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Subject: Isaac Asimov FAQ, Part 2/4
This article was archived around: Fri, 09 Feb 2001 06:46:03 GMT
Last-modified: 1 September 2000
Copyright: (c) 1994-2001 Edward J. Seiler and John H. Jenkins
Maintainer: Ed Seiler <email@example.com> and John H. Jenkins
2.8 What books and articles about Asimov have been written by others?
_Seekers_of_Tomorrow_, "Isaac Asimov", by Sam Moskowitz, World, 1966, pp.
_In_Search_of_Wonder_, "Asimov and Empire", by Damon Knight, Advent
Publishers, 1967, pp. 90-94.
_The_Asimov_Science_Fiction_Bibliography_, compiled by M. B. Tepper,
Chinese Ducked Press, 1970.
_The_Universe_Makers_, by Donald A. Wollheim, Harper & Row, 1971.
_Asimov_Analyzed_, by Neil Goble, Mirage, 1972.
_March_1939-May_1972_, by Marjorie M. Miller, Kent State University Press,
_The_Science_Fiction_of_Isaac_Asimov_, by Joseph F. Patrouch, Jr.,
_Words_and_Their_Masters_, "Isaac Asimov", by Israel Shenker, Doubleday,
1974, pp. 253-255.
_Categories_of_Science_Fiction,_Analyses_of_the_Works_, by L. David Allen;
consulting editor, James L. Roberts, Cliffs Notes, c1977
_Isaac_Asimov_, edited by Joseph D. Olander and Martin Harry Greenberg,
Taplinger Pub. Co., 1977.
_Speaking_of_Science_Fiction:_The_Paul_Walker_Interviews_, by Paul Walker,
Luna Publications, 1978.
_Dream_Makers:_Interviews_by_Charles_Platt_, "Isaac Asimov", by Charles
Platt, Berkley, 1980.
_Isaac_Asimov_, by Jean Fiedler and Jim Mele. Ungar, c1982.
_Isaac_Asimov,_the_Foundations_of_Science_Fiction_, by James Gunn, Oxford
University Press, 1982.
_Isaac_Asimov--Scientist_and_Storyteller_, by Ellen Erlanger, Lerner
Publications Co., c1986.
_Isaac_Asimov_, by Donald M. Hassler, Starmont House, 1989.
_Isaac_Asimov,_Reader's_Guide_40_, by Donald M. Hassler, 1991.
_Isaac_Asimov_, by William F. Touponce, Twayne Publishers, 1991.
by Scott E. Green, Greenwood Press, 1995.
_Yours,_Isaac_Asimov:_a_Lifetime_of_Letters_, edited by Stanley Asimov,
Doubleday, 1995. (due in October)
"Mike Wallace asks Prof. Isaac Asimov", _The New York Post_, Oct. 8, 1957.
"Master of None", Neil Goble, _Analog_, Feb. 1962.
"Isaac Asimov, Genius in the Candy Store", Sam Moskowitz, _Amazing_, Apr.
"You Can't Beat Brains", L. Sprague De Camp, _F&SF_, XXXI (Oct. 1966), 32-35.
_Magazine_of_Fantasy_and_Science_Fiction_, XXXI (October 1966), special
Asimov Anniversary edition.
(newspaper article), Harvey Aronson, _Newsday_, Mar. 18, 1967.
"The Translator", _Time_, XC (July 7, 1967), 55-56.
"He's One for the Books", Sidney Fields, _New York Daily News_, Oct. 4, 1967.
"Dr. Asimov's 5-Foot Shelf", Mark Howat, _The Record_, Apr. 25, 1968.
"The TV and Dr. A", Greg Bear, _Luna_, No. 1 (June 1969), 5.
"Isaac Asimov, Man of 7,560,000 Words", _New_York_Times_Book_Review_, Aug.
3, 1969, 8, 28.
"Asimov's Hundred", Paul Nathan, _Publishers'_Weekly_, CXCVI (Aug. 25,
"A Thinking Woman's Philtre", Judy-Lynn Benjamin, _Luna_, No. 5 (Oct.
"The Amazing Asimov", Herbert Kenny, _The_Boston_Sunday_Globe_Magazine_,
Oct. 12, 1969.
"The War Against Your Children", Max Rafferty, _Orlando_Sentinel_, Oct.
