Gregory Benford

Science Guest of Honour
Photo of Gregory Benford
Guest's Role: 
Guest of Honour
Guest's Type: 
Science & Engineering

Gregory Benford (born 30 January 1941 in Mobile, Alabama) 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.

As a science fiction author, Benford has written over twenty novels, including Jupiter Project, Artifact, Against Infinity, Eater, and Timescape. A two-time winner of the Nebula Award, Benford has also won the John W. Campbell Award, the Australian Ditmar Award, the 1995 Lord Foundation Award for achievement in the sciences, and the 1990 United Nations Medal in Literature. Benford is perhaps best known for the Galactic Center Saga novels, beginning with In the Ocean of Night (1977). This series postulates a galaxy in which sentient organic life is in constant warfare with sentient mechanical life.

Benford has also written several non-fiction books, most recently The Wonderful Future That Never Was (2010, with the Editors of Popular Mechanics). We were promised jetpacks and this book, which collects the various technological and lifestyle predictions made in the pages of Popular Mechanics between 1903 and 1969, both colorful and in color, true and fanciful, proves it. We did end up harnessing the power of the atom, but we didn't end up building enormous runways on top of flat-topped skyscrapers.

As an astrophysicist, Benford conducts research in plasma turbulence theory and experiment, and in astrophysics. He has published well over a hundred papers in fields of physics from condensed matter, particle physics, plasmas and mathematical physics, and several in biological conservation. He is a Woodrow Wilson Fellow and a Visiting Fellow at Cambridge University, and has served as an advisor to the Department of Energy, NASA and the White House Council on Space Policy. In 1995 he received the Lord Foundation Award for contributions to science and the public comprehension of it.

In 1989 Benford was host and scriptwriter for the television series A Galactic Odyssey, which described modern physics and astronomy from the perspective of the evolution of the galaxy. The eight-part series was produced for an international audience by Japan National Broadcasting. In addition to that series, his television credits include Japan 2000. He has served as scientific consultant to the NHK Network and for Star Trek: The Next Generation.