Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Bob Shaw

Just finished reading The Two-Timers, a Bob Shaw novel from 1968. It has brought back a lot of memories. There was a time when I would devour every Bob Shaw book I could lay my hands on, indeed I thought I had read them all until finding this one, in a second-hand book shop in Seahouses, Northumberland. I wandered in there on a wet day, a couple of years ago, while on holiday. It cost me just 60p. (Mind you, the original cover price was 25p, so it has appreciated in value over the years.)
I wondered if a Bob Shaw novel could still do it for me. Was the magic real or was it just the best of a narrow crop of reading matter that was drawing me in at the time.And the answer is: magic? - oh yes, indeed! Okay, it isn't one of his blockbusters (like Orbitsville or The Ragged Astronauts) and the settings and attitudes feel a little dated, but then that's because it was contemporary at the time of writing. This isn't a futuristic novel, it is firmly set in the quaint present of 1968, and the world of 43 years ago certainly feels like a different place. But the SF ideas in here had all the entertainment value I remember from those days when, to me, a new Bob Shaw was a big event. At a time when I was also reading a lot of Asimov and Arthur C Clarke, a Bob Shaw novel had its emphasis on realistic characters and driving plot, and I found his books riveting.
We lost Bob Shaw in 1996. Imagine what wonders he'd be giving us today if he were still around.

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