Bob Shaw, born Robert Shaw, (31 December 1931 — 12 February 1996) was a science fiction author and fan from Northern Ireland. He was noted for his originality and wit. He was two-time recipient (in 1979 and 1980) of the Hugo Award for Best Fan Writer. His short story "Light of Other Days" was a Hugo Award nominee in 1967, as was his novel The Ragged Astronauts in 1987.
Shaw was born and raised in Belfast, one of three brothers. He originally trained as a structural engineer, but also worked as an aircraft designer and journalist. He and his first wife Sadie and their children left Northern Ireland and lived in Canada for a few years before settling in Ulverston, England in the mid-1970s, because they were worried about the political situation. They subsequently moved to Grappenhall in Warrington, where Shaw lived for some years after Sadie's death in 1991. Throughout this period they were members of the Liverpool Science Fiction Group (LiG). Shaw died of cancer on 11 February 1996. He was survived by one son and two daughters, and his second wife Nancy Tucker, who he had married in 1995.
Shaw is perhaps best known for "Light of Other Days" (August 1966), the story that introduced the concept of slow glass, through which the past can be seen. Shaw sold this story to Analog editor John W. Campbell, who liked it so much Shaw wrote a sequel for him, "Burden of Proof", in May 1967. The original story was written in four hours, but after years of planning. Shaw expanded on the concept in the novel Other Days, Other Eyes, and the concept was adopted by the Marvel Comics/Curtis Magazines anthology magazine Unknown Worlds of Science Fiction.
His work ranged from essentially mimetic stories with fantastic elements far in the background (Ground Zero Man) to van Vogtian extravaganzas (The Palace of Eternity). Later in his career he began writing trilogies: The Land trilogy (The Ragged Astronauts, The Wooden Spaceships and The Fugitive Worlds) was set on system of worlds where technology has evolved with no metals.
Most of Shaw's novels and short stories are serious, but he was known in the fan community for his wit. His early fanwriting career was as a member of Irish Fandom, aka the Wheels of IF, along with Walt Willis, and James White. He always remained a keen reader of and contributor to fanzines. Later, and for many years, at the British science fiction convention Eastercon, he would deliver a humorous speech (often part of his famous series known by the tongue-in-cheek label of "Serious Scientific Talks"); these were eventually collected in The Eastercon Speeches (1979) and A Load of Old Bosh (1995), which also included a similar talk from the 1979 Worldcon in Brighton, 37th World Science Fiction Convention. With Walt Willis, he was the author of the allegorical The Enchanted Duplicator, an oft-reprinted 1954 piece of fiction about science fiction fandom explicitly modeled on John Bunyan's The Pilgrim's Progress (though Shaw and Willis denied having read it beforehand ). He was also (with Brian Aldiss and Harry Harrison) co-president of the Birmingham Science Fiction Group.