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Asimov, Asimov, Asimov…

It is extraordinarily difficult to to speak in a succinct way about the massive dimensions of this man and his mind. It is my firm belief that any attempt at an alphabet system of science fiction writers will now and forever always begin with Asimov. In short Isaac Asimov was a genius of the first rate, exceeding John Von Neuman, Albert Einstein, Isaac Newton and the rest not only for his scientific aptitude and number of fields he impacted, but because of his vision and imagination. He shaped not only Science Fiction, but Science itself.

Russian born, Between October 4, 1919 and January 2, 1920, he died April 6, 1992 (aged 72) having been one of the most prolific writers of all time.  He not only wrote some of the best science fiction ever, he wrote shockingly astute hard science books for the popular interest, I still remember reading his “Intelligent Man’s Guide to Science” which blew the top of my head off, scooped out my brains and put itself in the space left over. I had no idea that Science as a collection of seemingly disjoint branches  could be unified in such a fluid and comprehensive way. If you are looking for an intro to this man’s non-fiction work, get the Guide, it will increase your IQ by 20 points and infect you with a love of Science again.

As for his fiction work, well, I believe I already mentioned he was a prolific writer, you can walk into the Asimov section of any good bookstore, swing a cat, and whatever book you hit will be a good one. His Foundation Series is so epic, with its ability to unify Psychology, History, and Sociology not only within its pages, but in your mind as reader, that you will never look at your world the same way after reading it.

Asimov is the Patron Saint of Robots and Robotics, in fact the term “robotics” was attributed to him. The “Positronic Brain” is also one of his.

I had to think long and hard about which of his fiction writings I was going to recommend as an intro to this brilliant man’s work, and in the end, the decision was easy. It is a work that is so amazing, so utterly world-changing in scope and eloquent in execution that it’s premise should be ruled as the fundamental theorem of all Science Fiction (and maybe Science too). I shall dispense with all hyperbole and simply say I am amazed that Isaac Asimov’s short story “Nightfall” has not been placed at the top of the FDA’s list of most powerful mind altering substances.

It has been rightly called “The Greatest Science Fiction Short Story of All Time”, it actually spawned two motion pictures, one in 1988 and another in 2000 (don’t watch them before reading it for yourself, although the movies are not entirely without merit) and audio versions, if you must explore it in any other media than print, I recommend the Stephen Eley reading for the 100th episode of the weekly Sci-Fi Podcast Escapepod.

To give a brief intro to what the book is about…

The story takes place on a world that has multiple Sun’s, the people of this world have the level of knowledge and technology that is roughly comparable to 1940’s America. They know from history that there was a cataclysmic breakdown of society a few thousand years ago, but no one knows why it happened, and as their world braces for the impact of a never before seen celestial event they must choose to reach for the light or fall into an endless cycle darkness.

Amazon is selling it in paperback and Kindle editions for $7.99, and I can honestly say if they charged triple that it would still be a good deal.

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