"Coming of the Humanoids: Android Fiction", N. P. Huxley, _Commonweal_,
XCI (Dec. 5, 1969), 297-300.
"Scientific Enquiry" a _Boston_ Interview with Isaac Asimov", _Boston_,
LXI (Dec. 1969), 51-54, 82-86, 89-90.
"ESFA Open Meeting-1970", _The WSFA Journal_, No. 73 (Sept.-Nov. 1970), 11-22.
"Amazing Mr. Asimov", P. Farrell, _Writer's_Digest_, LIII (July 1973), 20-22.
"Keeping Posted", _Saturday_Evening_Post_, CCXLVI (Jan. 1974), 6.
"It's an Asimovalanche! The One-Man Book-a-Month Club Has Just Published
His 179th", _People_Magazine_, Nov. 22, 1976, 110-112, 117-118.
"Backward, March!", _Forbes_, CXIX (Apr. 1, 1977), 74.
"Asimov, the Human Writing Machine", J. L. Collier, _Reader's_Digest_, CXI
(Aug. 1977), 123-126.
"What Makes Isaac Write?", _Time_, CXIII (Feb. 26, 1979), 79.
"Asimov at 200", T. Lask, _New_York_Times_Book_Review_, (Jan. 28, 1979), 43.
"Science and American Society", F. Jerome, _Current_, CCXXXVII (Nov.
1981), 3-10. Also _Environment_, XXIII (Sept. 1981), 25-30.
"A Conversation with Isaac Asimov", F. Kendig, _Psychology_Today_, XVII
(Jan. 1983), 42-47.
"Isaac Asimov: Modern-Day Renaissance Man", J. Walsh, _The_Humanist_, XLIV
(July/Aug. 1984), 5.
"Asimov Is Celebrating 300th Book's Publication", E. McDowell, _The New
York Times_, Dec. 17, 1984, C13.
"A Conversation With Isaac Asimov", Earl G. Ingersoll,
_Science_Fiction_Studies_ XIV, (Mar. 1987).
"Science Fiction and High Art", Donald M. Hassler, _Extrapolation_, XXVIII
(Summer 1987), 187-193.
"Isaac Asimov and Science Friction", C. Taylor, _The_Los_Angeles_Times_,
Feb. 7, 1988, Calendar 22-23.
"Some Asimovian References from the Enlightenment",
_Science_Fiction_Studies_, XV (Mar. 1988), 36-47.
"Asimov Is Celebrating 300th Book's Publication", E. McDowell,
_The_New_York_Times_, Dec. 17, 1984, C13.
"The Protean Penman", S. Kaufer, _Time_, CXXXII (Dec. 19, 1988), 80-82.
"Isaac Asimov Speaks", _The_Humanist_, XLIX (Jan./Feb. 1989), 5-13.
"Scientists Say Asimov Put the Stars in Their Eyes", Sheldon Teitelbaum,
_The_Los_Angeles_Times_, April 8, 1992, E1.
"Isaac Asimov: Master of Future Scenarios", Michael Schrage,
_The_Los_Angeles_Times_, April 9, 1992, D1.
"Requiem: Isaac Asimov 1920-1992", K. Ferrell, _Omni_, XIV (June 1992), 22.
"Giants Fall", L. David, _Ad_Astra_, IV (July/Aug. 1992), 11.
"Isaac Asimov", K. Frazier, _Skeptical_Inquirer_, XVII (Summer 1992), 351.
"Asimov's Vision", A. Dane, _Popular_Mechanics_, CLXIX (Aug. 1992), 96.
"Isaac Asimov", _Magazine_of_Fantasy_and_Science_Fiction_, LXXXIII (Aug.
"Interview with Isaac Asimov", _Amazing_Stories_, Oct. 1992
"A Celebration of Isaac Asimov: a Man For the Universe",
_Skeptical_Inquirer_, XVII (Fall 1992), 30-47.
"The Legacy of Isaac Asimov", P. D. Hutcheon, _The_Humanist_, LIII
(Mar./Apr. 1993), 3-5.
"Isaac Asimov: a One-Man Renaissance", B. Chambers, _The_Humanist_, LIII
(Mar./Apr. 1993), 6-8.
"Asimov's Laws of Robotics: Implications for Information Technology", part
1, _Computer_, (Dec. 1993), 53-61.
