Gnome Press, 1950
first edition, first printing
Isaac Asimov's fascination with science shone clearly in his writing. He wrote from a scientific perspective both in his non fiction - he penned many essays and articles for periodicals such as the Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction - and his fiction. While best known for his scientific writing, Asimov's interests were not one-dimensional, and extended to religion (Asimov's Guide to the Bible), literature (Asimov's Guide to Shakespeare) and smutty humor (Asimov's Lecherous Limericks) to name a few.
Asimov (1920-1992) was one of the three most influential authors of hard science fiction during his lifetime, along with Robert Heinlein and Arthur C. Clarke. He was born in Russia to mother Anna Rachel Berman Asimov and father Judah Asimov, whose love of Russian literature and Yiddish stories in particular contributed to his son's early fondness for reading. Teachers recall young Isaac devouring books as quickly as he could get his hands on them. As an adult, Asimov majored in chemistry in university, and later spent time in the military, at the US Naval Air Experimental Station. Both of those facts make Asimov's eventual niche as a celebrated science fiction author unsurprising. Whether Asimov's claustrophilia - or love of small, enclosed spaces - was of benefit to him throughout his career remains unreported but intriguing. Asimov's second wife, Janet Jeppson, to whom he was married from 1973 until his death in 1992, was a science fiction writer as well.
With an array of well-known, beloved iconic titles to his name, Asimov's books have often been selected for lush reprints, limited editions and special collector's copies, and the original first editions of his titles are often highly collectable. The first edition, first printing of I, Robot pictured at top left sells for high four-figure sums, depending on condition. If you want a less bank-breaking collectable copy of I Robot, check out the Easton Press edition of the illustrated screenplay, with fine leather accented in 22k gold. While not cheap, copies are often available for under £300. If that's still too dear, Grayson & Grayson's 1952 edition with the classic pulp cover depicting a robot looming over a city can be found for £100 or lower, again depending on condition.
Given how popular and prolific Asimov was, it's no surprise that even in the collectable editions of his books, two decades after his death, there is something for almost everyone.
Asimov died in 1992, from heart and kidney failure. A decade after his death, his family made public that the kidney and heart failure had resulted from an HIV infection, which Asimov had contracted via a blood transfusion during a triple bypass surgery in 1983. The infection was kept secret during Asimov's lifetime on advice of his doctors, who feared negative repercussions due to the fear and misunderstanding around HIV and AIDS at the time.