Asimov, Isaac (1920-1992)

The Isaac Asimov collection includes manuscripts, notebooks, correspondence, printed material, photographs, and other items. Upon first depositing his papers, Asimov claimed that he had been throwing most of his material away; hence the relative lack of material dated prior to 1965. In addition, the collection contains very little that is private, or even related to Asimov’s personal life; his work, however, is almost comprehensively documented -- a fact all the more impressive given that Asimov, at around 470 published books and hundreds more published short works, was one of the most prolific authors of the twentieth century.

Manuscripts by Asimov in the collection are extensive, and form the bulk of the collection. Asimov published in many genres, each well-represented in his papers; these include science fiction (novels and short story collections, both adult and juvenile), mystery novels, non-fiction, primarily science and history (both adult and juvenile), literary criticism, Biblical-themed writings, humor, and autobiography. For the works below, all were published by Doubleday unless otherwise noted.

Science fiction novels in the collection include Asimov’s “Robot” writings: I, Robot (short story collection, Gnome Press, 1950); The Naked Sun (novel, 1957); The Rest of the Robots (short stories and novels, 1964); The Complete Robot (short stories and novels,1982); The Robots of Dawn (novel, 1983); and Robots and Empire (novel, 1985).

Another science-fiction series represented in the collection is most of Asimov’s “Foundation” novels: Foundation and Empire (Ballantine reprinting, 1983, orig. pub. 1952); Second Foundation (Ballantine reprinting, 1983; orig. pub. 1953); Foundation’s Edge (1982); Robots and Empire (1985; see above); Foundation and Earth (1986); Prelude to Foundation (1988); and Forward the Foundation (1993).

Stand-alone novels by Asimov include Pebble in the Sky (1950); The Stars, Like Dust (1951); The End of Eternity (1955); The Gods Themselves (1972); Azazel (1988); and Nemesis (1988).

Collections of Asimov’s science-fiction include Nightfall and Other Stories (1969); The Early Asimov; or, Eleven Years of Trying (1972); The Best of Isaac Asimov (1974); Buy Jupiter and Other Stories (1975); The Bicentennial Man and Other Stories (1976); The Collected Fiction of Isaac Asimov, Vol. 2 (1979); The Winds of Change and Other Stories (1983); Isaac Asimov’s Magical Worlds of Fantasy (Crown, 1985); The Best Science Fiction of Isaac Asimov (1986); The Alternative Asimovs (1986); Robot Dreams (edited by Byron Preiss; Berkeley, 1987); and Isaac Asimov: The Complete Stories, Vol. 2 (1990).

Collections of science-fiction edited by Asimov (and often by others as well) include Isaac Asimov Presents the Great Science-Fiction Stories, Vol. 6 (1944), Vol. 8 (1946), Vol. 9 (1947), Vol. 10 (1948), Vol. 11 (1949), Vol. 12 (1950), Vol. 13 (1951), Vol. 14 (1952), Vol. 15 (1953), Vol. 16 (1954), Vol. 17 (1955), Vol. 18 (1956), Vol. 19 (1957), Vol. 21 (1959); The Hugo Winners, Vol. 2 (1971), Vol. 3 (1977), Vol. 4 (1985), Vol. 5 (1986), Vol. 6 (date unknown); Tomorrow’s Children (1966); Nebula Award Stories 8 (Harper and Row, 1973); Before the Golden Age: A Science Fiction Anthology of the 1930s (1974); 100 Science Fiction Short Short Stories (1978); The Science Fictional Solar System (Harper and Row, 1979); and Microcosmic Tales (Taplinger, 1980).

Other book-length works in the science-fiction genre include Fantastic Voyage (novelization of Harry Kleiner’s screenplay, Houghton Mifflin, 1966); The Thirteen Crimes of Science Fiction (literary criticism, edited by Asimov et al., 1973); The Seven Deadly Sins of Science-Fiction (literary criticism, edited by Asimov et al.; Fawcett, 1980); The Seven Cardinal Virtues of Science-Fiction (literary criticism, edited by Asimov et al.; Fawcett, 1981); Asimov on Science Fiction (literary criticism, 1981); Science Fiction A to Z: A Dictionary of the Great Themes of Science Fiction (literary criticism, Houghton Mifflin, 1982); Laughing Space (humor, Houghton Mifflin, 1982); The Science Fiction Weight-Loss Book (edited by Asimov and George R. Martin; Crown, 1983); Fantastic Voyage II: Destination Brain (adaptation, 1987); and Asimov’s Galaxy: Reflections on Science Fiction (1989).

