Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Interviews with one of my idols



Conversations with Isaac Asimov – Carl Freedman Ed. (2005)

            Isaac Asimov is one of my all-time idols.  From his science fiction to his science writing to his many non-fiction books, everything he has written is valuable to me.  He was known as the “Great Explainer” in the decades before Carl Sagan took up that mantle for his ability to digest and then explain the most difficult of scientific subjects.  What many people do not know is that, apart from being one of the most prolific authors ever, he was an amazing conversationalist.  He could expound on nearly any subject with witty, informative conversation.  This book captures many of these instances.  It collects a few dozen interviews with Mr. Asimov from the last 40 years of his life.
            One of the reasons I have such an affinity for Mr. Asimov is that he and I are very similar in many ways.  He was born in another country and came to the USA at a young age, (3 years old, from Russia, whereas I was 7 years old, from Puerto Rico). He first fell in love with reading because of science fiction.  He greedily devoured any book he could find that provided him with information about a topic he found intriguing.  He rarely read the “classics” of literature, preferring information.  He had the ability to recall seemingly every bit of scientific information he absorbed.  He was a lifelong skeptic with little use for spirituality or religion.  He was married twice.  He hated flying, due to an admittedly irrational fear.  (I hate flying because the changes in air pressure causes me to have violent vertigo)  He was a man who stood for the beauty of knowledge and the joy of spreading that knowledge. 

He was also a master of the "side-eye" when you acted the fool.


            Much of this is discussed in the various interviews collected in this volume.  The majority of the interviews cover his personal life and then begin to ask him questions based on his science fiction writing and general science knowledge.  It is great to see him defend the view of rational scientific thought, and its myriad benefits.  He talks about how his writing is his favorite thing in the world, how he spends 7 days a week writing and hates anything interrupting him.  He is asked about his views for humanity’s future, technology’s advancement, and the world of science fiction in general.  It is great to read this stuff, as it feels like Mr. Asimov is directly talking to me.  As my brother has stated, only slightly exaggerating, “All my heroes are dead.”  It is a very lucky thing for me to come across a book like this, as it allows me a peek into the mind of a man who, while he wrote millions of words, rarely spent those words in talking about himself.  I am currently reading “Isaac Asimov’s Guide to the Bible,” and am almost ¾ of the way through the Old Testament.  Isaac Asimov could write about anything that crossed his intellect.  We are all luckier and better for it.

(To read one of Asimov's early classic sci fi stories, Nightfall, an RXTT favorite, click here: https://www.uni.edu/morgans/astro/course/nightfall.pdf )

No comments:

Post a Comment

Any Thoughts?