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View Full Version : Why I am exactly like Isaac Asimov ;-)



grant hutchison
2015-Jan-22, 11:45 PM
For another thread, I just reread an early Asimov short story, and I've been struck by a series of coincidences. These are probably of no interest to anyone but me, but I'm either going to have to wake my wife up to tell her this story, or I post it here ...

So:
In 1939, Asimov had his first short story published, Marooned Off Vesta. In 1959 he decided to mark the twentieth anniversary of that publication by writing a sequel, Anniversary, set twenty years after the original story. In Anniversary, he picked up a couple of purely incidental features of the original story (some objects mentioned in passing), and turned them into the central plot element of the new story.

So:
In 1993, I had my first short story published. In 2013, I decided I'd mark the twentieth anniversary of that publication by writing a sequel (actually an extended postscript to the original story), set twenty years after the original story. To do so, I picked several incidental events from that story (and from a couple of other published stories featuring the same characters), and reinterpreted them to form the central theme of the new story.

I don't think I've read either Marooned off Vesta or Anniversary since the early 70s, and I don't think I ever knew the origin of the second story until tonight.


Now:
You may suggest that a twenty-year anniversary is a common enough time for authorial reflection, and that this sort of fixer-upper exercise is not particularly unusual (as well as being good fun to do).
But I tell you that I am exactly like Isaac Asimov, darnit!

Grant Hutchison

Trebuchet
2015-Jan-23, 01:20 AM
So you're a Jewish Atheist chemist with wild muttonchops?

KaiYeves
2015-Jan-23, 02:22 AM
Yes, but have you taught at Boston University and do you look like a koala? (That is not an insult to Asimov, I just think his sideburns made him look like a koala.)

Cougar
2015-Jan-23, 02:23 AM
That is pretty amazing. An example of how rare some authors "overlap" themes or character types or other similarties among their stories, there's T.C. Boyle, who is very prolific with both novels and short stories. He's got two 1,000-page compendia of short stories. And it seems there's precious little overlap of any of these possible similarities. There is likely more overlap than I recognize, but it is striking how every short comes across as so entirely different.

I imagine the anniversary of one's first short story publication is indeed something to celebrate. Not so strange, perhaps. You could have clinked wine glasses with a loved one and celebrated the memory. But no, you decide to celebrate by writing a new short story, but using a couple more or less random bits from the first publication? Are you sure you didn't subconsciously know Azimov had done that? [arms-folded, foot-tapping emoticon :)]

Noclevername
2015-Jan-23, 08:08 AM
You've been dead since 1992?

galacsi
2015-Jan-23, 10:35 AM
Probably ,your unconscious memory better than your conscious one !

swampyankee
2015-Jan-23, 10:51 AM
Do you have a serious aversion to long-distance travel?

Of course, he lived in NYC. The world tends to visit there, so he didn't need to travel as much as some guy living in East Bumbershoot.

grant hutchison
2015-Jan-23, 01:40 PM
I don't think Asimov had an aversion to long-distance travel - just aeroplane travel. He wasn't at all averse to cruise liners, for instance.

It would be a remarkably detailed and long-lasting bit of subliminal priming if there really was some unconscious trigger for my own behaviour. I think even a hypnotist would flinch at the idea that a single unconscious suggestion, delivered without any reinforcement, could activate in such detail after forty years.
Isn't it more likely this is just a remarkably detailed coincidence?

Grant Hutchison

galacsi
2015-Jan-23, 02:47 PM
I don't think Asimov had an aversion to long-distance travel - just aeroplane travel. He wasn't at all averse to cruise liners, for instance.

It would be a remarkably detailed and long-lasting bit of subliminal priming if there really was some unconscious trigger for my own behaviour. I think even a hypnotist would flinch at the idea that a single unconscious suggestion, delivered without any reinforcement, could activate in such detail after forty years.
Isn't it more likely this is just a remarkably detailed coincidence?

