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Gregory Benford

George Slusser

Publication Year: 2014

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. 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. 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.

Published by: University of Illinois Press

Cover

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p. C-C

Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. i-viii

Contents

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pp. ix-x

Acknowledgments

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pp. xi-xiv

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Introduction

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pp. 1-4

Gregory Benford’s life has been active, varied, and highly significant—a life that has generated much fiction. Born in 1941 in Mobile, Alabama, he has strong roots in the American South. But as member of a military family, he spent much of his adolescence in such far-flung places as Germany and Japan...

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Chapter 1: Gregory Benford

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pp. 5-19

Throughout his long career as science fiction writer, Gregory Benford has remained steadfast in his claim that science is at the center both of the twentieth century and of the form of literature he sees as its central mode of expression. What else should SF deal with than the impact of scientific ideas...

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Chapter 2: Benford in His Own Words

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pp. 20-44

Gregory Benford has written much nonfiction commentary over his long career, both on his own fiction and on that of others. He has also written on philosophical, cultural, and political issues that concern science fiction. These writings are essential to understanding Benford’s science fiction, for...

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Chapter 3: Fictional Directions

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pp. 45-76

Gregory Benford is a writer who came up through the science fiction pathway, but he, like many of his generation, had ambitions to break out of the SF ghetto, to write literature. In Benford’s case, the goal from the outset was to write serious fiction about the new world that science offered to mankind...

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Chapter 4: Galactic Center One

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pp. 77-86

The works that make up the series of Benford novels commonly called the Galactic Center saga span nineteen years of the author’s career. They encompass as well a changing landscape of science fiction, in which space adventure, once central to the genre, becomes a near relic. The first novel, In the Ocean...

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Chapter 5: Galactic Center Two

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pp. 87-112

The first two novels in the Galactic Center series are set in Earth’s near future. The dates are from 1999 (twenty-two years after the novel’s publication) to 2061, a time when mankind has conquered space in the sense that it can reach nearby stars and thus stands on the edge of “the ocean of night,” deep...

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Chapter 6: To the Galactic Center

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pp. 113-138

The next four Galactic Center novels span vast expanses of spacetime and nine years of the author’s career, from 1987 (Great Sky River) to 1996 (Sailing Bright Eternity). The reader of this human saga wants to know how it will end at a place of such unthinkable magnitudes as Galactic Center. What...

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Chapter 7: The Science Fiction Novel of Manners

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pp. 139-153

During the late 1990s, after the completion of his final Galactic Center novel, Benford produced a series of novels that could be classified as “science thrillers.” These are novels where some strange and often menacing occurrence (such as the approach of an alien object to Earth) triggers conflict between...

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Chapter 8. Benford's Short Fiction

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pp. 154-172

Since his first published story “Stand In” appeared in 1965 in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, Gregory Benford has published a large number of short stories in magazines and in anthologies. He collected many of his best stories in two landmark volumes—In Alien Flesh (1986), and Matter’s End...

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Conclusion

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pp. 173-176

There are many other aspects of Benford’s work which, alas, cannot be studied in detail because of space. One particular aspect—which has been part of Benford’s approach to fiction from the start but which has intensified in his later career—is an open process of creation. By this I mean not only his interest in collaborating...

Interview with Gregory Benford

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pp. 177-184

A Gregory Benford Bibliography

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pp. 185-186

Notes

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pp. 187-190

Index

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pp. 191-198

Author

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pp. 199-202


E-ISBN-13: 9780252096037
Print-ISBN-13: 9780252038228

Page Count: 200
Publication Year: 2014

Series Title: Modern Masters of Science Fiction

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Subject Headings

  • Benford, Gregory, 1941- -- Criticism and interpretation.
  • Benford, Gregory, 1941- -- Interviews.
  • Science fiction, American -- History and criticism.
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