My favorite books as a tween were solidly in the science fiction and adventure realms. My father introduced me to his favorite authors: Bradbury, Asimov, and Heinlein, and the public library helped me find others. I was astonished by the breadth of Asimov’s Foundation trilogy, a series of stories about a Galactic Empire that predated by several decades the evil empire created by George Lucas. (A TV series version of Foundation is due out in 2021.)
As an adult I moved down a different reading path, in part because of the various book clubs I joined. Most were interested in either literary classics or women’s fiction, neither of which almost never included science fiction.
But lately, I’ve returned to reading the genre—loving The Sparrow and its sequel, Children of God, for example. And I discovered something new about Isaac Asimov: He also wrote mysteries. At a virtual writers conference I attended this year, a presenter mentioned Tales of the Black Widowers, a collection of short stories by Asimov that Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine published in the 1970s. I found a used copy online and dug in.
The set-up seemed somewhat dated: This is a men’s-only club that meets monthly, and women are forbidden to attend. But the stories themselves are fun little mysteries, with one character (not giving anything away) who is particularly astute at solving the puzzling situations presented. I was delighted to find out that the Black Widowers has several sequels, the first of which not surprisingly is called More Tales of the Black Widowers.
This is the centennial year of Asimov’s birth, with only a few days until that ends (on Jan. 2). He was a prolific writer, author of hundreds of books and stories, as well as being a biochemist and professor.
Speaking of mysteries, it’s nearly time for the Bethlehem Writers Group’s annual short story contest, which opens Jan. 1, 2021. The contest theme is An Element of Mystery. So, sharpen your pencils and get busy crafting your version of the mystery story.
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