10 October 2007

Author Answers with Ben Bova

This week's authors is one of the top names in science fiction today, Ben Bova. Bova has written many books, looking at the exploration of our own solar system, nanotechnology and green energy.

For more on Bova, check out his website.

WN: Your latest novel, "The Aftermath" is part of your Asteroid Wars/Grand Tour books. How did you get the idea to do a series looking out further and further into space?

BOVA: I’ve been an advocate of space exploration and development just about all of my life. I worked on the Vanguard program, the first US satellite effort, two years before the creation of NASA. So it was quite natural for me to write a series of novels about how the human race will expand through the solar system. My readers dubbed the series, “Bova’s Grand Tour of the Solar System.”

WN: You are categorized as a science fiction writer, but from your perspective, how much of what you write is fiction and how much is science, or possible future science? What kind of research do you do for your novels?

BOVA: I’m researching all the time. Fortunately, I have many friends in various scientific and technical fields, and I know where to go to find the information I need. My novels are solidly based on what is known, but I feel free to go beyond that – as long as no one can prove that I’m wrong. For example, in my novel JUPITER I postulated giant creatures living in a world-spanning ocean. The conditions on Jupiter are based on current information, but the ocean and the creatures in it are my extrapolations of existing data. The human characters are what makes a novel interesting, and I try to pattern my human characters on real, living human beings, with all their emotions, strengths and weaknesses.

WN: How do you think science fiction has shaped or influenced technology for things like space exploration and nanotechnology?

BOVA: Many top researchers and industrialists started reading science fiction as youngsters. I know that all the astronauts who walked on the Moon did. Their early readings convinced them, I think, that working in science or technology can be fun – and much more interesting than selling insurance.

WN: When you look at recent developments like SpaceShipOne being the first private craft to reach sub-orbit, where do you think space exploration or space travel is headed?

BOVA: I think private, profit-oriented entrepreneurs will push the development and exploitation of space, while government and university efforts will focus on scientific research – and defense.

WN: Were you a reader as a kid... what turned you on to reading/writing books and science fiction in particular?

BOVA: I was an asthmatic (still am), so I was reading when most of my friends were playing at sports. Science fiction excited me. That old “sense of wonder” hit me from the very first.

WN: After writing the number of books you have written, does the process get easier or harder? Why?

BOVA: It gets easier AND harder. Easier, in the sense that you have acquired the skills needed to tell a story; harder, because you are always trying to stretch your abilities and reach new territory.

WN: What is the best/most influential book you have ever read and why did it inspire you?

BOVA: There isn’t any single book, there are dozens, hundreds. Among the top are THE STORY OF MAN by anthropologist Carleton S. Coon, THE MAN WHO SOLD THE MOON by Robert A. Heinlein, and THE SUN ALSO RISES by Ernest Hemingway. Not necessarily in that order.

WN: What's next for you as a writer?

BOVA: I want to do an historical novel set in the time of the Trojan War

No comments: