Tor books set up a book signing and reading for Cory Doctorow, author of the new YA title "Little Brother" at a good independent bookstore in a town just outside of north Milwaukee. I went over after work and had a blast.
Some very capable and savvy people suggest where to hold events like this. The Mequon event was really fun, and this was a great venue for this kind of thing.
There was a good turnout and a nice cross-section of fans, from young to seasoned. Cory led with the 'Schenectady' saw in reply to the 'where to you get your ideas from' question. I love that bit. But then he talked about writing a page or two per day, setting rough milestones, how ideas were like bits of yarn or a treasured junk drawer, and how BoingBoing was like his junk drawer, a place to post ideas to come back and mine later.
I wrote down a bunch of things he said during the Q&A, tidbits like how Alice came up with the idea for the title of the book, how the focus for "Little Brother" was 'clearly YA' from the beginning, and how writing in the voice of the 17 year old was altogether too easy.
I met an engineer named Erik who asked about the RealID thing here in America. Cory talked about how that leads to a data retention problem, and related a chilling anedote about Denmark. He said he was speaking to a group of danes about data retention and the problems that spring from there, and they said they knew all about it. They said they used to keep comprehensive records about their people so they could 'provide more comprehensive social programs,' which was all well and good in the hands of a responsible government. But in WWII, when invaders rolled through the country and appropriated those filing cabinets of data, that information was used to identify who to put on train cars. He said they don't do that anymore. That could be the understatement of the century.
The passage Cory read from was perfect for the purpose - amusing, fast-moving, dramatic in places, with a sobering climax at a social gathering. He took questions before and after the reading, and signed books and posed for pictures. The time went too fast.
It was a fun evening, and I recommend turning out to see Cory if he's ever within driving distance - it's a smart, thought-provoking, fast-moving experience. Cory is a natural speaker, a formidable thinker, and a storyteller whose powers are still increasing. Don't miss out.
I most enjoyed hearing about what he's working on next, an expansion of one of my favorite Doctorow short stories. I can't wait.
I was very good about holding my tongue and letting others ask questions. I didn't want to abuse my welcome. During the Q&A, somebody asked about the CCTVs in Britain. He talked about that for awhile, and I raised my hand. I mentioned that David Brin had written that perhaps what we need are /more/ cameras, rather than less. He really seemed to enjoy explaining why he disagreed with Brin's theory, and seemed to appreciate the question.
Later, when he was signing books, I waited until the line died down and brought up the rear. He looked at me and thanked me for my question. It seemed heartfelt. I gave him a copy of his book to autograph to my son using his gaming handle. Cory and my son both play World of Warcraft. As I explained the name, he was amused with the explanation. And then I said, "I'm Johne Cook."
I don't know what I expected, probably nothing, but instead, he brightened right up. "Oh!" he said, and shook my hand.
While he was signing stacks of books for the store, we chatted about the SFWA vs. Scribd flap, about the YA market right now, about the Baen's e-book program, and so forth. I thanked him for writing and talking about how giving out content can be good for business, and told him that RGR was very deliberately based on concepts he'd talked about and demonstrated himself.
It was very cool to be there chatting with a guy of his prominence in sci-fi right now. He was a lot of fun to talk to, very approachable, professional with how he handled himself, a genuinely good guy.
As the icing on the cake, it was Linda's idea that I go, and that just made the evening all the more special. I had a blast.http://www.flickr.com/photos/28473049@N ... 095888252/