Grant Hutchison

The truth is ,of course, i don't know. I was just ,let say ,a little mischevious. Why ? This site is still very hot on debunking ,no ? So I could not resist. And too ,your last sentence about coincidence , should not let a true debunker indifferent ! :D

grant hutchison
2015-Jan-23, 04:27 PM
The truth is ,of course, i don't know. I was just ,let say ,a little mischevious. Why ? This site is still very hot on debunking ,no ? So I could not resist. And too ,your last sentence about coincidence , should not let a true debunker indifferent ! :DHmmm. So in order to "debunk" a claim of coincidence, you are invoking an extraordinary episode of unconscious programming, caused by reading a short story and (presumably) some sort of story note by Asimov, which then lay dormant for forty years?
I think the debunking arrow is pointing in the opposite direction. :lol:

Grant Hutchison

Grey
2015-Jan-23, 04:30 PM
Hmm. Now I want to read all of these stories. Asimov's should be easy enough to track down. Where can I find yours, Grant?

grant hutchison
2015-Jan-23, 05:29 PM
Hmm. Now I want to read all of these stories. Asimov's should be easy enough to track down. Where can I find yours, Grant?I'll PM you. I imagine posting here could be interpreted as advertising.
The stories are very much for a niche market - I doubt they'll travel well outside Scotland.

Grant Hutchison

Grey
2015-Jan-23, 06:07 PM
I'll PM you. I imagine posting here could be interpreted as advertising.
The stories are very much for a niche market - I doubt they'll travel well outside Scotland.Fair enough. I'll look for your message.

DonM435
2015-Jan-23, 06:08 PM
Hey, my Dad ran a grocery store, and I grew up working there! That makes me just like Isaac Asimov. Or Harvey Pekar. Or Dobie Gillis or Clark Kent, I guess. ;)

Noclevername
2015-Jan-25, 09:15 AM
Yes, but have you taught at Boston University and do you look like a koala? (That is not an insult to Azimov, I just think his sideburns made him look like a koala.)

Nitpick: Asimov.

KaiYeves
2015-Jan-25, 03:56 PM
Nitpick: Asimov.

Fixed.

DonM435
2015-Jan-25, 04:57 PM
He needed Liza Minnelli's composer ("It's Liza with 'Z' not Lisa with an 'S'"), only in reverse.

I recall that Isaac liked to sing, so he'd probably go along with that.

Noclevername
2015-Jan-25, 10:06 PM
(That is not an insult to Asimov, I just think his sideburns made him look like a koala.)

That reminds me, I need to trim mine.

grant hutchison
2015-Jan-26, 01:10 AM
He needed Liza Minnelli's composer ("It's Liza with 'Z' not Lisa with an 'S'"), only in reverse.

I recall that Isaac liked to sing, so he'd probably go along with that.Instead, Asimov (1958) wrote "Spell My Name With An S".

Grant Hutchison

KaiYeves
2015-Jan-26, 04:07 AM
That reminds me, I need to trim mine.

But koalas are cool.

Noclevername
2015-Jan-26, 04:09 AM
But koalas are cool.

So are bow ties, but I don't wear one. ;)

Romanus
2015-Jan-29, 04:23 AM
I had no idea that Asimov hated flying, though in light of the Sherlock Holmes-like Wendell Urth from his early short stories (a character who hated going anywhere he couldn't walk), it makes perfect sense. :)

Jim
2015-Jan-29, 12:13 PM
I had no idea that Asimov hated flying, though in light of the Sherlock Holmes-like Wendell Urth from his early short stories (a character who hated going anywhere he couldn't walk), it makes perfect sense. :)

Asimov was not a fan of air travel. This led to an interesting story about him which I've probably told before, but, heck.

He was asked to speak at an afternoon event in Washington, DC. Since he lived in New York, this was a fairly easy drive, so he agreed. While driving down, he stopped for lunch at a local restaurant. The food was very good. On the drive home, he decided to stop at the same restaurant for dinner. Again the meal was very good.

When he got home, his wife asked how the trip went. He said it went well, and he especially liked the food at that restaurant. She asked him what he had, and he said he had the rabbit stew for lunch and the venison steak for dinner.

His daughter overheard this and exclaimed with obvious shock, "You mean you ate Bambi and Thumper on the same day!?"

Grey
2015-Jan-29, 03:53 PM
Instead, Asimov (1958) wrote "Spell My Name With An S".I've read this story (years ago), but it somehow didn't dawn on me until I read your post here that part of the inspiration for that story was obviously people misspelling his own name. :doh:

Trebuchet
2015-Jan-29, 06:24 PM
Despite my former employment, I'm not a fan of air travel either. The last few airplane rides I was on were all Boeing test flights, which were much more interesting. Cockpit jump seat!