Gregory Benford

Gregory Benford (born January 30, 1941) is an American science fiction author and astrophysicist who is on the faculty of the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of California, Irvine. He is also a contributing editor of Reason magazine.[1]

As a science fiction author, Benford is perhaps best known for the Galactic Center Saga novels, beginning with In the Ocean of Night (1977).[2] This series postulates a galaxy in which sentient organic life is in constant warfare with sentient electromechanical life.

In 1969[3] he wrote "The Scarred Man",[4] the first story about a computer virus,[5] published in 1970.

Gregory Benford
BornJanuary 30, 1941 (age 77)
Mobile, Alabama
OccupationScientist, writer
NationalityUnited States
GenreScience fiction
Notable worksGalactic Center Saga novels


Benford was born in Mobile, Alabama and grew up in Robertsdale and Fairhope.[6] Graduating Phi Beta Kappa, he received a Bachelor of Science in physics in 1963 from the University of Oklahoma in Norman, Oklahoma, followed by a Master of Science from the University of California, San Diego in 1965, and a doctorate there in 1967. That same year he married Joan Abbe. They are the parents of two children.[7] Benford modeled characters in several of his novels after his wife, most prominently the heroine of Artifact. She died in 2002.[8]

Benford has an identical twin brother, Jim Benford, with whom he has collaborated on science fiction stories.[9] Both got their start in science fiction fandom, with Gregory being a co-editor of the science fiction fanzine Void. Benford has said he is an atheist.[10]

He has been a long-time resident of Laguna Beach, California.[7]

Writing career

Gregory Benford's first professional sale was the story "Stand-In" in the Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction (June 1965), which won second prize in a contest to write a short story based on a poem by Doris Pitkin Buck. In 1969, he began writing a regular science column for Amazing Stories.

Benford tends to write hard science fiction which incorporates the research he is doing as a practical scientist. He has worked on several collaborations with authors including William Rotsler, David Brin and Gordon Eklund. His time-travel novel Timescape (1980) won both the Nebula Award and the John W. Campbell Memorial Award. A scientific procedural, the novel eventually loaned its title to a line of science fiction published by Pocket Books. In the late 1990s, he wrote Foundation's Fear, one of an authorized sequel trilogy to Isaac Asimov's Foundation series. Other novels published in that period include several near-future science thrillers: Cosm (1998), The Martian Race (1999) and Eater (2000).

Benford has also served as an editor of numerous alternate history anthologies as well as collections of Hugo Award winners.

He has been nominated for four Hugo Awards (for two short stories and two novellas) and 12 Nebula Awards (in all categories). In addition to Timescape, he won the Nebula for the novelette "If the Stars Are Gods" (with Eklund). In 1995 he was honored with the Lord Prize, and in 2005 the MIT SF Society awarded him the Asimov Prize.

Benford was a guest of honour at Aussiecon Three, the 1999 Worldcon. He remains a regular contributor to science fiction fanzines, such as Apparatchik.

In 2016 Benford was the recipient of the Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society Forry Award Lifetime Achievement Award in the Field of Science Fiction.[11]

Contributions to science and speculative science

Greg Benford Eaton 2008-05-17
Gregory Benford, 2008

Gregory Benford is a Professor Emeritus at the University of California, Irvine, where he was a Professor of Physics.

He is a Woodrow Wilson Fellow, a Fellow of the American Physical Society and was Visiting Fellow at Cambridge University and the Universities of Turin and Bologna. In 1995 he received the Lord Prize for contributions to science. With more than 200 scientific publications, his research encompasses both theory and experiments in the fields of astrophysics and plasma physics. His research has been supported by NSF, NASA, AFOSR, DOE and other agencies. He is an ongoing advisor to NASA, DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) and the CIA.

Benford's work in physics at the University of California, Irvine has focused on theoretical and experimental plasma physics, including studies of extremely strong turbulence, particularly in astrophysical contexts, and studies of magnetic structures from the galactic center to large-scale galactic jets. Working in collaboration with, among others, science fiction writers Cramer, Forward, and Landis, Benford worked on a theoretical study of the physics of wormholes, which pointed out that wormholes, if formed in the early universe, could still exist in the present day if they were wrapped in a negative-mass cosmic string.[12] Such wormholes could potentially be detected by gravitational lensing.