"Asimov's Laws of Robotics: Implications for Information Technology", part
2, _Computer_, (Jan. 1994), 57-65.
2.9 What religious beliefs did Asimov have?
Asimov had no religious beliefs; he never believed in either God or an
afterlife. He considered himself a Humanist, one who believes that it is
humans who are responsible for all of the problems of society, as well as
the great achievements throughout history. The Humanists believe that
neither good nor evil are produced by supernatural beings, and that the
solution to the problems of humankind can be found without the
intervention of such beings. Asimov was a strong proponent of scientific
reasoning who adamantly opposed creationists, religious zealots,
pseudoscience, and mysticism.
Asimov did not oppose genuine religious feeling in others. He did,
however, have little patience for intolerance or superstition masquerading
Although he was an atheist, Asimov was proud of his Jewish heritage. His
parents never made an effort to teach him religion. He did study in
Hebrew school for several months while his father served as secretary for
the local synagogue, where he learned some Hebrew and how to read Yiddish.
Asimov did have a great interest in the Bible, and wrote several books
about it, notably the two volume _Asimov's_Guide_to_the_Bible_ and
2.10 Did Asimov do anything other than write all day and all night?
Although famous for writing over eight hours a day, seven days a week,
Asimov found time to do a few other things beside writing.
He was a member of the Dutch Treat Club, a group that met for lunch every
Tuesday at the Regency Hotel in New York. He joined the club in 1971 and
was made president in 1985.
He joined the Baker Street Irregulars in 1973, a group of avid Sherlock
Holmes fans that held an annual banquet to celebrate Holmes' birthday.
Asimov admitted that he was not a true Holmes enthusiast, but enjoyed
delivering banquet toasts, speeches, and singing sentimental songs.
Asimov was a Gilbert & Sullivan enthusiast since his youth, when he
listened to the plays on the radio. In 1970 he joined the Gilbert and
Sullivan Society, and attended almost all of their meetings. He regularly
attended G & S productions in Manhattan, and occasionally served as
toastmaster at benefit shows. He loved to sing songs from the shows, and
was quite proud of his singing voice (among other things).
He was also a P. G. Wodehouse fan, and a member of The Wodehouse Society.
He acknowledged that the character of Henry, the waiter who played a
central role in his Black Widower stories, was based on Wodehouse's Jeeves
the butler. He also paid tribute to the influence of Wodehouse in his
Azazel short stories.
He belonged to an all-male club called the Trap Door Spiders, which met
for dinner one Friday night every month, treating a guest invited by the
host to dinner in return for the privilege of grilling him about his life
and work. The club formed the basis for the Black Widower mystery short
stories. The characters were loosely modeled on actual club members as
Black Widower Trap Door Spider
Geoffrey Avalon L. Sprague de Camp
Emmanuel Rubin Lester del Rey
James Drake Doc Clark
Thomas Trumball Gilbert Cant
Mario Gonzalo Lin Carter
Roger Halsted Don Bensen
Asimov joined Mensa, the high-IQ society, in the early 1960s, but found
that many of the members were arrogant about their supposed intelligence,
so he let his membership lapse. However when he moved back to New York,
he became an active member once again, and gave speeches to groups of
Mensans on a number of occasions. Yet once again membership became a
burden for him, so he resigned from the group.
Asimov was a member of the Explorers Club, and served as master of
ceremonies for two years at their annual banquet.
2.11 Is it true that Asimov had a fear of flying?
Yes, the same author who described spaceflights to other worlds and who
argued valiantly for the cause of rationality suffered from an irrational
fear of heights and flying. This had the consequence of limiting the
range over which he travelled throughout much of his life.
