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May 2004
Book Reviews
Charles de Lint
Elizabeth Hand
Michelle West
James Sallis
Chris Moriarty
Plumage from Pegasus
Off On a Tangent: F&SF Style
Kathi Maio
Lucius Shepard
Gregory Benford
Pat Murphy & Paul Doherty
Jerry Oltion
Coming Attractions
F&SF Bibliography: 1949-1999
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Editorial - May 2004
by Gordon Van Gelder

I'M USUALLY the last person to join a crusade—I'm not what you'd call a campaigner—but I'd like to enlist your aid in a good cause:

Let's get Isaac Asimov on a U.S. postage stamp.

I'm not the first person to come up with this good notion—there have already been some fan efforts, including a Website (at—but I don't think I've seen anyone make a call to arms in print before for this cause. And I doubt there's anyone reading this magazine who believes Dr. A isn't worthy of such an honor, but in case I'm wrong, consider:

  • Since the Good Doctor parted ways with us more than ten years ago, he's now eligible for inclusion in the U.S. commemorative stamp program.
  • Asimov's Three Laws of Robotics pioneered thinking in the field of robotics.
  • His novels and stories remain immensely popular with readers of all ages, with I, Robot currently in production for a feature film adaptation.
  • His nonfiction writing was unmatched for its clarity and ability to convey difficult concepts with ease. I think there was no better popularizer of science through the second half of the twentieth century.
  • Two generations of scientists and engineers were influenced and inspired by him.
  • Just as Albert Einstein became a familiar icon as a physicist, so too did Dr. A represent the genre of science fiction to the world at large—more so than any other individual, I'd say.

That last point begs the question about the other great sf writers—Heinlein, Sturgeon, Simak, John W. Campbell, Bester? Wouldn't it be lovely to see their pretty faces on stamps? Sure, but I think that in practical terms, it would be hard to convince the U.S.P.S. to issue many stamps for science fiction writers. Let's focus our efforts on getting one approved.

There's an ongoing series of stamps called the Literary Arts series that has included most recently Ayn Rand, Ogden Nash, and Zora Neale Hurston. I think Dr. Asimov would fit in well with this series. If you agree, drop a note to:

C/O Stamp Development
475 L'Enfant Plaza,
SW Room 5670
Washington, D. C. 20260-2437
We've posted a short letter on our Website ( that you can print out, sign, and send to them. If you'd rather express yourself, be polite and keep to the point.

I'm passing around this editorial to the editors of the other sf magazines in hopes that they'll enlist their readers too. Perhaps one of them is better at verse than I am and can come up with an appropriate limerick in Dr. Asimov's honor about licking the back of a stamp with his likeness on it (Dr. Asimov was very fond of bawdy limericks, in case you're wondering why I'd say such a thing). Me, I'll end this editorial just by saying that when the day comes when we can send a letter via Asimov, the first one I'll mail will be addressed to "The Future."


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