Swancon 14 – Programme Book – Bob Shaw

This is a transcription of page 16 from the Swancon 14 Programme book, being a biography of one of the Guests, Bob Shaw. This was transcribed by Elaine Walker, who has attempted to faithfully reproduce any and all typographical errors.

Bob Shaw

A photograph of Bob Shaw is on the top left.

The first time I ever met Bob Shaw was in Melbourne at Aussiecon II. A southern belle by the name of Charlotte Proctor introduced me to him. (Charlotte is herself a well known fanzine author.) She introduced Bob by saying, “Greg, this is a good friend of mine, Bob Shaw, he likes drinking Scotch too.” Well, suffice to say that anyone who has an affinity for the finer of the spirits will soon, over the bar, become a good friend of mine.

After a short time a small group of fans gathered and it was decided that we would go for dinner somewhere in the city. I started to strike up a nice conversation with Bob and after some fifteen minutes or so we found a basic Italian food hall that fitted the most important of fan criteria: it was cheap. We selected our food and sat down. I thought that I would ask Bob what he did for a living. There was a stunned silence at the table, and Handfield nearly choked on his food. Bob just looked at me for a moment, sort of puzzled, and quietly said, “………I’m a writer.”

It was at this point that there came a dagger in my mind, as I realised who I had been speaking to for the past few hours or so. I tried desperately to say something intelligent but all that came out was, “Oh, that Bob Shaw!!!!!!”

Bob Shaw is a professional science fiction writer, born on the 31st December, 1931. Bob started out as a fan and in fact Tuck’s Encyclopaedia of science fiction and fantasy mentions in passing that Bob Shaw “ is also very well known in fan circles. ” This is like saying that Bob Hawke is a member of the Labor party. Bob Shaw is a real fan’s fan.

Bob’s list of novels bears testament to his literary achievements. Novels such as Dagger of the mind, The Ceres solution, Ship of strangers, Orbitsville, Vertigo and many other novels and short stories.

In convention terms one of the things Bob is most famous for is his talks. Bob can natter delightfully on an assortment of topics. At Aussiecon II Bob gave one of his very best after dinner speeches. He had the diners alternatively laughing, crying and falling off chairs. The spotlight operator was broken up by fits of giggles and Bob performed an impromptu Irish jig which cracked up the assembled audience. The dinner was sold out and when Bob heard that there were fans outside that were going to miss his talk he insisted that they be allowed in. Bob’s just that sort of bloke.

Finally, Bob Shaw is one of the most polite gentlemen I have ever had the pleasure of meeting and anyone who gets to his programme items at Swancon 14 has my assurance they will not be disappointed. In short, Bob Shaw is a delightful person, and not at all into being a ‘big name author’, despite the fact that he is one of the Britain’s most successful science fiction authors. (Marc Ortlieb has informed me that Bob is also one of the best selling authors in Poland, however he is unable to take the money out of Poland. One day Bob might go to Poland to spend it.)

Oh, by the way, he is partial to the a single malt scotch or two at the bar, I have that on good authority, so remember to stock up for Good Friday. He has also sampled the more traditional items of Australian cuisine, such as meat pies, lamingtons and vegemite, but I doubt they are as popular.

Greg Turkich

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