Additional science-fiction in the collection includes hundreds of short stories published in numerous magazines and periodicals, as well as essays, criticism, book reviews, memoirs, introductions, and other short pieces related to the science-fiction genre. Titles of periodicals include Amazing Stories, Analog, Astounding Science-Fiction, Fantastic Adventures, Fantasy and Science Fiction, Future Fiction, Galaxy, and Science Fiction . Notable pieces include several very early stories (1933-1949); Asimov’s introduction to the anthology Dangerous Visions, edited by Harlan Ellison; Asimov’s introductions to editions of Jules Verne’s Journey to the Center of the Earth and 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea ; Someday, a play (Asimov’s only play in the collection; was published in Plays ); “Five and Five and One,” a treatment for an unrealized film suggested by Paul McCartney (of The Beatles); “Battlestar Reaches Earth,” written for the television program Battlestar Galactica (original series); and “Star Empire,” an early attempt at a comic strip, written with Charles Schneeman ca. 1950.

Juvenile science-fiction by Asimov includes the “Lucky Starr” series, written under the name Paul French: David Starr, Space Ranger (1952); Lucky Starr and the Oceans of Venus (1954); Lucky Starr and the Big Sun of Mercury (1956); Lucky Starr and the Moons of Jupiter (1957); and Lucky Starr and the Rings of Saturn (1958).

Another juvenile science-fiction series present in the collection is the “Norby” series, written with Asimov’s wife Janet Asimov (all published by Walker): Norby, the Mixed-Up Robot (1983); Norby’s Other Secret (1984); Norby and the Invaders (1985); Norby and the Lost Princess (1985); Norby and the Queen’s Necklace (1986); Norby Finds a Villain (1987); Norby Down to Earth (1989); Norby and Yobo’s Great Adventure (1989); and Norby and the Oldest Dragon (1990).

Stand-alone juvenile science-fiction novels by Asimov include The Best New Thing (World Publishing, 1971); and The Heavenly Host (Walker, 1975).

Mystery fiction in the collection includes A Whiff of Death (Walker, 1968; originally published as The Death Dealers ); Asimov’s Mysteries (short stories, 1968); Tales of the Black Widowers (1974); Murder at the ABA: A Puzzle in Four Days and Sixty Scenes (1976); More Tales of the Black Widowers (1980); Casebook of the Black Widowers (1980); Who Done It? (edited by Asimov and Alice Laurance; Houghton Mifflin, 1980); The Twelve Crimes of Christmas (edited by Asimov, et al.; Avon, 1981); The Union Club Mysteries (1983); Computer Crimes and Capers (Academy Chicago Publishers, 1983); Banquets of the Black Widowers (1984); The Disappearing Man and Other Mysteries (1985); The Best Mysteries of Isaac Asimov (1986); and Puzzles of the Black Widowers (1990).

