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The Golden Age of Science Fiction: Bob Shaw

Tuesday, November 26th, 2019 | Posted by Steven H Silver

Bob Shaw

Bob Shaw

The Hugo Award was first presented at the 11th World Science Fiction Convention (sometimes called Philcon II), held in Philadelphia from September 5-7, 1953. The awards were not perceived as an annual event at that time and, in fact, no awards were presented the following year. They were presented again in 1955 and have been presented annually since. Although a #1 Fan Personality Award was presented in the first year, to Forrest J Ackerman and a Best Actifan was awarded to Walt Willis in 1958, the Best Fan Writer Award wasn’t created until 1967, when it was won by Alexei Panshin and has been awarded ever since. The Hugo Awards are nominated and voted on by the members of the World Science Fiction Convention. Bob Shaw won the Hugo Award for Best Fan Writer Award twice, in 1979 and 1980. He was also nominated for the Best Short Story award in 1967 and the Best Novel award in 1987. In 1980 the Hugo Award was presented at Noreascon Two in Boston, Massachusetts on August 31.

The Doc Weir Award was established in 1963 in memory of Arthur Weir. Selected by the membership of Eastercon, the award is presented to individuals who are seeing as making a significant contribution to fandom who have largely gone unrecognized.  The first Doc Weir Award was presented to Peter Mabey. The award takes the form of a silver cup with names of early winners engraved on the base. The cup comes with a presentation box which has plaques on it that contain the names of the winners since the cup’s based was filled.  A new box was created by John Wilson in 2019. The winner is responsible for having their own name engraved and running the following year’s voting process.

Bob Shaw is one of those individuals who built a name for himself as both a fan and a professional author. His published works include the BSFA winning novels Orbitsville and The Ragged Astronauts and the short story “Dark Night in Toyland.”  His shot story “The Light of Other Days,” which introduced the concept of slow glass, was nominated for both the Hugo and Nebula Award. In 1994, he was awarded the Phoenix Award and in 2019 he received a posthumous First Fandom Hall of Fame Award.

Shaw began reading science fiction in the 1940s and in 1950, he joined other Irish science fiction fans including James White and Walt Willis.  With Willis, he co-wrote The Enchanted Duplicator, one of the ur-texts of science fiction fandom. During this time, he wrote columns and created artwork for the fanzines Hyphen and Slant and edited ‘Our ‘Zine. It was during this time that he acquired the nom du fan BoSh.

He presented an annual “Serious Scientific Talk” at Eastercon for many years which was a humorous address masquerading as a lecture. These talks were collected in 1979 as The Eastercon Speeches and he gave a similar talk at the 1979 Worldcon in Brighton, where he served as the toastmaster. Many of his columns and fannish writings were collected in The Complete BoSh, published in two volumes in 1979.

Other Best Fan Writer Nominees in 1980 included Richard E. Geis, Mike Glyer, Arthur D. Hlavaty, and David Langford. Geis had already won the award five times and would win it twice more. Neither Glyer nor Langford had won the award by 1980, but Glyer would go on to win the award four times and Langford a record 21 times.


Steven H Silver-largeSteven H Silver is a sixteen-time Hugo Award nominee and was the publisher of the Hugo-nominated fanzine Argentus as well as the editor and publisher of ISFiC Press for 8 years. He has also edited books for DAW, NESFA Press, and ZNB. He began publishing short fiction in 2008 and his most recently published story is “Webinar: Web Sites” in The Tangled Web. His most recent anthology, Alternate Peace was published in June. Steven has chaired the first Midwest Construction, Windycon three times, and the SFWA Nebula Conference 6 times, as well as serving as the Event Coordinator for SFWA. He was programming chair for Chicon 2000 and Vice Chair of Chicon 7.

1 Comment »

  1. “Light of Other Days” was a heartbreaker when I first read it back in the late 1960s, in a “Best of” anthology. When my wife passed away three years ago, Shaw’s ‘slow glass’ was a science fiction creation that I so desperately wished could have come true.

    Comment by smitty59 - November 26, 2019 8:44 pm


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