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Review Essays of Academic, Professional & Technical Books in the Humanities & Sciences


It's Been a Good Life by Isaac Asimov, edited by Janet Jeppson Asimov (Prometheus) Isaac Asimov's boundless, inexhaustible intellectual curiosity and his extraordinary talent for explaining complex subjects in clear, concise prose is legendary to readers throughout the world. In addition to treating his devoted fans to nearly five hundred illuminating science-fiction and nonfiction books, he also found time to write a three-column autobiography. Now these volumes have been condensed into one by Asimov's wife, Janet, who also shares excerpts from letters he wrote to her and shocking revelations about the illness that led to his death. More than being just an absorbing history of Isaac Asimov's life, It's Been a Good Life is like having an intimate conversation with the master himself.

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.

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