(November 23, 1914–October 6, 2006)
One of the earliest fans, and arguably the most influential figure in the history of fandom, Arthur Wilson "Bob" Tucker of Bloomington, Illinois, was a beloved and iconic BNF, one of the insurgents who refused to treat fandom as a serious business for the promotion of science fiction. He is often credited with having introduced humor into fanzines. Despite being a filthy pro, he continued to be fannish and involved in fanac of many sorts.
A familiar figure at conventions, particularly in the Midwest, he could often be seen leading his signature Smooth ritual, drinking Beam's Choice bourbon and smoking cigars. He was the perennial toastmaster at Midwestcon, and often at other cons. A gifted raconteur, Tucker was typically surrounded by fans eager to hear his tall tales and reminiscences, such as the Rosebud story (a blue tale which he only told to audiences he deemed mature and rarely in mixed). He was a real ladies' man, but extremely gentlemanly about it, always taking "no" for an answer. Needless to say, his wife, Fern, rarely accompanied him to cons. In mundane life, Tucker worked as a motion picture projectionist, electrician, reporter, and editor while writing SF and mysteries part-time.
A prolific and excellent faned and fanwriter, Tucker's contributions spanned from the hectograph and mimeo eras to online publishing. His most important fanzines included The Planetoid in 1932 (one of the first fanzines), the Bloomington News Letter/Science Fiction Newsletter, Fanews, and especially Le Zombie from 1938 through 1975 (and in 2000 and 2001, the internet zine e-Zombie). Additionally, he published Fantasy and Weird Fiction, 1938-1939; Yearbook of Science, FANEWS(CARD), and the Fanzine Yearbook, 1941–1948. In 1955 he published the Neo-Fan’s Guide to SF Fandom and in 1957.
His fapazines included Fanzine Service for Fans in Service (with Harry Warner), FAPA Booze, FAPA Variety, Jack Speer — Elder God, Le Gruesome Zombie (with Dean Grennell), Pong Is a Four-Letter Word, Sci-Fic Variety, Three Fingers (with Walt Liebscher).
Other fanzines and apazines included BT -- His Pages, Bugle of Dingly Dell, Chapter Play, CH3CO2C6H4CO2H, D'Journal, Fantasy Jackass, Fanzine Index -- 1945, Fanzine Yearbook, Indian Lake...There I Went, Invisible Stories, Le Zombie Advertiser, Little Le Zombie, Members of the SPWSSTFM, Nova, Pleiades Pimples, Science Fiction and Fantasy Advertiser, Science Fiction Fifty-Yearly (with Robert Bloch), Tau Ceti Reprints, and Wild Pumbles (with Andy Young for OMPA). He was part of the original Vulcan Publications.
He was acting president of the N3F in 1945, a VP of FAPA, and founded (and was Dictator of) the fabled SPWSSTFM, the Society for the Prevention of Wire Staples in Science Fiction Magazines. He was Royal Fellow of the Order of Dagon. He is credited with coining the term "space opera" and "Joe Phan" and invented the practice of tuckerization.
During 1955–1957, he and Robert Bloch, a close friend, edited six issues of the Gnome Press newsletter. His first professional SF publication was “Interstellar Way-Station” in Super Science Novels Magazine (May, 1941) and his first SF book was Prison Planet.
The Really Incompleat Bob Tucker, a one-shot fanzine containing some of his fan writing from the years 1942 through 1971 (with an introduction by Bloch) was published by Dave Locke in 1974 to help raise money to send Tucker to the 1975 Worldcon in Australia. A Little of the Best of Bob Tucker was published in 1995 by Joyce Katz and Arnie Katz.
He also had a substantial pro career, including both mysteries and sf. Some of his major novels were The Lincoln Hunters, Year of the Quiet Sun and The Long, Loud Silence. See http://www.sf-encyclopedia.com/entry/tucker_wilson for more on his professional life. In 1965 he wrote (but never published) The Emperor of America, a novel about fandom taking places at a 4-day Worldcon.
An illustrated article about Tucker's life and writing by Jon D. Swartz appeared in Paperback Parade #70 (July 2008 issue). He was also the subject of a Founding Members article by Swartz in the November, 2015 issue (Vol. 74, No. 11) of The National Fantasy Fan.
Tucker stayed active in fandom until his death just four months after his wife, Fern's.
