Barkley — So Glad You (Didn’t) Ask #68: Two 2022 Hugo Award Finalists Walk Into a Bookstore…

By Chris M. Barkley: Last weekend, I was in the Cincinnati branch of Joseph Beth Booksellers (my last  place of full-time employment and one of the best independent bookstores in America) to buy copies of Heat 2 by Michael Mann and Meg Gardiner and What If 2 by Randall Munroe when a book display at the register stopped me dead in my tracks. 

The sign on top of a very large display of the quality paperback edition of the 2022 Hugo-nominated novel Project Hail Mary announcing that author Andy Weir was scheduled for a signing in Cincinnati the following Wednesday (October 12). 

Mr. Weir’s signing in Cincinnati was the next to last of a five Midwestern city tour to promote the paperback edition of Project Hail Mary, which was released on October 4th.

My partner Juli Marr and I arrived an hour early and a large group of fans were already beginning to accumulate in the store. Since I was an annual premium bookstore member, I was given a first place line ticket for the signing. 

Photo by Juli Marr

At a little after 7:00 p.m., Andy Weir and noted suspense novelist David Bell descended the main stairs to the first landing for a 45-minute talk and a brief question-and-answer session with the crowd of several hundred people, which your intrepid correspondent recorded on his phone (to the best of my ability).

(Chris Barkley’s video of the interview can be viewed on his YouTube channel here.)

After the Q&A session, I ascended the stairs to have Mr. Weir sign (and date) my hardcover first edition of his acclaimed first novel, The Martian AND the bonus blu-ray disc of the 2016 Extended Edition of the Oscar-nominated (and Best Dramatic Presentation – Long Form Hugo Award winning) of the film version.

After I introduced myself to Mr. Weir and Mr. Bell, I said, “You and I have something in common.”

“Oh really? What’s that?”

“You and I are the only 2022 Hugo Award nominees within a hundred mile radius of this bookstore.” (I stated that because I know that our fellow nominee, Jason Sanford, lives in Columbus, Ohio, hence the reference to the mileage.)

I explained that I was one of the finalists in the Best Fan Writer category on the ballot as Mr. Weir happily signed my book and blu-ray disc (which he vaguely suggested I might sell for an enormous amount of cash on eBay, ha, ha). He also posed for a photo with me, which was taken by a bookseller working the event. 

Andy Weir and Chris Barkley. Photo by Joseph Beth Staff

We then shook hands and wished him the best of luck the next time he’s on the finalist ballot, which I predict will be in the very near future.

Andy Weir’s last stop will be this coming Friday, October 14th at the Wisconsin Book Festival in Madison, Wisconsin at 7:30 (Central Time) at the Central Library Community Rooms 301 and 302. Further details can be found here.

7 thoughts on “Barkley — So Glad You (Didn’t) Ask #68: Two 2022 Hugo Award Finalists Walk Into a Bookstore…

  1. Regardless of what you think about Weir books, that picture is prime evidence that he has the heart of a true fan.

  2. Andy Weir was here in Louisville Tuesday night, and we had the added bonus of John Scalzi as interviewer. A splendid time was had by all!

  3. Good for you, Chris! Sounds like you and Juli had a lot of fun, and also that you and Andy hit it off splendidly. Well done.

    (Pedantic note: We all have to learn to more consistently say “Hugo finalist”, rather than “nominee”, right?)

  4. What a lovely picture of two 2022 Hugo finalists!

    Many years ago, I visited the Joseph Beth Booksellers in Lexington, Kentucky, and left quite a bit of money there. It really is a great store.

  5. A few years back I was shopping at the Cincinnati Joseph-Beth and got into a conversation (I think about N. K. Jemisin and Hugo nominations) with one of the employees. She mentioned your name and I was pleased to be able to tell her I read your articles on this site.

    I’ve been to the Lexington J-B too, but while both cities are about 100 miles away from where I live, the road connections to Cincinnati are better. I also lived in Cincinnati for a few months more than 30 years ago, and drive past it every time I travel to/from Iowa, so I’m more comfortable finding my way around town there.

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