy store and everyone in the family was expected to work in it. He saw science fiction magazines in the store and began reading them. In his late teens, he began to write his own stories and soon was selling them to pulp magazines. |
He graduated from Columbia University in 1939 and took a Ph.D. in chemistry there in 1948. He then joined the faculty of Boston University, with which he remained associated thereafter, but in a non-teaching capacity. The university ceased to pay him a salary in 1958, by which time his income from writing already exceeded his income from his academic duties. (Asimov remained on the faculty as an associate professor, in 1979 promoted to full professor, and his personal papers from 1965 onward are archived at Boston University's Mugar Memorial Library, where they consume 464 boxes on 232 feet (71 metres) of shelf space.)
He married Gertrude Blugerman on July 26, 1942, with whom he had two children, David (b. 1951) and Robyn (b. 1955). After an extended separation, they were divorced in 1973, and Asimov married Janet O. Jeppson later that year.
Asimov died on April 6, 1992, having contracted HIV from an infected blood transfusion during heart bypass surgery in 1983. He was survived by his second wife, Janet, and his children from his first marriage. That he died of heart and renal failure as a complication of AIDS was not revealed until ten years later, in Janet Asimov's biography It's Been a Good Life.
Beliefs and politics
Isaac Asimov was a humanist and a rationalist. He did not oppose genuine religious conviction in others but was against superstitious or unfounded beliefs. He was afraid of flying, only doing so twice in his entire life. Asimov was also a claustrophile; that is, he enjoyed small, enclosed spaces.
Asimov was a progressive on most political issues, and a staunch supporter of the United States Democratic Party. In a television interview in the early 1970s he publicly endorsed George McGovern. He was unhappy at what he saw as an irrationalist tack taken by many progressive political activists from the late 1960s onwards. His defense of civil applications of nuclear power even after the Three Mile Island incident damaged his relations with some on the left. He issued many appeals for population control reflecting the perspective first articulated by Paul R. Ehrlich. In the closing years of his life Asimov blamed the deterioration of the quality of life that he perceived in New York on the shrinking tax base caused by middle class flight to the suburbs. His last non-fiction book, Our Angry Earth (1991, co-written with science fiction author Frederik Pohl), deals with elements of the environmental crisis such as global warming and the destruction of the ozone layer.
Overview of Asimov's writing career
Asimov's career can be divided into several time periods. His early career, dominated by science fiction, began with short stories in 1939. This lasted until about 1958, all but ending after publication of The Naked Sun. Following that, he greatly increased his production of non-fiction, consequently publishing little science fiction. Over the next quarter century, he would write only four science fiction novels. Starting in 1982, the second half of his science fiction career began with the publication of Foundation's Edge. From then until his death, Asimov would publish many sequels to his existing novels, tying them together in a way he had not originally anticipated.