Non-fiction works regarding science and the history of science (for adults) by Asimov in the collection include The Chemicals of Life: Enzymes, Vitamins, Hormones (Abelard-Shuman, 1954); Inside the Atom (Abelard-Schuman, 1956; revised, 1966); Only a Trillion (partial; Ace Books reprint, 1976; orig. pub. 1958); The World of Carbon (Abelard-Schuman, 1958); The Wellsprings of Life (revisions only; Abelard-Schuman, 1960); The Intelligent Man’s Guide to Science (in various editions, 1964-1984, orig. pub. 1960); The Double Planet (Abelard-Schuman, 1960); The Search for the Elements (Basic Books, 1962); Quick and Easy Math (Houghton Mifflin, 1964); Adding a Dimension: Seventeen Essays on the History of Science (1964); Planets for Man, with Stephen H. Dole (Random House, 1964); Asimov’s Biographical Encyclopedia of Science and Technology (1964); A Short History of Chemistry (1965); An Easy Introduction to the Slide Rule (Houghton Mifflin, 1965); The Noble Gases (Basic Books, 1966); The Neutrino: Ghost Particle of the Atom (1966); Understanding Physics (Walker, 1966); The Genetic Effects of Radiation (U.S. Atomic Energy Commission, 1966); The Universe: From Flat Earth to Quasar (Walker, 1966); From Earth to Heaven (essays, 1966); Is Anyone There? (essays, 1967); Science, Numbers and I (essays, 1968); Photosynthesis (Basic Books, 1968); Twentieth-Century Discovery (essays, 1969); The Solar System and Back (essays, 1970); Where Do We Go From Here? (1971); The Stars in Their Courses (essays, 1971); The Left Hand of the Electron (essays, 1972); Electricity and Man (U.S. Atomic Energy Commission, 1972); Worlds Within Worlds: The Story of Nuclear Energy (U.S. Atomic Energy Commission, 1972); Today and Tomorrow and . . . (1973); The Tragedy of the Moon (1973); Asimov on Astronomy (essays, 1974); Our World in Space (New York Graphic Society, 1974); Asimov on Chemistry (essays, 1974); Of Matters Great and Small (1975); Science Past, Science Future (1975); Eyes on the Universe: A History of the Telescope (Houghton Mifflin, 1975); The Ends of the Earth: The Polar Regions of the World (Weybright Talley, 1975); Asimov on Physics (essays, 1976); The Planet That Wasn’t (essays, 1976); The Collapsing Universe (Walker, 1977); Asimov on Numbers (essays, 1977); The Beginning and the End (essays, 1977); Quasar, Quasar, Burning Bright (1978); Life and Time (1978); The Road to Infinity (essays, 1979); A Choice of Catastrophes: The Disasters That Threaten Our World (Simon and Schuster, 1979); The Sun Shines Bright (essays, 1981); Catastrophes! (Fawcett, 1981); Exploring the Earth and Cosmos: The Growth and Future of Human Knowledge (Crown, 1982); Speculations (Houghton Mifflin, 1982); Counting the Eons (1983); The Roving Mind (Prometheus Books, 1983); The Measure of the Universe (Harper, 1983); X Stands for Unknown (1984); The Exploding Suns: The Secrets of the Supernovas (Dutton, 1985); Asimov’s Guide to Halley’s Comet (Walker, 1985); The Subatomic Monster (1985); Robots: Machines in Man’s Image, with Karen Frenkel (Robot Institute of America, 1985); The Dangers of Intelligence and Other Science Essays (Houghton Mifflin, 1986); Far As Human Eye Could See (essays, 1987); The Relativity of Wrong: Essays on the Solar System and Beyond (1988); Asimov on Science: A Thirty-Year Retrospective (1989); Asimov’s Chronology of Science and Technology (1989); The Secret of the Universe (1989); The Tyrannosaurus Prescription and One Hundred Other Essays (Promethus Books, 1989); Out of the Everywhere (1990); Atom: Journey Across the Subatomic Cosmos (New American Library, 1991); and Frontiers (New American Library, 1991). The collection also includes some unpublished and/or unfinished book-length scientific manuscripts, such as Background for Modern Biology, The Language of Chemistry, and The Puzzle of Life.

Additional science-related non-fiction in the collection includes hundreds of essays and articles published in numerous magazines and periodicals. Titles of periodicals include Atlantic Monthly, Esquire, Harper’s, The Humanist, Look, The New York Times and The New York Times Book Review, Reader’s Digest, Science Digest, The Smithsonian, Time, and numerous others. Notable pieces include articles for Encyclopedia Americana and other scientific reference works; “Life on Earth,” an abandoned film project; numerous radio scripts for Omni magazine; Unseen World, a teleplay for ABC television (1970); and Asimov’s doctoral dissertation for Columbia University, “The Kinetics of the Reaction Inactivation of Tyrosinase During its Catalysis of the Aerobic Oxidation of Catechol.”

Non-fiction for juvenile audiences by Asimov includes both scientific and historical works.

Scientific manuscripts include To the Ends of the Universe (Walker, 1967); Stars (Follett, 1968); ABC’s of Space (Walker, 1969); Great Ideas of Science (Houghton Mifflin, 1969); ABC’s of the Ocean (Walker, 1970); Light (Follett, 1970); What Makes the Sun Shine? (Little, Brown, 1971); ABC’s of the Earth (Walker, 1971); ABC’s of Ecology (Walker, 1972); Ginn Science Program (numerous pieces; 1972-1973); Comets and Meteors (Follett, 1972); The Sun (Follett, 1972); More Words of Science (Houghton Mifflin, 1972); Jupiter, the Largest Planet (Lothrop, 1973); Please Explain (Houghton Mifflin, 1973); Earth: Our Crowded Spaceship (John Day, 1974); Alpha Centauri, the Nearest Star (Lothrop, 1976); Mars, the Red Planet (Lothrop, 1977); S aturn and Beyond (Lothrop, 1979); Extraterrestrial Civilizations (Crown, 1979); Venus: Near Neighbor of the Sun (1981); In the Beginning: Science Faces God in the Book of Genesis (Crown, 1981); The Edge of Tomorrow (1985); Futuredays: A Nineteenth-Century Vision of the Year 2000 (Holt, 1986); and Beginnings: The Story of Origins – of Mankind, Life, the Earth, the Universe (Walker, 1987). Also included in the collection are 43 volumes in the How Did We Find Out About…? series (published by Walker), 1972-1989, as well as manuscripts for the New Library of the Universe series (published by Gareth Stevens), 1991-1996.