In 2004, Benford proposed that the harmful effects of global warming could be reduced by the construction of a rotating Fresnel lens 1,000 kilometres across, floating in space at the Lagrangian point L1. According to Benford, this lens would diffuse the light from the Sun and reduce the solar energy reaching the Earth by approximately 0.5% to 1%. He estimated that this would cost around US$10 billion. His plan has been commented on in a variety of forums.[13] A similar space sunshade was proposed in 1989 by J. T. Early,[14] and again in 1997 by Edward Teller, Lowell Wood, and Roderick Hyde.[15] In 2006, Benford pointed out one possible danger in this approach: if this lens were built and global warming were avoided, there would be less incentive to reduce greenhouse gases, and humans might continue to produce too much carbon dioxide until it caused some other environmental catastrophe, such as a chemical change in ocean water that could be disastrous to ocean life.[16]

Benford serves on the board of directors and the steering committee of the Mars Society.

He has also advocated human cryopreservation, for example by signing an open letter to support research into cryonics,[17] being a member of Alcor,[18] and by being an advisor to a UK cryonics and cryopreservation advocacy group.[19]

Gregory Benford became Emeritus from the University of California, Irvine, in 2006 in order to found and develop Genescient. Genescient is a new generation biotechnology company that combines evolutionary genomics with massive selective screening to analyze and exploit the genetics of model animal and human whole genomes. This enables Genescient to develop novel therapeutics that target the chronic diseases of aging.

Benford's law of controversy

Benford's law of controversy is an adage from the 1980 novel Timescape,[20] stating:

Passion is inversely proportional to the amount of real information available.[21][22]

The adage was quoted in an international drug policy article in a peer-reviewed social science journal.[23]

Selected bibliography

Galactic Center Saga


  1. ^ Who's Getting Your Vote?, Reason
  2. ^ Witcover, Paul (2000-03-20). "Mean, stupid, ugly, and the terror of all other species". Sci Fi Weekly.
  3. ^ Benford, Gregory (2000). Worlds Vast and Various. New York: EOS. ISBN 9780380790548. OCLC 44128776., cited at "The Scarred Man Returns". Gregory Benford. Retrieved 13 Feb 2017.
  4. ^ Benford, Gregory (May 1970). "The Scarred Man". Venture Science Fiction. pp. 122–132., cited at "The Scarred Man by Greg Benford". Retrieved 13 Feb 2017. Republished on author's website at .
  5. ^ Easton, Thomas; Dial, Judith, eds. (July 8, 2010). Visions of Tomorrow: Science Fiction Predictions that Came True. Skyhorse Publishing. ISBN 978-1-60239-998-3.
  6. ^ Down the River Road — the Introduction | GREGORY BENFORD Retrieved 2011-11-16.
  7. ^ a b McLellan, Dennis (August 28, 1994). "The Science of Fiction : UCI Astrophysicist Gregory Benford Puts Reality Into His Novels". Los Angeles Times. Irvine. Retrieved 13 December 2015.
  8. ^ "Other Obituaries," Locus, May 2002, p.70
  9. ^ "ISFDB – James Bedford"
  10. ^ "Evil and Me", Benford; in 50 Voices of Disbelief: Why We Are Atheists
  11. ^ Publications, Locus. "Locus Online News » Benford Wins Forry Award". Retrieved 2016-10-03.
  12. ^ Cramer, J. G.; Forward, R. W.; Morris, M. S.; Visser, M.; Benford, G.; Landis, G. A. (1995). "Natural Wormholes as Gravitational Lenses". Physical Review D. 51: 3117–3120. arXiv:astro-ph/9409051. Bibcode:1995PhRvD..51.3117C. doi:10.1103/PhysRevD.51.3117. The press release Archived 2012-04-15 at the Wayback Machine. on the paper can be found on Landis' website.
  13. ^ See Russell Dovey, "Supervillainy: Astroengineering Global Warming and Bill Christensen, "Reduce Global Warming by Blocking Sunlight" Archived 2009-04-17 at the Wayback Machine.. Also see Screening out sunlight in the Wikipedia article Mitigation of global warming.
  14. ^ See footnote 23 in E. Teller, L. Wood, and R. Hyde, "Global Warming and Ice Ages: Prospects for Physics-Based Modulation of Global Change" Archived 2007-06-16 at the Wayback Machine..
  15. ^ E. Teller, L. Wood, and R. Hyde, "Global Warming and Ice Ages: Prospects for Physics-Based Modulation of Global Change" Archived 2007-06-16 at the Wayback Machine..
  16. ^ Comments at the 64th World Science Fiction Convention, August 2006.
  17. ^ "Scientists Open Letter on Cryonics". Retrieved 2016-02-02.
  18. ^ "Alcor Member Profile: Gregory Benford". Retrieved 2016-02-02.
  19. ^ "UK Cryonics and Cryopreservation Research Network". Retrieved 2016-02-02.
  20. ^ Benford, Gregory (1992-08-01) [1980]. Timescape. Bantam Books. p. 182. ISBN 978-0-553-29709-6.
  21. ^ "EFF Quotes Collection 19.6". Electronic Frontier Foundation. 2001-04-09. Archived from the original on 2012-10-28.
  22. ^ "Quotations: Computer Laws". SysProg. Archived from the original on 2008-08-22. Retrieved 2007-03-10.
  23. ^ MacCoun, Robert J. (2001). "American distortion of Dutch drug statistics". Society. 38: 23–26. doi:10.1007/BF02686215.; official archival copy requires site registration. The article is a followup to pieces the author already published in Science (1997) and the Annual Review of Psychology (1998)

