Rediscovered: Line v. No Line

Cordelia Willis, who tipped Kent Harrington — both pictured above — off to some crime lab info for Last Ferry Home, joined in on the food and talk in Street, September 21.

What was the ridiculous description I noticed recently in an academic journal? “Polyvocal discourse unfolding in a diversity of ways.” Yeah, sure, that’s what we were doing.

As stories were swapped, Kent mentioned that in fact he does get a little nervous if he notices lots of people waiting in a signing line — he doesn’t like keeping them on hold too long.

And he also told us about the first time he was slotted for a signing at a Bouchercon, the World Mystery Convention. No one knew who he was, no one came to stand in his theoretical line.

But he was seated next to “a ninety-year-old lady who wrote cat mysteries” and her line must have numbered four hundred people. Kent says she was very nice to him, and told him, “It’ll get better.”

Cordelia — daughter of science fiction writer Connie Willis — took up the theme. She’s known George R. R. Martin from since she was a kid, he’s part of her mom’s circle of friends. You may have seen GRRM when he clambered up on stage at the recent Emmy Awards with the Game of Thrones crew.

Long years before Game of Thrones made his bones, GRRM was at some science fiction convention, same scenario as Kent. He was starting out, kind of unknown, and they seated him next to Douglas Adams of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy fame, who was known.

No one was in Martin’s line.

The Doug Adams line stretched across the hall, out the door, and a few blocks down the street.

Some well-intentioned but clewless convention worker took up an electronic bullhorn and went outside, walking down the blocks and yelling, “No line for George R. R. Martin!”

Nobody budged from the Hitchhiker queue.

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