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This is about the physicist and science fiction writer. You may be looking for his son, Robert D. Forward.
R. L. Forward
Born August 15, 1932 (1932-08-15)
Geneva, New York, USA
Died September 21, 2002 (2002-09-22)
Seattle, Washington, USA
Residence United States
Nationality American
Fields Physicist
Institutions Hughes Aircraft
Tethers Unlimited, Inc.
Alma mater University of Maryland
Doctoral advisor Joseph Weber
David Mandeen Zipoy
Known for Statite
He is the father of Robert D. Forward, Eve Forward, Julie Fuller and Mary Lois Mattlin.

Robert Lull Forward (August 15, 1932 - September 21, 2002) — known as Robert L. Forward — was an American physicist and science fiction writer. His literary work was noted for its scientific credibility and use of ideas developed from his career as an aerospace engineer.



He earned his doctorate from the University of Maryland in 1965, with a thesis entitled Detectors for Dynamic Gravitational Fields, for the development of a bar antenna for the detection of gravitational radiation.


He then went to work at the research labs of Hughes Aircraft, where he continued his research on gravity measurement and received 18 patents. He took early retirement in 1987, to focus on his fiction writing and consulting for such clients as NASA and the U.S. Air Force. In 1994, he co-founded the company Tethers Unlimited, Inc. with Robert P. Hoyt, where he served as Chief Scientist and Chairman until 2002.


Much of his research focused on the leading edges of speculative physics but was always grounded in what he believed humans could accomplish. He worked on such projects as space tethers and space fountains, solar sails (including Starwisp), antimatter propulsion, and other spacecraft propulsion technologies, and did further research on more esoteric possibilities such as time travel and negative matter. He was issued a patent for the statite, and contributed to a concept to drain the Van Allen Belts.


Forward Mass Detector

Forward's extensive work in the field of gravitational radiation detection included the invention of the rotating cruciform gravity gradiometer or 'Forward Mass Detector', for Lunar Mascon (mass concentration) measurements. Misner, Wheeler & Thorne (Gravitation ISBN 0-7167-0344-0) point out that it can detect the curvature of spacetime produced by a fist. The principle behind it is quite simple - getting the implementation right is tricky. Essentially, two beams are crossed over and connected with an axle through their crossing point. They are held at right angles to each other by springs. They have heavy masses at the ends of the beams, and the whole assembly spun around the common axle at high speed. The angle between the beams is measured continuously, and if it varies with a period half that of the rotation period, it means that the detector is experiencing a measurable gravitational field gradient.


In addition to more than 200 papers and articles, he published 11 novels. His treatment of hard-science topics in fictional form is highly reminiscent of the work of Hal Clement. He described his first novel, Dragon's Egg, as "a textbook on neutron star physics disguised as a novel." His novel Rocheworld describes a double-planet system with a single shared atmosphere and ocean, and a beam-powered propulsion interstellar space ship to get there. Forward co-authored two Rocheworld novels with his wife, Martha Dodson Forward, and two additional Rocheworld novels with his second daughter Julie Fuller. Forward also helped Larry Niven calculate the parameters of the Smoke Ring for his novel The Integral Trees.

Personal life

Forward's son, Bob Forward, has led a successful career as a storyboard artist and writer in television animation, including in He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, Legend of Zelda, the Animated Series, and most famously, Beast Wars. He is also the author of two novels, The Owl and The Owl 2: Scarlet Serenade.

Forward's youngest, Eve Forward, has written two novels: Villains by Necessity and Animist.


In 2001, Forward received a diagnosis of terminal cancer which gave him enough time remaining to make his farewells and settle any unfinished projects. He died on September 21, 2002.



Dragon's Egg Series

Rocheworld Series

  • Rocheworld (Baen, 1990) (155,000 words)
    • Rocheworld (Original Manuscript, 1981) (150,000 words)
    • Rocheworld (Analog Science Fiction/Science Fact, 1982) (60,000 words)
    • The Flight of the Dragonfly (Hardcover, Timescape, 1984) (approx 100,000 words)
    • The Flight of the Dragonfly (Paperback, Baen, 1985) (110,000 words)
  • Return to Rocheworld (February 1993) (with Julie Forward Fuller)
  • Marooned on Eden (August 1993) (with Margaret Dodson Forward)
  • Ocean Under the Ice (1994) (with Margaret Dodson Forward)
  • Rescued from Paradise (1995) (with Julie Forward Fuller)



  • Mirror Matter: Pioneering Antimatter Physics (1988, with Joel Davis)
  • Future Magic (1988)
Future Magic discusses possible future applications of Skyhooks and gravitational rings amongst other technologies, including a plan by Hughes aircraft for a potential flying saucer.
  • Indistinguishable from Magic (1995)

Forward also wrote many articles in scientific journals and filed many patents, mainly while working for Hughes Aircraft.

External links



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