I'll never forget hearing the news that he'd died. I was sitting in the food area of a mall, having just been to a bookstore of all places, and the TV ran the news that he'd passed away.
No, I'm not talking about the equally devastating news we heard this week about the passing of Leonard Nimoy. That news hit me in the gut, but it wasn't the first time. The instance I'm referring to was in April of 1992, a month before I was to leave the Army and seek my fortune as a civilian, and it was Isaac Asimov who had taken his last breath.
Both men were inspirations to a bold new world, weren't they? Asimov repeatedly hit the proverbial nail on its proverbial head with his science fiction, but what a lot of people don't realize is how prolific a nonfiction author he was, or how other writings of his made actual science more accessible to many of my generation. I still cherish my copies of Asimov on Astronomy and Asimov on Physics, in fact. In both books the giant of a writer crafted tales of conundrums of the world around us--true tales, in fact--in a scientific yet descriptive manner. He, or more specifically his writing, is, in fact, the reason I went on to study physics as an undergrad.
I look up to Leonard Nimoy's work similarly. He's best known, of course, for his portrayal of a half-human, half-alien character on that most seminal of sci fi TV shows, Star Trek. The character and its fellows on that serial are arguably part of the foundation (hehe--I worked "Foundation" into this!) of modern science fiction. But much more can be said of his character itself, what with his continual, explicit grappling between the forces of logic and emotion. He was the half-alien with super-human strength and a paralyzing pinch who nevertheless generally set his phaser to stun. Spock really could be said to be the alien who made us reconsider what it means to be human.
While Spock was his hallmark, his other contributions shouldn't be forgotten. His narration of the Ancient Mysteries series was spellbinding (and is still available on Youtube if you didn't see the shows when they initially came out). Later, Our 20th Century continued to fascinate. Honestly, the man could probably find a way to make a tale about a rock in your back yard entertaining.
"Live long and prosper" is a phrase we owe to Nimoy, thanks to his portrayal of Spock. Both men did that, really, living past their 70th birthday and, in Nimoy's case, his 80th. Both men gave the world incredible, boundless vision of what the future might become.
To both, then, I say Rest in Peace, and may our world truly become the magnificent place you saw in your creative vision.