Asimov discovered that he was acrophobic at the New York World's Fair in
1940, when he took his date and first love Irene on a roller coaster,
expecting that it would cause her to cling to him in fear and give him a
chance to kiss her. Instead it was he who was terrified while his date
remained perfectly calm. Two years later, his wife-to-be Gertrude
convinced him to ride on a roller coaster at Coney Island, and he was once
Asimov did in fact fly on an airplane twice in his life. The first time
he did so while working at the Naval Air Experimental Station in
Philadelphia during World War II. While working on dye markers that made
ditched pilots more visible to rescue searchers, he developed a test to
compare dye visibility that did not require a plane flight, but in order
to validate his test he volunteered to fly in a small plane to observe the
markers. He was so absorbed in his observations that he didn't suffer
from any undue fear. His second plane flight took place on his return
from his army station in Hawaii, in which he flew aboard a DC-3 to San
After his military service in Hawaii in 1946, Asimov never ventured so far
from home, and did not often travel great distances. When he did need to
travel significant distances, he usually took a train, or rode in someone
else's car, until he learned to drive in 1950. Oddly enough, he found
that he felt quite comfortable behind the wheel of an automobile. In the
1970s he and Janet travelled by train to Florida and California, and they
took several several sea cruises to such places as the Caribbean, West
Africa, England, and France.
2.12 What other notable quirks, fears, and pet peeves did Asimov have?
Asimov was a teetotaler in later life, mainly because in all of his
experiences with drinking alcoholic beverages, just one or two drinks were
sufficient to get him drunk. On the day he passed the oral examination
for his Ph.D., he drank five Manhattans in celebration, and his friends
had to carry him back to school and try to sober him up. His wife told
him that he spent that entire night in bed giggling every once in a while
and saying "*Doctor* Asimov".
He was completely inept at any athletic activity that required any
coordination; he never learned how to swim or ride a bicycle. Spending
even ten minutes in the summer sun turned his skin a bright red. In the
army he had the worst score in his company on the physical-conditioning
test (though he had the highest score on the intelligence test). He was
afraid of needles and the sight of blood.
Asimov discovered that he was claustrophiliac, meaning that he was fond of
enclosed places. He was quite comfortable in small rooms with no windows,
and always insisted on using artificial lighting when he worked. He
considered the underground cities on Earth in _The_Caves_of_Steel_ as the
ultimate windowless enclosures.
He did not allow anyone to call him by any nicknames, except for a few old
friends who had been calling him Ike for years.
Asimov hated it when his name was misspelled in print or mispronounced by
others. His desire to have his name spelled correctly even resulted in a
1957 short story, "Spell my Name with an 's'".
(Notable instances of his name being misspelled occurred on the cover of
the November 1952 issue of _Galaxy_, which contained "The Martian Way",
and on his 1976 Nebula Award for "The Bicentennial Man".)
When in 1939 he wrote a letter to _Planet_Stories_, which printed it and
spelled his name "Isaac Asenion", he quickly fired off an angry letter to
them. (His friend Lester Del Rey took great delight in referring to him
as "Asenion" for many years afterward. On the other hand, Asimov himself
referred to positronic robots with the Three Laws as "Asenion" robots in
Asimov was quite perturbed when Johnny Carson, host of the Tonight Show,
pronounced his first name as I-ZAK, with equal emphasis on both syllables,
during an appearance on the television show in New York in 1968.
3. Biographical (literary)
3.1 When did he start writing?
When he was eleven years old he began writing
_The_Greenville_Chums_at_College_, which he planned to be the first book
in a series. After writing only eight chapters about the adventures of
boys living in a small town, he gave up after recognizing the fact that he
didn't know what he was talking about. However he made a very important
discovery in the process. After he wrote the first two chapters, he told
the story he had written so far to a friend at school during lunchtime.
When he stopped, his friend demanded that he continue. When Asimov
explained that he had told him all that he had so far, the friend asked to
borrow the book when he was finished reading it. Asimov was astonished to
discover that his friend thought that he was retelling a story that he
read. The implied compliment impressed him so much that, from that day
on, Asimov took himself seriously as a writer.
Asimov's first published writing was a column he did for his high school
newspaper. His first accepted piece was a humorous essay entitled "Little
Brothers", which appeared in _The_Boys_High_Recorder_, his high school's
semi-annual literary publication, in 1934, and is reprinted in
_Before_the_Golden_Age_. He wrote it in a creative writing class he took
that year; a class which almost convinced him to give up writing.
3.2 What was his first published story?
After John Campbell, editor of Astounding Science Fiction, rejected his
short stories "Cosmic Corkscrew", "Stowaway" and "This Irrational Planet"
in June, July, and September of 1938, "Marooned Off Vesta" was accepted
for publication by Amazing Stories in October and was published January
3.3 What awards did he win for his writing?
Asimov was presented a special Hugo award in 1963 for "adding science to
science fiction" for his essays in the Magazine of Fantasy and Science
The Foundation Series was awarded the Best All-time Novel Series Hugo
Award in 1966.
