By Michael Damian Thomas
If you’ve never been to a book signing, you might not understand why you would wait in line to get a writer to scribble their name in a book. What’s the appeal? Can’t you mark up your own books? It’s not like you’re going to sell them on eBay, right?
In a few weeks, there will be a gigantic Mass Autographing at the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America Nebula Awards Weekend in Chicago involving dozens of writers. This will be free and open to the public. If you’ve ever connected to a book, you really should go. This is a chance to not just get that scribble, but an opportunity connect for a brief moment with the awesome human being who made the worlds and characters that transported you away for a few glorious hours.
I attended a residential high school for the gifted a couple of decades ago– a bit like the X-Men’s school if all of their mutant powers involved moping and achieving high standardized test scores. It was lonely, weird, and extremely geeky. You can imagine how certain books were a solace to us all. None was bigger than The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Oh, how we quoted it at each other. The school put together the occasional field trip, and the one that remains my dearest in my heart was the trip to the Douglas Adams’s book signing for his Last Chance to See tour in 1991 when I was 16.
Though I was a huge reader, I’d never been to a book signing before. The room was packed. Adams read from the new book, and the audience vibrated with laughter. An entire room of bibliophile nerds who had read and reread his books discovered he was actually as funny as we all imagined. Adams made his stories of traveling and meeting endangered species as witty and hilarious as anything Ford Prefect ever said in our heads. I still vividly remember the condom quest in China (for an underwater microphone) tale.
I couldn’t afford the new book, but I had him sign my battered and dearly loved copy of Hitchhiker’s. For a few brief moments, he was only a few feet away. The actual author of this brilliant book was handling my copy. He smiled, handed me my paperback, and I had a wonderful memento of a special day. I just wish I had said something, but I was too starstruck.
I’ve been to numerous book signings since then, and all of them have been special in some way. The Nebula Awards Weekend Mass Autographing is your opportunity to have a moment like I did with Douglas Adams.
On Friday, June 5, the Mass Autographing for the SFWA Nebula Awards Weekend will occur at the Palmer House Hotel in Chicago from 8:00 pm to 9:30 pm (Palmer House Exhibit Hall, 17 East Monroe Street, Chicago, IL, 60603). An astonishing array of over 50 authors and editors will be signing, and their books will be available for purchase from Dreamhaven Books.
Nebula Awards Toastmaster Nick Offerman from Parks and Recreation will be signing. Numerous SFWA Grandmasters, bestsellers, and Nebula Award nominees will be there. The Mass Autographing is truly a special event. Here is the current list of authors and editors. More will be added in the next couple of weeks.
John Joseph Adams
Paul Dale Anderson
Aliette de Bodard
Charles E. Gannon
Joe W. Haldeman
Tina L. Jens
Mary Robinette Kowal
Edward M. Lerner
Sarah Monette/ Katherine Addison
Jody Lynn Nye
Lawrence M. Schoen
John E. Stith
Gordon Van Gelder