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Literature

Isaac Asimov – The Godfather of Modern Science Fiction
 
Asimov was born on January 2, 1920 in Petrovichi village, now in Smolensk region, Russia to the Jewish family of Anna Asimov and Judah Asimov. Because his parents always spoke Yiddish and English with him, he never actually learned to speak Russian. His family immigrated to America when he was just three years old, opening a string of candy stores. Asimov became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 1928 at the age of eight. 
 
The original Russian spelling of his surname, Ozimov, was americanized and changed to Asimov, and after the writer had gained international recognotion, the commonly accepted Russian spelling changed as well to Azimov.
 
The boy started reading science fiction at an early age, despite his father's blanket ban on pulp magazines, then the main (and virtually only) source of science fiction - he managed to persuade his father, saying that those magazines that had "Science" in the title were educational. At the age of 11 he started writing hard science fiction himself, and by 19 was already selling his stories to magazines that he used to get inspiration from as a young boy!
 
Simultaneously with writing, he made a career in chemistry and biochemistry, despite suffering setback during his studies. By 1941 he had an MA in chemistry, working at the  Philadelphia Navy Yard's Naval Air Experimental Station, and by 1948 he had a PhD in biochemistry. 
 
During his work for the military and the subsequent military service, he narrowly escaped being sent to Bikini atoll to oversee the atomic weapons testing.
 
1942 was his breakthrough year: he published the first book of his iconic Foundation series, that would bring him international fame and several decades later make him one of the Big Three – the most influential science fiction writers in history, together with Arthur C. Clarke and Robert A. Heinlein. He is also known as the creator of the famous Three laws of robotics, and of the term "robotics" itself, using it in his 1950 novel I, Robot. He was also an influential philosopher and humanist, one of the signers of the Humanist Manifesto, describing - though a bit naively, as it would turn out later - the path to a better world for humanity.
 
Azimov was known for his peculiar habits and characteristics, such as being a claustrophiliac, being extremely aftraid to fly (he only took two flights, both during his Army service), not learning to swim or ride a bike, and dilligently answering almost every of the tens of thousands of letters he received!
 
His personal life was carefully shielded from publicity, although he was married twice and had two children from his first wife, Gertrude Blugerman. His incredible care for the peace of his close ones was shown only after his death in 1992. It turned out that the cause of death was not heart failure, as officially reported, but HIV he contracted in 1983 during a heart bypass surgery. At the advice of his doctors, he kept this fact under covers as to not to subject his family to the anti-AIDS prejudice of the time...
 
Sources:
Asimov, Isaac. In Memory Yet Green. 
"Isaac Asimov Biography and List of Works". Biblio.com
Asimov, Isaac (1994). I, Asimov: A Memoir. New York: Doubleday. 
 

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