OBITUARY: Ion Hobana

Horia Urso writes with the sad news of the Romanian author’s death:

Ion Hobana, the venerable “Dean of Romanian Science Fiction”, has passed away on Tuesday, February 22nd.

Born on January 25th 1931 in Sannicolaul Mare, near Timisoara, he was an alumnus of the University of Bucharest, with a thesis dedicated to science fiction literature, the first in Romania and one of the first in the world.

He was a writer, an journalist, an editor. He published 5 poetry collections and an YA novel before turning full time to science fiction. He first published a science fiction story in 1955, followed by a novella in 1957 and short story collections Oameni si stele (People and stars – 1963, reprinted with revised and amply augmented content as an e-book in January 2011), Un fel de spatiu (A kind of space – 1988) and Timp pentru dragoste (Time for love – 2009). He wrote a dramatic adaptation of H.G. Wells’ Invisible Man, presented several times on Romanian stages.

His stories have been translated in more than 20 countries. Stories Un fel de spaţiu (A kind of space) and Emisiune nocturnă (Night Broadcast, which won the Eurocon Award in Fayence in 1985) were included in international anthologies Twenty Houses of the Zodiac (New English Library, 1979), and The Penguin World Omnibus of Science Fiction (Penguin Books, 1986) respectively.

As a literary historian, he published many works on Jules Verne (he was one of the most reputable scholars in Verne’s work), French science fiction, H. G. Wells and the history of Romanian Science Fiction. His anthology Virsta de aur a anticipatiei romanesti (The golden age of Romanian Anticipation – 1969) was awarded the Europa Award, presented at the first Eurocon in Trieste in 1972.
As an editor of classic science fiction, he familiarised Romanian readers with the works of Edgar Allan Poe, Edmond About, Villiers de l’Isle-Adam, Mark Twain, J.H Rosny-Ainé, R.L. Stevenson, Emilio Salgari, Jack London, H.G. Wells, Maurice Renard, A. Conan-Doyle, Jan Weiss, Karinthy Frigyes, Felix Aderca, Stanislaw Lem, etc. He has translated tens of books from French and Italian, most notably eight of Jules Verne’s Voyages Extraordinaires.

He was a member of the Romanian Writers’ Union (he was the organization’s YA section’s president these last years), Societé Européenne de Culture, Centre International Jules Verne, H.G. Wells Society, Associazione Internazionale per gli Studi sulle Utopie.
His latest book, Peste o suta si o mie de ani (In a hundred and a thousand years – december 2010) was his magnum opus, a thorough study of French science fiction roots, from its origins to 1900.

He died in Bucharest on Tuesday, February 22nd 2011, after a long battle with cancer.

Romanian fans of science fiction are mourning his passing away. We’ve lost a great friend, a mentor and a brilliant mind.

Robert Silverberg wrote to me last night, upon finding out the terrible news:  “I met Ion at – I think – the 1970 World SF Convention in Heidelberg and saw him at several other conventions in later years. He was a wise and thoughtful man.”

May he rest in peace!

Horia Nicola Ursu
Galileo Magazine / Millennium Books, Romania


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