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- Tom Brokaw
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Prolific author Isaac Asimov talks about writing 200 books of science and science fiction, on subjects ranging from Astronomy to Shakespeare, and talks about himself -- his "favorite subject."
Asimov, Isaac, Science Fiction, Science, Space, Exploration, Astronomy, Biochemistry, Shakespeare, Autobiography, Ego, Writing, Prolific, Criticism, Book Reviews, Bestseller, "The Foundation Trilogy, " Reading, Learning, Discipline, War, Writers' Lives, Typing, Typewriter, Writers Speak
"Asimov on His 200th Book." Tom Brokaw, correspondent. NBC Today Show. NBCUniversal Media. 1 Mar. 1979. NBC Learn. Web. 19 March 2015.
Brokaw, T. (Reporter). (1979, March 1). Asimov on His 200th Book. [Television series episode]. NBC Today Show. Retrieved from https://archives.nbclearn.com/portal/site/k-12/browse/?cuecard=34652
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"Asimov on His 200th Book" NBC Today Show, New York, NY: NBC Universal, 03/01/1979. Accessed Thu Mar 19 2015 from NBC Learn: https://archives.nbclearn.com/portal/site/k-12/browse/?cuecard=34652
Asimov on His 200th Book
TOM BROKAW, co-host: This is Isaac Asimov. He doesn’t like to be too far from his typewriter, and with good reason. He types about 7 days a week because he’s one of the most prolific writers in America. He has written all together 201 books in his career, although because he can’t count very well with all those degrees, he says he’s only written 200 books. Actually you have written your 200th book and divided them between 2 publishers. We have two of them, one called Opus 200 and In Memory Yet Green.
ISAAC ASIMOV, author: That’s exactly correct, and the reason I did that was because I like both publishers and they both wanted my 200th book, and so I gave it to both of them.
BROKAW: Now you have acknowledged this on your own so it’s not rude of me to suggest this, but there’s no absence of ego on your part. And in recounting the first 34 years of your life you take more than 700 pages all together in Memory Yet Green. One reviewer said if it were half as long and half as schmaltzy it might have been twice as interesting. Does that kind of criticism bother you?
ASIMOV: Yes it does.
BROKAW: What is it about your life where you think everyone is interested? For instance I read one passage which was about what you had, what you’re first wife prepared, on the first meal she ever prepared, right down to the last pork chop I recall. Not a pork chop but whatever it was that you had for dinner that night. Is there a presumption about your life on your part that people are interested in almost anything you have to say?
ASIMOV: No, as a matter of fact, I had this rotten feeling as I was writing that maybe other people wouldn’t be interested, but the trouble was I couldn’t stop. When I started writing my autobiography I realized I was on my favorite subject.
BROKAW: What is your strongest suit, you have written everything, Isaac, on science fiction, to numerology, to sex, to humor, to space, to Shakespeare. What do you think is your strongest suit? If someone were to say I want to pick out one of those 200 books, what can I get the best Isaac Asimov on?
ASIMOV: Well that’s difficult, if they were to ask me what I had the most fun writing, that would be my autobiography. If they were to ask me what was the best seller, the one which I’m most likely to be known, is a book called The Foundation Trilogy which is science fiction. I suppose that I’m at my most authoritative when I write a book about astronomy.
BROKAW: You obviously have a great deal of native intelligence. Does your amount of intelligence sometimes surprise you? Do things come to you in a way that sometimes even astounds you? Your ability to understand things…
ASIMOV: Every once in awhile I am astonished at the fact I can remember a fact that I didn’t know I actually knew. Which means that I must once have read it somewhere and filed it away.
BROKAW: Are you constantly in the process of absorption of material?
ASIMOV: I try to be. I suspect that as I get older, it will become less efficient.
BROKAW: I know, but you write seven days a week after all. When do you have time reflection and for research on your own?
ASIMOV: Oh well, there are always nights. There are always times that I have to do something else besides writing, now for instance.
BROKAW: Do you pick a subject? Do you say this week I’m going to concentrate more on Shakespeare or concentrate mostly on astronomy, or there is something new in bio chemistry, which was your field originally, I think I’m going to discipline myself to work on this for the next couple months.
ASIMOV: Alas, I’m completely undisciplined. I work without plan really.
BROKAW: I want to ask you about some subjects, and Isaac Asimov’s particular point of view, a kind of one liner. Space: should there be more exploration?
ASIMOV: Absolutely the only way we’re ever going to survive as a civilization is to increase our range, get out into space and explore it and exploit it.
BROKAW: Do you think that we’re not devoting enough of our resources to it?
ASIMOV: Of course not, we’re devoting most of our resources to preparing for foolish quarrels between ourselves, which will destroy us.