Part 2 will deal with Tolkien and Fantasy. It is a bit humorous that Asimov read and enjoyed The Lord of the Rings, and Tolkien had read Asimov’s science fiction and liked it, apparently. They were both giants in their genre, and highly influential and still define their genres to many to this day.
Beyond this, they were very different. Asimov was a New Yorker, and an atheist. Tolkien an English gentleman and a devout catholic. Asimov wrote a lot of what we call Hard Science Fiction, which is a hard branch of sci-fi to successfully write.
For one thing, your readers, probably largely thanks to writers like Asimov, expect you to have knowledge of scientific processes. You have to do your homework and your research. There isn’t any excuses, or wand waving, or light saber battles here. Hard sci-fi can be very dry and cerebral to those that don’t read it often. It isn’t always done well. Asimov’s writing style was known to be dialogue heavy and bare of a lot of description, but he could always explain his science in layman’s terms.
He knew and worked with a lot of the greats in science-fiction. His editor was John Campbell, who has an award named after him, and he knew everyone. Heinlein, Ellison, Arhur C Clarke, Frederick Pohl.
I have a few books of his, the Foundation Trilogy, which might be more than three books, so perhaps trilogy is the wrong term, and Magic- The Final Fantasy Collection, which is a collection of his fantasy short stories he wrote. Asimov was quite prolific and wrote and published thousands of stories. He was the epitome of hard sci-fi for a long time. I enjoy Heinlein as well, because he deals with situations that kind of make you think. His characters were more developed in a way, but Asimov’s science was stronger.
Hard Sci-fi typically doesn’t make it into the mainstream media, the much softer “Space Opera” like Battlestar Galactica or Star Wars tends to dominate because the science is downplayed or not there at all, and more is focused on the characters. The only one I can think of that is actually called hard sci-fi is The Expanse based on a S.A. Corey series. I am excited for this show because of this, it is a thinking person’s science fiction.
I would argue West World could fit here as well, and possibly Orphan Black, because the science is at least mentioned which is more than some shows. I would say Orphan Black has the best of both worlds with unique characters and a science background, but it is to be seen if the writers can continue to do the dance between the science and the plot. Asimov’s writing is still influencing Science-Fiction, and I actually enjoy reading heavy dialogue, it is kind of how I write as well so it gives me hope to know that a writer can be successful with that type of writing style.
His “Law of Robotics” also has affected a lot of the culture’s view on robots and machines and on their ability or inability to hurt people. Like in the Dick article I wrote, A.I, Blade Runner, many of these deal with robots who aren’t supposed to be able to hurt people going rogue. Asimov cemented the idea of making a robot incapable of harming a human. He is credited with coining the term robotics itself, and also wrote many science articles that were non-fiction to educate people on science.
Ultimately, a very interesting individual and writer that I would love to read more of. Feel free to add any comments on specific works and if he was an influence on your writing or anything I may have missed. This is the brief version, he was very prolific, this is just a basic overview of his life and work. I am aware I haven’t even scratched the surface.