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The two remained friends to the point where Asimov even served as an advisor on a number of Star Trek projects. In , Asimov published a proposal for calendar reform , called the World Season Calendar. It divides the year into four seasons named A—D of 13 weeks 91 days each. This allows days to be named, e. An extra 'year day' is added for a total of days.

Asimov won more than a dozen annual awards for particular works of science fiction and a half dozen lifetime awards.

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If I had the critic's mentality which I emphatically don't I would sit down and try to analyze my stories, work out the factors that make some more successful than others, cultivate those factors, and simply explode with excellence. But the devil with that. I won't buy success at the price of self-consciousness. I don't have the temperament for it. I'll write as I please and let the critics do the analyzing. Asimov was his own secretary, typist, indexer , proofreader , and literary agent. Asimov only used an outline once, later describing it as "like trying to play the piano from inside a straitjacket".

After disliking making multiple revisions of " Black Friar of the Flame ", Asimov refused to make major, second, or non-editorial revisions "like chewing used gum" , stating that "too large a revision, or too many revisions, indicate that the piece of writing is a failure. In the time it would take to salvage such a failure, I could write a new piece altogether and have infinitely more fun in the process". He submitted "failures" to another editor.


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One of the most common impressions of Asimov's fiction work is that his writing style is extremely unornamented. Except for two stories—" Liar! Virtually all plot develops in conversation with little if any action. Nor is there a great deal of local color or description of any kind. The dialogue is, at best, functional and the style is, at best, transparent. The robot stories and, as a matter of fact, almost all Asimov fiction—play themselves on a relatively bare stage.

Asimov addressed such criticism at the beginning of Nemesis :. I made up my mind long ago to follow one cardinal rule in all my writing—to be 'clear'. I have given up all thought of writing poetically or symbolically or experimentally, or in any of the other modes that might if I were good enough get me a Pulitzer prize. I would write merely clearly and in this way establish a warm relationship between myself and my readers, and the professional critics—Well, they can do whatever they wish.

Gunn cited examples of a more complex style, such as the climax of "Liar! Sharply drawn characters occur at key junctures of his storylines: Susan Calvin in "Liar! Other than books by Gunn and Patrouch, a relative dearth of "literary" criticism exists on Asimov particularly when compared to the sheer volume of his output. Cowart and Wymer's Dictionary of Literary Biography gives a possible reason:.

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His words do not easily lend themselves to traditional literary criticism because he has the habit of centering his fiction on plot and clearly stating to his reader, in rather direct terms, what is happening in his stories and why it is happening. In fact, most of the dialogue in an Asimov story, and particularly in the Foundation trilogy, is devoted to such exposition. Stories that clearly state what they mean in unambiguous language are the most difficult for a scholar to deal with because there is little to be interpreted. Gunn's and Patrouch's respective studies of Asimov both state that a clear, direct prose style is still a style.

Gunn's book comments in detail on each of Asimov's novels. He does not praise all of Asimov's fiction nor does Patrouch , but calls some passages in The Caves of Steel "reminiscent of Proust ". When discussing how that novel depicts night falling over futuristic New York City, Gunn says that Asimov's prose "need not be ashamed anywhere in literary society". Although he prided himself on his unornamented prose style for which he credited Clifford D. Simak as an early influence [15] [] , and said in that his style had not changed, [] Asimov also enjoyed giving his longer stories complicated narrative structures , often by arranging chapters in non chronological ways.

Some readers have been put off by this, complaining that the nonlinearity is not worth the trouble and adversely affects the clarity of the story. For example, the first third of The Gods Themselves begins with Chapter 6, then backtracks to fill in earlier material. This advice helped Asimov create " Reason ", one of the early Robot stories. See In Memory Yet Green for details of that time period. Patrouch found that the interwoven and nested flashbacks of The Currents of Space did serious harm to that novel, to such an extent that only a "dyed-in-the- kyrt [] Asimov fan" could enjoy it.

