Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Yours, Isaac Asimov

Yours, Isaac Asimov: A Lifetime of Letters
© 1996 Isaac Asimov, ed. Stanley Asimov
352 pages


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Had you asked me who my favorite author was in 2007, I would’ve looked askance at you, thinking that sort of question a type of sacrilege. Humanity has produced so many varied authors -- how could I dare choose one? That was before I read my first short story collection by Isaac Asimov, featuring little forwards to introduce each story. I loved reading Asimov’s collections -- adored them. Each book was a feast, and a year later I realized: Isaac Asimov was my favorite author. I could say that because of his breadth of approach: he wrote on science, history, religion and literature in addition to his fictional works which were equally varied. Thus, I looked forward to Yours, Asimov: A Lifetime of Letters.

The book is most appealing to fans of Asimov, particularly those who are fond of his personality as displayed in his forwards, memoirs, and the like. Edited by his brother Stanley, the book consists of quotations -- typically short, but with occasional long passages -- lifted from the many letters Asimov wrote throughout his lifetime. The excerpts are arranged topically, the first chapter consisting of his mentions to the joy of letter-writing and the last his reflections on death. In between, he comments on everything in his life, seemingly: science fiction, limericks, science, travel,  Star Trek,  age, funny stories, his fans, his fellow authors,  his health, and his religious views among other subjects.

Although I’ve read a couple of Asimov memoirs (I, Asimov and It’s Been a Good Life), Asimov managed to surprise me there and again. I enjoyed reading about his friendship with Carl Sagan and Gene Roddenberry, and I was amused to see him quoting from the same letter exchange between himself and Leonard Nimoy that Nimoy quoted from in I Am Spock.  The book reflects Asimov’s personality well: informal, witty, self-depreciating and immodest at the same time,  and typically charming. Having been consigned to bedrest with plenty of fluids, I enjoyed cozying up with the good doctor today. For the Asimov fan, this is an easy recommendation.

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