_The_Gods_Themselves_ won both the Hugo Award and the Nebula Award for
best novel in 1973.
"The Bicentennial Man" was awarded the Hugo Award and the Nebula Award for
best novelette in 1977.
_Foundation's_Edge_ was presented with the Hugo for best novel in 1983.
In 1987, he was awarded the special lifetime Nebula Grandmaster award.
"Gold" was presented with the Hugo for best novelette in 1992.
_I._Asimov:_A_Memoir_ won the Hugo Award for best nonfiction in 1995.
"The Mule", the seventh Foundation story published in Astounding Science
Fiction (which appeared in book form as part two of
_Foundation_and_Empire_), was awarded a 1946 Retro-Hugo for Best Novel of
1945 at the 1996 WorldCon.
He was posthumously inducted into the Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of
Fame in 1997.
He won the Thomas Alva Edison Foundation Award in 1957 for his book
He was awarded the Howard W. Blakeslee Award from the American Heart
Association in 1960 for his book _The_Living_River_.
He received the James T. Grady Award of the American Chemical Society in 1965.
He was presented with the Westinghouse Science Writing Award in 1967.
He was awarded fourteen honorary doctorate degrees from various universities.
3.4 What is Asimov's last book?
Asimov's publishers have on more than one occasion published the Good
Doctor's "last" book as a marketing ploy. The six titles most often
_Asimov_Laughs_Again_ (the last book he saw published before his death,
published in 1992)
_Forward_the_Foundation_ (his last Foundation novel, published in 1993)
_Frontiers_II_ (his last -- to date -- essay collection, published in 1993)
_I._Asimov:_A_Memoir_ (his last autobiographical volume, published in 1994)
_Gold_ (his last -- to date -- anthology of science fiction stories,
published in 1995)
_Magic_ (his last -- to date -- anthology of fantasy stories, published in 1996)
All this, however, does not preclude the possibility of more books by
Asimov being published in the future. There are, for example, enough
uncollected F&SF science essays for one more collection, and enough
uncollected mystery stories for another. Additional volumes could be
published in the "Complete Stories" series, as well as other anthologies
(e.g., "The Honest-to-goodness Complete Robot Stories Book").
All we can say for certain is that with his death, Asimov appears to have
stopped writing. He has, by no means, stopped publishing. It is
therefore probably meaningless to refer to Asimov's "last" book in
absolute chronological terms.
3.5 Of his own work, what were Asimov's favorite and least favorite
novels? What were his favorite and least favorite stories?
Asimov's favorite novel was _The_Gods_Themselves_, largely because of the
middle section, which was both absolutely brilliant and included
non-humans and sex (Asimov had often been accused of being unable to write
stories with non-humans or sex and therefore leaving them out of his
His least favorite novel was _The_Stars_Like_Dust_. It was scheduled for
serialization in _Galaxy_, then edited by Horace Gold. Gold absolutely
insisted on including a subplot about the characters ransacking the Galaxy
for an ancient document which would utterly revolutionize their political
order. In the end, it turns out that the document is "gur Pbafgvghgvba bs
gur Havgrq Fgngrf" (rot-13 coding added as spoiler protection, as if this
sub-par novel could be truly "spoiled" by giving away plot points).
Asimov loathed the subplot and bitterly resented being forced to add it.
He offered to his editor at Doubleday, Walter Bradbury, to remove it for
the hardcover publication, but Bradbury liked the subplot and insisted it
be left in.
Then to add insult to injury, when the first paperback edition was
published by Ace, they changed the title (for the worse) and totally
gutted the novel, to the point that Asimov could hardly recognize it.
Asimov's three favorite stories were (in order): "The Last Question",
"The Bicentennial Man", and "The Ugly Little Boy" (all found in
_The_Best_Science_Fiction_of_Isaac_Asimov_, among other places).
