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Who is Isaac Asimov?

By Wanda Albano
Updated Mar 06, 2024
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Isaac Asimov was a highly prolific science fiction and popular science writer. His exact birth date is unknown, although it is estimated to be between 4 October 1919 and 22 January 1920. Born in what is now known as the Republic of Belarus, this American Jew was also a biochemistry professor, as well as an occasional editor. Asimov has over 500 books (both written and edited) credited to his name.

Asimov was considered one of the "Big Three" of science fiction together with Robert A. Heinlein and Arthur C. Clarke. He is most famous for his Foundation series, to which his two other notable series - the Galactic Empire series and the Robot series, are also linked. His short story Nightfall is widely hailed as the best science fiction short story of all time. He also periodically wrote under the pseudonym Paul French. Most of the work under this name is considered to be juvenile science fiction.

A genius by most counts, Asimov was a longstanding member of Mensa, even serving as Vice President of the esteemed high IQ society. He was famously quoted as describing the group's members as being "intellectually combative" and was said to derive more pleasure from his presidential term with the American Humanist Association.

Isaac Asimov grew up in Brooklyn, New York, attending public schools until he gained entry to Columbia University. He graduated with a Bachelor's degree in 1939, married Gertrude Blugerman in 1942, and was drafted into the army in 1945. He reached the rank of corporal before being honorably discharged just 9 months after he started his service.

Asimov then went back to Columbia, earning a PhD in biochemistry from said institution in 1948, after which he joined the staff of Boston University's School of Medicine. Asimov and his first wife Gertrude divorced in 1973, which allowed him to marry Janet Jeppson in the same year. On 6 April 1992, Isaac Asimov succumbed to AIDS, which he contracted during a blood transfusion. His second wife, Janet Jeppson, and his children survive him.

Asimov is credited with introducing three words into the public vocabulary: positronic, psychohistory, and robotics. He has a literary journal (Asimov's Science Fiction), two awards, and an asteroid (Asteroid 5020 Asimov) in his honor.

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Discussion Comments

By anon146022 — On Jan 25, 2011

That's interesting. He made a mistake joining Mensa--twice.

By anon45264 — On Sep 15, 2009

How amazing that we can change history to make it serve us as we want it to do. I can't trust something that does it for propaganda purposes. Well, i never liked mensa anyway! Asimov joined Mensa, the high-IQ society, in the early 1960s, but found that many of the members were arrogant about their supposed intelligence, so he let his membership lapse. However when he moved back to New York, he became an active member once again, and gave speeches to groups of Mensans on a number of occasions. Yet once again membership became a burden for him, so he resigned from the group. Stop spreading lies about assimov. he was a great man and a greater thinker. he made a mistake joining mensa, and figured it later when he left this egocentric and arrogant group!

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