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Science Fiction Association of Bergen County

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From the Archives: Excerpts from past issues of the

Starship Express

Volume 2, Numbers 2 & 3, 1988

Asimov at Columbia

By Philip J. DeParto

Isaac Asimov was the Guest of Honor at Apricon IX, the annual convention held at Columbia University. He gave a lively, anecdotal talk lasting more than an hour. There seemed about 400 attendees, although many stayed only for Isaac's talk. Among the S F A B C people I saw were Pauline Alama, Steve Gold, Ken Lee and Gary Tweitman. The following excerpts from Asimov's talk have been reconstructed from memory.

On Hollywood:

"The First Law of Hollywood is . . . Nothing Happens. They may love your book, they may pay you for the rights, but in 99 out of 100 times, nothing happens.

"The people running Hollywood could care less about making a good movie. They're shoe salesmen.

"Things are even worse when it comes to doing science fiction. It's only Sci Fi, it doesn't have to make sense. At least on a Western, they don't have the cowboys riding sheep. They don't sit facing the tail. Cowboys don't shoot bows and arrows. But they make these kind of errors all the time with science fiction.

On Writing:

"People are always asking me how I became a published writer. What secret did I discover. I submitted and got rejected. Submitted and got rejected. Submitted and got rejected. After a while they figured that since rejecting me hadn't stopped me, maybe they should try accepting something.

"I'm always reading about these authors who hate to write. I love to write. If I was told I had only a month to live, I'd try to write even faster.

"If you type fast and don't revise, it's very easy to write 384 books.

"I no longer read for pleasure. Everything I read gets used somewhere. I have a good memory and never take notes.

On Probe:

"It was originally going to be titled, Isaac Asimov's Probe, but I objected.

"I was contacted by the Writers Guild. They told me that they would have to arbitrate Michael Rogers' suit for billing as co-creator of the series. When I said that the request was fine by me, there was this silence on the other end of the phone. I think they went into shock.

"I've received a lot of criticism about Probe. One writer wrote to me to bitterly complain about the depiction of scientists on the show. She felt that I had done a terrible job. I wrote back saying that she should be happy. When it's her turn to tackle Hollywood, she'll be able to do so much better.

"Remember the First Law of Hollywood. I never thought that Probe would get done.

". . . For some reason, everyone seems to assume that I wrote the show, directed the show, produced the show, and acted in it.

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