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Gregory Benford

A scientist-author at the heart of hard science fiction

Gregory Benford is perhaps best known as the author of Benford's law of controversy: "Passion is inversely proportional to the amount of real information available." That maxim is a quotation from Timescape, Benford's Nebula and Campbell Award-winning 1980 novel, which established his work as an exemplar of "hard science fiction," dedicated to working out the consequences of modern science rather than substituting pseudoscience for fantasy.

Like many other current science fiction writers, Benford has tackled the major genres: space travel, time travel, technology running amok, prolonged longevity, searing apocalyptic cosmic events, and alien life, which he theorizes to be more likely viral than intelligent. An astrophysicist by training and profession, Benford has published more than twenty novels, over one hundred short stories, some fifty essays, and myriad articles that display both his scientific rigor as well as a recognition of literary traditions.

In this study, George Slusser explores the extraordinary, seemingly inexhaustible display of creative energy in Gregory Benford's life and work. Presenting Benford's ideas on science and the writing of science fiction, the volume addresses the writer's literary production and his place in contemporary science fiction. By identifying direct sources and making parallels with other works and writers, Slusser reveals the vast scope of Benford's knowledge, both of literature and of the major scientific and philosophical issues of our time. Slusser also discusses Benford's numerous scientific articles and nonfiction books and includes a new interview with Benford.

"Filling a scandalous scholarly gap for both professional researchers and casual readers of contemporary science fiction, George Slusser's superb single-author study examines Benford's resuscitation of a distinctively American brand of hard sf and its approach to representing the thrill and terror of scientific discovery and technological innovation."--Science Fiction Studies

"An intriguing look at working astrophysicist and prolific author Gregory Benford. . . . careful examinations of Benford's Eaton Conference papers, Galactic Center sagas, and science thrillers, along with an entertaining interview with the author, help shore up Slusser's assertions regarding Benford, one of the more successful science fiction authors to straddle the world of the academy in the sciences and the day-to-day life of a working writer. Recommended."--Choice

"Slusser offers rich critical analysis that will interest SF scholars."--Year's Work in English Studies

"As the first comprehensive study of Gregory Benford--and an excellent one--Slusser's book fills what has been a large gap in scholarship. This work is an elegant, fascinating, and much needed addition to scholarship on science fiction as a major branch of American Literature."--Paul K. Alkon, author of Science Fiction Before 1900: Imagination Discovers Technology

George Slusser is a professor of comparative literature and the curator of the J. Lloyd Eaton Collection of Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror Literature at the University of California, Riverside. His books include Science Fiction: Canonization, Marginalization and the Academy.

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American Literary Realism

Edited by Gary Scharnhorst

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