Asimov's tendency to contort his timelines is perhaps most apparent in his later novel Nemesis , in which one group of characters lives in the "present" and another group starts in the "past", beginning 15 years earlier and gradually moving toward the time period of the first group. Asimov attributed the lack of romance and sex in his fiction to the "early imprinting" from starting his writing career when he had never been on a date and "didn't know anything about girls". He claimed he wrote The Gods Themselves to respond to these criticisms, [] which often came from New Wave science fiction and often British writers.

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The second part of three of the novel is set on an alien world with three sexes, and the sexual behavior of these creatures is extensively depicted. Asimov once explained that his reluctance to write about aliens came from an incident early in his career when Astounding ' s editor John Campbell rejected one of his science fiction stories because the alien characters were portrayed as superior to the humans. The nature of the rejection led him to believe that Campbell may have based his bias towards humans in stories on a real-world racial bias. Unwilling to write only weak alien races, and concerned that a confrontation would jeopardize his and Campbell's friendship, he decided he would not write about aliens at all.

In the Hugo Award -winning novelette " Gold ", Asimov describes an author, clearly based on himself, who has one of his books The Gods Themselves adapted into a "compu-drama", essentially photo-realistic computer animation. The director criticizes the fictionalized Asimov "Gregory Laborian" for having an extremely nonvisual style, making it difficult to adapt his work, and the author explains that he relies on ideas and dialogue rather than description to get his points across.

Asimov was criticized for a lack of strong female characters in his early work. In his autobiographical writings, such as Gold "Women and Science Fiction" , he acknowledges this and responds by pointing to inexperience. His later novels, written with more female characters but in essentially the same prose style as his early science-fiction stories, brought this matter to a wider audience.

In , Asimov's humans were stripped-down masculine portraits of Americans from , and they still are. His robots were tin cans with speedlines like an old Studebaker , and still are; the Robot tales depended on an increasingly unworkable distinction between movable and unmovable artificial intelligences , and still do. In the Asimov universe, because it was conceived a long time ago, and because its author abhors confusion, there are no computers whose impact is worth noting, no social complexities, no genetic engineering , aliens, arcologies , multiverses , clones , sin or sex; his heroes in this case R.

Daneel Olivaw , whom we first met as the robot protagonist of The Caves of Steel and its sequels , feel no pressure of information, raw or cooked, as the simplest of us do today; they suffer no deformation from the winds of the Asimov future, because it is so deeply and strikingly orderly. However, some of his robot stories, including the earliest ones, featured the character Susan Calvin , a forceful and intelligent woman who regularly out-performed her male colleagues.

There is a perennial question among readers as to whether the views contained in a story reflect the views of the author. The answer is, "Not necessarily—" And yet one ought to add another short phrase "—but usually.


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  • Isaac Asimov was an atheist , a humanist , and a rationalist. During his childhood, his father and mother observed Orthodox Jewish traditions, though not as stringently as they had in Petrovichi; they did not, however, force their beliefs upon young Isaac. Thus, he grew up without strong religious influences, coming to believe that the Torah represented Hebrew mythology in the same way that the Iliad recorded Greek mythology.

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    For a brief while, his father worked in the local synagogue to enjoy the familiar surroundings and, as Isaac put it, "shine as a learned scholar" [] versed in the sacred writings. This scholarship was a seed for his later authorship and publication of Asimov's Guide to the Bible , an analysis of the historic foundations for both the Old and New Testaments. For many years, Asimov called himself an atheist ; however, he considered the term somewhat inadequate, as it described what he did not believe rather than what he did.

    Eventually, he described himself as a " humanist " and considered that term more practical. He did, however, continue to identify himself as a nonobservant Jew, as stated in his introduction to Jack Dann 's anthology of Jewish science fiction, Wandering Stars : "I attend no services and follow no ritual and have never undergone that curious puberty rite, the bar mitzvah. It doesn't matter. I am Jewish.

    Lisa Jewell discusses THEN SHE WAS GONE with Patrick Millikin.

    I am an atheist, out and out.