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Robert L. Forward papers
MS 175  
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Collection Access
  • Publication Rights
  • Preferred Citation
  • Acquisition Information
  • Processing History
  • Biographical Note
  • Collection Scope and Contents
  • Collection Arrangement
  • Indexing Terms

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Robert L. Forward papers
    Date (inclusive): circa 1865-2001, undated
    Date (bulk): 1956-2001
    Collection Number: MS 175
    Creator: Forward, Robert L.
    Extent: 60 linear feet (2 flat boxes, 16 record storage boxes, 24 document boxes, 108 volumes)
    Repository: Rivera Library. Special Collections Department.
    Riverside, CA 92517-5900
    Abstract: The Robert L. Forward papers contain official documents, literary works, correspondence, memorabilia, scientific research, and the personal library of Dr. Robert L. Forward, an American physicist and prolific science-fiction author. The bulk of the papers pertain to Dr. Forward's scientific and literary careers, though material regarding personal accomplishments and activities is also included.
    Languages: The collection is primarily in English. Select material is in German, Japanese, Danish, Spanish, and Slavic languages.

    Collection Access

    This collection is open for research, with the exception of select files and items that are restricted.
    Access to restricted materials is subject to approval. Please submit written requests to the Director of Distinctive Collections.

    Publication Rights

    Copyright Unknown: Some materials in these collections may be protected by the U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S.C.). In addition, the reproduction, and/or commercial use, of some materials may be restricted by gift or purchase agreements, donor restrictions, privacy and publicity rights, licensing agreement(s), and/or trademark rights. Distribution or reproduction of materials protected by copyright beyond that allowed by fair use requires the written permission of the copyright owners. To the extent other restrictions apply, permission for distribution or reproduction from the applicable rights holder is also required. Responsibility for obtaining permissions, and for any use rests exclusively with the user.

    Preferred Citation

    [identification of item], [date if possible]. Robert L. Forward papers (MS 175). Special Collections & University Archives, University of California, Riverside.

    Acquisition Information

    Gift of Robert L. Forward, 1988.

    Processing History

    Processed by Sara Seltzer, Processing Archivist, 2012.

    Biographical Note

    The following biography was taken from The New York Times:
    "Robert L. Forward, a science fiction writer, physicist and inventor whose 11 novels were inspired by his research into gravitational physics and advanced space propulsion, died at his home in Seattle [on September 21, 2002]. He was 70.
    The cause of death was cancer, his son-in-law, Ben Mattlin, said.
    With his first book, "Dragon's Egg" (1980), Dr. Forward established a reputation as a creator of fantastic worlds that were solidly based on scientific principles. He set "Dragon's Egg" and its sequel, "Starquake" (1985), on a neutron star, a highly compressed remnant of an exploding star where gravity is 67 billion times stronger than Earth's. The star's inhabitants, whom he called cheelas, lived the equivalent of about 45 minutes.
    In his final book, "Saturn Rukh" (Tor/Tom Doherty, 1997), his attention to accuracy led him to include an appendix of mathematical tables and astronomical diagrams for readers interested in verifying the maneuvers of the book's spacecraft.
    He also wrote "The Flight of the Dragonfly" (1984), which he renamed "Rocheworld" and followed with four sequels.
    Dr. Forward, who held a Ph.D. in physics from the University of Maryland, began his literary career while working as a senior scientist at the Hughes Aircraft Company's laboratory in Malibu, Calif. He often explained that he had advised so many science fiction writers on the technical details of space flight and other scientific issues that he decided to take up writing himself.
    At Hughes and later at companies he founded, Forward Unlimited (in 1987) and Tethers Unlimited (in 1994), Dr. Forward devoted his research efforts to propulsion systems for space travel. He studied the potential for antimatter propulsion (similar to the system that powers the Starship Enterprise on "Star Trek") for the Air Force and NASA.
    For epic interstellar journeys, he envisioned a rocketless vehicle that would be manufactured in space and equipped with an ultrathin sail as big as Texas. The ship would be propelled by a laser beam or high-energy particles shot from Earth; traveling at 55,000 miles per second, it would reach the nearest star system, Alpha Centauri, in less than 50 years.
    Dr. Forward applied this concept of heavenly sailing ships to a somewhat more practical purpose when he designed a satellite, called a statite, that could hover 200,000 miles above one of the poles, held in place by sails filled by solar winds. In 1993 his design won a patent, one of the 20 that he received.
    Robert Lull Forward was born in Geneva, N.Y., on Aug. 15, 1932. He served in the Air Force, reaching the rank of captain. He received his bachelor's degree in physics from the University of Maryland and a master's in applied physics from the University of California at Los Angeles. For his doctorate he built and operated the world's first bar antenna for the detection of gravitational radiation, which is now at the Smithsonian Institution.
    He is survived by his wife of 48 years, Martha; three daughters, Julie Fuller, of Ramona, Calif.; Mary Lois Mattlin, of Los Angeles; and Eve Forward-Rollins, of Seattle; his son, Robert, of Los Angeles; and seven grandchildren.
    Dr. Forward received much praise for his science fiction novels, although it was sometimes qualified. In The New York Times Book Review in 1993, Gerald Jonas wrote that in "Camelot 30K" Dr. Forward wasted "no time on frills like plot and character development." Still, Mr. Jonas concluded, "he has fashioned an intellectual puzzle, pure and simple, with a wonderfully clever solution that blew my own tentative hypotheses sky-high."
    Lavietes, Stuart. 2002. Robert L. Forward, Physicist and Novelist, Dies at 70. The New York Times, 28 September 2002.

    Collection Scope and Contents

    The Robert L. Forward papers contain official documents, literary works, correspondence, memorabilia, scientific research, and the personal library of Dr. Robert L. Forward, an American physicist and prolific science-fiction author. The bulk of the papers, dating from 1956-2001, document Dr. Forward's scientific and literary careers. Records are both personal and professional in scope and pertain to business enterprises, the writing and revision of science-fiction and non-fiction literature, extracurricular projects and activities, and research on antimatter, gravity, propulsion, and other physics-related topics. Formats include contracts, patents, manuscripts, publications, correspondence, photographs, notes, and other material.

    Collection Arrangement

    Material has been kept in the order preserved at the time of acquisition. For many files, this represents the original order maintained by Dr. Robert L. Forward. Consequently, select folders contain items outside the scope of their respective series.
    This collection is arranged into six series as follows:
    • Series 1. Official documents, 1965-2001, undated
    • Series 2. Literary works, 1961-circa 1998, undated
    • Series 3. Correspondence, 1932-2001, undated
    • Series 4. Memorabilia and personal items, circa 1865-2000, undated
    • Series 5. Scientific research, 1953-2000, undated
    • Series 6. Personal library, 1949-2000, undated

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.


    Hughes Aircraft Company. Research Laboratories
    Science fiction
    Science fiction -- Authorship

    Genres and Forms of Materials

    Business records
    Clippings (information artifacts)
    Research notes
    Technical writing