Born: January 2, 1920
Died: April 6, 1992
Isaac Asimov, as well as being one of the most interesting individuals in literature, is also one of the most quotable.
Although he didn’t have Wilde’s ability to polarize and shock generation after generation, he remains on of the most quoted writers of recent history for a variety of reasons.
Obviously quantity is going to be a factor. Isaac Asimov is possibly the most prolific person in history. Officially included in his bibliography are 515 works, and when personal letters, short stories, and one-off essays are included, it’s hard to imagine the sheer volume of what he created.
Even if he had been a poor writer (which he wasn’t) or lacking ingenuity (which he wasn’t) there still would have been some success in his quotability. As he was, skilled and imaginative, entire books could be published consisting only of his most quotable pieces.
Not only did the Grand Old Man have a lot to say, he said it about a wide spectrum of topics. The breadth of his writings is exceeded by few – religion, biography, mystery fiction, philosophy, Shakespearian analysis. His works can be found in every catagory of the Dewey Decimal system. The man had no lack for subject matter.
And maybe most importantly, the man enjoyed fame and seemed to have a keen understanding of modern media and an intuitive grasp of the “soundbite” whether it be in one of his extraordinary number of tv interviews, in his forwards to anthologies, or his own books. Quick-witted, charismatic, and willing to make the most of his extended 15 minutes, Isaac Asimov was able to craft thought provoking, memorable, and often hilarious, ironic or satirical bon mots that will be remembered far into his beloved future.
Below are just a few of my favourite Asimovisms.
Learn about robotics technology, how to build a robot, the effects of robotics on society, and famous robots in popular culture. This is a well written, nicely laid out site that is worth exploring. Robotics for fun and taken seriously, it’s a great mix of good info and tongue-in-cheek whimsy!
“Individual science fiction stories may seem as trivial as ever to the blinder critics and philosophers of today – but the core of science fiction, its essence has become crucial to our salvation if we are to be saved at all.”
“The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not, ‘Eureka!’ (‘I found it!’) but rather, ‘Hmm… that’s funny…’”
“I don’t believe in an afterlife, so I don’t have to spend my whole life fearing hell, or fearing heaven even more. For whatever the tortures of hell, I think the boredom of heaven would be even worse.”
“It is change, continuing change, inevitable change, that is the dominant factor in society today. No sensible decision can be made any longer without taking into account not only the world as it is, but the world as it will be.”
“Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent.”
“It is the obvious which is so difficult to see most of the time. People say ‘It’s as plain as the nose on your face.’ But how much of the nose on your face can you see, unless someone holds a mirror up to you?”
“If my doctor told me I had only six minutes to live, I wouldn’t brood. I’d type a little faster.”
The Rest of the Robots (1964)
Fantastic Voyage (1966)
Through a Glass, Clearly (1967)
Nightfall and Other Stories (1969)
The Gods Themselves (1972)
Buy Jupiter and Other Stories (1975)
The Bicentennial Man and Other Stories (1976)
Foundation’s Edge (1982)
The Complete Robot (1982)
The Winds of Change and Other Stories (1983)
The Robots of Dawn (1983)
Norby, the Mixed-Up Robot (1983)
Norby’s Other Secret (1984)
Norby and the Lost Princess (1985)
Norby and the Invaders (1985)
Robots and Empire (1985)
Robot Dreams (1986)
Foundation and Earth (1986)
Norby and the Queen’s Necklace (1986)
Fantastic Voyage II: Destination Brain (1987)
Norby Finds a Villain (1987)
Prelude to Foundation (1988)
Norby Down to Earth (1988)
Norby and Yobo’s Great Adventure (1989)
Nightfall (with Robert Silverberg) (1990)
Norby and the Oldest Dragon (1990)
Robot Visions (1990)
Norby and the Court Jester (1991)
The Ugly Little Boy (with Robert Silverberg) (1992)
Forward the Foundation (1993)
The Positronic Man (with Robert Silverberg) (1993)