Bob Shaw

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(You probably weren't looking for the Fake Bob Shaw or a Swedish fanzine but just in case....)


(December 31, 1931 - February 11, 1996)

Bob Shaw, often called BoSh, was a fan, fan writer, fan artist, novelist, structural engineer, aircraft designer, and journalist from Northern Ireland, noted for his originality and wit. He was one of the Wheels of IF and a great and influential fan.

He won the Hugo Award for Best Fan Writer in 1979 and 1980. His short story "Light of Other Days" was a Hugo Award nominee in 1967, as was his novel The Ragged Astronauts in 1987. Professionally, he published his first story in 1951, and is best known for "Light of Other Days" (ASF, Aug 1966), the story that introduced the concept of slow glass. Orbitsville and its two sequels deal with the discovery of a habitable shell completely surrounding a star, and the consequences for humanity. The first in this trilogy won him the 1976 British SF Association Award.

He was introduced to science fiction as a pre-teen by reading an A. E. van Vogt short story in Astounding. He later described the experience as being more significant and long-lasting than taking LSD.

In 1950 he joined the group Irish Fandom which met at James White's house. The group was very influential in fandom and produced the fanzines Slant (to which he contributed a large part of the artwork and "The Fansmanship Lectures") and its successor Hyphen (which besides other Shaw fanwriting ran 30 instalments of his column "The Glass Bushel").

He acquired the nickname "BoSh" during this period. He also was one of the editors on the one-shot 'Our 'Zine. He was a world-champion Ghoodminton player, always ranking in the top 3-4 worldwide.

A selection of his fan writing up to 1979 was collected by Rob Jackson in The Complete BoSh in two volumes: The Eastercon Speeches (of which more below) and The Best of the Bushel, a selection of Glass Bushel columns much later expanded as The Full Glass Bushel (Ansible Editions, 2020), which contains all the columns plus additional articles from Hyphen. Almost all the previously uncollected fanwriting has since been brought together as Slow Pint Glass (Ansible Editions, 2020).

Following his early membership of Irish Fandom, he formed the Belfast Triangle, living in Oblique House with Walt Willis, and James White; he always remained a keen reader of and contributor to fanzines. For many years, at Eastercon, he would deliver a humorous speech (often one of his Serious Scientific Talks (which weren't)); these were eventually collected in The Eastercon Speeches (1979 as above), A Load of Old Bosh (1995) -- which included a similar talk from the 1979 Worldcon in Brighton -- and The Serious Scientific Talks (2019), an Ansible Editions ebook containing all ten previously collected talks plus four more. (Serious Science was a smaller collection of three talks published in 1984 by Eve Harvey and Marc Ortleib.)

With Walt Willis, Bob Shaw co-wrote The Enchanted Duplicator in 1954. He was the world's greatest practitioner of Fansmanship and did the drafting for the design of the Tucker Hotel. He received the Doc Weir Award in 1980 and three FAAn Awards for Best Fan Writer.

Other fanzines were the 1950s one-shot comic strip Return of the Space Boggle, a contribution to the multi-authored one-shot 'Our 'Zine (1952), and -- late in life -- Perspex Parrot (mid-1990).

He was well-loved and sought after wearing both his fan and pro hats. The BoSh Fund was created to bring him to Noreascon and The Shaw Fund to bring him to Aussiecon 2. See also Bob Shaw Appreciation Magazine.

Originally trained as a structural engineer, Shaw worked as an aircraft designer for Short and Harland, then as science correspondent for The Belfast Telegraph and then as publicity officer for Vickers Shipbuilding before starting to write full-time. During the Troubles, Shaw and his family moved from Northern Ireland to England, where he produced the majority of his work. His wife first wife, Sadie, died suddenly in 1991.

He nearly lost his sight through illness and suffered migraine-induced visual disturbances throughout his life. He married Nancy Tucker in 1995 and went to the United States to live with her, then returned to England in the last months of his life. Shaw died of cancer on 11 February 1996.

Awards, Honors and GoHships:



Person Search: Fanac, Fan, Pro, SFE, Wikipedia, Reasonator 19311996
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