Among his least favorite stories were:
"Black Friar of the Flame" (found in _The_Early_Asimov_). The story was
his first attempt at a "future historical" and was bounced around from
editor to editor until it was finally published. It was revised a
half-a-dozen times and rejected ten times in a two-year-period. Asimov
was so bitter over the story's history that he swore never again to revise
anything more than twice, and he would even fight over having to do a
(This is his least favorite story among those that most Asimov fans are
likely to have ever read. He also implies in _The_Early_Asimov_ that it
is his least favorite story of all time, but this is clarified in
His all-time least favorite story was "The Portable Star"
(_Thrilling_Wonder_Stories_, Winter 1955). As with "A Woman's Heart,"
Asimov never authorized its anthologization. He describes it as a sleazy
attempt to cash in on the new interest in sex in sf started by Philip Jose
Farmer's 1952 story, "The Lovers."
He also published a story, "A Woman's Heart" in the June 1957 _Satellite_
which he considered so trivial that he never included it in any of his
4. The Foundation/robot Series
4.1 What is this _Forward_the_Foundation_ I keep hearing about?
_Forward_the_Foundation_ is the last-written of the Foundation books. It
was near completion at the time of Asimov's death and published a year
later. It is currently available in both hardback and paperback.
4.2 Did Asimov *really* write _Forward_the_Foundation_? Didn't he die
before it was done, so somebody else really wrote it up from notes?
Yes, Asimov really wrote all of _Forward the Foundation_.
_Forward the Foundation_ was originally planned to be a series of novellas,
bridging the chronological gap between _Prelude to Foundation_ and
_Foundation_. The first three were completed long before Asimov died and
published in Isaac Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine.
Asimov had completed draft material for the remainder of the book before
his death. This material required some editing by Doubleday and Asimov's
widow, Janet, before the book was published, but even Asimov was rarely
published with no editing at all, and there was no significant expansion of
incomplete sections done. The final result is correctly characterized as
being "by Isaac Asimov."
4.3 What about the contradictions between _Forward_the_Foundation_ and
other Foundation books?
The whole Foundation series is rife with contradictions. There are two
main reasons for this.
First of all, Asimov simply didn't enjoy sweating over details in his
fiction. There are a number of things Asimov enjoyed about writing --
that's why he wrote so much -- but purging his fiction of contradictions
was not one of them. As early as 1945, he was finding it more effort than
it was worth to keep up consistency in the Foundation stories and tried
(three times) to end the series so that he wouldn't have to deal with it.
Secondly, Asimov's overall plan for the series changed. For example, the
robot stories and Foundation stories were originally conceived as existing
in separate fictional universes. It wasn't until the 1980s that he
started to tie them together explicitly. Other examples would involve
major spoilers for some of the later books.
(Also, the stories were written over the course of fifty years, starting
from a time when Asimov was at the unspectacular beginning of his career
and the Golden Age was a year old, to a time when Asimov was one of
science fiction's Big Three and John Campbell, for whom the earliest
stories were written, dead for twenty years. It should not be surprising
that the seventy-year-old Grand Master should find some of the ideas of
the twenty-year-old apprentice not quite up to snuff and not worth
4.4 Is it true that a new Foundation Trilogy written by three different
authors was published? How could the publisher be allowed to
do such a thing?
Yes, The Second Foundation Trilogy was published by HarperPrism. The
first novel, _Foundation's_Fear_, by Gregory Benford, was published in
March 1997; the second novel, _Foundation_and_Chaos_, by Greg Bear, was
published in March 1998; and the third novel of the trilogy, _Foundation's
Triumph_, by David Brin, was published in April 1999. According to the
afterword in _Foundation's_Fear_, although the three novels are being
developed as stand-alone books, they will "carry forward an overarching
mystery to its end."
The novels were written at the suggestion of Janet Asimov and the
representative of the Asimov estate. They approached Gregory Benford and
asked him to write a Foundation book. After giving it some thought, he
agreed to do so, and suggested that Bear and Brin write additional books
to form a new trilogy.
4.5 What is the chronological order of the Foundation books?
In the Author's Note at the beginning of _Prelude_to_Foundation_, Asimov says:
"In any case, the situation has become sufficiently complicated for me to
feel that the readers might welcome a kind of guide to the series, since
they were not written in the order in which (perhaps) they should be read.
"The fourteen books, all published by Doubleday, offer a kind of history
of the future, which is, perhaps, not completely consistent, since I did
not plan consistency to begin with. The chronological order of the books,
in terms of future history (and _not_ of publication date), is as follows:
"1. _The_Complete_Robot_ (1982). This is a collection of thirty-one
robot short stories published between 1940 and 1976 and includes every
story in my earlier collection, _I,_Robot_ (1950). Only one robot short
story has been written since that collection appeared. That is 'Robot
Dreams,' which has not yet appeared in any Doubleday collection.
