Books

Asimov Published, Interviewed in Beijing

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Cover story from this week's Book Review section of The Beijing News announces the publication of a Chinese translation of Isaac Asimov's complete Foundation series. The set of seven novels, including the first trilogy, the two sequels, and the two prequels, is published by Heaven and Earth Press for a list price of 210 yuan (US$25).

Alongside the announcement is an interview with Taiwan SF author Chang Hsi-Kuo, and reflections by mainland SF writers Liu Cixin, Yang Ping, and Ling Chen.

Perhaps the biggest coup is obtaining an interview with the man himself:


Isaac Asimov passed away on 6 April 1992, so to be able to conduct this interview we must thank a scientist named Vikkor Mallansohn - according to Asimov's novel [The End of Eternity] he invents something in the 24th century that makes a "time kettle" possible.

Yup, the Beijing News has scored a fictional interview with "I, Asimov". They've been taking similar liberties recently in their entertainment sections, captioning photographs of celebrities with made-up quotes. But this is definitely something else. Asimov addresses the royalties he wasn't paid in 1973 for a Chinese translation of his 1958 science text The World of Carbon, the Will Smith adaptation of I, Robot, and, um, Al Qaeda, which shares a name in Chinese with the Foundation series.

A translation of the interview is available here, while the original is here.

UPDATE: Roy Berman writes: "The Arabic phrase Al Qaeda actually means 'the base' or 'the foundation,' and I have heard was in fact the title of the Arabic translation of Isaac Asimov's novel. I even remember reading speculation several years ago that Bin Laden was a fan of Asimov's work and had been inspired by some of the concepts in the novel (although certainly not in a way that Asimov would have appreciated.)"

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