Isaac Asimov was born Jan 2nd, 99 years ago. He was hugely influential on me as I grew up, and that influence (and admiration) has persisted throughout adulthood.
I’m guessing I was about 9 or 10 when I first discovered his science fiction, but it may have been earlier. My dad would drive me to the town library every week and I remember hunting through the shelves, burning through whatever Asimovs I could find (and there seemed to be a lot!). Later, I fell in love with his science books too, loving the uncomplicated prose and the ease with which any difficult subject could be simplified. It was only logical that I started to pursue science-based subjects whenever I could. I might still have ended up doing a physics degree had I never read Asimov, but once I started reading him, I think it became inevitable.
It was hero-worship from afar, but Isaac was a role-model tailor-made for me. I loved the little autobiographical snippets in the introductions to his long-running series of science essays published in Fantasy & Science Fiction magazine, and in the short story collections and anthologies he edited. When his autobiography was published across several volumes, I was in heaven. I loved the detailed, diary-like format (closely based on the diary entries that he kept throughout his life) although I can understand that it wasn’t to everyone’s taste.
When he took the trouble to reply to a couple of my fan letters, you can’t imagine the delight I felt. They are still treasured to this day, safely tucked inside the cover of a first edition hardcover of “In Memory Yet Green.”
He left us far too early in 1992. I still get a buzz of excitement though, every time I walk into my study where there is an entire floor-to-ceiling bookshelf of Asimovs. (And there are always more waiting to be sought out!) His books, and the voice that speaks so clearly when reading them, are my lifelong companions. The author may be gone, but the works left behind are just as fresh and vibrant as when they were encountered for the very first time.
Happy National Science Fiction Day!