Happy 75th Birthday Greg Benford!

Young Greg (left) and Jim (right) Benford war with the descendants of dinosaurs, er, chickens.

Young Greg (left) and Jim (right) Benford war with descendants of dinosaurs, er, chickens.

Best wishes to Greg and Jim Benford, twin brothers born this day in 1941, renowned scientists, sf fans, and authors.

They discovered fandom in the 1950s while their father was in the Army and stationed in Germany. There, jokes Greg, he and his brother both had to learn a foreign language: “I had to learn English – because I’m from Alabama.” The two began Void, one of the zines most closely identified with the iconoclastic spirit many remember as the best thing about fandom in those days. Also, Greg attended his first convention in 1956.

Greg and Jim in Germany in 1956.

Greg became a Professor of Plasma Physics and Astrophysics at the University of California, as well as one of the most accomplished hard sf writers. He’s a two-time Nebula winner, and has been nominated for the Hugo 13 times. A new collection of his short fiction, The Best of Gregory Benford, edited by David G. Hartwell, was published last July.

Greg Benford and David G. Hartwell sitting in President Taft's chair.

Greg Benford and David G. Hartwell sitting in President Taft’s chair.

Jim and Greg have worked on a number of things together, such as the concept of “Benford beacons”, theorizing that an alien civilization striving to optimize costs and make its signaling technology more efficient, would prefer signals that are pulsed, narrowly directed and broadband in the 1-to-10-gigahertz range.

In 2013, they helped organize the Starship Century Symposium where participants asked, “Is this the century we begin to build starships? Can we? Should we?”

The brothers Benford hope “Yes” is the answer to all three questions.

Jim and Greg at Tri Alpha Energy, a company doing advanced work in magnetic field-reversed containment methods, with the goal of developing fusion power.

Greg and Jim at Tri Alpha Energy, a company doing advanced work in magnetic field-reversed containment methods, with the goal of developing fusion power.

6 thoughts on “Happy 75th Birthday Greg Benford!

  1. I’m inclined to say.”Happy happy birthday birthday!” to the Benford brothers!

  2. Happy birthday to Mr. Benford, and to his brother Mr. Benford!

    I was thinking not long ago about the authors who’ve influenced me in unexpected ways because of stories they wrote that were startlingly different from what I’d come to expect of them. I started reading Benford with Timescape, and then his stories in various magazines, and then one day I read “Me/Days” in a collection and it made my head unscrew a little. It struck more deeply than it would have from an author I expected to engage in such a tight look at consciousness emerging from and with emotions.

    It’s good to be varied. 🙂

  3. Wow! Belated happy birthday, guys! I love that nerdy picture of your 15-year-old selves from the very year I was born.

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