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.