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 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 received a Bachelor of Science in physics in 1963 from 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. Benford modeled characters in several of his novels after her, most prominently the heroine of Artifact. She died in 2002.
Benford has an identical twin brother, Jim Benford, with whom he has collaborated on science fiction stories. Both got their start in science fiction fandom, with Gregory co-editor of the science fiction fanzine Void. Benford is an atheist.
Gregory Benford's first professional sale was the story "Stand-In" in Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction (June 1965). 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).
Benford was a guest of honour at Aussiecon Three, the 1999 Worldcon. He remains a regular contributor to science fiction fanzines, such as Apparatchik.
Contributions to Science and Speculative Sciencemore »« less
In addition to establishing Benford's law of controversy, Benford claims to have created and written about the first computer virus in the late 1960s.
In 2004, Benford proposed that the harmful effects of global warming could be reduced by the construction of a rotating Fresnel lens 1000 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. This plan, or a similar one, was proposed in 1989 by J. T. Early, and again in 1997 by Edward Teller, Lowell Wood, and Roderick Hyde. 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.
Benford serves on the board of directors and the steering committee of the Mars Society.