Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Lost Asimov: "The Decline and Fall" and "Life Before Birth"

"In February 1939" writes Asimov, "I wrote a story called "The Decline and Fall."

It was rejected by Campbell as well as the other SF magazines of the day.

"It no longer exists and I remember nothing about it."

One would think that the title would provide a clue. "The Decline and Fall" certainly sounds like the "Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire," so perhaps an early version of what were to become the Foundation stories?

After this failure, Asimov did have a success (after a lot of rewriting) with what would become entitled "Black Friar of the Frame", which he does recognize as a precursor to the Foundation series.

As for "Life Before Birth":
In 1939,Street & Smith began the publication of a new magazine, Unknown, with John Campbell as editor.

Unknown caught my fancy at once. It featured stories of what are now called "adult fantasy," and the writing seemed to my 19-year-old self to be even more advanced and literate than Astounding. Of course I wanted desperately to place a story in this new and wonderful magazine.

"Life Before Birth" was an attempt in this direction, but aside from the mere fact that it was a fantasy, I remember nothing more about it. ... It never placed anywhere and no longer exists."

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