Thursday, December 16, 2010

Damon Knight on Isaac Asimov's writing

Isaac Asimov didn't care much for critics, so his friendship with Damon Knight must have been strained when you consider what Knight wrote about his work in a variety of review columns (the exact magazine in which it appeared is not specified).
Fourteen years ago, shortly after Isaac Asimov's first story appeared, he got a fan letter from a callow 18-year old in Hood River, Oregon. Not to keep you in suspense, the fan was me.

Time passed, I grew older very slowly, grew an invisible moustache and shaved it off, learned to stay awar from dry red wine and recovered somewhat from my enthusiasm for Ross Rocklynne and Edgar Rice Burroughs. But I still yield to nobody as an Asimov fan. Among writers of the purest and most difficult kind of science fiction, the serious "what if" story, I think he's approached by nobody but Jeinlein. His robot stories put an end forever to the misbegotten series of clanking Adam Links that had infested science fiction for twenty years; his "Nightfall" is matchless of its kind, and I could name half a dozen others.

But as a writer of twice-told tales, I think Asimov is as dull as anybody. That's why I've been waiting, long and impatiently, for The Caves of Steel, because I wanted to praise Asimov, and because, if I reviewed Pebble in the Sky, The Stars, Like Dust, Foundation and Empire, The Currents of Space or Second Foundation, I couldn't.

To be continued.

Bibliography
In Search of Wonder, 2nd edition, revised and enlarged, Damon Knight, 1956, 1967

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