Isaac Asimov is the science fiction author that really turned me into a nerd. Sure, I read some Heinlein and Bradbury before I got my hands on Pebble In the Sky [Amazon.com], but it was reading Isaac Asimov's brand of science fiction that really set in motion the transformation of me from Jason, shy elementary school kid to Jason, budding giant geek.
The Foundation series of stories/books was always among my favorites. The robot novels (Caves of Steel, Robots of Dawn, etc) were also favorites but Foundation tackled big themes spanning centuries. Recently the blog io9 did an absolutely fantastic 7 part series on the books that make up the Foundation series - stories that started as smaller stories or novellas from science-fiction magazines to large novels by the end. If you're a fan of Asimov at all, or just want a great look at not only a fantastic series but one that spanned the author's entire lifetime, style and skill of writing, this series of posts is well worth the read. The collection of different covers for the books that accompanies the posts is pretty cool too. If you don't have time to read them all, I recommend the ones in bold for a good overview of the whole 7.
- Foundation [io9]
- Foundation and Empire [io9]
- Second Foundation [io9] [And no, the author that brings it up is NOT the only one that crushed on Arkady as portrayed on the cover of the Del Rey 1989 edition]
- Foundation's Edge [io9]
- Foundation and Earth [io9]
- Prelude to Foundation [io9]
- Forward the Foundation [io9]
My praise and critique largely match the authors of these posts. In a larger sense, Asimov's fiction (and non-fiction and auto-biographies) really had an impact on who I am today not only because I'm a science fiction geek, but in my interest in facts and science, my critical view towards religion and in some aspects of my liberal views on things. I suppose it could be said that I'd be a drastically different person today if I'd really fallen in love with Heinlein and his messages moreso than Asimov's.
For more insight into Asimov the man [and some great stories behind his writing] I highly recommend his three autobiographical books:
I, Asimov is probably the one to tackle first, as it's not as rigidly chronological as the other two and he allows himself to go more offtrack on stories.
Finally, a thanks to my dad who introduced me to a world of robots that aren't killers, a future that can be seen through math and a world where puns, wordplay and small clever twists can make for a great story.