35

In Buy Jupiter and Other Stories (1975), which includes autobiographical notes between stories, Isaac Asimov wrote,

I had sold my first book, PEBBLE IN THE SKY, some six weeks before I had accepted the job at the medical school. What I did not know was that Doubleday was going to exploit my new professional position in connection with the book. It was only when I saw the book jacket, toward the end of 1949, that I saw what was to be on the back cover.

Along with a very good likeness of myself at the age of twenty-five (which breaks my heart now when I look at it) there was a final sentence, which read: "Dr. Asimov lives in Boston, where he is engaged in cancer research at Boston University School of Medicine."

This was 1949, when many people considered science fiction to be trashy. Asimov was so concerned about involving the medical school's reputation that he volunteered to resign from it. The Dean merely asked if it was a good book, and when Asimov answered in the affirmative, he said, "In that case the medical school will be glad to be identified with it."

The first edition of Pebble in the Sky was published on 19 January 1950.

I remember reading this blurb in a library copy as a teenager. Asimov's smiling face was looking upward and a little to the side, as if to show his aspiration to reach the stars. It was an inspirational likeness and has been reproduced in his autobiography, In Memory Yet Green. I'd like to read the blurb again, to see in context what so upset Asimov that he offered to resign. Can anyone supply it from the dust jacket of the 1950 edition?

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    It seems you already know what so upset him: "Dr. Asimov lives in Boston, where he is engaged in cancer research at Boston University School of Medicine" – NKCampbell Feb 3 at 13:57
  • Yes, but I'd like to read the rest of the blurb. Could be more to the story than that. – Invisible Trihedron Feb 3 at 13:58
43

Legible if you view full size.

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from here

For the past several years the name of Isaac Asimov has meant top-drawer fast-action stories to the readers of science-fiction magazines. Dr. Asimov's interest in the imaginative challenge of science fiction was established at a very early age when his father, anxious to protect the lad's impressionable mind from the influence of pulp fiction, gave him a copy of Science Wonder Stories, under the impression that the title indicated a serious book of scientific interest.

"I knew different about five seconds after I opened the magazine", says Dr. Asimov, "but I was a sly-type shaver, and didn't say a word."

The author has found that science fiction invades most of the facets of his life, including his professional experience. While taking his Doctor's Oral in Chemistry at Columbia, he was writhing under the inquisition of seven examining professors, when suddenly one of them seriously said "Now please tell us something about the thermodynamics of thiotimoline." Asimov smiled and relaxed. Nobody could answer that question better than he. He knew not only that the examination was over but that he had met one of his readers, since "thiotimoline" with its amazing properties was a literary invention in one of his science-fiction stories.

Dr. Asimov lives in Boston where he is engaged in cancer research at Boston University School of Medicine.

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  • Thank you again! I appreciate your effort. Well, it does seem as though there was more to the story than the last line! Still, it amazes me that he would offer to resign over such a thing. The world of 1949 was very different from today's world! – Invisible Trihedron Feb 3 at 15:03
  • nice book -- try to protect the DJ from further damage. maybe store DJ separately? i worry about losing such artifacts -- we even if we own the item have responsibilities to humanity. – releseabe Feb 3 at 18:15
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    ah. i think there are some editions of books that have no DJs -- the value of a book with vs without DJ is enormous. – releseabe Feb 3 at 20:15
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    Dr. Asimov was embarrassed when his doctoral committee brought up "The Endochronic Properties of Resublimated Thiotimoline" during his thesis defense. Probably he was embarrassed to have that topic come up again in connection with his new employer. – Invisible Trihedron Feb 4 at 0:26
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    @releseabe The irony is that libraries often discard the dust jackets of books that are donated to them, unless the value is pointed out. – Invisible Trihedron Feb 4 at 0:27

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