Monday, 13 September 2010

George R. R. Martin at the Galaxy Bookshop

Worldcon wise it has been a busy month. The last four weeks have had at least one thing on a week in relation to Worldcon. Four weeks ago Charlie Stross was in at the Galaxy for a book signing. The following week was of course Worldcon/Aussiecon itself, followed in quick succession by Alastair Reynolds, also at the Galaxy, and now the grand poobah of all science fiction and fantasy writers, George R. R. Martin. George visited the Galaxy Bookshop today for a signing. He had also been at Worldcon last week but, again, his books are huge so there was no way I was going to lug them down to Melbourne. Today's signing was the best attended I've seen at the Galaxy in some time. People were queuing up the stairs and almost out on to the street. There were about 50 people already lined up when I got there. George arrived the same time I did. I think he'd been waiting for me. ;-)

No that isn't my big grey noggin in the picture above, just some fellow traveller in the queue.

George signed all seven books I had. I have a few more at home that he'd already signed the last time he visited - back in the 1990s. I told George he signed my British first edition hard cover of A Game Of Thrones back then. He said it is apparently worth $1500 now. Holy shit. I think I'll hide that one. When I buy books that suddenly increase in value by hundreds of dollars it is more good luck than good management. As far as I am concerned I am just getting the first available next book for that author. No one knows whether or not it is going to be a best seller. I think only 1500 copies of the UK hard cover of A Game Of Thrones were printed. Obviously the publisher wasn't pinning all their hopes on the next GRRM novel. The fact that it sold out quickly and the subsequent printings sold in the hundreds of thousands is just my good luck. And of course, good for authors like George too.
GRRM signing "To Shane, my BFF". Not really.

I asked George how Aussiecon 4 compared to Aussiecon 3 in the 1999. He preferred 3 because, he said, there were more room parties back then. The hotels frown upon that sort of thing now. Bastards. I told George I looked forward to him coming back for Aussiecon 5 in 10 or so years. Actually I think the Kiwis are bidding for the 2020 Worldcon. That'd be okay. Auckland is closer than just about anywhere else as far as us antipodeans are concerned. I hope to be getting to another Worldcon well before then though. 2014 is probably going to be in London. That would be cool.

GRRM trying to get me to buy a calendar too.

George's partner Parris was strolling around the shop taking photos and asking everyone in the queue to pose. She also exhorted everyone to not just to buy and read the epic fantasy series but we should also look at George's other works he created over his extraordinary career. There's also some classic sci fi and horror as well as the fantasy. Fevre Dream is a well regarded vampire novel for example. What could be better than Bram Stoker meets Mark Twain for Buffy's sake?

George and Parris.

George is another of those sci fi gentlemen. Good natured and gracious. One of these days I will meet a cranky sci fi writer and blow to shit my theory that the field is filled with nice guys and gals. Actually I do recall one slightly cranky sci fi writer. Harlan Ellison has a reputation for being short with fans and pros alike if they irritate him. I was on the receiving end of a tirade once at a book signing. It was all going swimmingly until he asked me a question. I don't recall the question or the answer. I do recall being flippant and Harlan went into a tirade that lasted for a couple of minutes. At the time I was unaware of his reputation. Now I look back fondly on the occasion. I can forever say now that I was one of the lucky ones who copped it from Harlan. George has been known to be cantankerous too but I think on those occasions it was justified. The next novel in the A Song Of Ice And Fire sequence, book five, has been coming for 5 or 6 years now. Some fans are demanding that George finishes it ASAP. George is sick to death of demanding fans "bullying" him incessantly for the next book. There was no way I was going to ask George today when the next book is due.

There were a couple of girls running around with a video camera and microphone filming the event. I thought they were too young to be professionals. I thought maybe they were podcasters, or worked for a community radio station or they were uni students doing an assignment. I had to ask and they were indeed uni students doing an assignment. They asked me if I would be willing to be interviewed on camera about sci fi fandom and George. Of course I am so shy when it comes to appearing in front of a camera that I declined. Yeah bullshit I declined. I thought I might be too nervous to string more than two words together but they asked me questions about a topic I am passionate about - science fiction and fantasy. So I was able to, in my humble opinion, wax lyrical and amusingly about sci fi, George and fandom. Well I hope I was waxing lyrically. They asked me why I liked George's work? I said the A Song Of Ice And Fire series is the best work of fantasy since Tolkien. I said in many respects it was better the the Lord Of The Rings because it was more... something... My memory fails at this point. I do recall both my interviewers nodding seriously to what I said. Obviously it was very inciteful. I went on to say that George's sci fi and horror is as good as anything else written in the last 30 years too.

My friendly interviewers. I hope they get full marks for their assignment.

I think that is it now for the short but sweet Worldcon season in Oz. I don't know when the next big name author will be heading our way to flog some books. Luckily we have a metric shitload of talented Aussie writers that live here that hopefully will be doing signings over the next whenever to keep me happy. That means I can't put all my books in storage for the minute, but my "library" is being renamed to "the babies room" in just over 3 months. Maybe I can put all the books where the writer is dead or highly unlikely to visit the antipodes in storage? But the baby needs a room and I don't think I need to find her chewing and dribbling all over a fifteen hundred dollar signed first edition George Martin novel. It'd be funny though wouldn't it.

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