Historical manuscripts (published by Houghton Mifflin unless otherwise noted) include Words from Exodus (1963); The Kite that Won the Revolution (1963); The Greeks: A Great Adventure (1965); The Roman Republic (1966); The Roman Empire (1967); The Egyptians (1967); The Dark Ages (1968); Words from History (1968); The Shaping of England (1969); Constantinople: The Forgotten Empire (1970); The Land of Canaan (1970); The Shaping of France (1972); The Shaping of North America from Earliest Times to 1763 (1973); The Birth of the United States, 1763-1816 (1974); Our Federal Union: The United States from 1816 to 1865 (1975); and The March of the Millennia: A Key to Looking at History, with Frank White (Walker, 1990).

Literary criticism by Asimov includes Asimov’s Guide to Shakespeare (1970); Asimov’s Annotated “Don Juan” (1972); Asimov’s Annotated “Paradise Lost” (1974); Familiar Poems Annotated (1977); The Annotated “Gulliver’s Travels” (C. N. Potter, 1980); and Asimov’s Annotated Gilbert and Sullivan (1988). For literary criticism regarding science fiction, see the above section on that genre for titles represented in the collection.

Biblical-themed writings by Asimov include Asimov’s Guide to the Bible (1968-1969); The Story of Ruth (1972); and Animals of the Bible (1978).

Humor by Asimov includes The Sensuous Dirty Old Man (writing as “Dr. A.,” Walker, 1971); Isaac Asimov’s Treasury of Humor (Houghton Mifflin, 1971); Lecherous Limericks (Walker, 1975); More Lecherous Limericks (Walker, 1976); Still More Lecherous Limericks (Walker, 1977); Asimov’s Sherlockian Limericks (New Mysterious Press, 1978); Limericks Too Gross, with John Ciardi (Norton, 1978); and A Grossery of Limericks, with John Ciardi (Norton, 1981).

Autobiographical writings by Asimov include In Memory Yet Green: The Autobiography of Isaac Asimov, 1920-1954 (1979); In Joy Still Felt: The Autobiography of Isaac Asimov, 1954-1978 (1980); and I. Asimov: A Memoir (1994).

Other book-length works by Asimov include Opus 100 (Houghton Mifflin, 1969); Opus 200 (Houghton Mifflin, 1979); Change!: Seventy-one Glimpses of the Future (Houghton Mifflin, 1981); Creations: The Quest for Origins in Story and Science (author of introduction and editor with Martin H. Greenberg and George Zebrowski; Crown, 1983); Opus 300 (Houghton Mifflin, 1984); Past, Present and Future (Promethus Books, 1987); and Isaac Asimov’s Book of Science and Nature Quotations (edited by Asimov with Jason A. Schulman; Weidenfeld and Nicholson, 1988).

The collection also includes numerous manuscripts by others. These include works about Asimov’s writings (articles, theses, school papers, etc.), works inspired by Asimov, adaptations of Asimov’s works, even works utilizing Asimov as a fictional character. Notable items include “Hard Sell,” a short story by Piers Anthony.

Notebooks in the collection have to do with Asimov’s career as a biochemist. They include Asimov’s notebook from his first scientific job (ca. 1940’s); seven laboratory notebooks regarding the “Inactivation of Tyrosinase” (1946-1947); four notebooks with notes for a biochemistry course taught by Asimov at Boston University (1949); and Asimov’s course notebook from Brooklyn Polytechnical Institute (1950).

Correspondence in the collection is a comprehensive collection of personal letters, professional letters, and fan mail. It dates from Asimov’s earliest rejection slips in 1949 to letters of condolence sent to his widow Janet (Jeppson) Asimov after his death in 1992.

