Isaac Asimov: The Titan of Science Fiction

by Connor

Herein lies the project of Connor, pertaining to the literary prowess and importance of one Isaac Asimov.

Author Background


Analysis of Asimov, Science Fiction, and “The Last Question”


Works Cited


4 thoughts on “Isaac Asimov: The Titan of Science Fiction

  1. Asimov is a fascinating writer. I haven’t read a great deal of his fiction writing before, but he has an interesting way of using science fiction tropes in a vital and powerful way to talk about concepts that traditional literature cannot access. He raises the question for me – what is the literature of the new century? What are the ideas that we need to make sense of, what are the narratives that we are now living out? Making sense of science, and coming to terms with ideas which once seemed very far away and bizarre are increasingly enveloping us and changing the way we see the world and one another, seems to me deeply important. Works such as his _I, Robot_ demand of us to face the new age in which we find ourselves.

  2. Asimov’s “The Last Question” addresses a question oft asked universally — is there a creator of the universe? If so, who? And how? In “The Last Question,” Asimov manages to answer this question with a combination of the concepts of science and religion, two subjects that to many seem irreconcilable. He maintains that the two can cohabitate harmoniously. In doing so, Asimov seems to be asserting something similar to Hobbes, perhaps saying that humanity is a leviathan — not in the biblical sense of a whale, but in the sense that man in and of itself is bigger than the traditional notion of God. Humans collectively working together equal what many believe to be God. In the end of the story the AC, an evolution of the Multivac, declares, “Let there be light!” This is only after trillions of years of collecting information, after all the stars and galaxies have been “snuffed out,” and all humans have fused with the AC. The narrator writes, “The consciousness of AC encompassed all of what had once been a Universe” and then states that the AC goes on to create program to reverse entropy. Together every being that has ever existed fused together to create the world that we know today, one that many assume to be ruled by one supreme God. To Asimov’s narrator, this God is still one Supreme Being, yet He is created from us all. Trillions of years of human life have created a leviathan, thus we ourselves are God. God is not a faraway being disconnected from us, but is actually a result of man stacked on top of man for generations, until eventually there is one Supreme. Suddenly science and religion do not seem so foreign to one another.

    Bailey Thompson

  3. I believe Isaac Asimov’s status as a Russian immigrant should not affect his status as part of the American literary canon since he moved to America when he was three and never returned. However, I do feel that his influence on mainstream and highly popular works such as Star Trek and the film adaptation of “I, Robot” may have influenced his placement within the canon. Many scholars might discount the literary value of his works because they associate his theories with these non-literary forms of entertainment. Despite these complications, I believe Asimov should be considered a part of the American literary canon in addition to the science fiction canon. One question raised during this presentation was why science fiction is often left out of the general canon. To add to this, do you think this trend will change in the next decade or will science fiction continue to be excluded? Do you think Asimov will ever transition into the general canon?

  4. Connor,

    A solid presentation on Asimov. You raise a number of important questions about Asimov. In terms of the issue of nationality, I think the more important issue is whether nationality is important to categorize Asimov. Instead, might it be better to explore the issue of what it means to be a citizen of the world and to think of science fiction as a global (or universal) genre, rather than a national one. You write:

    “Though his science fiction works identify with humanity as a whole, rather than a specific country, it is because of his and others’ validation of the genre that Asimov should be considered a “great” American author. His works should be added to the literary canon, and his works should be anthologized and studied.”

    Could we think of Asimov as being part of a number of canons–with the national one being a relatively minor one? Would this require reshaping our view of what is important with studying literature? These questions point to the issue of the relative quality or importance of science fiction. You write:

    “However, though the genre science fiction is popular in the culture, it is not well-regarded or well-represented in the American Canon of literature.”

    Has this been changing? I’d like to see more discussion of why this might be. You might need to do some research into scholarly sources to help make a case. You could use more development in order to support your argument, which I think you state best near the end: “Science fiction remains and will remain relevant to literature and the culture, because the future is never truly reached, only chased and dreamt of.” Overall, I’d suggest you take a look at paragraph structure in order to present your arguments more strongly.



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