Isaac Asimov loved large numbers. He was born a century ago this month, and when he died, in 1992, he was both the most famous science fiction writer in the ...
It's an article once posted by Hobbs here, but I only now read it (it's brief, so likely wouldn't belong in the book page).
Though the negative view about Asimov on account of his behavior is valid, I found it ridiculous that the author used a number of quotes from a Borges story to do that, more so to come to the (rather logical in Borges' story case, rather absurd in this one) conclusion that Asimov's bad social behavior should mean his work is to be dismissed: "“Perhaps Shih Huang Ti walled his empire because he knew that it was fragile, and destroyed the books because he knew that they were sacred books, books that teach what the whole universe teaches or the conscience of every man. Perhaps the burning of the libraries and the building of the wall are acts that in some secret way erase each other
More crucially, however, that is not the sentiment in Borges. There the two acts are not identified as a positive and a negative one, thus their mutual possible negation is also not against Shih.
So, overall, I viewed this article as bad, due to the gimmick in the center. He could have said exactly the same things against Asimov's behavior, without this false parallelism to the Borges story.
I wish you'd posted it in the book thread, since Asimov wrote a lot of books, and many of us have read at least one of them, if not dozens. It's relevant.
In his own autobiography (which required 3 large volumes; I've read the first two twice over the years), he makes no apology for the state of his first marriage. It seems the only good part of that was his daughter; he made it clear how much he doted on her. As for his behavior around women...
There are always men in any kind of social demographic who think women don't mind being touched, so Asimov is hardly unique even in science fiction convention settings. There were a couple of guys I knew back in the '80s and '90s. One of them was known as "Huggable Steve" - he liked hugging people. Yes, I got a hug from him. But the thing about him is that he always asked permission first. He never just went up to someone and hugged without getting consent. The other... thought he was <your deity of choice's> gift to women and would go up to women and rub their backs - whether they'd consented or not. He never asked permission, just assumed it would be okay and welcome.
The first time he tried it with me, I moved away to indicate 'don't touch.' The second time, I told him, "I don't like that, stop." The third time... fortunately was in a crowd of people, so there were lots of witnesses. I told him clearly, "I already told you not to touch me. Yet you're doing it again. If you do this again, I will call con security." Since he had been spotted doing these back rubs all over the place all weekend, not asking permission first, I think he'd have been thrown out of the convention. That was in the '90s and security was more serious about people's personal space being respected.
He got upset, claiming that "nobody else minds." I told him that didn't matter; the fact was that I
minded, had told him so, he didn't listen, and I meant what I said.
Now, for Asimov. I never met him, but I did get to meet and chat with Frederik Pohl. I found him polite and friendly, and he gave off "old-fashioned grandfather" vibes, at least to me. The book I'd asked him to sign was his own autobiography, The Way the Future Was
. It was a bit of a memory lane for him as he took a few moments to look at the photos of himself and his family when he was a kid. We had a nice conversation while he signed it, and then his wife and my roommate came in. He said, "I gotta go, gals, I have another panel in a couple of minutes." So he left, and his wife (his 5th wife and about 20 years younger by my guesstimate) started fuming at the word "gals."
I tried to calm her down, explaining that it's one of those generational words that he'd have grown up with and wasn't intended as a put-down. Yeah, he could have said "ladies", but whatever. I prefer "gals" to "guys" or "dudes" (you can't convince me those are acceptable ways to address a group consisting solely of women).
(Fun fact: Frederik Pohl and Judith Merril were married; she was his first wife, if memory serves)
Non-consensual touching is not okay. I wouldn't have been happy to have been grabbed by Asimov, or anyone else in that manner. Does that mean I'm going to toss his books in the dumpster? No. If I can enjoy Mel Gibson's Hamlet
, knowing what I know about his offscreen life and attitudes, I can keep Asimov's books in my library.
My assessment of this "article" is that it lacks proper references. I have no idea where he gets his information from - anything at all from Asimov's own autobiographical material? And wtf does this have to do with the Great Wall? Asimov had an overinflated ego, but he never sought to destroy other people's work, that I know of.