[_Robot_Dreams_ (1986) does contain it; see also _Robot_Visions_ (1990)]
"2. _The_Caves_of_Steel_ (1954). This is the first of my robot novels.
"3. _The_Naked_Sun_ (1957). The second robot novel.
"4. _The_Robots_of_Dawn (1983). The third robot novel.
"5. _Robots_and_Empire_ (1985). The fourth robot novel.
"6. _The_Currents_of_Space_ (1952). This is the first of my Empire novels.
"7. _The_Stars,_Like_Dust--_ (1951). The second Empire novel.
"8. _Pebble_in_the_Sky_ (1950). The third Empire novel.
"9. _Prelude_to_Foundation_ (1988). This is the first Foundation novel
(although it is the latest written, so far).
[9a. _Forward_the_Foundation_ (1993).]
[9b. _Foundation's_Fear_ (1997).] The first novel in the Second Foundation
Trilogy, it was written by Gregory Benford. Takes place after the first
chapter of _Forward_the_Foundation_.
[9c. _Foundation_and_Chaos_ (1998).] The second novel in the Second
Foundation Trilogy, written by Greg Bear. Takes place at the approximate
time of Hari Seldon's trial.
[9d. _Foundation's_Triumph_ (previously titled _Third_Foundation_ and
_Secret_Foundation_) (scheduled for March 1999).] By David Brin.
"10. _Foundation_ (1951). The second Foundation novel. Actually, it is
a collection of four stories, originally published between 1942 and 1944,
plus an introductory section written for the book in 1949.
"11. _Foundation_and_Empire_ (1952). The third Foundation novel, made up
of two stories, originally published in 1945.
"12. _Second_Foundation_ (1953). The fourth Foundation novel, made up of
two stories, originally published in 1948 and 1949.
"13. _Foundation's_Edge_ (1982). The fifth Foundation novel.
"14. _Foundation_and_Earth_ (1983). The sixth Foundation novel."
Note that this order is slightly wrong, in that _Currents_of_Space_
actually takes place *after* _The_Stars,_Like_Dust--_. Also _Foundation
and Earth_ was published in 1986, not 1983.
4.6 What is the order in which the Foundation books should be read?
There are actually three answers to this question.
A) Read them in the order of action, as listed by Asimov.
B) Read them in the order of publication.
There is no real reason why (A) or (B) is the better order. If you're
more interested in seeing the development of Asimov's universe, writing,
and ideas, you may prefer (B). If you are more interested in the course
of events in Asimov's universe, you may prefer (A). Note, also, that some
of the more recent books contain spoilers for some of the earlier ones, so
the impact of some stories may be lessened if you choose (A).
Note that Asimov in the Author's Note quoted does not actually suggest one
order over the other, but does suggest chronological order as a
C) Just read the ones published in the 1950s (plus _The_Complete_Robot_),
because the later ones all suck.
No true Asimov fan, of course, would agree that any of the Good Doctor's
books "suck," but there is pretty broad feeling that the later books are
not as good as the earlier ones. (There is also pretty broad disagreement
with this assessment.) In particular, _Foundation_and_Earth_ is
considered one of the weaker books in the series. Of course, your mileage
will vary, and you may be one of those who prefers the later books over
the earlier ones.
4.7 _Foundation_and_Earth_? What book is that? Why can't I find it on sale in
_Foundation_and_Earth_ was published by Doubleday in 1986, and a paperback
edition was published late in 1987 by Ballantine/Del Rey. Bantam/Spectra
published new paperback editions of most of Asimov's science fiction
novels starting in 1990, but when _Foundation_and_Earth_ went out of print
in the United States, Bantam/Spectra did not acquire the rights. The
Asimov estate is currently negotiating to have it published again. In the
meantime, it is only available in the U.K. (published by HarperCollins
Voyager), from the Science Fiction Book Club <http://www.sfbc.com> and
from sellers of used and out-of-print books.
4.8 Whatever happened to the Solarians, who mysteriously disappeared in
The fate of the Solarians is explained in _Foundation_and_Earth_.