Monday, January 2, 2017

Jewish Foundation in Science Fiction

 In 1981, in his introduction to the science fiction anthology More Wandering Stars, Isaac Asimov pondered the question, “Can science fiction be part of Jewish culture?” As this was the second volume of this collection of Jewish science fiction, Asimov was drawn to the conclusion that, surprisingly, the Torah itself enabled Jews to reach for the imaginative stars.

January 2nd is National Science Fiction Day (unofficially, according to Wikipedia) because it corresponds to Asimov’s birthday. Asimov, who began writing science fiction when he was still a teenager, published an incredible number of science fiction books and stories. More significantly, however, many of his works (such as the Robot series and the Foundation series) are considered cornerstone pieces in the development of the genre. Additionally, Asimov published numerous non-fiction books. Many of these made science accessible to laypeople.  Others were works on an incredibly diverse range of topics such as history and literature, humor (he wrote a Treasury of Humor)  and even several volumes of limericks. Asimov also published a volume that took an historical look at Jewish and Christian scripture titled Asimov’s Guide to the Bible. In total, he published over 500 books.

Born in Russia in 1920, Asimov immigrated to Brooklyn, New York at age 3. His parents, who spoke both English and Yiddish in their home, owned a candy store in which many newspapers and magazines were sold, enabling him to become a prolific reader. While Asimov is known as a writer, he actually had PhD in biochemistry and was on the faculty of Boston University.

Isaac Asimov passed away on April 6, 1992, at age 72, in New York City.

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