Ben Bova (1932-2020)
Former Member of the National Space Society Board of Governors
The author of more than 115 futuristic novels and nonfiction books, Dr. Ben Bova was involved in science and high technology since the very beginnings of the space age. President Emeritus of the National Space Society and a past president of Science Fiction Writers of America, Dr. Bova received the Lifetime Achievement Award of the Arthur C. Clarke Foundation in 2005, “for fueling mankind’s imagination regarding the wonders of outer space.” His 2006 novel Titan received the John W. Campbell Memorial Award for best novel of the year.
At the Omegacon 2008 science fiction convention, Dr. Bova received the first annual Ben Bova Award “For Outstanding Achievement in Science Fiction Literature.”
Dr. Bova was a frequent commentator on radio and television and a widely-popular lecturer. Earlier, he was an award-winning editor and an executive in the aerospace industry.
His Grand Tour novels, such as Moonrise, Mars, and Titan combine romance, adventure, and the highest degree of scientific accuracy to show how the human race will expand through the solar system, and the impact this will have on individual human lives and society as a whole. His nonfiction books, such as Faint Echoes, Distant Stars and Immortality, show how modern technology can be used to solve economic, social and political problems.
In his various writings, Dr. Bova predicted the Space Race of the 1960s, solar power satellites, the discovery of organic chemicals in interstellar space, virtual reality, human cloning, the Strategic Defense Initiative (Star Wars), the discovery of life on Mars, the advent of international peacekeeping forces, the discovery of ice on the Moon, electronic book publishing and zero-gravity sex.
Dr. Bova taught science fiction at Harvard University and at the Hayden Planetarium in New York City, where he also directed film courses. He received his doctorate in education in 1996 from California Coast University, a master of arts degree in communications from the State University of New York at Albany (1987) and a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Temple University (1954).
He lectured regularly on topics dealing with the prospects for human immortality, the impact of science on politics (and vice versa), space exploration and development, the craft of writing, and the search for extraterrestrial life. He worked with film makers and television producers such as Woody Allen, George Lucas, and Gene Roddenberry.
Dr. Bova was a regular commentator on WGCU-FM, the southwest Florida NPR station. He was the science analyst on CBS Morning News, and appeared frequently on Good Morning America and the Today show.
He was editorial director of Omni magazine and, earlier, editor of Analog magazine. He received the Science Fiction Achievement Award (the “Hugo”) for Best Professional Editor six times. In 2001 Dr. Bova was elected a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). He received the 1996 Isaac Asimov Memorial Award; was the 1974 recipient of the E.E. Smith Memorial Award for Imaginative Fiction; the 1983 Balrog Award winner for Professional Achievement; the 1985 Inkpot Award for his outstanding achievements in science fiction. In 2000, he was Guest of Honor at the 58th World Science Fiction Convention, Chicon2000.
Dr. Bova was manager of marketing for Avco Everett Research Laboratory, in Massachusetts, and worked with leading scientists in fields such as high-power lasers, artificial hearts, and plasma dynamics. Prior to that he wrote scripts for teaching films with the Physical Sciences Study Committee in association with Nobel Laureates from many universities. Earlier, he was technical editor on Project Vanguard, the first American artificial satellite program.
Bova was born in Philadelphia and worked as a newspaper reporter for several years before joining Project Vanguard. His articles, opinion pieces and reviews have appeared in Scientific American, Nature, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and many other newspapers and magazines.
He was a member of the Arizona Astronomy Board, and was earlier on the Steering Committee for the NASA/Space Transportation Association study on space tourism. He served on panels of the Office of Technology Assessment.
He was a member of the Board of Governors of the National Space Society, a charter member of the Planetary Society, and a Fellow of the British Interplanetary Society. In 2005 Dr. Bova received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Lee County (FL) Reading Festival. Temple University honored him as a Distinguished Alumnus in 1981, and in 1982 made him an Alumni Fellow.
His web site is still up at www.benbova.com. Further biographical details can be found in Who’s Who in America, International Who’s Who of Authors and Writers, Contemporary Authors, Who’s Who in Science Fiction, Twentieth Century Science Fiction Writers, The New Encyclopedia of Science Fiction, and many other references.