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
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.)
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 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!
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. . .
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.