The letters between Asimov and John W. Campbell, the mentor of Asimov’s earliest science fiction, are an important segment of the correspondence; they date from 1961 to 1968 (also included are several letters from Campbell’s widow, Peg Campbell). Another important group of correspondence are the letters between Asimov and Frederik Pohl; they date from Asimov’s early career (1949) to the 1990s. Other significant groups of letters are those between Asimov and Anthony Boucher (William Anthony Parker White) and those between Asimov and Harlan Ellison. Also present in the collection are several letters to Asimov from his father, Judah Asimov (1965-1969), as well as numerous other letters to and from Asimov’s family.

Notable science fiction and fantasy writers represented in the correspondence include Forrest Ackerman, Brian Aldiss, Poul Anderson, Alfred Bester, Otto O. Binder, Robert Bloch, Ben Bova, Ray Bradbury, Reginald Bretnor (Alfred Reginald Kahn), John Brunner, Arthur C. Clarke, Avram Davidson, L. Sprague de Camp, Lester del Rey, August Derleth, Philip K. Dick, Gordon R. Dickson, Philip Jose Farmer, D. C. Fontana, David Gerrold, Harry Harrison, Robert Heinlein, Damon Knight, Fritz Lieber, Barry B. Longyear, Barry N. Malzberg, Anne McCaffrey, Andre Norton, Alan E. Nourse, Ross Rocklynne, Hans Stefan Santesson, Robert Silverberg, Clifford D. Simak, James Tiptree, Jr., Jack Vance, John Varley, A. E. Van Vogt, Wallace West, Jack Williamson, Donald Wollheim, and Roger Zelazny.

Notable writers and publishers represented in the correspondence include Kinglsey Amis, Martin Amis, Jeanne Bendick, Lawrence Block, Abraham S. Burack, Whit Burnett, Al Capp, John Ciardi, Norman Cousins, Bergen Evans, Clifton Fadiman, Mildred Flagg, Miriam Allen deFord, Leslie Fiedler, Martin Gardner, Maurice Girodias, Harry M. Greenberg, Hiram Haydn, John Hersey, William Lederer, Herbert Mitgang, Ellery Queen (Frederick Dannay), Irwin Shaw, Francis S. J. Sweeney, Gordon Rattray Taylor, Alvin Toffler, Irving Wallace, Gahan Wilson, and P. G. Wodehouse.

Notable figures from the sciences represented in the correspondence include George O. Abell, Mortimer J. Adler, Virginia Apgar, Francis Crick, Theodosius Dobzhansky, George Gamow, Gerald S. Hawkins, Donald Hornig, Charlotte Olmstead Krush, Margaret Mead, Mario Pei, Carl Sagan, B. F. Skinner, and Paolo Soleri.

Notable figures from the entertainment world represented in the correspondence include Woody Allen, Hugh Downs, David C. Garroway, Leonard Nimoy, Joseph Papp, James (“The Amazing”) Randi, Gene Roddenberry, William Shatner, Steven Spielberg. Notable political and social figures include Lord Caradon (Hugh Mackintosh Foot), Madalyn Murray O’Hair, Jacob K. Javits, Edward Koch, Robert Packwood, and Adlai Stevenson.

Professional correspondence in the collection consists of Asimov’s letters to and from various publishing houses and periodicals; like the fan mail, these letters number into the hundreds and span the entire length of Asimov’s long career.
Printed material in the collection primarily consists of the published versions of Asimov’s shorter works, including stories, reviews, articles, non-fiction, essays, etc. Hundreds of magazines and periodicals are represented, in various genres (science, journalism, science fiction, etc.) Other items include advertising and promotional materials, items regarding speaking engagements, book jackets, posters, and other miscellaneous material.

Photographs in the collection include several images of Asimov, including color print of Asimov at work and various black and white prints. Other photographs include black and white prints regarding two episodes of the British television series Out of the Unknown, “Sucker Bait” (1965) and “The Dead Past” (1965, directed by John Gorrie), both written by Asimov.

Other items in the collection include an audio tape of Asimov giving a speech to the MIT Science Fiction Society (1961); desk diaries and appointment calendars kept by Asimov (1967-1971, 1973-1974, 1978-1979), an audio cassette recording of
The Foundation Trilogy ; a video cassette recording of Asimov giving a reading at a bookstore (1982); and the “Isaac Asimov Memorial Videotape.”

Notable Figures
1. Asimov, Isaac, 1920-1992
Associated Subjects
1. Science Subject Guide
2. Literary Collections Subject Guide
3. Radio Subject Guide
4. Humor, Comedy, and Satire Subject Guide
5. Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror Subject Guide
6. Authors, American
7. Science fiction, American
8. American literature--20th century