Bob Tucker

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(November 23, 1914–October 6, 2006)

Arthur Wilson "Bob" Tucker of Bloomington, Illinois was one of the earliest fans, having discovered sf in 1929 and gotten his first fanzine (The Time Traveller) in 1931. He is arguably the most influential figure in the history of fandom. He created Hoy Ping Pong in the mid-30s around the same time as the Great Staple War and the first Tucker Death Hoax.

He was a beloved and iconic BNF, one of the insurgents who refused to treat fandom as a serious business for the promotion of science fiction. He is often credited with having introduced humor into fanzines. Despite being a filthy pro, he continued to be fannish and involved in fanac of many sorts.

Known in fandom as Bob Tucker, and professionally as Wilson Tucker, his other pseudonyms were Hoy Ping Pong and Sanford Vaid.

A familiar figure at conventions, particularly in the Midwest, he could often be seen leading his signature Smooth ritual, drinking Beam's Choice bourbon and smoking cigars. He was the perennial toastmaster at Midwestcon, and often at other cons. A gifted raconteur, Tucker was typically surrounded by fans eager to hear his tall tales and reminiscences, such as the Rosebud story (a blue tale which he only told to audiences he deemed mature and rarely in mixed). He was a real ladies' man, but extremely gentlemanly about it, always taking "no" for an answer. Needless to say, his wife, Fern, rarely accompanied him to cons. In mundane life, Tucker worked as a motion picture projectionist, electrician, reporter, and editor while writing SF and mysteries part-time.

He was Worldcon FGoH twice, at Torcon, the 1948 Worldcon and NYcon 3, the 1967 Worldcon.

He won the 1970 Best Fan Writer Hugo, the 1954 Best Fan Writer Retro Hugo and was nominated for the 1951 Best Fan Writer Retro Hugo and the 1946 Best Fan Writer Retro Hugo.

He was one of the triumvirate that ran Chicon, the second Worldcon in 1940 — and the only one of legal age! Forty years later he was a member of the Chicago in 1982 Worldcon bid.

A prolific and excellent faned and fanwriter, Tucker's contributions spanned from the hectograph and mimeo eras to online publishing. His most important fanzines included The Planetoid in 1932 (one of the first fanzines), the Bloomington News Letter/Science Fiction Newsletter, Fanews, and especially Le Zombie from 1938 through 1975 (and in 2000 and 2001, the internet zine e-Zombie). Additionally, he published Fantasy and Weird Fiction, 1938-1939; Yearbook of Science, FANEWS(CARD), and the Fanzine Yearbook,1941–1948. In 1955 he published the Neo-Fan’s Guide to SF Fandom and in 1957.

He was acting president of the N3F in 1945, a VP of FAPA, and founded (and was Dictator of) the fabled SPWSSTFM, the Society for the Prevention of Wire Staples in Science Fiction Magazines. He was Royal Fellow of the Order of Dagon. He is credited with coining the term "space opera" and "Joe Phan" and invented the practice of tuckerization.

During 1955–1957, he and Robert Bloch, a close friend, edited six issues of the Gnome Press newsletter. His first professional SF publication was “Interstellar Way-Station” in Super Science Novels Magazine (May, 1941) and his first SF book was Prison Planet.

The Really Incompleat Bob Tucker, a one-shot fanzine containing some of his fan writing from the years 1942 through 1971 (with an introduction by Bloch) was published by Dave Locke in 1974 to help raise money to send Tucker to the 1975 Worldcon in Australia. A Little of the Best of Bob Tucker was published in 1995 by Joyce Katz and Arnie Katz. He was part of the original Vulcan Publications.

He was a member of First Fandom and the International fantasy Award judging panel.

He also had a substantial pro career, including both mysteries and sf. Some of his major novels were The Lincoln Hunters, Year of the Quiet Sun and The Long, Loud Silence. In 1965 he wrote (but never published) The Emperor of America, a novel about fandom taking places at a 4-day Worldcon.

An illustrated article about Tucker's life and writing by Jon D. Swartz appeared in Paperback Parade #70 (July 2008 issue). He was also the subject of a Founding Members article by Swartz in the November, 2015 issue (Vol. 74, No. 11) of The National Fantasy Fan.

In 2001, Leah Smith and Dick Smith ran FanHistoricon 11 in Bloomington to celebrate Tucker's role in fandom.

Tucker stayed active in fandom until his death just four months after his wife, Fern's.

Le Zombie & eZombie

For an early short biography, see Who's Who in Fandom 1940 p14.

Fanzine and Apazines:

from Fancyclopedia 2 ca. 1959
Nickname by which Arthur Wilson Tucker (of the Bloomington, Illinois Tuckers) is generally known. Besides adding several pages to fan history (which you will find scattered thru this volume) he has had a number of items, to us of interest, associated directly with the Tucker name.

The Tucker Hotel was based on a suggestion of Bob's, in 1952 when the ChiCon II and its prices signaled the start of the Big Convention movement, that fans simply build a hotel of their very own for holding conventions in, moving it from one site to another as required. A campaign arose to send Bricks to Tucker for the construction of this edifice; Rich Elsberry, denouncing this as a vile proish plot to get free bricks, recommended that BT be sent straw with which to make bricks for himself. A group of Anglofans designed, and draftsman Bob Shaw drew up plans for, a Tucker Hotel; Walt Willis and Chuck Harris located a fine site for it.

Tuckerism is the practice among professional authors of using their friends' names for characters in stories they are writing, Bob being a leading exponent of this sort of thing.

There have been two Tucker Death Hoaxes. The first was that mentioned under Staple War, in which a fellow boarder made the announcement to the proz — not actually meaning it as a hoax, but as a joke, tho a sick one. Another came a few weeks before the CinVention; at that time Ben Singer, an 18-year-old Michifan stationed at Chanute AFB near Tucker's place, dropped in on Bob and suggested pulling off a Tucker Death Hoax for the con. Bob deprecated the idea and thought he'd quashed it, but Singer found it a fascinating notion and upon leaving sent Don Ford CinVention chairman] a telegram, ostensibly from Mari-Beth Wheeler, telling him of Bob's death, and sent Art Rapp a news release giving gory details. The story ran that Bob had written a love novel which Rinehart desperately wanted to buy, tho they had lost the manuscript he had sent them; and that when Tucker got their message his children had just finished burning the only carbon copy. Tuck, per Singer, drowned his sorrows, went to sleep drunk while smoking in the projection room of the theater where he worked, and started a fire in which he was fatally burned. His last words deserve recording: "Tell them I'm sorry…" (i e the CinVention attendees, because he couldn't make it to the con). Rapp took the message at its face value, and flashed the news out to fandom; Will Sykora called Bloomington to check up and found out from the manager of the theater that it was all a hoax, which, accordingly, he indignantly denounced. So did the manager, suspecting Tucker of seeking phony publicity for his writings; only his strong union, Bob says, kept him from being summarily fired.
from Fancyclopedia 1 ca. 1944
Nickname by which Arthur W Tucker is generally known.

Awards, Honors and GoHships:

RE SFE Wikipedia File770
Ansible ISFDB FF (IA) Website

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