Isaac Asimov was one of the most prolific authors of our time. When he died in 1992 at the age of seventy-two, he had published more than 470 books in nearly every category of fiction and nonfiction. Asimov was a prodigious correspondent as well as a prolific author. During his professional career he received more than one hundred thousand letters, over ninety thousand of which he answered.

For Asimov’s younger brother, veteral newspaperman Stanley Asimov, the creation of Yours, Isaac Asimov was truly a labor of love. Completed before Stanley’s death in August 1995, the book is made up of excerpts from one thousand never-before-published letters, each handpicked by Stanley for inclusion in this volume. Arranged by subject and accompanied by Stanley’s short, insightful introductions, here are letters to statesmen and scientists, actors and authors, as well as to children, housewives, aspiring writers, and fans the world over. The letters are warm, engaging, reasoned, and occasionally impassioned. Through them all Isaac Asimov’s legendary genius, wit, and charm shine through.

And so we have Yours, Isaac Asimov: A Lifetime of Letters, an intimate glimpse into the thoughts, feelings, and opinions of a great writer and thinker of the modern age. As Stanley Asimov advised, “Read the letters carefully. One of them may have been written to you."

This was both a sad and a wonderful book to read.

I’m one of many Asimov’s fans who counts among their most precious possessions hastily written postcards from the Good Doctor answering effusive mail. (And I’m enormously relieved, by the way, that none of the fan mail gets quoted—someday I’ll sneak into the Boston University Library just to make sure none of my teenage missives are lingering about.) And as such, it is an especial pleasure to read a lot more of his correspondence, even if it wasn’t aimed at me originally.

This book reminds one of nothing more than I. Asimov: A Memoir. It’s a mixed bag, jumping here and there, examining every aspect of Asimov’s life. His brother Stanley has done an excellent job at digesting something like half a ton of correspondence and providing a beautiful tribute to a most interesting person. And it’s nice to see just how richly Asimov’s love for his younger brother was reciprocated.

There are little (if any) surprises here for Asimov’s regular readers of his F&SF essays and autobiographies, but it’s nice to see things in a slightly different light. And it’s sad to be reminded yet again that he’s gone and that the work he did best—his non-fiction—is forever vanishing and no longer being renewed. (Much of his sf, fortunately, will last the ages.)

I love the cover, too.

This is definitely a must-have for any truly devoted Asimov fan.

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