Ben Bova Last of the Sci-Fi Greats

Ben Bova Last of the Sci-Fi Greats

Review of Ben Bova’s Laugh Lines 2008 Satirical Novellas and Stories

Reading the Classics Updated Lists

Loved reading Ben Bova one of my favorite SF writers love his style – I think that I can pick up a lot from him.  Ben Bova the dean of Hard SF wrote Laugh Lines in 2008. Laugh lines are a series of satirical looks at the near future.  The writing is crisp, very witty, and has a snarky in-your-face attitude. Every line is a gem.

With his passing in December 2020, the last of the great SF writers have moved on.

He published “Laugh Lines in 2008 = which was a satirical look at futures and is one of his best books, and a great introduction to his work.  He is best known for his series on the colonization of Mars and the Jupiter asteroid belt.  The book consists of a series of short stories and two novellas.  Each one is a gem filled with his trademark wit and snarky attitude.


A satirical look at the movie business set in 2030 or so. It is based on the author’s experience as a consultant on a short =lived Canadian SF series.  He got a lot of things right in terms of his technological predictions, but he missed Canada legalizing pot everywhere, and Canada becoming a right-work-to-work non-state is off the mark.

The Crisis of the Month

The Crisis of the Month is an epic putdown of our crisis-obsessed mass media.  Reads very well in 2023.

The Great Moon Hoax

The Great Moon Hoax is a great satirical look at the possibility that Martians exist and have been visiting us since Roswell,

Supersonic Zeppelin

Supersonic Zeppelin is a satirical look at the aerospace industry and ends with a hint about the development of hyperloop technology, which sadly is still a pipe dream.

Vinca’s Dragon

Vinca’s Dragon is a horror story and a gangster story and features characters that the author knew growing up in Philadelphia in an Italian neighborhood. The Dragon keeps assuring Vinca that she is not interested in his soul, as she is not working for Satan.  He finds out in the end that she wanted so much more from him.

The Angel’s Gift.

The Angel’s Gift is a satirical look at religion.

A Slight Miscalculation

A Slight Miscalculation looks at the possibility of earthquake forecasting and looks at A, in the end, the computer was right as the earthquake scientist made a slight typo in his calculations and had a slight miscalculation!


Cyberbooks look at the publishing industry as it adjusts to the first generation of E-books.  this was written as the very first generation of E-books was coming out.  The author in an interview said,

“Many aspiring authors ask me if the publishing industry is bad as portrayed in Cyberbooks.  I always respond that it is worse.”


Benjamin William Bova (November 8, 1932 – November 29, 2020) was an American writer and editor. During a writing career of 60 years, he was the author of more than 120[2] works of science fact and fiction, an editor of Analog Science Fiction and Fact, for which he won a Hugo Award six times, and an editorial director of Omni; he was also president of both the National Space Society and the Science Fiction Writers of America.[3]

 Ben Bova – Wikipedia

Ben Bova – Book Series in Order

Ben Bova > Quotes

“Red tape has killed more people than bullets…”
― Ben Bova, Millennium

A fanatic who is willing to die for his cause thinks nothing of killing you for his cause.”
― Ben Bova, The Return

“The Old Ones knew that life is not rare, but precious; not fragile, but vulnerable. Life is as deep as the seas in which it was born, as strong as the mountains that shelter it, as universal as the stars themselves.”
― Ben Bova, Mars Life

“The art of fiction has not changed much since prehistoric times. The formula for telling a powerful story has remained the same: create a strong character, a person of great strength, capable of deep emotions and decisive action. Give him a weakness. Set him in conflict with another powerful character — or perhaps with nature. Let his exterior conflict be the mirror of the protagonist’s interior conflict, the clash of his desires, his strength against his weakness. And there you have a story. Whether it’s Abraham offering his only son to God, Paris bringing ruin to Troy over a woman, Hamlet and Claudius playing their deadly game, or Faust seeking the world’s knowledge and power — the stories that stand out in the minds of the reader are those whose characters are unforgettable.

To show other worlds, to describe possible future societies and the problems lurking ahead, is not enough. The writer of science fiction must show how these worlds and these futures affect human beings. And something much more important: he must show how human beings can and do create these future worlds. Our future is largely in our own hands. It doesn’t come blindly rolling out of the heavens; it is the joint product of the actions of billions of human beings. This is a point that’s easily forgotten in the rush of headlines and the hectic badgering of everyday life. But it’s a point that science fiction makes constantly: the future belongs to us — whatever it is. We make it, our actions shape tomorrow. We have the brains and guts to build paradise (or at least try). Tragedy is when we fail, and the greatest crime of all is when we fail even to try.

Thus science fiction stands as a bridge between science and art, between the engineers of technology and the poets of humanity.”

“In science, there is a dictum: don’t add an experiment to an experiment. Don’t make things unnecessarily complicated. In writing fiction, the more fantastic the tale, the plainer the prose should be. Don’t ask your readers to admire your words when you want them to believe your story.”

“As long as we’re tied to Middle Eastern oil we’re tied to Middle Eastern politics. We’re hostages to the terrorists and nutcases who want to wipe out Israel and the United States because we support Israel.”

“My first sight of the fabled warrior was a surprise. He was not a mighty-thewed giant, like Ajax. His body was not broad and powerful as Odysseus’. He seemed small, almost boyish, his bare arms and legs slim and virtually hairless. His chin was shaved clean, and the ringlets of his long black hair were tied up in a silver chain. He wore a splendid white silk tunic, bordered with a purple key design, cinched at the waist with a belt of interlocking gold crescents… His face was the greatest shock. Ugly, almost to the point of being grotesque. Narrow beady eyes, lips curled in a perpetual snarl, a sharp hook of a nose, skin pocked and cratered… A small ugly boy born to be a king… A young man possessed with fire to silence the laughter, to stifle the taunting. His slim arms and legs were iron-hard, knotted with muscle. His dark eyes were humorless. There was no doubt in my mind that he could outfight Odysseus or even powerful Ajax on sheer willpower alone.”

