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Isaac Asimov (born Isaak Ozimov; c. January 2, 1920 â€“ April 6, 1992) was an American writer and professor of biochemistry at Boston University. He was known for his works of science fiction and popular science. Asimov was a prolific writer, and wrote or edited more than 500 books and an estimated 90,000 letters and postcards. His books have been published in 9 of the 10 major categories of the Dewey Decimal Classification.
Asimov wrote hard science fiction and, along with Robert A. Heinlein and Arthur C. Clarke, he was considered one of the “Big Three” science fiction writers during his lifetime. Asimov’s most famous work is the Foundation Series; his other major series are the Galactic Empire series and the Robot series. The Galactic Empire novels are explicitly set in earlier history of the same fictional universe as the Foundation series. Later, beginning with Foundation’s Edge, he linked this distant future to the Robot and Spacer stories, creating a unified “future history” for his stories much like those pioneered by Robert A. Heinlein and previously produced by Cordwainer Smith and Poul Anderson. He wrote hundreds of short stories, including the social science fiction novelette “Nightfall”, which in 1964 was voted by the Science Fiction Writers of America the best short science fiction story of all time. Asimov wrote the Lucky Starr series of juvenile science-fiction novels using the pen name Paul French.
Asimov also wrote mysteries and fantasy, as well as much nonfiction. Most of his popular science books explain scientific concepts in a historical way, going as far back as possible to a time when the science in question was at its simplest stage. He often provides nationalities, birth dates, and death dates for the scientists he mentions, as well as etymologies and pronunciation guides for technical terms. Examples include Guide to Science, the three-volume set Understanding Physics, and Asimov’s Chronology of Science and Discovery, as well as works on astronomy, mathematics, history, William Shakespeare’s writing, and chemistry.
Asimov was a long-time member and vice president of Mensa International, albeit reluctantly; he described some members of that organization as “brain-proud and aggressive about their IQs”. He took more joy in being president of the American Humanist Association. The asteroid 5020 Asimov, a crater on the planet Mars, a Brooklyn elementary school, and a literary award are named in his honor.
The Galactic Empire series (also called the Empire novels or trilogy) is a science fiction sequence of three of Isaac Asimov’s earliest novels, and extended by one short story. They are connected by their early place in his published works and chronological placement within his overarching Foundation Universe, set around the rise of Asimov’s Galactic Empire, between the Robot and Foundation series to which they were linked in Asimov’s later novels.
These stories are set in the same future as the Foundation series, which had appeared in magazines starting in 1942. The tie is not close, and they are only loosely connected to each other, each being a complete tale in its own right. Their main common points are Asimov’s idea of a future Galactic Empire, certain aspects of technology â€” hyperdrive, blaster pistols, “neuronic whips”, the possible invention of the “Visi-Sonor” â€” and particular locations, such as the planet Trantor. Another connection was later established with Robots and Empire, where Asimov revealed how Earth became radioactive, as mentioned in all three novels. Some sources further this argument by asserting that The Stars, Like Dust takes place about one thousand years following the events of Robots and Empire. Also, the calendar used on spaceships in The Stars, Like Dust is the same that the Spacers introduce Lije Baley to in The Robots of Dawn.
The short story “Blind Alley” is the only story set in the Foundation universe to feature intelligence not of human origin; Foundation and Earth features non-human intelligences (of Solaria and Gaia), but they are descended from or created by humans.
Asimov later integrated them into his all-engulfing Foundation series. Some contortion was required to explain how the robots of the Robot series are almost completely absent from the Galactic Empire novels. In reality, this is because Asimov wrote the original Robot and Foundation short stories as separate series.
The books in suggested reading order:
Stars, Like Dust
Currents of Space
Pebble in the Sky