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On the Interstellar Bibliography

Of the many contributions of Robert L. Forward to interstellar studies, the bibliography he produced with Eugene Mallove was one of the most useful to theorists in the field. The last appearance of the Forward/Mallove collaboration was in the Journal of the British Interplanetary Society in 1980, including 2700 items in seventy subject categories; since then, anyone hoping to track ongoing research has been forced to do so one journal at a time, or else use online database sources that are in many cases incomplete and often do not include older materials.

Image of Robert ForwardImage: The extraordinary Robert Forward, wearing one of the trademark vests created by his wife Martha. Forward chose this photograph to appear on his own Web site.

One of my goals is to restore the interstellar bibliography to regular publication under the auspices of the Interstellar Flight Foundation. Many scientists recall Forward’s antimatter newsletter, which circulated among a few hundred physicists for a brief period. In both his bibliography and newsletter, Forward recognized the value of keeping researchers informed about the work of their peers. The fragmentary nature of today’s bibliographies is an unnecessary impediment to progress. IFF’s eventual restoration of the Forward bibliography will be a contribution to furthering interstellar studies.

But the Foundation is in its early stages (expect more news as things continue to develop this fall). Until such time as a full-scale bibliography becomes possible, I will continue to review recent articles dealing with interstellar flight, aiming at a more regular survey of the leading journals with short commentaries on studies that stand out in terms of insight and innovation. These will be interspersed with Centauri Dreams‘ usual mix of news and analysis on all subjects pertaining to interstellar flight.