R.I.P. Janet Asimov

I learned last night that Janet Asimov died on February 25. Janet was a psychiatrist, and a writer of books and essays. She was married to Isaac Asimov for the last 20 years of his life.

Over my many readings and re-readings of Isaac Asimov’s autobiographies, I felt like I came to know Janet as I came to know Isaac, without ever meeting them in person. Unlike Isaac Asimov, who died before I really started reading his works, I was fortunate enough to have a brief correspondence with Janet in the late 1990s. My correspondence began with my desire to express how much Isaac’s writing–fiction and nonfiction–meant to me, and how it shaped me as a writer. Janet sent me a courteous letter in response, dotted with stickers here and there across the page.

Sometime later, prompted by a 400th science column that Janet Asimov wrote on Isaac’s behalf for The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction (Isaac Asimov had a regular science column in the magazine for decades, completing 399 columns before he died), I wrote to Janet urging publication of the remaining uncollected science essays. I told her that almost everything I learned about science, I learned from Isaac Asimov. Janet wrote back briefly, saying that she liked the idea. Alas, nothing ever came of the uncollected essays.

I’m sad to learn of Janet’s passing, but I know she lived a long life. She outlived her husband by nearly 27 years. I haven’t read Asimov’s memoirs for several years now, but I think I might crack them open again this spring.

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.