In Memoriam: Ben Bova

Former SFWA President Ben Bova (b.1932) died from COVID-19 related pneumonia and a stroke on November 29.  Bova served two consecutive terms as SFWA President from 1990-1992.

Bova published his first novel, The Star Conquerors in 1959 and published several novels and short stories throughout the 1960s.  In 1972, he took over the reins of Analog following the death of John W. Campbell and edited the magazine until 1978, when he became the editorial director of Omni magazine through 1982. While serving as the editor of Analog, Bova was one of several editors that contributed to SFWA’s The Science Fiction Hall of Fame series.

In the 1980s, Bova began writing the Voyagers and Orion series, the former about humanity’s first contact with aliens, the latter about an eternal hero who Bova placed in a variety of different historical (and mythical) contexts. His publication in 1992 of the novel Mars kicked off what would eventually become a twenty-two volume series known as “The Grand Tour” which applied hard science fictional techniques to most of the planets in our solar system, most recently Uranus, published earlier this year.

Bova was the Author Guest of Honor at Chicon 2000, the 58th Worldcon. He was a lifetime achievement recipient from the Arthur C. Clarke Foundation, a Robert A. Heinlein Award winner, a Skylark recipient, and an inductee into the First Fandom Hall of Fame. He won six Hugo Awards for his editorial work on Analog as well as four additional nominations. In 1995, his story “Inspiration” was a Nebula finalist.

In addition to serving as the President of SFWA, Bova also served as President of the National Space Society. He was a frequent commentator on science and space exploration and has published numerous non-fiction articles and books.

SFWA President Mary Robinette Kowal adds: “I am devastated that our community has lost Ben Bova. He was so welcoming to new writers and embodied the philosophy of paying it forward.”

9 Responses

  1. Ken Hoyt

    Rest in Peace to one of the greats. His recent Star Quest Trilogy showed he still had it, a great big of old school scifi written in the 21st Century. It’s a shame this terrible disease has to have taken one of the best.

  2. Carl Rosenberg

    I was very sorry to learn of Mr. Bova’s passing. I admired his work as both writer and editor, and especially associate him with Omni, which I read in its early years during my personal “golden age” of science fiction. My heartfelt condolences to his family, friends and colleagues.

  3. Walter L Fisher

    Ben Bova bought my first published story for Analog in 1974. When I submitted I got a note asking for a small change, which I gladly made, and then it ran. He let me take the first step on this strange journey that is being a writer. I am grateful and saddened at his passing.

  4. Michael Black

    The first of his books I ever read was “The Weathermakers” out of the children’s library around fifty years ago.

  5. Glenn R. Frank

    So sorry to hear about Ben Bova’s passing. In addition to all the great stories he wrote and the magazines he oversaw, I really appreciated his willingness to teach and help new writers. I recently read his book “The Craft of Writing Science Fiction that Sells” and really enjoyed the way he presented and gave examples of his writing craft.

  6. Chuck Mulligan

    I had the pleasure of meeting Mr, Bova at a convention here in Louisville, Ky. in 2007. He was gracious enough to autograph a first edition copy Star Conquerors. For decades I’ve read both of his fiction and non-fiction and have always felt that i had learned something along the way. Rest easysir.

  7. Gary Gunter

    I just learned of Ben’s passing a few days ago. Coincidentally, it was while currently reading his book The Immortality Factor. I was first introduced to Ben while he was editor of OMNI, back when I was just a teenager and with stars in my eyes every time my new issue arrived in the mail. Magical. Thanks to Ben, I’ve been in love with sci-fi ever since.

    RIP Ben. Thanks for all the wondrous and amazing stories you leave behind. You are a writing giant and you will be missed.