@DMcCunney: Re-reading everything would be a challenge. Isaac was a lean, mean writing machine.
Sorry -- I should have qualified myself -- I was only talking about the science fiction (Caves of Steel, Naked Sun, Pebble in the Sky...) ... and even that's a task ... but I do read a heck of a lot ... and I have been thinking about re-reading the Foundation Trilogy (I'm not really planning on re-reading the stuff generated by other writers).
Re-reading everything would be a challenge. Isaac was a lean, mean writing machine. He had the ability to study a subject, then explain it in clear expository prose aimed at a layman, and his output includes guides to Shakespeare, Opera, and the Bible as well as a varierty of technical and scientific topics.
His first wife was reportedly unhappy when he insisted on dragging a typewriter along on vacation, but to no avail, Isaac needed to write every day. He took a disciplined approach, starting at 8 in the morning, working till lunch, having lunch, then writing more till 5pm. I understand what he submitted was largely first draft. He knew what he wanted to say, and said it. He didn't need to rewrite to get it right.
For most writers the question is "Do I feel like writing today?", but Isaac always felt like writing. If he couldn't do it every day, he was unhappy.
@betajet: I remember that the solder Heathkit supplied had particularly nice-smelling flux.
I don;t knwo what it is -- possibly spending so much time as a young lad hunched over a small circuit board with a soldering iron -- but I love the smell of flux along with seeing a perfect joint that I've just made.
@DmcCunney: His death was a tragedy: he went in for bypass surgery, and got a transfusion of HIV tainted blood. [...] I mourn what we lost when he was taken from us, as he still had a lot of writing he planned to do.
I cannot tell you how many times I've re-re-re-read his stories -- it's hard to pick favorites because I loved them all so much. And the thought of the stories he might have written -- just thinking about this makes me want to re-read everything...
@betajet: My favorite survival book is Jules Verne's The Mysterious Island (1874) about [...] the hero is the Engineer, who first figures out [...]
Do you know, I haven't read that one, but it's now at the top of my Amazon Wish List.
This reminds me of a TV program I saw where they put a small group of scientists and engineers into a plane -- closed the windows -- and flew them to an island -- they went by a roundabout route so they couldn;t work out where they were from timing the journey or anything -- there were "things" on the island they could use -- like an AM radio receiver and bits of "stuff" -- their job was to work out their location.
From the radio they could hear a news program that gave the time on the hour in Italian. One of the things they did was to create an aperatus to determine the exact point tha tnoon took place in their location. They also greated a pendulum and used that to time how long it took from their "noon" to the news announcement of the local time on the radio ... and so on and so forth.
It was a really interesting program -- I wish they had done more of them...
I remember when I was addicted to building Heathkits, and felt I was going into withdrawal if I hadn't built one in a while. My first computer was an H-8, a wonderful machine that was so much better designed and contructed than the S-100 machines. I also splurged and built their top-of-the-line 15 MHz dual-trace 'scope, which included internal coaxial cables to delay the inputs so you could see the trigger signal.
I remember that the solder Heathkit supplied had particularly nice-smelling flux. I always wondered if they deliberately put addictive chemicals in it so you would want to build more Heathkits :-)
PS What was Asimov like? From what I've heard he was fun to be around (if you were a guy), egotistical, and something of a ladies' man.
He was fun to be around, period. He certainly had an ego, but he wasn't arrogant, and he had accomplishments to back up his ego. He was one of those people who could hold a knowledgeable conversation on almost any topic (and he had likely written a book on it.),
The "ladies man" persona was a game he played, and all concerned knew not to take it seriously. He loved to flirt, but that was as far as it went. Decades ago, I ran into Isaac at a literary SF convention. (I help plan and run such things as a hobby.) At the time, Isaac was concentrating on non-fiction, and hadn't written actual SF in years.
He was coming on to the woman I was there with. When he realized she was with me, he backed off hurriedly, and assured me he was not serious and was too old for that sort of thing. I asked "What sort of thing?" and he said "Oh, anything!" I said "Like writing science fiction?" Not that long after, his SF novel "The Gods Themselves" was released. I'm not willing to take creduit for his return to SF, but I like to think my push helped.
His death was a tragedy: he went in for bypass surgery, and got a transfusion of HIV tainted blood. It was the early days of the AIDS crisis, and blood screen for HIV was not yet standard. I mourn what we lost when he was taken from us, as he still had a lot of writing he planned to do.