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Scurrying Over The Rocks
An Interview with Ben Bova

conducted by Sandy Auden

© Ben Bova
Ben Bova
Ben Bova
Ben Bova received his doctorate in education in 1996 from California Coast University, a master of arts degree in communications from the State University of New York at Albany (1987) and a bachelor's degree in journalism from Temple University, Philadelphia (1954). Bova has taught science fiction at Harvard University and at the Hayden Planetarium in New York City, where he has also directed film courses. He was editorial director of OMNI magazine and, earlier, editor of Analog magazine. He has received Hugos for Best Professional Editor 6 times. His 1994 short story, "Inspiration," was nominated for the SFWA's Nebula Award.

Ben Bova Website
ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: The Silent War
SF Site Review: Tales of the Grand Tour
SF Site Review: Venus
SF Site Review: Return to Mars
SF Site Review: Colony
SF Site Review: Immortality
SF Site Review: Moonwar
SF Site Review: Moonrise

After falling off The Precipice in Book One, it's time to go running with The Rock Rats in the second book of Ben Bova's The Asteroid Wars trilogy.

Set in the not-to-distant future, Bova has built a detailed universe to tell his story in. 'The Asteroid Wars start when the Earth faces an ecological collapse,' he explains. 'Greenhouse warming has struck, suddenly and disastrously. Most of the world's major cities are either inundated by global flooding or bursting at the seams with refugees. Faced with this, some people look out to the natural resources to be found in space, particularly the metals and minerals of the asteroids.'

His story examines how the development of these asteroidal resources can aid the recovery of human civilization. 'Some people see this situation as an opportunity to gain wealth and power for themselves,' Bova says. 'The trilogy is essentially the story of two men in deadly conflict over the question of how the resources of the asteroids should be used: to help the needing people of Earth, or to achieve dominant power over them?'

The Rock Rats races on with the action as the fabulously wealthy Martin Humphries finds his malice and cold ambition checked by Dan Randolph, the owner of a rival space exploration company, Astro Manufacturing. Humphries still dreams of bankrupting Astro and bringing the independent prospectors under his own company's control. But most of all, he wants revenge on Lars Fuchs, the space prospector who both defied Humphries and stole the love of the beautiful Amanda. The Asteroid Wars enter a violent new era as Humphries employs piracy, sabotage and murder to achieve his goals.

While The Asteroid Wars is a stand-alone series, Bova admits that there is more to it than immediately meets the eye. 'The Asteroid Wars is actually part of a much larger series that fans have dubbed Bova's Grand Tour of the solar system. The novels include Mars, Return To Mars, Moonrise, Moonwar, Venus, Jupiter and the first two of The Asteroid Wars, The Precipice and The Rock Rats. All of these novels use the same background and some characters appear in more than one novel. The idea behind the Grand Tour is to show the human race's expansion through the solar system: who does it, and why; who opposes it and why; who wins and who loses.'

The industrialisation of space is a recurring theme that touches many of the novels in the Grand Tour sequence. It's a topic that Bova is passionate about. 'The human race faces a fundamental problem: overpopulation,' he enthuses. 'We have not been able or willing to control population growth and we are threatening many of the natural resources upon which we depend. Sooner or later, we will grow beyond the planet's ability to support our numbers, which will lead to widespread famines, enormous political turmoil, and war with ballistic missiles and weapons of mass destruction. The only way that population growth has been stopped is by making people wealthy. Rich people have fewer children than poor people; that is a historical fact, across all societies. Recently, a Harvard biologist estimated that it would take the resources of four planet Earths to bring every human being up to the level of wealth of the average American. There are such resources in space, much more than four Earths' worth, in fact. Either we allow ourselves to sink into famine, disease and war, or we reach out and begin to use the resources that are waiting for us in space.'

Bova clearly uses his skills as a writer to explore the possible scenarios we are likely to face. Does he view his stories as a warning to Mankind? 'Some are cautionary tales,' he admits, 'but most show the tremendous opportunities awaiting us, if we use our technological tools wisely.'

(This interview first appeared on Sci Fi Channel Europe.)

Copyright © 2005 by Sandy Auden

Sandy Auden is currently working as an enthusiastic reviewer for SFX magazine; a tireless news hound for Starburst magazine; a diligent interviewer/reviewer for The Third Alternative and Interzone magazines and a combination of all the above for The Alien Online. She spends her spare time lying down with a cold flannel on her forehead. Visit her site at The Auden Interviews.

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