External links

Across the Sea of Suns

Across the Sea of Suns is a 1984 hard science fiction novel by American writer Gregory Benford. It is the second novel in his Galactic Center Saga, and continues to follow the scientist Nigel Walmsley, who encountered an extraterrestrial machine in the previous book, In the Ocean of Night, aboard an expeditionary spacecraft, searching for life. Eventually Nigel discovers evidence of the major conflict in the galaxy.

Beyond the Fall of Night

Beyond the Fall of Night (1990) is a novel by Arthur C. Clarke and Gregory Benford. The first part of Beyond the Fall of Night is a reprint of Clarke’s Against the Fall of Night while the second half is a "sequel" by Gregory Benford that takes place many years later. This book is unrelated to The City and the Stars which is an expanded version of Against the Fall of Night which Clarke wrote himself three years after the publication of Against the Fall of Night.


Eater may refer to:

Eater (band), an English punk rock group

"Eater" (Fear Itself), a 2008 episode of the NBC television horror anthology Fear Itself

Eater (novel), a 2000 science fiction novel by Gregory Benford

Eater (website), a daily online culinary news publication from Vox Media

Eater (novel)

Eater is a hard science fiction novel by American writer Gregory Benford. It was published in May 2000 by Eos. Heavy on the physics information, Eater describes humankind's encounter with a cosmic intelligence that comes in the form of a small black hole.

Foundation's Fear

Foundation's Fear (1997) is a science fiction novel by American writer Gregory Benford, set in Isaac Asimov's Foundation universe. It is the first book of the Second Foundation trilogy, which was written after Asimov's death by three authors, authorized by the Asimov estate.

Galactic Center Saga

The Galactic Center Saga is a series of books by author Gregory Benford detailing a galactic war between mechanical and biological life.

In the Ocean of Night (1977) — 1977 Nebula Award nominee, 1978 Locus Award nomineeAcross the Sea of Suns (1984)Great Sky River (1987) — 1988 Nebula NomineeTides of Light (1989) — 1990 Locus Award nomineeFurious Gulf (1994)Sailing Bright Eternity (1996)"A Hunger for the Infinite" a novella published in the anthology Far Horizons

Gordon Eklund

Gordon Eklund (born July 24, 1945 in Seattle, Washington) is an American science fiction author whose works include the "Lord Tedric" series and two of the earliest original novels based on the 1960s Star Trek TV series. He has written under the pen name Wendell Stewart, and in one instance under the name of the late E. E. "Doc" Smith.

Eklund's first published SF short story, "Dear Aunt Annie", ran in the April 1970 issue of Fantastic magazine and was nominated for a Nebula Award. Eklund won the Nebula for Best Novelette for the 1974 short story "If the Stars Are Gods", co-written with Gregory Benford. The two expanded the story into a full-length novel of the same title, published in 1977.

Eklund's Star Trek novel The Starless World was the first Star Trek story about a Dyson sphere.

In his teens, Eklund was a member of a Seattle SF fan club, The Nameless Ones, and in 1977, Eklund was a guest of honor at the 1977 SF convention Bubonicon 9, in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The Cushing Memorial Library of Texas A&M University has a "Gordon Eklund Collection" housing the typed manuscript of the story "The Stuff of Time".

Eklund has retired from a long career with the U.S. Postal Service, and is considering writing full-time again. He's a member of the Fantasy Amateur Press Association and the Spectator Amateur Press Society.

