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The King of Science Fiction

book collection


PHOTOGRAPHED BY RAYMOND THOMPSON JR.

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He coined the term “robotics” and his writings laid the groundwork for modern science fiction, bleeding into video games, television and blockbuster films starring the likes of Robin Williams and Will Smith. And you can check out one of the largest collections of Isaac Asimov’s works at West Virginia University.

Asimov penned or edited more than 500 books, but the prolific sci-fi author transcended the written word. He also produced, designed and narrated an array of science games, videos, slideshows, artworks, sound recordings and more. Thanks in part to donations by two collectors — Larry Shaver and Carlos Patterson — the WVU Libraries possesses one of the most complete collections of Asimov’s work in existence, numbering well over 1,000 items.


Go online: go.wvu.edu/asimov.


Books from the Isaac Asimov collection.

A selection of Isaac Asimov books and items from the collection at WVU Libraries. 

Jay Cole


JAY COLE Senior Advisor to the President


HIS PICKS:

1. ‘Fantastic Voyage’ 

2. Asimov’s Annotated ‘Paradise Lost’

3. "Asimov on Physics"


"A Cold War-era story about miniaturizing a team of experts and injecting them into a man’s body so they can use a laser to break up a fatal blood clot… sound laughable? Thanks to the Asimov treatment, it becomes a page-turning thriller featuring accurate biology and physiology. 


Asimov was an intellectual omnivore. Although he is best known for his science and science fiction, this annotated version of Milton’s classic poem offers a sense of just how far-ranging Asimov’s interests and insights were.


With books like this, Asimov earned the title “The Great Explainer.” With clarity and eloquence that I admire tremendously, Asimov describes the history of physics and explains the field’s fundamental concepts and theories. And he did that with anatomy, astronomy, biology, chemistry, mathematics…"


Stewart Plein


STEWART PLEIN Rare Book Librarian


HER PICKS: 

4. ‘The Lucky Starr’ series of young adult fiction 

5. Vinyl recording: William Shatner reads Asimov’s ‘Foundation’

6. Ellis Island ruler with his name on it as an emigrant


"Asimov was already a popular author in the 1950s when he was asked to write a novel that could be the basis for a children’s TV show. He agreed, but published it under the pen name Paul French because he did not think highly of the era’s children’s shows such as ‘Woody Woodpecker,’ ‘Casper the Friendly Ghost’ and ‘Mr. Magoo.’ 


As a big fan of ‘Star Trek,’ I can’t help but have an interest in William Shatner’s reading of ‘The Psychohistorians,’ a story about scientists from one of Asimov’s most popular novels, ‘Foundation,’ on vinyl.


One of the most fascinating items is a ruler, probably a gift shop item purchased at Ellis Island. Though undated, this ruler is printed with the names of famous immigrants, including the Russian-born Asimov, who arrived in the U.S. at Ellis Island."