Thursday, March 08, 2007

Tad Williams

Last night I attended a reading and signing by new Aquaman writer Tad Williams down at the University Bookstore in Seattle. It was a very nice, quiet event. Tad Williams has been to signings at that location many times previously, so there was a comfortable air in the room. I arrived a bit early and handed out my fliers to all Tad Williams fans as they wandered into the area. Most of them seemed thrilled to read the information, although I did note at least one paper crane made from a flier before the reading was over. There is a decent amount of crossover between fantasy fans and comic book fans, and most fans are open-minded and willing to try something new.

The reading was from Tad's new book Shadowplay. It was a scene of a talking raven telling a story to an exiled prince, and the tale the raven told felt like Norse mythology infused with a hefty helping of Greek mythology, a point which another listener brought up in the question and answer session of the reading. The Q&A session went briskly and cheerfully. Again, Tad Williams had done readings here a few times before, so the basic questions were mostly already asked. There was a good amount of time spent on Tad's comic book projects, including The Next, Aquaman, and Bad-Guy Factory. I got to pipe in on the shipping date for Aquaman, when someone who hadn't read my flier asked.

A fascinating part of the discussion was about Tolkien's influence on the Fantasy genre, and how further writers have been derivative of Tolkien in everything including his anti-modernist themes. While I couldn't quite wrap my head around how Tad was arguing against the wholesale appropriation of Tolkien in that manner, it was a fascinating discussion that made me want to read his books so I could understand the full reasoning. I think I was at a severe disadvantage in that particular discussion as I have only read a few of Tad's short stories. I intend to rectify that.

Tad also discussed the German radio adaptation of his Otherland series, which is about a virtual world, and how that has led to a MMO game in the works that will take place in Otherland. When he listed off his current projects at the end of the discussion, it's pretty clear he's keeping himself busy.

After the discussion was the standard signing line. The folks with the fewest books to sign went first. I waited for awhile, then got in line with my one Otherland novel (which hubby-Eric got because it has an Oz section... I wonder if the Oz section will show up in the German MMO?). The line went quick, yet everyone had plenty of time to chat with Tad. After he signed my book and introduced me to Duane, the U Bookstore's rep, I sat back down in the audience with some of the folks who had brought TONS of books along to be signed (or, in one case, two framed prints which had to be removed from the frames first), including a fellow named Art who I know from some local conventions.

During a break in the signings, I pulled out Torvald and my camera, and Trolled Tad Williams:

Tad Williams and Torvald

After all the fans' books had been signed, a cart was rolled up and the store's books were signed. A number of fans, including myself, pitched in to make sure that everything went smoothly from signing to stickering with the "autographed copy" sticker, to back on the cart for reshelving. Then Duane, Tad, Art, myself, and two other fans headed down to University Village for dinner and discussion.

As my regular readers know, I'm on a calorie count, so I'd prepared for this contingency by having a nice solid lunch. I was the one eating a small bowl of chowder while everyone around me had incredibly large burgers that stunned my senses, they were so big. Although I was VERY tempted by dessert, when Duane got a dessert I saw I'd made the right choice to not try it, as the dessert was as big as the burgers. And that's all that needs to be said about the food, except that it was very good.

The dinner discussion ranged from dogs to Captain America to basketball to comics to racoons to Aquaman to manga to slugs and back again and over. I don't know if I held my own in the conversation, as I tend to be pretty shy and wasn't completely into my "con mode" that allows me to function in crowds. At least it was only six people, which helps. And it was good that everyone at the table was a comic book fan to some extent. Gary, who sat next to me, discussed how he sold his collection of comic books to pay for expenses when his daughter was born. Tad had lots of great stories, including the current situation with a pack of racoons at his home and a wedding tale that involved evil twins. In short, it was a fun night.

Before we parted, I gave Tad the remaining fliers I'd had printed. He was off to Minneapolis on a red eye, with no hope of sleep for another 24 hours. This book tour is a short one, but he is going to lose some sleep on it.