Wednesday, March 30, 2011

21 June 1938: Asimov's first meeting with John Campbell

"John Campbell was not quite twenty-eight years old at the time I first met him.

"Campbell was a large man, an opinionated man, who smoked and talked constantly, and who enjoyed, above anything else, the production of outrageous ideas, which he bounced off his listner and dared him to refute. And it was difficult to refute Campbell even when his ideas were absolutely and madly illogical.

We talked for over an hour that first time, on June 21, 1938. He showed me forthcoming issues of the magazine (actual future issues in paper flesh) and he, too, assured me the magazine would not die. I found therewas a letter of mine in the July issue that was about to hit the stands and another in the August issue.

Campbell told me about himself, and about his pen name.

He told Asimov that when he, Campbell, was 17, his father had sent in one of his manuscripts to Amazing Stories and that it would have been published if the magazine had not lost the manuscript and he himself had lacked a carbon copy. (Asimov, on the other hand, had known enough to make a carbon of his story.)

Campbell promised to read my story that night and to send a letter, whether acceptance or revision, the next day. He also promised that in case of rejection he would tell me what was wrong with the story so that I could improve."

On June 23, Asimov received his story back. Campbell also included his thoughts on the story, and why he'd rejected it.

Asimov was off and running...


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