We science fiction fans have been learning all sorts of new things about our favorite authors in recent years. One of these things is that more and more of them are being revealed as suspected communists during the Red Scare and beyond. Ray Bradbury, for example, was investigated for planning to go to Cuba, and supposedly Philip K Dick was investigated because he asserted there was a Neo-Nazi plot to start World War 3 (though research does not find the letters he sent on file with the FBI and it was asserted by his wife that he only sent three letters before both he and the FBI lost interest).
Though, I suppose with quotes like this, which can be found in the Newsweek (January 21, 1980), it’s not hard to see where the suspicion comes in:
“There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there always has been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural live, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that “my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.”
From 1965-1967, Asimov was scrutinized under suspicion that he was a Soviet Informant codenamed, Robprof, which the FBI thought may have been a microbiologist. Essentially, his liberal sympathies, his birthplace being Russia, and his position as a biochemist at Boston University, guaranteed that he would make it on an FBI watch list.
However, this information may sound more sensationalist than it is. In a memo pertaining to his investigation, it was said that the FBI office in Boston was “not suggesting that Asimov is Robprof. But it should be considered as a possibility in light of his background, which contains information inimical to the best interests of the United States.”
In 1960, concerns were aired to the first FBI director, J Edgard Hoover by an anonymous writer and they were dismissed as not being of any interest.
It seems only natural that Asimov, a noted science fiction author with strong views on politics, would make some sort of list, as most people in the arts typically were. Still, the more we learn about who was truly suspected even ten years after the Red Scare was supposed to be over, the more we can really understand the period and to what political themes science fiction authors were writing about.
Source: The Independent