I like Ernest Cline. I do. I’ve only read Ready Player One so far. I haven’t read Armada yet or seen Fanboys, but still. However, the event last night at the Tattered Cover on Colfax was my least favorite event there ever, and I’ve been to quite a few over the years. Sorry, but it’s true.
When I got there, there were already a lot of people. I was told by staff that the signing would be in order of rows, so I sat as close as I could. This meant I was way off to stage (or podium) left, which would end up being disastrous for the evening.
You see, the Colfax locations puts the presenter in an alcove at the center of the basement room. This is normally fine. However, Ernest had a projection up on a screen as an integral part of his presentation. Guess what? They had the projection screen set up on the far side of the alcove. Not everyone could see it, particularly me. That meant that I couldn’t see what he was directly talking about most of the time. You didn’t always need to see the screen to know what was going on, but much of the time you did. Not being able to see, I was completely lost. Even when you didn’t need to see, I’d usually spaced out because I’d been so lost beforehand and so even that was lost on me.
I was pretty much lost the entire time he talked. For an hour and a half. Longer than normal, and not actually involving any reading from the book the reading was about (Armada). Normally that wouldn’t be a problem, but since I was so lost every extra minute felt like just that much more time I was flushing from my life. Normally, I get out of a reading by 8. He didn’t even stop talking until 8:30.
In fact, the current book took up about ten minutes at the end. Before that was a lead up about his life, how he came to writing, how he got Fanboy made, the reaction, writing Ready Player One, and all that. That was all fine too, except for me basically wasting an hour and a half of my life since I could follow any of it due to not being able to see the screen.
Worst, the screen was portable. They could have put it at a good location everyone could see, but they didn’t. No one else even mentioned it. Most of them seemed so fanboy/girl themselves that they didn’t care. Maybe they knew it all already. I didn’t, and I just spent the whole time angry and confused, and getting angrier all the time.
Then? When he stopped talking and started signing? That’s when the staff spur of the moment decided to change how things were going to go. The first three rows still went first, but they then were going to do all the people on the sides who’d arrived last. Really? Change it at the last minute when I’d arrived as early as possible to try to get a good spot for signing, a spot I was told would be good, when I could have just stood to get up there faster? They were going to send all these other people up before me who hadn’t been waiting as long? I just got angrier and angrier.
I’ve never been to one that was going to be that crowded where they hadn’t issued numbered signing line tickets. Ever.
It took an hour for me to get up to the desk where he was signing.
Mind you, I got up there at 9:30 and the store had closed at 9. They still had well over half of the crowd to go, mostly because he was chatting with people way longer than he was possible to get everyone through. They just kept letting things get later and later, even announcing that people with kids could get into line out of order, not that people weren’t just getting in line whenever they wanted without being stopped anyhow. Of course, as someone who didn’t bring a kid my time was worthless and I hadn’t been waiting as long despite having arrived just after six.
Yeah, three and a half hours there. For virtually nothing except signed books. I was so tempted just to walk out and abandon the whole thing, particularly since I basically didn’t get to understand the talk anyway, but only held on because I kept telling myself it couldn’t go on much longer. Then it did.
By the time I got up to Ernest, I didn’t even want to talk to him. I handed him my books for signing and just shrugged whenever he said anything to me. Then I got the hell out.
The time I left my house? 5:30. The time I got home? 10:00. All for the privilege of sitting and getting angry, and a couple signed books I could have had delivered that way. I got to meet Ernest, but I was so pissed by that point that it didn’t matter anyway. I like Ernest, but I wasn’t that big of a fan. This big block of resentment I’m carrying around with me will likely fight against becoming one, just from the memory. I’m going to have to wait a long time to read Armada now just to not take all that anger out on the book. It was simply the least enjoyable reading I’ve ever been to at the Tattered Cover.
And I like Ernest Cline.