“We try to teach our students how to think… how to use their brains and imagination. Individual subjects can always be learned by a man who knows how to learn. We teach them to think, and the other subjects arise by themselves…”

“He did not appear to be a very tall man; what I could see of his legs seemed stumpy, though heavily muscReading the Classics Updatedled. His chest was broad and deep. Later I learned that he swam in the sea almost every morning. His thick strong arms were circled with leather wristbands and a bronze armlet above his left elbow that gleamed with polished onyx and lapis lazuli… Puckered white scars from old wounds stood out against the dark skin of his arms, parting the black hairs like roads through a forest… Odysseus wore a sleeveless tunic, his legs, and feet bare, but he had thrown a lamb’s fleece across his wide shoulders. His face was thickly bearded with dark curly hair that showed a trace of grey. His heavy mop of ringlets came down to his shoulders and across his forehead almost down to his black eyebrows. Those eyes were as grey as the sea outside on this rainy afternoon, probing, searching, judging.”

“And so, to the end of history, murder shall breed murder, always in the name of right and honor and peace, until the gods are tired of blood and create a race that can understand.”

“Lolling around libraries paging through books that haven’t been checked out since 1975 is one of my principal joys as a writer.”
― Ben Bova, Nebula Awards Showcase 2008

“He was close enough so that I could see his face clearly, even with his helmet’s cheek flaps tied tightly under his bearded chin. I looked into the eyes of Hector, prince of Troy. Brown eyes they were, the color of rich farm soil, calm and deep. No anger, no battle lust. He was a cool and calculating warrior, a thinker among these hordes of wild, screaming brutes. He wore a small round shield buckled to his left arm instead of the massive body-length type most of the other nobles carried. In it was painted a flying heron, a strangely peaceful emblem amid all this mayhem and gore.”

“The first thi8g he thinks of is weaponry, killing his fellow humans. The second thing is power.”
― Ben Bova, Voyagers III: Star Brothers

“The only thing he thinks of is himself,” Stoner pointed out. In his deepest heart, he does not regard anyone else as truly human; no one except himself. He is the center of his world. Everything and everyone else revolves around him.”

― Ben Bova, Voyagers III: Star Brothers


“Palmer was talking with only the surface of his mind, his cheek muscles bobbing as if he were chewing his thoughts and finding them tough.”
― Ben Bova, The Science Fiction Hall of Fame Volume Two-A: The Great Novellas

“You can’t hate a man you understand.”
― Ben Bova, Return to Mars

“Whenever a religious movement has gained the reins of governmental power, individual liberties are strangled.”
― Ben Bova, Mars Life

“The most arduous part of learning is preparing the mind to accept new knowledge.”
― Ben Bova, New Earth

“Words are important he realized, especially in a nation ruled by its media.”
― Ben Bova, Mars

“So, I started to wonder if I actually could reenter the unicorn’s world…at which point Sooz came into my head and the story just happened. It flowed. It was the exact opposite of my experience writing The Last Unicorn. I locked onto her voice, the voice of this nine-and-a-half-year-old girl who was telling the story from the first sentence, and I just followed her. It was one of the very rare occasions where I felt from beginning to end that I knew what I was doing.”
― Ben Bova, Nebula Awards Showcase 2008

“The conservatives running the government have always been against the exploration of Mars. What we’ve found goes against their religious beliefs.”
― Ben Bova, Mars Life

“They may not know it,” DiNardo said, his smile becoming genuine, “but even the most stubborn atheist among them is working to uncover God’s ways.”
― Ben Bova, Mars Life

“Do you think that you’re some sort of superior creature? Do you think that your ability to make money, to steal and lie and murder, places you above normal men?”
― Ben Bova, Voyagers III: Star Brothers

“How many fools have looked forward to the adventure that killed them.”
― Ben Bova, Venus

“Once they discovered our solar-powered city, tucked high in the Sierra Oriental, I knew that the end was near. Stupidly, they attacked us, like a wild barbarian horde. We slaughtered them with laser beams and heat-seeking bullets. Instead of driving them away, that only whetted their appetite.”
― Ben Bova, My Favorites: An Anthology

“God’s disciples must strike you dead,”
― Ben Bova, Jupiter

“Isaac Newton discovered that for every action there is an opposite reaction. Popular wisdom declared that every dark cloud has a silver lining.”
― Ben Bova, Voyagers III: Star Brothers

“Suffice it to say that after accidentally setting the Walden woods ablaze—some estimates hold that more than three hundred acres were consumed—our First Naturalist repaired to the top of Fair Haven Hill to admire his private conflagration. I thought folks ought to know about this. You see, as a student I was force-fed Walden and much of it disagreed with me. I will admit that never has the Luddite point of view been advanced quite so eloquently. And while I agree that simplicity can be a virtue and that cultivation of one’s inner resources is necessary for the good life, it seems clear to me that the habit of thought that Thoreau urges on us is antithetical to the enterprise of science fiction.”
― Ben Bova, Nebula Awards Showcase 2008

“The old joke about parachutes: If it doesn’t work, bring it back and we’ll give you a new one.”
― Ben Bova, Venus

Ben Bova Orbit

The New York Times…

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

Web Dec 13, 2020 · Advertisement Ben Bova, Science Fiction Editor, and Author, Is Dead at 88 As editor of the magazines Analog and Omni, he was a …

Comments are welcomed particularly your own Ben Bova quotes.

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