Tucker was also a prominent member of science fiction fandom, who wrote extensively for fanzines under the name Bob Tucker, a family nickname bestowed in childhood (his own mispronunciation of the nickname "Bub"). He became a prominent analyst and critic of the field, as well as the coiner of such terms as "space opera".
Born in Deer Creek, Illinois, for most of his life Tucker made his home in Bloomington, Illinois. Tucker was married twice. In 1937, he wed Mary Joesting; they had a son and a daughter before the marriage dissolved in 1942. His second marriage, to Fern Delores Brooks in 1953, lasted 52 years, until her death in 2006; they had three sons.
Tucker became involved in science fiction fandom in 1932, publishing a fanzine, The Planetoid. From 1938 to 2001, he published the fanzine Le Zombie, which lasted for more than 60 issues and was later revived as a webzine. (The title arising from the fact that on multiple occasions fallacious reports of his death were made within fandom.)
He also published the Bloomington News Letter, which dealt with news within the professional science fiction writing field. Active in letter-writing as well, Tucker was a popular fan during more than six decades, coining many words and phrases familiar in science fiction fandom and to literary criticism of the field. In addition to "Bob Tucker", he was also known to write under the pseudonym "Hoy Ping Pong" (generally reserved for humorous pieces.) During a 41-year period, 1955 to 1996, Tucker created and edited eight separate editions of The Neo-Fan's Guide To Science Fiction Fandom, an historical overview of the first five decades of science fiction fandom, with important events and trends in fandom noted. Each edition also carried a lexicon of fan terminology in use throughout fandom at the time. The eighth and final edition remains in print from the Kansas City Science Fiction and Fantasy Society.
Tucker's fanzine writing has been described as "unfailingly incisive", and Tucker as "the most intelligent and articulate and sophisticated fan the American science-fiction community is ever likely to boast of". He helped pioneer criticism of the genre, coining along the way terms like "space opera" in common use today.