Deaths Elsewhere

Deaths Elsewhere

September 25, 2002

Robert L. Forward, 70, a science fiction writer who drew upon his work as a physicist to create novels highlighted by their rigorous devotion to scientific accuracy, died in Seattle on Saturday of brain cancer.

As a physicist, he designed space tethers - filaments that could have a variety of uses in space in the future - and studied matter-antimatter propulsion. Uses of Mr. Forward's research and designs range from the propulsion system visualized in Star Trek to devices created by his company, Tethers Unlimited, for the Air Force and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

The first of nearly a dozen of his novels, Dragon's Egg, was published in 1980. It and a sequel, Starquake, are set on a neutron star with gravity 67 billion times stronger than on Earth, featuring beings called "cheela" that have a 45-minute life span.

"I write science articles and science fiction stories as accurately as I can so that the reader will learn some science while enjoying a story," Mr. Forward once told the anthology Contemporary Authors. "However, I follow the rule: `Don't let the facts stand in the way of a good story.'"

The Flight of the Dragonfly, renamed Rocheworld, and four sequels are set on twin planets bound by gravity. Mr. Forward's last novel, Saturn Rukh, published in 1997, is set in Saturn's atmosphere and features giant two-headed flying creatures called "rukhs."

The holder of 20 patents, he did research at Hughes Aircraft Co. in Malibu, Calif., from 1956 to 1987 before co-founding Tethers Unlimited in 1994 in Washington state. On the nonfiction side, he was the author of Future Magic and co-author of Mirror Matter: Pioneering Antimatter Physics, both in 1988.

Theodore Petty, 49, a professional wrestler known as Flyboy Rocco Rock who was part of the tag-team duo known as Public Enemy, died of a heart attack Saturday after participating in a fund-raising match for the Jersey City Recreation Department. He was stricken while on his way to another match in Philadelphia.

Mr. Petty, known as the Cheetah Kid earlier in his career, wrestled solo in his final match. He and his opponent, known as Crowbar, had struck each other over the head repeatedly with a garbage can during their match, but witnesses said he appeared to be fine when he left.

He won several titles during an amateur career before graduating from Rutgers in 1977. He later earned a master's degree in education and coached wrestling at the College of New Jersey in Trenton.

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