Final month Naples misplaced one among its most illustrious and well-known residents, science fiction author Ben Bova. He died at 88 of a covid-related stroke. He had anticipated to reside to 100 he as soon as advised me.
Alongside his authorship of 140 books of science/future fiction and fantasy novels, he contributed a weekly column to the Naples Each day Information. It was a thought-provoking column on each topic conceivable, and I regarded ahead to it each Sunday.
It was after studying one among these, about world warming, that I contacted him, and we spoke. I’m not a sci-fi fan, however had learn his one-off historic novel, “The Hittite,” a few fictional mercenary soldier who fought within the Trojan Wars.
“You outdid Homer,” I mentioned facetiously. “Let’s have lunch,” he mentioned.
We did, we shared tales, and it turned out we had some issues of mutual curiosity: he had obtained the lifetime achievement award from the Arthur C. Clarke Basis and was thrilled after I advised him I knew Sir Arthur, visiting him at his house in Colombo throughout my frequent journeys to Sri Lanka the place I used to be creating rural solar energy initiatives. Arthur was an enormous fan of photo voltaic power and he was researching photovoltaics at his native institute. I realized that Ben was equally eager on solar energy and needed to learn about my work selling it worldwide.
Then we found one other factor we had in widespread. We have been each former journalists, and had each obtained checks from Bob Guccione’s father, treasurer of Penthouse Enterprises, which I as soon as wrote for, and which owned Omni Journal, the place Ben was as soon as the editor.
He had beforehand been the editor of Analog, America’s main sci-fi journal, the place he found and printed George R.R. Martin, creator of “Sport of Thrones.” Stated Martin, “With out him, I can’t say for sure I’d have had a profession in any respect.”
We noticed one another commonly from 2012, together with many dinners together with his spouse, Rashida Loya, and my partner, Patti Forkan. He by no means mentioned his work, however beloved to speak about motion pictures and appeared to recollect each nice movie he’d ever seen, recalling particular scenes and dialogue. As a traditional film lover myself, we had one thing to share that bridged our 11 yr age hole.
I used to be at all times a bit intimidated by him as I quickly realized he was not solely very well-known in a world I do know little about, science fiction — an enormous star at Comecon yearly — however that he was the neatest human being I’d ever met. I used to be privileged to know him.
Given his curiosity in photo voltaic, I despatched him my 2005 Canadian-published ebook on the topic. He obtained again to me and mentioned, “It’s essential replace this, and get it printed by a serious New York agency. I may help you.” He had taken over the literary company of his late spouse, Barbara, and thru that was in a position to negotiate a contract with MacMillan in N.Y. which resulted in “SUN POWER” (2015).
By this time, I had begun studying as many books of his as I might, however he appeared to jot down new ones sooner than I might sustain. He by no means stopped writing, seven days per week. My favorites: “New Earth,” “Mars,” “Leviathans of Jupiter,” “Trans Human,” and “Energy Surge.”
A number of years in the past, Ben was invited by the Smithsonian to be honored, alongside astronaut John Glenn, for his contribution to house exploration. His books predicted lots of the scientific breakthroughs which have since come to cross, too many to recount right here. Thirty years in the past he started warning in his writings concerning the risk to humanity of a warming Earth which he fantasized would sooner or later drive people to discover a new house elsewhere within the Universe.
Neville Williams is a former journalist, photo voltaic entrepreneur, and creator. He’s a full-time resident of Naples.