How To Get Signed Books From Me For the Holidays

Hey! Kids! In the United States and thinking of giving some of my books for Christmas/Hanukkah/Winter Solstice/Enter Your Favorite Winter Holiday Here? Well, why not get them signed and personalized? By me, even? Because, you know, nothing says “I love/like/am in some way obligated to you” like a signed, personalized book. From me! And while you’re doing it, you’ll be helping out a local independent book store. Which means your literary karma will go right through the roof. Everybody wins!

Here’s how you can do it: call or e-mail my local book store, Jay and Mary’s Book Center, in Troy, Ohio, and tell them:

a) What books of mine you’d like;

b) Who you would like to have the books personalized to;

c) Any specific message you like me to scribble (within reason);

d) Where you want those books shipped.

They will tally up your order (the cost of books plus shipping), take your credit card information and fill your order. And then, every few days between now and December 20 (or so), I’ll head down to the bookstore, sit in their stock room, and sign those books for you. How many books? As many books as you feel like ordering. You order a hundred, I’ll sign a hundred (go ahead. Order a hundred. I dare you).

And then off the books will go, toward whomever it is you wish to receive your gift — or to you, if, say you want to wrap them yourself and/or are ordering the books for yourself. Because, hey, don’t you deserve a signed book, too? You sure do.

Here is Jay and Mary’s contact information page, with their phone number and an e-mail form. Give them a call, they would love to hear from you.

And now, an important shipping note you should pay attention to: In talking to Mary today, she suggested that in order to make sure that your books get where they’re supposed to go by Christmas/Solstice, you should probably get your orders in no later than December 10 (if you want them for Hanukkah, better get to the phone right now, because that starts December 2).

Jay and Mary’s will happily take orders after December 10 but can’t guarantee that books ordered after that date will arrive on time for Christmas, because, hey, US Postal Service during the holidays. You know how it is. Be that as it may I myself will be signing any order that comes in before December 20, so even if you miss the 12/10 date, you can still get books signed.

I regret to say Jay and Mary’s cannot ship outside the United States. Because it really is a pain in their ass to do so. Sorry, whole rest of the planet.

And you ask: what books of mine will Jay and Mary’s have available? Basically, if it’s in print, they can get it. Here’s what’s in print, and in which format:

CURRENT HARDCOVER: METAtropolis, The God Engines

CURRENT TRADE PAPERBACK: Agent to the Stars, Old Man’s War

CURRENT MASS MARKET PAPERBACK: Old Man’s War, The Ghost Brigades, The Last Colony, Zoe’s Tale, The Android’s Dream, Agent to the Stars (as of 11/30/10), The New Space Opera 2 (anthology; my story “The Tale of the Wicked” is in it).

CURRENT NON-FICTION: Your Hate Mail Will Be Graded (essay collection, Hugo winner), Book of the Dumb, Book of the Dumb 2 (both humor books), The Rough Guide to the Universe, second edition (Astronomy), The Rough Guide to Sci-Fi Movies (film). All my non-fiction is in Trade Paperback format.

So just call Jay and Mary’s with your order and they’ll get you set up.

Any additional questions? Leave them in the comments and I’ll answer them for you. Thanks, and happy shopping!


Cosmic Coincidences

E-mail this morning (actually late last night, whilst I was asleep) wondering why, regarding Agent to the Stars, I hadn’t credited William Tenn’s short story “Betelgeuse Bridge” as an inspiration. Agent to the Stars, as most of you know, is about a movie agent who gets the job of trying to introduce a slimy but friendly race of aliens to the human race; “Betelgeuse Bridge” is about a PR exec who has more or less the same gig, with aliens who are also slimy (they’re snails).

The answer as to why I didn’t credit Tenn’s story is simple enough: I hadn’t read it and I had no idea it existed — indeed, I had no idea it existed until this morning, when the e-mail in question had me trundling off to Google Books to see if there was an excerpt of the story there that I could look at (there was, but not enough that I could read to the end — now I need to get an anthology it’s in, of which there are several). From the portion I read, there are definitely similarities, although, if I may say so, from what I can see, my aliens seem like nicer people.

Be that as it may, the seeming coincidence here is just that: Coincidence. Agent came out of my own experience working as a film critic and journalist in the early 90s and was written in 1997, and I’m vaguely ashamed to admit my first awareness of Tenn came in 2004, when he was a Guest of Honor at Noreascon4, that year’s Worldcon. It’s possible I read some Tenn before then, but if I did, I don’t remember, and from what (admittedly little) Tenn I have read since 2004, I can say I think I would remember, because he really is my kind of writer. As it is, it appears he and I ended up having more or less the same story idea, 46 years apart.

Things like this will happen from time to time. Indeed, it’s happened to me before — many critics and readers assumed that Old Man’s War was either partly inspired by or a reaction to The Forever War by Joe Haldeman, and I received incredulous stares and sometimes outright disbelief when I noted that I hadn’t read Joe’s book before I wrote mine. And, well, what can I say. There are gaps in my reading (in the case of Joe, I’ve since made up for lost time and in fact wrote an introduction to the latest edition of The Forever War).

I’m not entirely surprised that a story with a set-up similar to Agent exists; science fiction has been around for a long time and the idea that aliens might need a marketing strategy is a pretty attractive one. It’s more surprising there aren’t more stories with the same general topic, actually. I’m looking forward to reading all of “Betelgeuse Bridge” and seeing how it ends up. I can’t say it was an inspiration for Agent, but I can say that what I’ve read of the story is likely to inspire me to read more William Tenn.

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