11 thoughts on “Remembering Asimov”

  1. I think the first sci-fi I read after Verne and Wells, was an Asimov story in an old, dog-eared copy of Astounding. Later, I read as much of his stuff as I could find, genre-irrelevant. But even while reading, I knew it wasn’t filmable. Who wants to sit through a 90 minute conversation? But the good Dr had a heavy hand in where I’m at now.

  2. I’m always struck by how well his early stuff wears. I can still read Pebble in the Sky with undiminished pleasure, 60 years after it was published, 35 years after I first read it, although otherwise most modern sf bores me to tears. But maybe it’s just that you never outgrow that on which you grew up. Who knows?

    I’m also mystified by why more of his stuff wasn’t transferred to film. I always thought he had very good characterization, and his plots were simple enough that you could get it all into a 90 minute film. Plus, my gosh, you can’t accuse him of not thinking big! The premise of the Foundation series is stunning, and the wealth of interesting angles possible with the Three Laws of Robotics enormous. There was the Will Smith vehicle, I, Robot, but that turned a thoughtful debate about the meaning of being human into a grubby Frankenstein action-flic, of which there are tiresome dozens.

    Maybe that’s the problem. Asimov’s delights are mostly intellectual — the clash of ideas, the complexity of reality — and not the kind of Us v. Them Manichaeism favored by the dolts of Hollywood.

    I have the master’s autograph on a fading copy of the program for Noreascon 1980.

  3. Thanks for linking this – I had no idea Fred Pohl was still among the living. I pray he continues in that condition for a long time yet. I like his work even better than Asimov’s.

  4. I grew up reading the good Doctor’s stuff (including the charming space opera Lucky Starr series, written under the “Paul French” pseudonym, which still packed a lot of real science in there), and like Carl, am still amazed how well it holds up. Stuff like Nightfall, The End of Eternity, and the stories collected in I, Robot still speak to me today. Overall, I rate him the second best of the s.f. grand masters of the golden age – behind Heinlein, but way ahead of Clarke (the most overrated s.f. writer of the last 70 years IMHO).

    Fred Pohl is right up there too; Gateway remains a one-of-a-kind thrill ride. Saw Pohl and Asimov on a cable channel talk show back in the early ’80s, and they were both charming, erudite, and roll-on-the-floor funny in spots. I enjoyed the way they took Vonnegut to task for shying away from the s.f. label, too (a little Vonnegut goes a long way in my book).

    And Carl, I seem to remember that somebody may have done a TV movie back in the ’70s of the story The Ugly Little Boy, but I’m too lazy to search the Intarwebs to find out…

  5. My favourite SF invention is more of a concept creation – John Brunner’s Stand on Zanzibar, where two people are talking about new tech, and the one says: ‘They claim it’s automatic, but actually, you have to push this button.’ That’s how fast people forget to be amazed at new tech!

  6. Rand, thanks for linking this. I knew Dick Wilson pretty well when I was in high school, thanks to a mutual friend. He had a lot of interesting stories about Asimov and the others, but his own stories of the period were pretty good, and his writing, while dated, was quite good. For a good friend and classmate, Jim L., and I, we used to hang out a lot at the college with the mutual friend and Mr. Wilson. Two high school sf and space junkies, in bliss.

  7. The premise of the Foundation series is stunning

    I always thought the Foundation trilogy would make an excellent cinematic trilogy as well. Of course, you’d need a director who could do for Asimov what Jackson did for Tolkien (or Scott did for PK Dick)– translate the thing into visual subtext. Sure, the first book would be paced a lot like 2001, but the subsequent two novels are very much “us vs. them”.

  8. Fred Pohl is still a regular at Chicago area SF conventions, last I checked. He’s getting up in years though, but then so is a lot of the fandom at these cons.

    It’s a shame how Asimov died, from HIV infection contracted during heart surgery. He probably wouldn’t be here now even without that, but still it’s a sad reminder of what happened early in that epidemic before they had blood screening tests.

  9. I’m a big Asimov fan and have been since a very young age. It’s a damned shame that all of the films “based” on his novels have been so bad. Foundation, though dialogue-intensive, could make a good film. Better suited for the big screen would be The Caves of Steel.

    I like a number of Pohl’s books, too. Two of his novellas I really enjoyed that you don’t hear much about these days are: The Drunkard’s Walk and The Age of the Pussycat. The Gateway series is mostly good and plays around with some really interesting ideas. And he has a number of other good books and stories. I’ve always thought he was underappreciated as an author.

    Amazing that all of that talent came together in the Futurians.

  10. Not only did I enjoy the Lucky Starr series, but my children have enjoyed it over the last couple of years. His books have been poorly translated into film – he wrote about the things that challenged us and the film people want big bugs. You would think that Heinlein would translate well but even his books get don’t survive the trip to film.

  11. You would think that Heinlein would translate well but even his books get don’t survive the trip to film.

    [captainobvious]Hollywood has a fiscal responsibility to appeal to the lowest common denominator.[/captainobvious]

Comments are closed.