Other Awards, Honors and GoHships:
- 1962 — Toastmaster at Chicon III, Big Heart Award
- 1970 — The Bob Bloch Black Block Award
- 1974 — Minicon 8, BYOB-Con 4 (both GoH and FGoH), Toastmaster at Windycon 1
- 1975 — Windycon 2, Toastmaster at Midwestcon 26 and BYOB-Con 5
- 1976 — Toastmaster at MidAmeriCon, John W. Campbell, Jr. Memorial Award (Special) for The Year of the Quiet Sun
- 1977 — Hippotocon, Toastmaster at BYOB-Con 7
- 1978 — Disclave 22, AggieCon IX, Roc*Kon 2, Anokon 1, Minicon 13, Toastmaster at Rivercon IV and Windycon 5
- 1979 — Kubla Khan Ception, AggieCon X, Nutria Con '79, The Tucker Transfer fan fund, Toastmaster at Novacon 9 West, Toastmaster at Marcon XIV, Toastmaster at Ambercon
- 1980 — Archon 4, Toastmaster at Windycon VII and Minicon 16
- 1981 — InConJunction I, Capricon 1
- 1982 — MidSouthCon 2, LASTCon Too, OKon 5
- 1983 — Orycon V, Toastmaster at Rivercon VIII
- 1984 — Icon (Iowa) 9, AggieCon XV, Minicon 18
- 1985 — Con*Stellation IV, OKon 8, First Fandom Hall of Fame, Tucker Bag fan fund
- 1986 — Skylark Award
- 1987 — OKon 10, Toastmaster at MidSouthCon 6, MC at LibertyCon 1
- 1988 — Toastmaster at Lunacon 31, MC at LibertyCon 2, Toastmaster at Windycon 15
- 1989 — 3 Days of the Khandor, MC at LibertyCon 3, Toastmaster at Archon 13 and Windycon 16
- 1990 — InConJunction X, CopperCon 10, Phoenix Award, MC at LibertyCon 4
- 1991 — ReinCONation 1, toastmaster at LibertyCon 5
- 1992 — MC at LibertyCon 6, Past President of fwa
- 1993 — MidSouthCon 12, Neocon 4, Corflu 10, Toastmaster at LibertyCon 7 and at RiverCon XVIII where he was commissioned a Kentucky Colonel
- 1995 — ConFusion 10101, Demicon 6
- 1996 — ConQuest 27, SFWA Author Emeritus, Rebel Award, MC at LibertyCon 10
- 1997 — Archon Hall of Fame Award (Grand Master)
- 1998 — Rebel Award, Toastmaster at DeepSouthCon 36, MC at LibertyCon 12
- 1999 — ConQuesT 30
- 2003 — Science Fiction & Fantasy Hall of Fame
- Toastmaster at ChambanaCon 20, 23-30
|from Fancyclopedia 2 ca. 1959|
|Nickname by which Arthur Wilson Tucker (of the Bloomington, Illinois Tuckers) is generally known. Besides adding several pages to fan history (which you will find scattered thru this volume) he has had a number of items, to us of interest, associated directly with the Tucker name.
The Tucker Hotel was based on a suggestion of Bob's, in 1952 when the ChiCon II and its prices signaled the start of the Big Convention movement, that fans simply build a hotel of their very own for holding conventions in, moving it from one site to another as required. A campaign arose to send Bricks to Tucker for the construction of this edifice; Rich Elsberry, denouncing this as a vile proish plot to get free bricks, recommended that BT be sent straw with which to make bricks for himself. A group of Anglofans designed, and draftsman Bob Shaw drew up plans for, a Tucker Hotel; Walt Willis and Chuck Harris located a fine site for it.
Tuckerism is the practice among professional authors of using their friends' names for characters in stories they are writing, Bob being a leading exponent of this sort of thing.
There have been two Tucker Death Hoaxes. The first was that mentioned under Staple War, in which a fellow boarder made the announcement to the proz — not actually meaning it as a hoax, but as a joke, tho a sick one. Another came a few weeks before the CinVention; at that time Ben Singer, an 18-year-old Michifan stationed at Chanute AFB near Tucker's place, dropped in on Bob and suggested pulling off a Tucker Death Hoax for the con. Bob deprecated the idea and thought he'd quashed it, but Singer found it a fascinating notion and upon leaving sent Don Ford [CinVention chairman] a telegram, ostensibly from Mari-Beth Wheeler, telling him of Bob's death, and sent Art Rapp a news release giving gory details. The story ran that Bob had written a love novel which Rinehart desperately wanted to buy, tho they had lost the manuscript he had sent them; and that when Tucker got their message his children had just finished burning the only carbon copy. Tuck, per Singer, drowned his sorrows, went to sleep drunk while smoking in the projection room of the theater where he worked, and started a fire in which he was fatally burned. His last words deserve recording: "Tell them I'm sorry…" (i e the CinVention attendees, because he couldn't make it to the con). Rapp took the message at its face value, and flashed the news out to fandom; Will Sykora called Bloomington to check up and found out from the manager of the theater that it was all a hoax, which, accordingly, he indignantly denounced. So did the manager, suspecting Tucker of seeking phony publicity for his writings; only his strong union, Bob says, kept him from being summarily fired.
|from Fancyclopedia 1 ca. 1944|
|Nickname by which Arthur W Tucker is generally known.|