Isaac Asimov

What was Isaac Asimov like in person?

Isaac Asimov, renowned as one of the most brilliant minds in science fiction, was not only an extraordinary writer but also an exemplary human being. His ability to weave complex scientific principles into fascinating narratives won him accolades worldwide and positioned him as a literary giant. For many, including myself, Asimov is a favorite, and his works continue to captivate readers with their thought-provoking themes and meticulous scientific underpinnings. His legacy is secured in the annals of science fiction as one of its most distinguished contributors.

Isaac Asimov was not only a venerated science fiction writer but also a person who used his prominence for benevolent purposes. One particular instance, which is recounted in detail in the anecdote below, is emblematic of his kind-hearted nature. Asimov used his influence to assist a woman partly disabled due to crippling arthritis who primarily earned her income through sales at science fiction convention dealer’s rooms. His support significantly impacted her life, demonstrating that Asimov’s legacy extended far beyond the pages of his work. The story stands as a testament to his compassionate character, reflecting how he leveraged his fame for the benefit of others.

Isaac Asimov
An intimate moment with Isaac Asimov, legendary science fiction author, captured while engrossed in signing copies of his iconic books. Asimov’s literary prowess, manifested in these signed tomes, has thrilled generations of science fiction enthusiasts. Yet, beyond the printed page, his benevolent nature reverberates, embodied in acts of kindness such as aiding a woman with crippling arthritis who depended on science fiction convention sales. This image encapsulates Asimov’s multifaceted legacy: not only a maestro of the written word but also a beacon of generosity and empathy.

The anecdote below is from Quora [from Mercedes R. Lackey’s answer]

What was Isaac Asimov like in person?

Although I did not know Uncle Ike (many of us called him “Uncle Ike” as a term of endearment, because he was like the “good uncle” to so many aspiring writers and scientists) personally, and in fact never met him, I’d like to relate a story someone who did know him told me.

I had a friend, Tess, who was partly disabled due to crippling arthritis and made most of her money doing science fiction convention sales in the dealer’s room. Now, Tess knew Ike enough for him to greet her by name whenever he strolled through the dealer’s room, but they were not close acquaintances, just so you understand the context of the rest of this story.

She had run afoul of the person who was running a Worldcon convention dealer’s room on the east coast, and as revenge, this person had stuck her table into a little cul-de-sac just off the larger room with no one else in it. She spent all of Thursday and Friday making not a single sale. So she was already losing money-the money on her room, her meals, the gas it took to get there, and her table.

She was in the restaurant at breakfast on Saturday agonizing over her losses and wondering if she wouldn’t just be better off leaving early and saving 3 more days of hotel room fees (Worldcon typically was over Labor Day weekend and ran Thursday-Monday). “Tess, what on earth is wrong?” she heard, looked up, and saw Ike standing beside her table looking concerned.

She broke down and explained her problem. He patted her hand. “Go to your table, it will be all right,” he said and left. She didn’t think anything of it, just thought it was Ike being kind, and decided to stick out one more day.

The dealer’s room opens. And suddenly, here comes a parade of con staff with pylons and red ropes, going past Tess’s table to the table that is at the end of that cul-de-sac. They set up the ropes and leave.

Suddenly, here comes Ike who marches past Tess, winks at her, and sits himself down with an array of pens at that table. And the line forms immediately. And of course, everyone has to go past Tess to get to the signing table.

Ike stays there for three hours. And when he leaves, Roger Zelazny takes his place. And then Bob Silverberg. And then Bob Bloch. And then Ike takes another turn. Tess was making more money than she ever had at a Worldcon.

When the dealer’s room closes, she finally gets to see what is on the sign that the con staff had set up at the entrance. Exclusive signings, it read, and a list of all the A-list writers at the convention, all day Saturday, all day Sunday, and all day Monday. All are organized by Ike. Because, of course, it was Ike, and not even the Worldcon staff was going to say “no” to Isaac Asimov.

That is the kind of man Isaac Asimov was.


M. Özgür Nevres


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