Great Sky River (novel)

Great Sky River is a 1987 novel written by author Gregory Benford as a part of his Galactic Center Saga series of books.

Gregory Benford bibliography

A bibliography of works by American science fiction author Gregory Benford.

Heart of the Comet

Heart of the Comet is a novel by David Brin and Gregory Benford about human space travel to Halley's Comet published in 1986. Its publication coincided with the comet's 1986 approach to the Earth.

Written in the third person, the perspective alternates between the three main characters, the "spacer" Carl Osborn, the computer programmer Virginia Herbert and the doctor and geneticist Saul Lintz.

Heroes in Hell (book)

Heroes in Hell is an anthology book and the first volume of its namesake series, created by American writer Janet Morris. The book placed eighth in the annual Locus Poll for Best Anthology in 1987. "Newton Sleep" by Gregory Benford, originally published in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, received a Nebula Award nomination in 1986, as well as placing 16th in its category in the Locus Poll.

If the Stars are Gods

If the Stars are Gods is a science fiction novel by American writers Gregory Benford and Gordon Eklund, published in 1977. It is an expansion of the Nebula Award-winning short story, first published in Universe 4 (1974).

In the Ocean of Night

In the Ocean of Night is a 1977 fix-up hard science fiction novel by American writer Gregory Benford. It is the first novel in his Galactic Center Saga. It was nominated for the Nebula Award for Best Novel in 1977, and for the Locus Award the following year.In the Ocean of Night was first published as a series of novellas and novelette in the magazine Worlds of If Science Fiction (1972/1977).

Singularity Summit

The Singularity Summit is the annual conference of the Machine Intelligence Research Institute. It was started in 2006 at Stanford University by Ray Kurzweil, Eliezer Yudkowsky, and Peter Thiel, and the subsequent summits in 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, and 2011 have been held in San Francisco, San Jose, New York City, San Francisco, and New York, respectively. Some speakers have included Sebastian Thrun, Rodney Brooks, Barney Pell, Marshall Brain, Justin Rattner, Peter Diamandis, Stephen Wolfram, Gregory Benford, Robin Hanson, Anders Sandberg, Juergen Schmidhuber, Aubrey de Grey, Max Tegmark, and Michael Shermer.

There have also been spinoff conferences in Melbourne, Australia in 2010, 2011 and 2012. Previous speakers include David Chalmers, Lawrence Krauss, Gregory Benford, Ben Goertzel, Steve Omohundro, Hugo de Garis, Marcus Hutter, Mark Pesce, Stelarc and Randal A. Koene.

The Return of William Proxmire

"The Return of William Proxmire" is a short story by Larry Niven first published in 1989 in the anthology What Might Have Been? Volume 1: Alternate Empires, edited by Gregory Benford.

The short story was reprinted in Niven's collection N-Space, as well as the Robert A. Heinlein retrospective Requiem.


Timescape is a 1980 science fiction novel by American writer Gregory Benford (with unbilled co-author Hilary Foister, Benford's sister-in-law, who is credited as having "contributed significantly to the manuscript"). It won the 1981 Nebula and 1980 British Science Fiction Award, and the 1981 John W. Campbell Memorial Award for Best Science Fiction Novel. The novel was widely hailed by both critics of science fiction and mainstream literature for its fusion of detailed character development and interpersonal drama with more standard science fiction fare such as time travel and ecological issues.Pocket Books used the title of this book for their science fiction imprint.

Timescape Books

Timescape Books was a science fiction line from Pocket Books operating from 1981 to 1985. Pocket Books is an imprint of Simon & Schuster

It was named after the Gregory Benford novel Timescape, which was not published by the Timescape imprint. The imprint was founded by David G. Hartwell. It published both original hardcover and reprinted mass market paperback novels. Many of the imprint's titles were nominees or winners of Hugo and Nebula awards, along with other major SF awards. It published more than 30 original hardcover works and over 100 paperback titles, but the imprint was not financially successful enough for the parent company at the time, as it was not producing major bestsellers.

Void (fanzine)

Void was a major science fiction fanzine. It was started in the 1950s by Gregory Benford and his identical twin brother Jim Benford, when they were living in Germany; then later co-edited by Gregory Benford, Ted White, Terry Carr, and Peter Graham. It is described in one reference work thus: "Void was the fanzine with many heads. Its many editors covered all aspects of fanac — criticism, humor, history and commentary."

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