The popular science fiction writer Isaac Asimov was born in January 1920 in Russia. His parents were millers and, being Jews, lived in the Petrovichi shtetl of Smolensk Oblast. When Asimov was just a toddler of three, the family immigrated to Brooklyn, New York, where they set up a general store. He grew up speaking English and Yiddish fluently, as was an avid reader from a young age, having taught himself when he was five years old. Asimov began reading science fiction magazines and writing his own stories, which he was able to sell to other magazines. As far as education, he did both his undergraduate and graduate work at Columbia University, where he obtained his Ph.D in biochemistry, and then went on to a tenured professorship at Boston University.
Asimov discovered that his writing brought in more income than his academic career, so he set his sights on a career as a writer, which met with great success. Being talented at both writing and science, Asimov created a niche for himself in the world of science fiction. He began with short stories and novels, as a sort of 'first half' of his work in the genre, the second half of which began in the 1980s. He wrote three popular sci-fi series--Foundation, Galactic Empire, and Robot--as well as mystery and fantasy stories. He is noted for his straightforward literary style (some may call it 'dry'), and also for his charming characters. Asimov also authored some non-fiction, including a biochemistry textbook, some very popular history books (The Greeks: A Great Adventure, among others), and Asimov's Guide to the Bible. Altogether his work amounts to a staggering 463 diverse pieces of literature.
As for his personal life, Asimov was married twice, first to Gertrude Blugerman in 1242. They had two children and were married until 1973, and shortly after their divorce Asimov married Janet Jeppson. He was not physically very active, but enjoyed traveling and was often invited to give science talks on cruise ships, to the entertainment of many. Asimov was among the foremost members of the Baker Street Irregulars, and served as president of the American Humanist Association for nearly a decade until his death in 1992. Humanism was something that he deeply espoused. His family was Jewish, but the faith and traditions of Orthodox Judaism were not instilled in him, and he found humanism, progressive politics, and a rational approach to the world much more compelling. This is evidenced in his Guide to the Bible, which is very historical and non-religious in its explanation of Scripture.
Isaac Asimov died of AIDS, which he had contracted through blood transfusion, in 1992. His works, whether sci-fi, historic, or non-fiction, are still widely read, and film versions of some of them have also appeared, such as I, Robot and Bicentennial Man.
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