Monday, March 21, 2011

Robert L. Forward

Some years ago, in one of those mad moves you always regret, I sold off a lot of my SF collection. I simply didn't have the room to keep it and I was offered a fairly generous deal. We're not talking first editions in dustjackets but paperbacks I'd bought over the years, many of them purchased as they'd come out in the 1970s and 1980s which I'd kept in good condition.

Some I've regretted selling ever since: although I'd kept back a number of authors I particularly liked, I was pretty ruthless, even culling the likes of Arthur C. Clarke and Isaac Asimov, who were probably responsible for my love of science fiction over all other authors. We all make mistakes... but I did need the space and I did need the money.

I recently picked up the omnibus edition of Joe Haldeman's Forever War, Forever Peace and Forever Free, published by Gollancz under the title War and Peace. Re-reading Forever War started me thinking about some of the other books that I'd parted with that I wouldn't mind re-reading, and one of the titles that sprang to mind was Dragon's Egg by Robert L. Forward. As I favour 'hard' science fiction, I leapt on Dragon's Egg when it came out. Who wouldn't want to read about an alien race who lived on a neutron star? I knew that a neutron star was a superdense collapsed star full of degenerate matter with an enormous gravitational pull (something I learned from reading Larry Niven!) and Forward's novel had a race of creatures, the Cheela, who lived on the surface of a neutron star. A sort of superdense version of Hal Clement's Mission of Gravity.

Forward also created Rocheworld, which I read as an abridged serial in Analog in the early 1980s. Flight of the Dragonfly was the full(er) version, originally published in 1984, although I gather that it was later published in a restored version. The Rocheworld was actually two planets linked by an ocean (a concept, incidentally, later used in one of the Storm books by Martin Lodewijk and Don Lawrence).

Well, as luck would have it, I managed to pick up copies of both books on Saturday in one of our local bookshops. It'll be a while before I get around to re-reading them, but at least I now have copies again.

Robert L. Forward also had a connection to another famous SF series: Dan Dare. About nine or ten years ago, I interviewed Bob Forward - Robert D. Forward - who was Robert L. Forward's son. At the time he was involved in the Dan Dare animated series that was broadcast on Channel 5 and he mentioned that one of the episodes was based on concepts that had appeared in one of his father's stories.

Dragon's Egg
New English Library 0450-05197-8, Aug 1981, 309pp, £1.50.

The Flight of the Dragonfly
New English Library 0450-05823-9, May 1985, 320pp, £2.25.


  1. A couple of superb - but woefully unknown - sci-fi books are Earthsearch and Earthsearch II - Deathship - both by James Follett and both published by BBC bOOKS.

  2. I'm sure I've got a copy of the BBC Radio serial somewhere, but I don't recall ever reading the books.

    Mind you, I didn't realise that there was also an Earthsearch audio drama from Big Finish.

    Does anyone know if it's any good?



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