Sunday, January 2, 2011

Isaac Asimov (January 2, 1920)

Asimov generally said his Jewish background was of no significance in his huge body of science fiction. He never denied his Jewish identity. And critics and admirers often find Jewish themes or content there – which he didn’t deny either. There are many theories about the intersections of Jewish identity, fantasy, and science fiction. Interesting.

Asimov wrote an introduction to an anthology titled Wandering Stars: An Anthology of Jewish Fantasy and Science Fiction (ed. Jack Dann). His intro title is “Why Me?” and he says the reason he was chosen is “I am suspected of being Jewish.” Further, he said, he knew Yiddish and insisted on eating mustard, not butter, on a corned beef sandwich. After several other suggestions of why he was asked to write the intro, Asimov concluded “I am Jewish enough.”

The volume contains stories by Bernard Malamud, Isaac Bashevis Singer, Asimov, Robert Silverberg, Harlan Ellison, and many others – whom Asimov notes often wrote under a pen name to conceal their identity, while he always used his original, and Jewish-sounding name.

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