Slice of SciFi #179: Interview with Renowned SF Author Ben Bova

In the News:

  • Former Star Trek actor George Takei has married his long-time partner Brad Altman.
  • Scottish, U.S. and Singapore filmmakers have banned together and pooled their resources to bring a $22 million animated project called “The Grimpley Brothers.”
  • RaiSat, the satellite arm of Italian sat-caster RAI, has picked up Italian pay TV rights to pre-school series “The Gloops” and “Megaminimals.”

  • Movie Talk:

  • “Max Payne,” starring Academy Award nominee Mark Walhberg as the maverick DEA agent and based on the hard-hitting, interactive video game hits theaters on October 17, 2008.
  • Premiering on October 10 is the horror film “Quarantine” with Jennifer Carpenter from Showtime’s “Dexter” and Eli Stone’s Steve Harris.

  • Slice of Trivia: Kurt in St. George brings three new clips with the theme — Under-rated Sequels. Send your clips via email to Kurt at sliceoftrivia at

    TV Talk:

    Last week we took a look at what to expect from the 2008-2009 network’s SF programming. This week we share some of the listings you can expect to find on cable and satellite television. We look at ABC Family, BBC America, Discovery Channel, HBO, Showtime, Spike TV, TNT and the SCI FI Channel.

    Interview: For well over 20 years Ben Bova has been one of science fiction’s premiere authors. His latest work, “Mars Life”, deals with life on Mars and the possibility of a discovery of intelligent life on Mars that was extinguished by a meteor hit similar to what destroyed the dinosaurs on planet Earth. Ben talks about his past work on the Vanguard Project–the first American attempt to put a satellite in orbit–to his current work with trying to get a manned mission to Mars to have scientists study exactly what caused the huge mountains (higher than Earth’s), the fissure that is longer and deeper than any thing found on our planet and so much more of the devastation on the Red Planet. The reason for going? To find out what destroyed the planet and how we here on Earth can avoid Mars’ fate. Ben explains why manned missions are so much more necessary than sending robotic devices and other investigative machines.

    Future Talk:
    Director Jon Favreau says that gearing up for the second installment of “Iron Man” will be a lot more difficult than it was when he brought Iron Man/Tony Stark to the big screen the first time. Why? The actor turned writer/director explains the two main reasons.

    Listener comments: If you have any suggestions or comments, please let us know. Keep your comments brief, or funny, and maybe you’ll hear your message on the voicemail show! See you next week with fresh new content.

    Link: Ben Bova Official Website
    Promo: How to Grow Your Geek – a training manual podcast on how to make geeks out of your kids.
    Promo: SFF Audio – the future never sounded so good.

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    1. Brian Ruppert says

      What? You only get $1.50 of the $2.50 that monthly donaters give you? Thats a 40% administration fee. There has to be a way to get you more or that donation.

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    3. fred says

      Another cool show. Vengeance Unlimited, now that was a great show that got killed to damn early. Just wish there was dvds for the show. I love Samurai Girl for the simply fact that, thanks to the magic of dvr, I watched all 6 hours in the time it took me to drink 3 beers. While my friend’s fiancé forced him to watch all 6 hours with her.

    4. King Kong Blues says

      Thanks for another great show! The interview with the old-time science fiction great Ben Bova was excellent, but too short. I remember him as editor of Science Fiction Analog in the 70’s. Apparently he worked on the TV show “The Starlost” with Cordwainer Bird (Harlan Ellison) and quit in disgust. Bring him back soon.

    5. says

      Fred, I am so glad I’m not the only one who remembers Vengeance Unlimited… I’ve had friends tell me they thought I was making it up. Thank goodness IMDb got as big as it has :)

      Still, there are discrepancies in number of episodes. Some people have 5 eps credited (which is how many I remember airing), another lists 9 eps, and yet another lists 16 eps. If there were 16 produced episodes, there’s no reason not to have a DVD set for it.

      Now that we see similar themes again on TV with Burn Notice, and now coming up in Leverage… perhaps there’s still a chance for it to find it’s way to DVD.

