Edwin A. Abbott was born December 20, 1838. He attended City of London School and Cambridge, where he was an honor student in the classics. Following the career path of his father, Abbott was ordained an Anglican minister. Later he rejected a career as a clergyman and at the age of twenty-six, he returned to City of London School as Headmaster, a position he held for twenty-five years. Always curious about views from varying perspectives, he promoted a liberal attitude toward people of differing backgrounds. As president of the Teachers Training Society, for example, he lobbied for access to university education for women. He resigned as Headmaster at age fifty-three in protest of proposed changes to the mission of the school. Abbott wrote more than fifty books on widely different topics. He had published two series of his sermons while at Cambridge, a book on Shakespearean grammar, and accounts of his efforts to admit women to higher education. His most notable work is Flatland, written in 1884. Flatland is still widely read by both mathematicians and science-fiction readers because of its portrayal of the idea of higher dimensions. The narrator, a two-dimensional square called A Square happens into a three-dimensional world where he gains a wider vision into objects in his two-dimensional home. The book was a favorite with C. S. Lewis. Abbott died on October 12, 1926.
Isaac Asimov was born in Petrovichi, Russia, on January 2, 1920. His family emigrated to the United States in 1923 and settled in Brooklyn, New York, where they owned and operated a candy store. Asimov became a naturalized U.S. citizen at the age of eight. As a youngster he discovered his talent for writing, producing his first original fiction at the age of eleven. He went on to become one of the world's most prolific writers, publishing nearly 500 books in his lifetime. Asimov was not only a writer; he also was a biochemist and an educator. He studied chemistry at Columbia University, earning a B.S., M.A. and Ph.D. In 1951, Asimov accepted a position as an instructor of biochemistry at Boston University's School of Medicine even though he had no practical experience in the field. His exceptional intelligence enabled him to master new systems rapidly, and he soon became a successful and distinguished professor at Columbia and even co-authored a biochemistry textbook within a few years. Asimov won numerous awards and honors for his books and stories, and he is considered to be a leading writer of the Golden Age of science fiction. While he did not invent science fiction, he helped to legitimize it by adding the narrative structure that had been missing from the traditional science fiction books of the period. He also introduced several innovative concepts, including the thematic concern for technological progress and its impact on humanity. Asimov is probably best known for his Foundation series, which includes Foundation, Foundation and Empire, and Second Foundation. In 1966, this trilogy won the Hugo award for best all-time science fiction series. In 1983, Asimov wrote an additional Foundation novel, Foundation's Edge, which won the Hugo for best novel of that year. Asimov also wrote a series of robot books that included I, Robot, and eventually he tied the two series together. He won three additional Hugos, including one awarded posthumously for the best non-fiction book of 1995, I. Asimov. "Nightfall" was chosen the best science fiction story of all time by the Science Fiction Writers of America. In 1979, Asimov wrote his autobiography, In Memory Yet Green. He continued writing until just a few years before his death from heart and kidney failure on April 6, 1992.