Friday, November 19, 2010

Lost Asimov: "The Brothers" and "The Oak"

"August [1939] was even worse", wrote Asimov in his afterword to "The Secret Sense" in The Early Asimov, in discussing his early story writing and the world situation.

"All Europe rang with the hideous possibility of war, and on Sept 1, WWII began with the German invasion of Poland. I could do nothing during the crisis but listen to the radio. It was not till September 11 that I couldsettle down long enough to start another story, "The Brothers."

"The Brothers" was science fiction, and all I remember is that it was about two brothers, a good one and an evil one, and a scientific invention that one or the other was constructing. ... It too was never placed and no longer exists."

Asimov wrote another story which he submitted to Campbell, which was accepted, and a couple more that were rejected. Then, he tried to get into Unknown again.

"It was about time that I made another stab at Unknown, and I did so with a story called "The Oak," which, as I recall, was something about an oak tree that served as an oracle and delivered ambiguous statements. I sumbitted it to Campbell on July 16, 1940 and it was promptly rejected.

One of the bad things about writing for Unknown was that the magazine was one of a kind. If Unknown rejected a story, there was no place else to submit it. It was possible to try Weird Tales, a magazine that was older than any science fiction magazine, but it dealth with old-fashioned, creaky horror tales and paid very little to boot. I wasn't really interested in trying to get into them. (And besides, they rejected both "Life Before Birth" and "The Oak" when I submitted them.)

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