Home Art & Culture Ben Bova, Science Fiction Editor and Author, Is Dead at 88

Ben Bova, Science Fiction Editor and Author, Is Dead at 88

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Early in his career, Mr. Bova was a newspaper reporter and editor and then a technical writer and editor for Martin Aircraft, where he worked on Project Vanguard, the first American artificial satellite. He was later a marketing manager at Avco-Everett Research Laboratory in Everett, Mass., where “hot air specialists,” as he described his colleagues, did research on lasers and high temperature gases for the Air Force and built heat shields for the Apollo modules.

Mr. Bova was a science adviser to film and television productions, including “Sleeper,” Woody Allen’s futuristic 1973 comedy. (He was uncredited.)

In 1970, Mr. Bova and his fellow science fiction author Harlan Ellison wrote a short story about a robot police office set in the not-too-distant future. “Brillo,” as they titled it, was also part of a pitch they made to Paramount Pictures for a series based on their tale. When a show called “Future Cop” appeared on ABC, Mr. Ellison sued, winning a judgment of $337,000. He used some of the proceeds to put up a billboard across from Paramount’s offices in Hollywood that read, in part, “Don’t Let Them Steal From You.”

For his work as an editor, Mr. Bova was awarded the Hugo Award six times by the World Science Fiction Society. He taught science fiction at Harvard University and the Hayden Planetarium in Manhattan. In 2005, he received a lifetime achievement award from the Arthur C. Clarke Foundation “for fueling mankind’s imagination regarding the wonders of outer space.” He was president emeritus of the National Space Society and the Science Fiction Writers of America.

His marriage to Rosa Cucinotta ended in divorce. He met his second wife, Barbara Berson, a literary agent, at a science fiction convention. They clicked, their son Ken Bova recalled in an interview, when she told Mr. Bova, “I grok you” — an expansive neologism familiar to both Robert Heinlein fans and counterculture boomers. She died in 2009.

His third wife, Rashida Loya-Bova, confirmed his death, in a Naples hospital, saying the cause was complications of a stroke.

In addition to her and his son Ken, Mr. Bova is survived by two other sons, Michael Bova and Seth Warren Rose; two daughters, Gina Bova and Elizabeth Bova Osborne; his sister, Barbara Brusco; and several grandchildren.

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