    6. Golden Eyes says

      Okay, I have been a big fan of the show for a few years, back to when Evo was on and you had just crossed over from radio. Show 179 struck a chord in the worse way.

      In the news clips, you spoke of George Takei’s marriage and what a great thing it was. Mike even went on to say that it great as it was the actor from “one of the most socially impacting shows ever”. Not two minutes later, you go on to make homosexual jokes about decorating and gay gnomes. Clearly, the show did not have that much of an impact on you guys.

      I know everyone there likes to joke and have a good time, but this is an award winning news podcast. This is not the behavior of a professional crew of newscasters.

      Don’t think it was that big of a deal… let’s put it in perspective. What if you did a follow up on Nichelle Nichols and then two minutes later make some jokes about an African American gnome or female gnome. Or a piece of Steven Hawkings and then later make some quips about a handicapped gnome. Regardless of your reference to imaginary creatures, you are still making a joke about the entirety of that group.

      George may not take offense at this (I can’t speak for him, as he has always been laid back and has an incredible sense of humor). But the next time he’s on the show, you should play back your little quips about the homosexual gnome and see if he laughs. How about playing it for John Barrowman, Bryan Singer, or Sir Ian McKellen… all incredible individuals in science fiction that deserve far better treatment than this.

    7. Michael Mennenga says

      Golden Eyes,
      I’ll lay odds right now that not only would George laugh, but he would probably have something really off-color to add to the comments.
      In many cases, humor is not humor unless it crosses a line or two. (Unless you are talking about knock knock jokes or puns), and even then I’m sure there is someone to take offense.
      Policing our every word would kill this show as you know it. We would be reduced to reading scripts that were run through legal, checked for accuracy, and sanitized for your protection. Even then… I’m sure someone would take offense at something.
      I’m sorry that you took issue with the joke… I fully admit, that it may have pushed the normal boundaries a bit. But doesn’t all humor in some way?
      No… If you wish to force us into political correctness on this show, you’ll take the very life out of what we do.
      That being said… Sorry to have offended.

    8. says


      I’ve heard George roll with the gay jokes on Howard Stern, which are pretty extreme, and never once found them offensive, because it’s coming from a comedy show that teases, mocks and parodies anyone and everyone. Your show would NOT have made a similar jibe about a racial or ethnic minority so your logic falls flat. This is the gap in your explanation.

      Your show is great and very informative, but about as safe as safe gets, so “pushing the boundaries” being part of your show strains credibility. This was just a tasteless goof up and it would much more impressive if you simply owned it rather than trying to justify it with your comments above with come off as a little silly.


    9. Michael Mennenga says

      You’re right…
      There is a lot more happening with this story that I will address on this week’s VM show.
      Tune in.

    10. Michael Mennenga says

      So at the last minute I decided to not go down that road and open up a nasty can of worms.
      There were many really ugly comments that came in to the studio regarding the story. Ones that I will never repeat anywhere. (Use your imagination, I’m sure you’ll figure out most of them.)
      I’ll just say to the gnome jokes… Sorry, we took a cheap shot.
      And to the other comments… Well… Opinions are like assholes.
      Everyone has one.

    11. Chris Fleming says

      Hi people. I have only recently encountered podcasts in general and Slice Of Sci Fi in particular. I’ve downloaded everything from Show 169 (as a starting point) and am slowly working my way forward. Your shows are excellent. I’ve been off work for the past couple of months due to injury and have spent a lot of time listening to audios – mainly The Signal and now yours as well.

      The interview on show 179 with Ben Bova was great. Ben has been one of my favourite authors for a very long time. What he had to say about the lack of emphasis on the wonder of science in today’s movies struck a chord. I suppose that the movie companies will make what they think will sell, and the majority of the watching public seem to want entertainment over information. Still, as long as there are people like Ben who are dedicated to pushing the case for real science, maybe there’s a chance somewhere in the future.

      Keep up the great work! I’ll be listening.