About the Creators
Dr. Ben Bova has written more than 120 futuristic novels and nonfiction books, and has been involved in science and high technology since the very beginnings of the space age. As editor in chief of Analog Science Fiction, he was honored with six Hugo Awards, before going on to edit Omni magazine for five years. President Emeritus of the National Space Society and a past president of Science Fiction Writers of America, Dr. Bova received the Lifetime Achievement Award of the Arthur C. Clarke Foundation in 2005, “for fueling mankind’s imagination regarding the wonders of outer space.” His 2006 novel TITAN received the John W. Campbell Memorial Award for best novel of the year. In 2008 he won the Robert A. Heinlein Award “for his outstanding body of work in the field of literature.”
On "A Duel in the Somme," Ben writes:
I was a fencer back in the 1960s. Actually won the New England saber championship one year (Novice class). I thought it would be really neat if people could solve disagreements the way they did in the old days: in a duel. But with computers, you could fight a duel without any real bloodshed. Share an digital imaginary duel with the person you’re sore at. Fight to the death, without shedding a drop of blood. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I had “invented” virtual reality! Today’s VR simulators aren’t quite up to the one I wrote about in my 1969 novel, The Dueling Machine, but “Duel in the Somme” shows how we might take the first step in that direction.
Rob Balder is a webcomics author and comedy musician. In 2002, his clip-art comic strip PartiallyClips began running in alt-weekly newspapers and magazines. Since 2010 the strip has continued under the authorship of Tim Crist. Rob co-founded the Funny Music Project. His songs are often heard on the Dr. Demento Show, including the #3 most requested song of 2009, “Gamer Funk.” Most of his time is currently consumed writing Erfworld, an epic fantasy/comedy comic about an obsessive strategy gamer who is summoned to fight a real war. Time magazine named Erfworld one of its top ten graphic novels of 2007, and Wired.com called it “Geekiest Comic Ever.”
On "A Duel in the Somme," Rob writes:
At MidSouthCon in 2008 I was Filk Guest of Honor, and Dr. Bova was Science Guest of Honor. At the autograph session we were seated alphabetically. I knew Ben's work, of course, but he seemed more interested in talking about what I did. It took a little bit of time for it to sink in when he said he had always wanted to see some of his fiction adapted to comics or graphic novels. I thought, "I know comics. I could make that happen!" Through a series of emails, we talked about webcomics business models and comic book scripting, and eventually formed the plan for this project. It was a challenge to adapt a short story to the comic page, and the project was put on hold for Erfworld's new site, book and artist, but eventually I had a script in hand. My friend Bill Holbrook is one of the most professional illustrators I know, and I asked if he'd be interested in the project. He really brought it to life, with his impeccable sense of composition and comic timing. So here we are at last!
Bill Holbrook grew up in the Space Age atmosphere of Huntsville, Ala. in the 1960s. Upon graduating from Auburn University in 1980 he was hired by The Atlanta Constitution as an editorial staff artist. After several attempts at syndication, his office strip “On the Fastrack” was picked up by King Features and debuted in 150 papers on March 19, 1984.
Eleven days before that he’d met Teri Peitso on a blind date. they were married on Pearl Harbor Day, 1985, and now have two daughters. They also gave birth to a second strip about kids called “Safe Havens.”
In September 1995 he began a new strip called “Kevin & Kell” and sold it exclusively to online clients, which collectively get over 3 million page views a month. It has been featured in fifteen book collections, the latest being “Kevin & Kell: On Strike” which was published by Moonbase Press in 2010. He was named Cartoonist of the Year at the 1998 Pogofest, an annual gathering in Waycross honoring the great Walt Kelly and “Pogo.” “Kevin & Kell” was given the Ursa Major Award in 2003 for Best Anthropomorphic Comic Strip. In 2004 it entered the newspaper domain by appearing daily in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
On "A Duel in the Somme," Bill writes:
It was with great excitement that I was approached by Rob Balder to illustrate Ben Bova's "A Duel in the Somme." In college I devoured hard science fiction, and Dr. Bova has always been one of its leading practitioners. (His novels featuring the character of Chet Kinsman were particular favorites of mine.) They were grounded in recognizable technology, politics and human behavior, in addition to being extremely exciting and fast-paced.
How could I say no to working with a legend?
Rob's script was a delight to read. This is one of Dr. Bova's lighter works, and Rob deftly handed the romantic triangle at its core. I hope you, the reader, enjoy it as much as I enjoyed drawing it.