Isaac Asimov: 300 books and still counting

Opus 300, by Isaac Asimov. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company. 377 pp. $18.95. Isaac Asimov's first science fiction novel was published in 1950. In 1969, as he neared his 100th book, one of his publishers suggested an anthology of selections from his first 99 books. Since Asimov has written not only science fiction, but books on several branches of science, history, the Bible, literature, as well as the occasional mystery, ``Opus 100'' was not difficult to fill.

Naturally when he reached book 199, his publisher again suggested an anthology, ``Opus 200.'' That was in 1979. How then did he reach his third hundred books in a mere 69 months? The answer is that this time more than half of them are anthologies which he co-edited.

``Opus 300'' contains a not-so-random sampling of his work of the last six years. Since it covers everything from astronomy to computers to limericks (and, of course, some science fiction) this is a book that one can leaf through at one's leisure.

It may take an egotist to offer three volumes consisting of selections of his own writings with commentary, but it takes a very talented one. Asimov even reveals himself not to be so much of an egotist after all, as he devotes his ``Autobiography'' section to a touching essay about his father. Honest to a fault, Asimov reveals that that selection was rejected by the magazine requesting it. If the author of 300 books still gets the occasional rejection notice, then perhaps there's hope for us all.

Daniel M. Kimmel is a frequent contributor to the Monitor.

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