Bob Shaw was born 80 years ago

Robert Shaw was born on December 31, 1931 in Belfast, Ireland.

Bob Shaw became a science fiction fan when he was a little boy and in 1950 he joined the group Irish Fandom, met thanks to another Irish science fiction writer, James White. In 1951 he started publishing science fiction stories on fanzines. In 1954 one of his stories appeared for the first time in a professional magazine.

Trained as a structural engineer at Belfast College of Technology, for some time Bob Shaw gave up writing and together with his first wife Sadie and their two children went to live in Canada between 1956 and 1958.

In 1966, Bob Shaw published his story “Light of Other Days”, perhaps his most famous story, which introduces the concept of slow glass, which slows down the passage of light for even years so that people can see the past. Shaw wrote more stories on that subject then reworked them into the novel “Other Days, Other Eyes”, published in 1972.

The first novel published by Bob Shaw however was “Night Walk” in 1967, in which you can see all his style. Shaw had health problems that almost cost him his sight and throughout his life he suffered from headaches that caused him sight problems. These experiences influenced this and some other stories focused on the eyes and sight.

Bob Shaw worked for several years as an aircraft designer but also as a science journalist then he started working full time as a writer in the ’70s. However, he kept on contributing to various fanzines, so that in 1979 and in 1980 he won the Hugo Award as the “Best Fan Writer” awarded to authors of works published in fanzines or semiprozines.

Bob Shaw also wrote several other novels and some trilogies: the Orbitsville Trilogy, the Warren Peace saga and the Land and Overland Trilogy.

In 1991 his wife Sadie died and in 1995 Bob Shaw got married again to Nancy Tucker with whom he went to live in the U.S.A. for a short period before returning to England where he died of cancer on February 11, 1996.

During his career, Bob Shaw wrote stories with very different settings but generally they are based on a fundamental idea that the author develops thoroughly in its possible ramifications. Even when the idea was an invention, Shaw developed it not only from a technological point of view but also as concerning its possible impact on society. In all cases, in his stories he cured characters very well because he considered them even more fundamental than the scientific side.

Slow glass is the most famous of his ideas but there were many more of them and also thanks to the way they were developed he’s been loved by science fiction fans. Unfortunately, today many of his novels are no longer printed and it’s a shame because they’re still excellent.

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