One hundred years ago today, Isaac Asimov was born. (For the record, while he celebrated his birthday on January 2, the actual date is uncertain.) From the day I read my first Asimov science fiction stories, the Nine Tomorrows collection, the direction of my life changed.
I was impressed not just by his storytelling, his ideas, his intellect, or his profound insights. I was equally captivated by his good-natured friendliness, his unpretentious humor, so self-deprecatingly sincere he refused to feign modesty.
But his storytelling! His ideas! Robopsychology, the Three Laws of Robotics, and psycho-history are only a few of his many inventions, expertly wielded. (He actually invented the term robotics.) I couldn't get enough of his fiction, which led me to his other writing, primarily his science essays, from which I learned some biology, biochemistry, physics, astronomy, and so much more. In comparison, school was so tedious! I was already drawing science fiction, but then I tried my hand at writing science fiction (a writer, I am not, turns out), and finally, over the years I managed to hear Asimov speak (in person!) three times, traveling to different states each time. He was as wonderful a speaker as he was a writer.
Thinking about it now, I suppose his example has a lot to do with me becoming a generalist in my field. As an illustrator and animator, I've depicted a bizarre diversity of things: toys, syringes, spice racks, humidifiers, packaging, cars and trucks, building construction, product defects, fires, industrial accidents, spinal injuries, jewelry, furnaces, train cars, marina development, breast pumps, explosion prevention technology, and even robots. I like to think that, through me, Asimov even has an influence on my son, who is even now studying robotics in high school - and who has a real talent for robot design.
The world could use more Isaac Asimovs. I feel privileged to have witnessed the one-and-only!