Reading Week #5 Prologue: The ‘Redshirts’ Away Mission
So We Went on an Away Mission, Looking for Missing Redshirts – -
– - Luckily, and perhaps a bit amazingly, no one was killed!
David: Mike and I long ago decided that one of the upcoming books that we’d review was John Scalzi‘s ‘Redshirts‘, after hearing the hilarious excerpt he read at MiniCon 46 last year. Even better, as part of his book tour Scalzi was doing a signing for Redshirts at Uncle Hugo‘s on June 23rd, from 1:00 to 2:00. Yes! Signed copies! We suited up appropriately for the signing – I wore a red shirt, the only one I have, with SPAMIT (Stupid People at MIT) on it, while Mike opted for the W00tStock 2.3 shirt from the Minneapolis show.
We arrived about ten minutes early. Scalzi hadn’t arrived yet. To our dismay, we found that Uncle Hugo’s had sold out of all of their copies of Redshirts, and hadn’t been able to acquire any replacement stock. I didn’t pick up a copy earlier, because I thought I’d give the purchase money to Uncle Hugo’s. Luckily, I’d brought along a copy of ‘Fuzzy Nation‘ for John to sign; the rest of his books I’d gotten signed at prior events, going so far as to drag the huge Subterranean Press version of Bradbury’s ‘Martian Chronicles‘ to Wootstock to get him to sign his introduction.
Mike: Co-Captain’s Log StarDate: TheDayTheyRanOutOfRedShirts
In retrospect it makes sense that there would not be enough Redshirts to go around. They do have a tendency to be scarce after you get more than 10 minutes into the episode. I picked up a physical copy of Scalzi’s ‘God Engines‘ and figured that at least the trip wouldn’t be a total loss.
David: We were near the front of the line, so we got our books signed quickly, and then we were done. What to do? We joked around about rushing off to find copies of Redhirts, and then realized that neither of us was really joking. So, since we still had about 50 minutes before the signing ended and our wives weren’t expecting us back immediately, we rushed off to find copies. A quick search for local bookstores on my iPhone (I love living in the future) provided directions to the closest Barnes & Noble, and we were there in ten minutes. It was one that Mike knew well, as it was very close to his favorite restaurant – Hell’s Kitchen. In fact, I dropped him off in front of Hell’s Kitchen, with the worry that I might not see him again if he decided to stop in for a quick bite to eat. I circled the block a few times, waiting for Mike.
Mike: I work downtown and I know the skyway. In particular I know how to get to two places in the skyway very well, Hell’s Kitchen and Barnes & Noble. The bookstore is on the Mall so we would have had to drive two blocks out of the way to get to a place where David could drop me off in front of the store. Instead told him to drop me at HK and I would probably get there more quickly. I leaped out of the car and sprinted through the skyway over to B&N. I did wonder what people might think about me as I ran by them, but I was on a mission. Once in the bookstore I made a beeline for the SciFi section. When I got to the shelf with Scalzi’s books I saw the distinctive red cover, but I could only find one copy.
The information desk was downstairs so I slid down the banister and pushed two people out of my way to ask the clerk in my best Shatner imitation, “Good..god..man..is..there..another..copy..of..this..book ..anywhere..in..the..store!” He started typing into his computer, but he was going too slow. I told him I needed more speed and he assured me that he was “givin’ it all he’s got!” His pointy-eared coworker then explained to me that logic indicated I had the last copy. (That is my story and since no one was with me for this part you can’t prove it isn’t true.) I bought the single book and ran back to where David had dropped me.
David: We still had about 30 minutes. The next closest possibility was a local comicbook store. Unfortunately, while they sold some books, Redshirts wasn’t in stock. Where to go next?
Mike: I briefly floated the notion of heading back with just our single copy. We would get back with plenty of time to spare, get the book signed and then use some game of chance to decide the owner. We decided that we really both need a copy of the book and we would go down together if it couldn’t be done.
David: The University of Minnesota was just across the Mississippi, and I knew the bookstore has a good science fiction section. I also have a parking permit for the garage attached to Coffman Student Union, where the bookstore is located. We drove there quickly, although there was a bit of road construction along the way from the light rail going in along Washington Avenue.
Mike: Allow me to elaborate on “a bit of road construction”. As we were funneled onto Washington we came up to The Guy With The Stop/Slow Sign just as he is flipping it to Stop. A dump truck then proceeds to slowly back up down the street in front of us. I, naively, assume it is backing up to enter the construction area off to our left. Instead the dump truck stops directly in front of us and then we wait while it unloads its two ton cargo of dirt. At this point it occurs to me that David is in fact wearing a Red Shirt and I start to have serious doubts about our success. Or at the very least his chances of survival.
David: We arrived at the bookstore a bit out of breath after a quick sprint from the parking garage. Success! They had two copies of Redshirts; we only needed one. After paying, we rushed back to the car, and headed back to Uncle Hugos. At this point we were about 8 minutes from the end of the signing….
Mike: Perhaps I need to get out more, but running through the parking garage is one of the more exciting things I’ve done in a while. We ran full out getting to the store, but we opted for the elevator. On the way back we saw this for the bottle neck it was and bounded down the stairs three at a time. As we exited the stairs I crashed through the double doors and made a passing remark to David that with all of this running it felt a little bit like Doctor Who instead of Star Trek. The only thing that would have made this dash to the car better would have been a Bo Duke slide across the hood of David’s Prius.
As we were driving back to Uncle Hugo’s I called the store and let them know that we were coming back and would they please ask Mr. Scalzi to just stay 5 extra minutes. They told me they would, but that he had a very tight schedule that day so they could not promise us he would be there.
David: We didn’t quite make it in time. It was 2:02 when I dropped Mike at the door with both copies of the book. A parking spot materialized faster than expected, so I was close behind Mike. To our relief, someone had plied Scalzi with a huge amount of frosting and an excessively large Coke Zero, and he still hadn’t managed to get out of his chair.
Signed books in hand, we called the mission a success: two signed ‘Redshirts’, no dead Redshirts.
Luckily for me, as I was wearing the only red shirt in the party. (WHAT was I thinking?!?!).
Prior Reading Week Reviews: