This image is a reproduction of an original painting by renowned science-fiction and fantasy illustrator Rowena Morrill. It depicts Dr. Isaac Asimov enthroned with symbols of his life's work.
Dr. Isaac Asimov (c. January 2, 1920 – April 6, 1992)
Asimov was born around January 2, 1920 in what is now known as Russia to Anna Rachel Berman Asimov and Judah Asimov, a Jewish family of millers. They immigrated to the United States when he was three years old. He grew up in Brooklyn, New York.
He graduated from Columbia University in 1939 then earned a Ph.D. in biochemistry there in 1948. In between, he spent three years during World War II working at the Philadelphia Navy Yard's Naval Air Experimental Station. After the war ended, he was drafted into the U.S. Army.
After completing his doctorate, he joined the faculty of Boston University, with which he remained associated thereafter. After 1958, it was in a non-teaching capacity since he became a full-time writer. Since he was tenured, he retained the title of associate professor and, in 1979; the university honored his writing by promoting him to full professor. His personal papers from 1965 onward are archived at its Mugar Memorial Library, where they fill 464 boxes on 71 meters of shelf space.
He married Gertrude Blugerman (1917–1990) on July 26, 1942, and they had two children, David (b. 1951) and Robyn Joan (b. 1955). After an extended separation, they were divorced in 1973, and Asimov married Janet O. Jeppson later that year. Gertrude, born in Canada, died in Boston in 1990.
Asimov died on April 6, 1992. His death was caused by AIDS; he had contracted HIV from a blood transfusion received during a heart bypass operation.
Asimov wrote more than 500 books. He has works in every major category of the Dewey Decimal System except Philosophy. Asimov is most known for his science-fiction writing. Asimov wrote the Lucky Starr series of books using the Pen Name Paul French. Most of Asimov's popularized science books explain scientific concepts in a historical way, going back as far as possible to a time when the science in question was at its simplest stage. The numerous awards he has received are listed on Asimov’s Home Page.
Isaac Asimov was a Humanist and a rationalist. He did not oppose genuine religious conviction in others but vocally opposed superstitious or unfounded beliefs. During his childhood, his father and mother observed the Orthodox Jewish tradition, but did not force this belief upon Asimov, and so he grew up without strong religious influences, coming to believe that the Bible represented Hebrew mythology in the same way that the Iliad recorded Greek mythology. In his last autobiographical book, Asimov wrote, "If I were not an atheist, I would believe in a God who would choose to save people on the basis of the totality of their lives and not the pattern of their words. I think he would prefer an honest and righteous atheist to a TV preacher whose every word is God, God, God, and whose every deed is foul, foul, foul."
Asimov was a long-time member of Mensa, albeit reluctantly; he described them as "intellectually combative". He took more joy in being president of the American Humanist Association. The asteroid 5020 Asimov, the magazine Asimov's Science Fiction and two different Isaac Asimov Awards are all named in his honor.
Asimov was a progressive on most political issues, and a staunch supporter of the Democratic Party. He was a vocal opponent of the Vietnam War in the 1960s, and in a television interview in the early 1970s he publicly endorsed George McGovern. He was unhappy at what he saw as an irrationalist track taken by many progressive political activists from the late 1960s onwards. In his autobiography In Joy Still Felt, he recalls meeting the counterculture figure Abbie Hoffman; Asimov's impression was that the 1960s' counterculture heroes had ridden an emotional wave which, in the end, left them stranded in a "no-man's land of the spirit" from which he wondered if they would ever return.
In the closing years of his life, Asimov blamed the deterioration of the quality of life that he perceived in New York City 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 his long-time friend science fiction author Frederik Pohl), deals with elements of the environmental crisis such as global warming and the destruction of the ozone layer.
Blood Type Connection
Referring to before the advent of the Information Age, Carl Sagan, stated "Isaac Asimov is the greatest explainer of the age".
Isaac Asimov co-wrote the book Races and People in 1955 with William Boyd. Boyd and Asimov's classification of the major clines by blood type was groundbreaking. It disproved the common bias based on race that was prevalent in the 1950s. The Individualist page on Blood Groups, Races and People delves into this aspect further.
50 years later, JH Jenkins Book Review of “Races and People” states “When the reader has finished the book (which is fun to read and full of touches of wit in addition to being informative), many of his preconceived notions about race will be changed. He will know why he is as he is, why others are as they are, how the differences came about and, most important of all, he will be convinced that there is no such thing as a superior race.”
There are other scientific books on biology and genetics listed among the 506 book titles in the Catalog of Isaac Asimov’s books.