I am wondering if Isaac Asimov's first work was published. Is it a short story or novel? Why he want to wrote scifi. Is it published in a book or in a magazine or elsewhere? When did he write it? If his first work is available, please provide me with it.

3 Answers 3


After some search I found that he wrote about the story of his first work in a book entitled "The Early Asimov".

Here are the answers as a quotes from his book.


I began to write when I was very young-eleven, I think. The reasons are obscure, I might say it was the result of an unreasoning urge, but that would just indicate I could think of no reason. Perhaps it was because I was an avid reader in a family that was too poor to afford books, even the cheapest, and besides, a family that considered cheap books unfit reading. I had to go to the library (my first library card was obtained for me by my father when I was six years old) and make do with two books per week.


It was not until May 29, 1937 (according to a date I once jotted down-though that was before I began my diary, so I won’t swear to it), that the vague thought occurred to me that I ought to write something for professional publication; something that would be paid for! Naturally it would have to be a science fiction story, for I had been an avid science fiction fan since 1929 and I recognized no other form of literature as in any way worthy of my efforts.

Title and Idea:

The story I began to compose for the purpose, the first story I ever wrote with a view to becoming a “writer,” was entitled “Cosmic Corkscrew.” In it I viewed time as a helix (that is, something like a bedspring). Someone could cut across from one turn directly to the next, thus moving into the future by some exact interval but being incapable of traveling one day less into the future. My protagonist made the cut across time and found the Earth deserted. All animal life was gone; yet there was every sign that life had existed until very shortly before- and no indication at all of what had brought about the disappearance. It was told in the first person from a lunatic asylum, because the narrator had, of course, been placed in a madhouse after he returned and tried to tell his tale.

Did he complete it?

I wrote only a few pages in 1937, then lost interest. The mere fact that I had publication in mind must have paralyzed me. As long as something I wrote was intended for my own eyes only, I could be carefree enough. The thought of possible other readers weighed down heavily upon my every word. -So I abandoned it.

Then, in May 1938, the most important magazine in the field. Astounding Science Fiction, changed its publication schedule from the third Wednesday of the month to the fourth Friday. When the June issue did not arrive on its accustomed day, I went into a decline.

By May 17, I could stand it no more and took the subway to 79 Seventh Avenue, where the publishing house. Street & Smith Publications, Inc., was then located. There, an official of the firm informed me of the changed schedule, and on May 19, the June issue arrived. The near brush with doom, and the ecstatic relief that followed, reactivated my desire to write and publish. I returned to “Cosmic Corkscrew” and by June 19 it was finished. The next question was what to do with it.

What he did with it...

Meeting the editor of Astounding Science Fiction

Trying to mask panic, I asked to see the editor. The girl behind the desk (I can see the scene in my mind’s eye right now exactly as it was) spoke briefly on the phone and said, “Mr. Campbell will see you.” She directed me through a large, loftlike room filled with huge rolls of paper and enormous piles of magazines and permeated with the heavenly smell of pulp (a smell that, to this day, will recall my youth in aching detail and reduce me to tears of nostalgia). And there, in a small room on the other side, was Mr. Campbell. We talked for over an hour that first time. He showed me forthcoming issues of the magazine (actual future issues in the cellulose-flesh). I found he had printed a ‘fan letter of mine in the issue about to be published, and another in the next-so he knew the genuineness of my interest. He promised also that in case of rejection he would tell me what was wrong with it so I could improve. He lived up to every promise. Two days later.


On June 23, I heard from him. It was a rejection. (Since this book deals with real events and is not a fantasy- you can’t be surprised that my first story was instantly rejected.) Here is what I said in my diary about the rejection: “At 9:30 I received back ‘Cosmic Corkscrew’ with a polite letter of rejection. He didn’t like the slow beginning, the suicide at the end.” Campbell also didn’t like the first-person narration and the stiff dialog, and further pointed out that the length (nine thousand words) was inconvenient-too long for a short story, too short for a novelette. Magazines had to be put together like jigsaw puzzles, you see, and certain lengths for individual stories were more convenient than others.

What happened to it

What happened to “Cosmic Corkscrew” after that I don’t really know. I abandoned it and never submitted it anywhere else. I didn’t actually tear it up and throw it away; it simply languished in some desk drawer until eventually I lost track of it. In any case, it no longer exists. This seems to be one of the main sources of discomfort among the archivists-they seem to think the first story I ever wrote for publication, however bad it might have been, was an important document. All I can say, fellows, is that I’m sorry but there was no way of my telling in 1938 that my first try might have historic interest someday. I may be a monster of vanity and arrogance, but I’m not that much a monster of vanity and arrogance.

  • Damn, I wish he'd kept it! I'd have loved to read it. The time jumping in discrete leaps is neat. Aug 12, 2015 at 15:32

The first story Asimov sold was "Marooned Off Vesta," published in the March 1939 issue of the magazine Amazing Stories. You can find it in any of these anthologies.


1931: First written work – The Greenville Chums at College

Asimov's very first work, albeit unfinished, is The Greenville Chums at College, a novel which he started in 1931 (at the age of eleven!) He abandoned it after eight chapters. More information can be found in his autobiography, In Memory Yet Green.

1934: First published work – Little Brothers

Asimov's first published work is Little Brothers, an essay that appeared in 1934 in his high school literary magazine. It was republished in Before the Golden Age and Opus 200.

1938: First short story – Cosmic Corkscrew

The first short story Asimov wrote for publication is Cosmic Corkscrew, which he finished in June 1938. However it was never published and is now lost. For more information see Islam Wazery's answer.

1939: First published short story – Marooned off Vesta

The first published short story by Asimov (and also the first short story he sold) is Marooned off Vesta, as mentioned by Micah. It was completed in July 1938, sold in October (to Amazing Stories for $64), and reached the newsstands in January 1939 (the cover date was March).

1950: First published novel – Pebble in the Sky

Asimov's first published novel is Pebble in the Sky. It was originally written in 1947 (then called Grow Old Along with Me). Asimov revised the novel in 1949, and it was published in January 1950.

  • It's worth remembering that Foundation had been written and published in magazine form before Pebble in the Sky.
    – Henry
    Dec 7, 2023 at 8:45
  • That's right, but many (including myself) consider Foundation, Foundation and Empire and Second Foundation to be collections, not novels.
    – Ubik
    Dec 7, 2023 at 17:22

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