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I, Asimov: A Memoir Hardcover – March 1, 1994

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Editorial Reviews Review

The long-awaited autobiography of the science fiction master. Filled with his opinions and insights on topics ranging from his own genius and his fear of flying to politics, love, mortality, Hollywood, and religion. Non-fiction. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

From Publishers Weekly

Although larded with thin filler material, Asimov's uneven posthumous autobiography also contains some of his liveliest, most incisive writing. The prolific SF novelist and nonfiction author, who died in 1992, discusses working in his father's candy store during the Depression, his unhappy first marriage and bitter divorce, his fulfilling second marriage and his dislike of children, which did not inhibit him from fathering a son and a daughter. We also learn of Asimov's fear of high places, his claustrophilia (his penchant for enclosed, artificially lit places), his compulsion to be prolific and the heart disease of his final years. Filled with cameos of well-known science fiction writers and editors, the narrative is peppered with Asimov's freewheeling thoughts on the Bible, teenagers, Sherlock Holmes, death, censorship and much else. Fans will enjoy his entertaining conversational mix of puckish humor, verve and self-revelation. Photos not seen by PW.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 562 pages
  • Publisher: Doubleday; 1st edition (March 1, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385417012
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385417013
  • Product Dimensions: 2 x 9.2 x 6.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (66 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #302,788 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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62 of 66 people found the following review helpful By Augustus Caesar, Ph.D. on February 14, 2002
Format: Paperback
"I, Asimov" was the penultimate book to pour from the pen of Isaac Asimov. During a career that lasted over five decades, Asimov wrote on more topics than virtually any other writer in literary history. From the sciences to history and Shakespeare to the Bible, his clear, concise writing style and ability to simplify even the most complex ideas earned him the nickname "The Great Explainer." His fiction, with the exception of his early Foundation novels, "The Gods Themselves" and some shorter pieces, consisted largely of filler. Nonetheless, by the time of his death, he was quite possibly the most famous SF writer of his time.
Asimov's first volumes of autobiography were published in 1979 and 1980. As his health declined and the end drew near, his wife, Janet, encouraged him to write a third volume, less explanatory and more introspective. He obliged. "I, Asimov" lacks the surface detail of the early memoirs, but is rich in thought, emotion and self-revelation. The man that emerges from these pages was witty, intelligent, kind, loyal and genuinely devoted to sharing his knowledge and talents with others. He could also be vain and arrogant, but he is so honest about these less-attractive attributes that the reader is willing to forgive him anything.
There is a cloud of nostalgia and approaching death that hangs over most of "I, Asimov." The book was written when the author knew he didn't have long to live, and the book reflects that state of mind. In the end, however, it is uplifting and optimistic rather than depressing and gloom-ridden. What keeps me from giving it a full five stars is the rather dull middle section, which is significantly less interesing than the beginning and ending. The first 150 pages of the book are particularly unputdownable. All in all, this is a superb memoir and well-worth reading. I highly recommend it.
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39 of 41 people found the following review helpful By absent_minded_prof on November 4, 2000
Format: Paperback
Isaac Asimov was just The Man, plain and simple. This book is a collection of dozens of little 2-4 page essays, dealing with myriad personal topics in his life, which amounts to a history of the very field of science fiction, in a lot of ways. He gives his account of his dealings with a lot of the other luminaries in the field -- Arthur C. Clarke, Robert Heinlein, Hal Clement, Lester del Ray, and lots of others. These accounts are always interesting, and often full of helpful little insights into the characters of other science fiction writers.
One interesting thing -- he says that he had no ability at all to be a critic, in the sense that he couldn't criticize his own work, or anyone elses. He knew if he liked it or not, but that's as far as it went. For me, that was probably the most telling little essay in the whole book. The only author in history to have authored books classified in every single section of the Dewey Decimal system, one of the most prolific writers EVER, simply had no inner critic. He just wrote, and wrote, and wrote. Anyone else out there who finds that interesting, and possibly helpful to them somehow, might want to check out "Writing Without Teachers" by Peter Elbow, or, relatedly, "Flow" by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. (Yes, I'm serious about the spelling of that guy's name).
You also get a clear sense of Isaac Asimov's strong sense of self-respect, and his fundamental optimism about humanity, and his warmth. I'm glad his voice is still out there, on the printed page, reaching more people even after he has passed on.
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33 of 35 people found the following review helpful By Andrew McCaffrey VINE VOICE on October 9, 2001
Format: Paperback
You can tell that Isaac Asimov really enjoys talking about himself. But that's quite all right because his enthusiasm is contagious. Divided into scores of essays three to four pages each, this book is a series of thoughts and reminisces that hold a basic chronological order, but skip around occasionally to properly place things into the perspective that he viewed them from at the time of his writing. Asimov offers frank views on a variety of topics, ranging from his days in the army to his two marriages to his fellow science-fiction writers.
This is a very appealing collection of remembrances of a life that saw not just a lot of science fiction history and world events, but also of personal growth. While there is a certain amount of repetition here, it works insofar as a person's life does involve a lot of revisiting the same paths. Asimov says himself in the book that he hadn't really done a lot of things in his life. He didn't travel and he spent most of his life inside his apartment typing away at his keyboard. "Didn't you notice," he once asked someone who had read and enjoyed his first two volumes of autobiographies, "that nothing happened?" That the events described are not world-shattering is hardly a detriment to this book. The witty and intelligent manner in which he describes even simple, everyday events is what makes this so engaging.
Asimov's life was consumed by his writing, and, not surprisingly, most of this book focuses on the hundreds of other books he wrote. He describes in detail how many books he had written, how many he had edited, how many he had co-written. It was an obsession that he did not hide or feel ashamed about.
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