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British Science Fiction author (Belfast, 31 December 1931 - 12 February 1996), best remembered for the invention of slow glass.

Shaw's first professional publication came in 1965. The story "...And Isles where Good Men Lie" (later collected in Tomorrow Lies in Ambush) is problem-solving science fiction in the classic mold. It is also a perfect illustration of the style Shaw would develop during his career: the story is solidly plotted, following a classic seven-point structure. The central character is male, intelligent, but self-doubting. The writing style is simple, but perfectly judged to let the story unfold with a minimum of distraction and authorial intrusion.

With only his third published story, "Light Of Other Days" (1966), Shaw hit the big time. This is the story that first introduces "slow glass", and it was nominated for the Hugo and Nebula. Although it didn't go on to win either of these awards, it has gone on to become one of SF's all-time classics, and has been anthologised dozens of times.

After his initial success with short fiction, Shaw quickly went on to build up a reputation as a solid, though not quite best-selling, novelist. His first book, Night Walk (1967), is an exciting tale of a blinded prisoner escaping from his captors and trying to find his way back to Earth by electronically "borrowing" other people's (and animals') sight.

It wasn't until his 1975 novel Orbitsville, though, that he made another big splash in the SF world. Orbitsville is the story of intrigue, betrayal and exile, set against the backdrop of a Dyson Sphere which humans are attempting to colonise. It won him the British Science Fiction Association award for best novel, and spawned two sequels, Orbitsville Departure (1983), and Orbitsville Judgment (1990)

Further highlights of Shaw's professional career include Land/Overland trilogy (The Ragged Astronauts (1986), The Wooden Spaceships (1988) and The Fugitive Worlds (1989) ), about two planets joined together by a common, hourglass-shaped atmosphere. (For the physicists amongst you, these two planets reside in a parallel universe, with slightly different physical constants. Pi, for example, is exactly 3.) The Ragged Astronauts won the 1986 BSFA Award, and was shortlisted for the Hugo.

I started reading Shaw as a science fiction author, but there are many who first came to know him as a fan. From the 1950s until his death, he was a prolific fan writer, occasional cartoonist, and immensely entertaining speaker. His serious scientific talks are legendary in fandom for being achingly funny tales of bizarre made-up pseudo-science, often featuring the exploits of his imaginary German-Irish friend Von Donegan (modelled on the real Erich "Chariots of the Gods" Von Däniken). The only two Hugos that Shaw actually did win, were in fact for Best Fan Writer (1979 and 1980).

Although he missed Science Fiction's supposed "Golden Age" by a several decades, Shaw's desire to tell a good story in a simple style groups him firmly with such authors as Clarke, Asimov and Clement. Today's science fictional tastes have moved on, and unfortunately most of Shaw's work is now out of print. It occasionally gets revived as part of "classic" SF series, but you are much more likely to find it in second hand bookshops.

Bibliography:
  • Night Walk (1967)
  • The Two-Timers (1968)
  • The Palace Of Eternity (1969)
  • The Shadow Of Heaven (1969)
  • One Million Tomorrows (1970)
  • Ground Zero Man (1971) reissued as The Peace Machine (1985)
  • Other Days, Other Eyes (1972)
  • Tomorrow Lies In Ambush (collection) (1973)
  • Orbitsville (1975)
  • A Wreath Of Stars (1976)
  • Cosmic Kaleidoscope (collection) (1976)
  • Who Goes Here? (1977) reissued as Warren Peace: Who Goes Here (1994)
  • Medusa's Children (1977)
  • Vertigo (1978) reissued as Terminal Velocity (1991)
  • Ship Of Strangers (1978)
  • Dagger Of The Mind (1979)
  • The Ceres Solution (1981)
  • A Better Mantrap (collection) (1982)
  • Orbitsville Departure (1983)
  • Fire Pattern (1984)
  • The Ragged Astronauts (1986)
  • The Wooden Spaceships (1988)
  • Dark Night In Toyland (collection) (1989)
  • The Fugitive Worlds (1989)
  • Killer Planet (young adult) (1989)
  • Orbitsville Judgement (1990)
  • Warren Peace (1993) reissued as Warren Peace: Dimensions (1994)

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