“What’s With the Asimov Obsession?”

I have been accused on several occasions of spending more ink than the man deserves defending the legacy and writing of Isaac Asimov. After all, he’s not superversive, right (he’s not, at least most of the time). And anyway, what’s the point of defending him? He’s not the one who’s been edited out of history like the pulp authors are – in fact, he was one of the hand-picked chosen ones to replace them, and despite that STILL never became as popular as legends like Howard and Burroughs.

So what gives?

Here’s the thing: I’m a fan of Asimov. The man can write. I think this is indisputable; that he has his flaws doesn’t change that. Most authors have flaws, and most aren’t as popular, and haven’t written books and stories as good as, Isaac Asimov. Are there better writers? Of course, but that’s not my point.

So when I see people claiming that Isaac Asimov wasn’t that influential (a preposterous comment) or wasn’t a good writer, I’m seeing pure revisionist history – and I don’t like it. It’s not true and it’s not honest; at best it’s stating your own opinion of the man’s work as if its a fact. I’m not saying you need to like the guy. I’m not saying *I* like the guy. I’m saying that his influence on the field is undeniable, and to honest observers – even those not necessarily fans – his skill as well.

I don’t appreciate revisionist history by anyone, and we shouldn’t be engaging in it just because we don’t like someone.

One last thing – I’ve also been told, more than once, that I spend too much time defending Asimov because he’s an enemy of the superversives. Shouldn’t I be focusing on how he hurt our cause (he did, in some ways at least)?

But it’s simply not true to say that I’ve done nothing to conter Asimov’s negative effect on the genre. In fact, regarding Asimov specifically, I’ve done more than most: I reframed Asimov’s robot puzzles in a superversive context.

And how about that for a response?

  • Do we have enemies? Why is Asimov our enemy? He was an atheist, but I remember stories with wonder and heroism.

    • Bellomy

      I think it’s definitely fair to say we have enemies – we’re certainly combating something – but stories like “Foundation” just assume that the world is meant to be rules by a group of nerdy elites who are so smart they need to make all of the decisions for the rest of us peons.

      And then his Robot mysteries – much as I love “The Caves of Steel” – are all about how society shapes man and not the other way around – hence all of the people living in the city having turned claustrophobic, and hence the final conclusion of the novel being that it’s pretty much okay to subconsciously influence people to come to your opinion, since you know better than those backwards rubes (lest you doubt me, he comes out and states this directly in the inferior “The Robots of Dawn”).

      So Asimov is a subversive. But he’s also damn good.

      • Lorenzo Fossi

        “we’re certainly combating something”
        I was under the impression we were fighting the Powers and Principalities, wichever concept of them each of us has.

  • MishaBurnett

    A lot depends on what a particular reader is looking for in a story. Personally, I tend to read for memorable characters and clever dialogue, and I don’t find either in Asimov. I’ve tried multiple times to read “Foundation” but never got very far because there wasn’t anyone in the book that I cared about. I do remember feeling sympathetic to the human and robot pair of detectives in “Caves Of Steel” and “The Naked Sun”, but I can’t recall their names and none of the dialogue sticks in my mind. Asimov’s best work, in my opinion, is his popular science non-fiction.

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