My annual Isaac Asimov autobiography reading

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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.

  1. I only entered active fandom after I made my first professional story sale back in January 2007.

About Jamie Todd Rubin

Jamie Todd Rubin writes fiction and nonfiction for a variety of publications including Analog, Clarkesworld, The Daily Beast, 99U, Daily Science Fiction, Lightspeed, InterGalactic Medicine Show, and several anthologies. He was featured in Lifehacker’s How I Work series. He has been blogging since 2005. By day, he manages software projects and occasionally writes code. He lives in Arlington, Virginia with his wife and three children. Find him on Twitter at @jamietr.

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