From Publishers Weekly
Condensed by Asimov's widow from the remarkably prolific author's three-volume autobiography, this fascinating but somewhat disjointed collection of excerpts conveys the exuberant spirit of one of the most celebrated founding fathers and eighth Grand Master of American science fiction, who died in 1992. As a child of Russian Jewish immigrants, Asimov gazed longingly at encyclopedias in more affluent friends' homes, and grew up to be a walking encyclopedia himself: a self-educated polymath and humanist, he earned a Ph.D. in chemistry and later received over a dozen honorary doctorates. Asimov's widow presents chronologically his thoughts on his writing in the context of his life and his lifelong secular humanism; she connects them with a minimum of editorial comment and occasionally adds illuminating passages from their previously unpublished private correspondence. Also included are a brief chronology of Asimov's life; his posthumous 400th essay "A Way of Thinking," which his wife assembled from their discussions and letters defending "Reason against Chaos"; Asimov's favorite among his multitudinous short stories, "The Last Question," which is quintessential Asimov in its spare, conversational style simmering with optimistic cosmic humor; and the surprising revelation that Asimov's 1992 death was caused by complications from AIDS, which he had contracted through blood transfusions during his 1983 bypass surgery. Generously exposing both Asimov's immense talents as a science fiction author and his ruefully amusing self-deprecating punctures of his own early inflated self-image, this readable and idiosyncratic self-portrait should attract a whole new generation of readers to Asimov's fine creative works. Photos.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
From Library Journal
Isaac Asimov the author of hundreds of books, both fiction and nonfiction, including the "Foundation" series was a rationalist, convinced that the act of writing was Heaven for him. That rationalism is evident in his three-volume autobiography, which has been condensed into this single-volume work, accompanied by some personal letters compiled by his second wife, Janet Jeppison Asimov. Asimov's know-how, opinions, joys, and successes as a writer, educator, soldier, husband, father, and general intellectual show-off are detailed to varying degrees, but so are his booby prizes. He readily admits to being very self-involved, a necessity for a writer of his output, but such self-centeredness did not work well for his first marriage. It is, however, impossible not to like Asimov and his enthusiasm, even glee, for life as it comes. Asimov was often ill later in life, but his optimism and love of learning remained. Janet Asimov presents a "revelation" in the epilog of this book, but the impression that will last is of Isaac Asimov, the humanist. Recommended for all libraries. Robert L. Kelly, Ft. Wayne Community Schs., IN
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
Asimov's widow has ably condensed his three-volume autobiography into one handy book covering his life from birth in Russia and immigration with his parents and through careers as a scientist, an sf writer, and a science popularizer, and touching on matters of his humanist faith and his numerous works on the way to his final illness. That, an afterword imparts, was the result of HIV infection from contaminated blood transfusions during bypass surgery in 1983. The reader also learns enough about Janet Jeppson Asimov through her editing, letters, and comments to make her seem more than worthy of an autobiography herself. This is a good introduction to one of the most prolific and distinguished careers in twentieth-century American letters, especially for those unready to immerse themselves in the complete Asimov self-life. It may, however, generate demand among serious sf students for its three-tome source. Roland GreenCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
"...fun to read..." -- New Scientist, March 2, 2002
"...not just for sf fans, this is a page-turner..." -- Booklist, February 15, 2002
"Recommended for all libraries." -- Library Journal, March 1, 2002
From the Publisher
"Without question, Isaac was one of the Great Men of Our Time. Wildly witty, inexhaustively creative, core-of-the-Earth deep and wide in wisdom and knowledge, he was also Great Company. Yes, his was a 'good life,' for him; but more important, he made it a better-than-good life for all of us--just by having existed." -- Harlan Ellison
"Isaac Asimov was certainly the Shakespeare of the twentieth century--no other author, no ten other authors, matched his output in range, quantity, clarity, joy, and depth of writing about the growth of knowledge and human conditions. Grab this autobiography for a fascinating, delightful series of glimpses into the many lives of this extraordinary writer." -- Paul Levinson, author of THE SILK CODE
"Who better than Janet Asimov to delineate the innermost thoughts of the seer, author, and nontheist we know as the science-fiction genius who coined 'robotics' and intrigued us with the memorable Foundation and robot novels! IT'S BEEN A GOOD LIFE is a hoot and a must read!" -- Warren Allen Smith, author of WHO'S WHO IN HELL
From the Inside Flap
As one of the most gifted and prolific writers of the twentieth century, Isaac Asimov has become a literary legend. In reflecting on his years and his career in the last volume of his autobiographical trilogy, he said modestly, "It's been a good life."
Now ten years after her husband's death, Janet Jeppson Asimov has carefully mined the depths of Asimov's most personal thoughts about his life and work. She lovingly combines these with revealing excerpts from his letters to create an intimate portrait of a genius whose tireless passion for writing is evident on every page.
Throughout the book, Asimov shares many important experiences: his years as a child prodigy in Depression-era Brooklyn, his early fascination with science-fiction pulp magazines, the thrill of his first published story, the creation of his well-known story "Nightfall," the genesis of the Foundation and robot series, and how he evolved as a creative writer. Significant moments throughout his life are described with Asimov's characteristic wit, sense of humor, and ever-present optimism.
IT'S BEEN A GOOD LIFE envelops the reader with the warmth and wisdom of Asimov's unique style as though engaged in an exclusive conversation with the author. Beyond offering a compelling chronology of the events in the author's life, many chapters highlight subjects and ideas that were particularly important to him: religion and the Bible, Shakespeare, and humanism, to name a few. Featured in this volume are "The Last Question," which Asimov admitted to being his favorite story, his 400th essay on his thoughts about science, and several never-before-published photos. In the revised epilogue, written by Janet, she reveals the true story of Isaac's final illness and death.
Isaac Asimov revolutionized what it means to be a writer. He created superbly enlightening science and history books about the world around him and wonderful science-fiction worlds where his readers could lose themselves for hours. No other twentieth-century writer wrote with such Shakespearean eloquence or had more of a literary impact than Isaac Asimov. Simply put, IT'S BEEN A GOOD LIFE is a behind-the-scenes look at genius and a must-have for Asimov fans as well as science and science-fiction fans in general.
About the Author
Janet Jeppson Asimov, M.D. (New York, NY), a retired physician, is the author of twenty books and many short stories and articles. She currently writes a bimonthly science column for a newspaper syndicate.