On April 6 fans and pros gathered in West Philadelphia across from the apartment building where Isaac Asimov lived during WWII and kicked off a campaign to have the site commemorated with a Pennsylvania state historical marker. Philadelphia Weekly is behind the application:
We were thrilled to be joined by a bunch of speculative-fiction luminaries—including authors Michael Swanwick, Gregory Frost, Victoria McManus, Tom Purdom and Gardner Dozois, several of whom knew Isaac personally. We all signed the petition of support that will be part of our application to the Historical Marker Commission later this year. And our favorite geektastic photographer, PW contributor Kyle Cassidy — whose idea all this was in the first place — shot a photo to commemorate the moment the Asimov historical movement officially began.
The petition is posted at Change.org. The appeal for signatures reads —
Though he’s often thought of as a New Yorker, he spent three very important landmark years in Philadelphia. From 1942 to 1945, while living and working here during WWII as a chemist at the Philadelphia Navy Yard, Isaac Asimov wrote half a dozen of the key stories that comprise his two most influential cultural masterpieces: the Foundation series, which introduced the idea of “psychohistory,” the mathematical modeling of the future; and the Robot series, which introduced the famous Three Laws of Robotics governing how artificial intelligences should behave.
It was at an apartment on the corner of 50th and Spruce streets in West Philadelphia where Asimov wrote these historic stories.
Since 1946, the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission has authorized more than 2,000 cast aluminum markers recognizing names and sites connected with “Native Americans and settlers, government and politics, athletes, entertainers, artists, struggles for freedom and equality, factories and businesses.”
Pennsylvania added 17 in 2012, honoring both high culture — the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia — and pop culture — the “Birthplace of Commercial Ice Cream Production.” (Since a 2009 budget cut it’s been the nominators’ responsibility to cover the cost of the marker.)
None of Pennsylvania’s existing historical markers celebrate anything associated with science fiction – not even the alleged world’s first science fiction convention held in the Rothmans’ Philadelphia living room in 1936. Markers have been approved for a few writers, native-borns like Rachel Carson (Silent Spring), and others who grew up in the state like James Michener and Margaret Mead. Based on such a track record, it would be surprising if the Commission approved a marker for somebody who lived in the state only three years.
[Thanks to David Klaus for the story.]