Long Live The Stainless Steel Rat!

I waded into the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books fairly early in the day yesterday. I have a love-hate relationship with the festival as it’s usually scorching outside. This time the weather was pleasant but with some wind. I had one ticket, which was to see the Grand Masters of Science Fiction panel, where I hoped to see Scott Edelman.

But first I wandered into several booths, especially publishers I thought I might resonate with, and I started buying books. I discovered that, as soon as I said, “I’m a writer,” the portcullis dropped with a resounding crash. It became obvious why: When I was in the Boom! Studios booth, a middle-aged woman walked up to one of the guys working there and immediately started in about how she was a writer and — behold! — here’s her self-published science fiction novel. The Boom! guy was trying to be polite, but it was obvious this was annoying him.

This is why you can’t network at the Festival anymore. Even if you’re a legit author like myself, no one will take you seriously because there are now so many bastards out there jacking off into a printing press. At least in France no one has the balls to say they’re a writer unless they’ve been published by a professional press. It actually means something to call oneself a writer there. Now, if you’re one of the .00001% who get picked up by an actual publisher, bully for you. (If you’re writing non-fiction, that’s another ball of wax. I have no problem with that.) But most of you? You’re ruining what speck of respect we have left as writers.

Anyway, onto the good stuff.

I made it a bit late to the panel, which was brilliant. So many great bits of writing wisdom. When it broke up, I spotted Scott and called out to him. I met Sheila Williams, who was with him, and he took me up to introduce me to Robert Silverberg, Harry Harrison and Joe Haldeman. We wound up walking with them to their signing area. On the way there, I found myself in the elevator with my childhood writing heroes and I just…geek-gasmed. There is no better description. I geeked the fuck out, I was SO excited. I made Joe giggle, I was so tickled. I could have sworn, too, I got a few looks from Silverberg that said, “Damn. If only I was about 30 years younger.” 😉

And then I realized that Sheila Williams was The Sheila Williams who had sent me the sweetest rejection letter ever last year, urging me to write more science fiction. I nearly had an aneurysm of happiness.

Scott got a photo of he and I together that I hope he’ll share. It was fantastic to see him and I hope for more of the same at the Stoker Weekend.

Long live The Stainless Steel Rat!

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