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Bob Shaw

Science Fiction

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Bob Shaw, b. Dec 31, 1931, d. Feb 12, 1996

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Titles to Look Out For:
1976. Wreath of Stars
1978. Ship of Strangers
1980. Dagger of the Mind
1981. The Ceres Solution
1986. The Ragged Astronauts

About the Author:
Bob Shaw was an Irish science fiction author and fan, whose works include "Light of Other Days" (incorporated into Other Days, Other Eyes) and Orbitsville. He In 1979 and 1980, he received the Hugo Award for Best Fan Writer. His short story "Light of Other Days" was nominated for the Hugo Award in 1967; The Ragged Astronauts was nominated in 1987.

He was born and raised in Belfast. He and his wife and children left Northern Ireland for England in the 1970s, because they were worried about the political situation. Shaw was trained as a structural engineer, but also worked as a journalist and aircraft designer, later turning to fiction writing.

He is perhaps best known for "Light of Other Days", the story that introduced the concept of slow glass, through which the past can be seen. (It was later incorporated into 'Other Days, Other Eyes'.

Most of Shaw's novels are serious, but he was known in the fan community for his wit. Every year at the British Sci Fi convention Eastercon , he would deliver a wit-laden speech. These were eventually collected in A Load of Old Bosh: Serious Scientific Talks (1995)

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Shaw, Bob. 'Wreath of Stars', published by Readers' Union, 1976, hbk, 192pp. Price: £3.25, not including post and packing, which is Amazon UK's standard charge (currently £2.80 for UK buyers, more for overseas customers)
1976, Science Fiction Book Club (Readers' Union), hbk
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  • Wreath of Stars [top]
    First published in 1976 in Great Britain by Victor Gollancz
    Reprinted in 1976 in Great Britain in by the Readers Union Book Club, in hardback with dustjacket, 192pp
Storyline: In 1990, Earth suffers a short-lived panic when the approach of an anti-neutrino planet is detected. But Thornton's Planet, as it is called, is insubstantial and invisible to the naked eye-although it can be seen by wearers of the newly developed magniluct lenses, which amplify light to the point where it is possible to see in the dark with their aid. Interest soon wanes as its orbit carries it past Earth and away into a wide ellipse, which will bring about its return in a century or so, at which time it will pass, like a ghost planet, right through Earth. Then from the Equatorial state of Barandi, come reports that the Africans working the deepest levels of the diamond mines, with the aid of magniluct lenses, have panicked at the sight of ghosts in the mine passages. It soon becomes clear that the consequences of the visit of Thornton's planet are more far-ranging than anyone could have imagined.

Shaw, Bob. 'Ship of Strangers', published in 1978 by the Science Fiction Book Club (Readers' Union), hbk.
1978, Science Fiction Book Club (Readers' Union)
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Storyline: Ship of Strangers chronicles the adventures of the crew of the survey ship Sarafand, whose mission is to explore and map newly-discovered planets. In the course of their travels, they encounter many startling forms of life and alien menaces. On one world, the ship sends out its six survey modules, only to have seven return. One of them is actually an intelligent, malevolent alien, able to change its shape at will... but how can they identify which module is the impostor? On another planet, the Sarafand dicovers a humanoid civilisation whose members are able to move about in time, and an investigating group find themselves marooned millions of years in the past. And in the final episode, a mishap during one of the ship's jumps through space leaves it stranded in a distant galaxy, trapped in a region in which everything-including the Sarafand-is shrinking inexorably and quickly to zero size...

Shaw, Bob. 'Dagger of the Mind', published in 1980 by the Science Fiction Book Club (Readers' Union), hbk, 192pp. Sorry, sold out, but click image to access prebuilt search for this title on Amazon UK
1980, Readers' Union
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Storyline: John Redpath is a member of a research project investigating telepathy at the Jeavons Institute in Calbridge. The work is uneventful-until one morning he looks through the peephole of his front door and sees a hideous apparition. When he opens the door there is nothing there. Has his subconscious been picking up and mixing together stray telepathic emissions, to produce a waking nightmare? Are the drugs he is taking as part of the experiment having unexpected side effects? Or was what he saw real? This is only the beginning of a series of bizarre events which cause his associates-and Redpath himself-to doubt his sanity. He experiences hallucinations and is drawn to a local house where a strange group of people lead a peculiar, artificial life, as though controlled like puppets. He wakes up one morning to find that during his sleep he has been transported from England to America. The epileptic fits to which he is occasionally subject make him uncertain which-if any-of these events is really happening. But as he slowly begins to piece together the puzzle which surrounds him, an explanation emerges more strange and terrifying than anything he could have guessed

Shaw, Bob. 'The Ceres Solution' published in 1982 in Great Britain by The Science Fiction Book Club (Readers Union), Volume 3: Issue 4, 192pp. Sorry, sold out, but click image to access prebuilt search for this title on Amazon UK
1982, The Science Fiction Book Club
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Storyline: In the Ceres Solution, the author tackled the most complex and far-reaching theme of his literary career to that point. It is the story of the collision between two vastly diffferent civilisations: one on Earth in the early 21st Century-teeming, frantic, rushing toward self-inflicted nuclear doom; the othe on the distant world of Mollan, whose inhabitants have achieved great longevity and fantastic powers which include the ability to transport themselves instantly from star to star. The Mollanians pursue a strict policy of isolationism to preserve their cool, introspective society, but the two cultures are destined to have a profound effect on each other... . Shaw unfolds a tale which spans millennia of Earth's history and the reaches of interstellar space, but-consistent with his concern for people-he chooses to do so from the intensely personal viewpoints of protagonists who have their full quota of human strengths and weaknesses. There is Denny Hargate, acid-tongued and embittered, confined to a wheelchair by a wasting illness, but who has indomitable courage which helps him to alter the course of history. And there is Gretana ty Iltha, working on Earth as a secret Mollanian observer, who dreams of returning to the delights of her world's high society, but who gets caught up in a train of events leading to the explosive climax of the novel

 

Shaw, Bob. 'The Ragged Astronauts', published by Victor Gollancz in 1986, hbk, 312pp, ISBN 0575036397. Sorry, sold out, but click image to access prebuilt search for this title on Amazon UK
1986, Victor Gollancz
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Storyline: The story takes us to a fascinatingly different planetary system, in another universe very similar to ours, but with subtle, significant differences. The twin worlds of Land and Overland are only a few thousand miles apart, and their orbit is such that Overland appears always to hang in the same part of the sky, filling much of it, every detail visible as it looms over Land.

The human inhabitants of Land, lacking metals, have developed only a low level of technology. Over the centuries their life has been quite stable, but now their whole existence is threatened. The ptertha-an airborne species resembling smoke-filled bubbles-have always been dangerous because they burst at the least touch releasing a deadly toxin; but now they seem to have declared war on humanity and are actively hunting for victims, while the effect of their poison has become contagious. It begins to seem that the only hope of survival may be to leave Land altogether for the habitable but apparently deserted Overland; but that involves an enormously hazardous journey-from world to world in a hot-air balloon!

 




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