Robert Forward, fysiker och science fiction-författare, föddes i New York, 15 augusti 1932. Han dog av cancer i Seattle den 21 september 2002, i en ålder av 70 år.
Hans fysiska teorier inspirerade Star Trek-skaparna. Teorierna handlade om möjligheterna till ett materia- och antimateriabränsle för rymdfart, vilket Gene Roddenberry självklart använde för att föra Enterprise
till ställen dit ingen människa åkt förut.
ROBERT FORWARD?S career combined science fiction with science fact. A highly accomplished physicist who worked on the possibilities of matter-antimatter propulsion for space travel, he was also responsible for almost a dozen novels and short stories. He was very much in the Arthur C. Clarke school of ?hard? sci-fi, a genre that insists on a strict adherence to scientific feasibility. ?I write science articles and science fiction stories as accurately as I can so that the reader will learn some science while enjoying a story,? he once remarked.
His fictional works typically began from exotic scientific hypothesis. His first novel, Dragon?s Egg (1980), like its sequel, Starquake (1985), was set on a neutron star among rapidly evolving beings called ?cheela? whose lifespan is 45 minutes. The Flight of the Dragonfly (retitled Rocheworld, 1990) featured twin planets populated by amoeba-like beings called ?flouwen?, creatures whose only physical presence is their brains and whose sole pastimes are pondering mathematical abstractions and procreating. Forward?s final work, Saturn Rukh (1996), charts the adventures of five human beings sent to the ringed planet to convert chemicals into fuel ? only to face the wrath of Saturn?s ?rukhs?, two-headed monsters that populate the Saturnian skies.
Born in Geneva, New York state, Robert Lull Forward served in the US Air Force, rising to the rank of captain, before attending attending the University of California and the University of Maryland, where he studied gravitational physics. He was one of the first to experiment in the field of gravitational radiation astronomy, and for his doctoral thesis he constructed and operated the first antenna in the world that could detect gravitational radiation (in layman?s terms, gravity).
So convinced were they by Forward?s theories that the makers of Star Trek ?used? his hypothetical antimatter propulsion machine to power the USS Enterprise in its intergalactic adventures. And Forward was very much a believer that today?s science fiction was tomorrow?s science fact: not only did he think antimatter propulsion was possible, but he declared in 1987 it could be achieved within a generation.
In recent years he ran the consulting company Forward Unlimited, ?specialising in exotic physics and advanced space propulsion?. In addition to his numerous scientific articles, short stories and novels, he wrote the science book Future Magic and, with Joel Davis, Mirror Matter: Pioneering Antimatter Physics (both 1988).
Having struggled with cancer in recent years, Forward had prepared obituaries of himself for the various organisations he belonged to. One began: ?The intelligent pattern of protoplasm that had been Robert L. Forward ceased coherent operation . . .? Robert Hoyt, a friend and colleague, remarked on his death: ?Hopefully, Bob?s spirit, now unburdened by that nuisance called inertia, has reached lightspeed. I hope you all will join me in wishing him: Ad Astra, Bob!? He is survived by his wife Martha, a son and three daughters, one of whom, Julie Forward Fuller, collaborated on some of his novels.