Bhen
Bhen & Viking

Bhen & Viking

In 1975 I produced the first cover for F&SF featuring Bhen (the benevolent B.E.M.), in this case peering at Viking 1 as it searches diligently for life. He proved so popular that to date Bhen has featured on 12 covers, usually making unorthodox use of some piece of NASA hardware. Bhen may appear to be the archetypal 'little green man' but he is in fact over two and a half metres tall, if you compare him with the hardware. A set of four Bhen postcards is available from AstroArt. (See later >)

Bhen & Viking 2

Bhen & Viking 2

The art for the first Bhen cover was bought by Carl Sagan, but an SF fan who bought most of the later ones commissioned a new version of the Mars one, brought up-to-date after the Viking landings. This is it, with an orange sky and sand dunes. (From the private collection of N. Robson.)

Bhen Joyrider

Bhen Joyrider

May 1976. In the second Bhen F&SF cover, he takes a ride on the Lunar Rover left behind at Hadley Base by Apollo 15. In the majority of Bhen covers he makes unorthodox use of NASA hardware!

Bhen on Pioneer

Bhen on Pioneer

September 1976. Here, Bhen sits in the antenna bowl of Pioneer 11 as it flies by Saturn in December 1973. Shortly after this issue of F&SF appeared, Hardy received a letter from an engineer at JPL, saying that this could explain some strange results they'd been getting back from Pioneer, and could they order a print?!

SnowBhen

SnowBhen

January 1978. Still on Miranda, he builds a SnowBhen. The rings of Uranus show as a thin line in this digitally edited version (they had not been discovered for the original version).

Bhen on HST

Bhen on HST

October 1978. Bhen stands on the Hubble Space Telescope, which at that time looked as if it was about to be 'retired' (so is To Let) and hitches a rise of the Space Shuttle.

Bhen Alien

Bhen Alien

June 1980. Still in Earth-orbit, Bhen sits astride communications satellite Intelsat with his TV plugged in, watching . . . Alien?!

Bhen at Mercury

Bhen at Mercury

May 1983. Feeling in need of a recharge, Bhen sunbathes sitting on one of the solar panels of the Mariner 10 probe.

Bhen with Galileo

Bhen with Galileo

June 1985. Out at Jupiter, Bhen parachutes down into its thick clouds with the probe released by the Galileo orbiter. "Geronimo-ooo!"

Bhen on MIranda

Bhen on MIranda

June 1989. Now back out at Uranus, Bhen tries climbing the 15 kilometer-high ice cliffs of the tiny moon Miranda. The low gravity helps!

SkiBhen

SkiBhen

January 1992. Bhen paid several visits to Jupiter, and here enjoyed skiing down the icy slopes of Europa.

Bhen Triton.jpg

Bhen Triton.jpg

September 1994. Now even further out at Triton, large moon of blue Neptune, Bhen shoots at a ball balanced on one of Triton's geysers, fairground style . . . (Hardy saw the images come in from Voyager at JPL in 1989).

Bhen Mars 2015

Bhen Mars 2015

Since the first F&SF cover with Bhen was in 1975, 2015 is his 40th Anniversary! And since that showed him with NASA's Viking, due to land on Mars in 1976, the November 2015 cover shows him with ESA's ExoMars rover, due to land in 2018. Plus a bit of graffiti!

Electrical Eggs

Electrical Eggs

Bhen is used as a 'mascot' for Electrical Eggs, a charity for providing access to SF conventions for disabled people. Having friends who are profoundly deaf, David thought of the slogan for the movie Alien – but with a twist! The name 'Bhen' was invented because he is a benevolent B.E.M. (Bug-Eyed Monster – though of course he isn't). The 'H' was inserted for fannish reasons; although hardly used now, many words were once spelt with an extra 'h' by SF fans, eg. bheer and ghod. . .

Bhen Postcards

Bhen Postcards

A set of 4 Bhen postcards is available: SkiBhen (on Europa), Bhen Galileo, Bhen Viking, and Bhen Alien. Price of set only £5.00 postfree.

In 1975, at a time when public interest in NASA seemed to be waning, Hardy produced the first cover for F&SF to feature 'Bhen', the green alien, smiling bemusedly at the Viking Lander on Mars. Bhen was co-designed by his friend, cartoonist and stained glass artist Anthony Naylor. It became the first of a dozen or so covers, nearly all featuring Bhen making unorthodox use of NASA hardware.  STOP PRESS!  A NEW Bhen cover – the first digital – has now appeared on F&SF on the November 2015 issue! See above. An 'interview' with Bhen may be seen here: http://www.astroart.org/#!an-interview-with-bhen-2015/c724
 

Text & images copyright © 2015 AstroArt by David A. Hardy. All Rights Reserved.

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