Last year, I skipped my annual Isaac Asimov autobiography reading. I was busy with writing, blogging, and my Vacation in the Golden Age reading and it was all too much for me. But I didn’t want to skip it two years in a row, as I so enjoy sitting down with In Memory Yet Green and In Joy Still Felt. I’ve cut back on some writing and the fact that I delayed Episode 37 of my Vacation in the Golden Age to April 30 has given me the opportunity to squeeze in this reading. I started this weekend, sitting in my back yard with a beer and cracking open In Memory Yet Green. This is my 15th time reading the book since I started keeping records on January 1, 1996. And indeed, I have much of the book memorized. So why read it again and again and again?
I’ve written before that one regret I have is not having entered active fandom sooner than I did1 for the singular reason that I never got to meet Isaac Asimov. Perhaps, if I had been active as a youngster in the 1980s, I might have had a chance to meet him. I love his books, fiction and nonfiction alike and I was breathless after reading his memoir, I. Asimov for the first time in the spring of 1994. (He’d already been dead 2 years at that point.) When I discovered he’d written an even more detailed autobiography, I set about obtaining copies at once and they were even better than I imagined. The voice that Asimov uses when writing about himself is unique. I haven’t seen it with any other writer. His words disappear and it’s as if he’s sitting in the chair next to me, sipping from a mug of coffee, and rattling off one story after another about his life, about writing, about science fiction, you name it. When I read these books, I hear his Brooklyn accent and it’s as if he is talking directly to me. So it really doesn’t matter that I’ve heard the stories more than a dozen times. Reading these books is the closest I’ll ever get to sitting down with the Good Doctor and listen to him speak.
The books have had a queer side-effect. There are countless people in the science fiction world mentioned in the books, and I felt like I’ve gotten to know some of them quite well, albeit through Asimov’s lenses. So reading these books is like a mini-convention for me–a rather remarkable one, granted, at which all the lights of science fiction have gathered around me and decided to share their stories. It is a remarkable experience every time I do it and just when I start to think that maybe I’ll skip it this year–the urge to dive into the books becomes unbearably strong.
I imagine that most people have some book that they could read again and again and again for the sheer pleasure of it. These just happen to be mine.
- I only entered active fandom after I made my first professional story sale back in January 2007. ↩