... were at the National Book Festival. So were a lot of other big name authors, but those were the three in whom I was interested enough to attend their talks.
I was going to have all three of them sign my ereader (actually the cover) as well as a hardcopy of a book, but it turned out that the book pavilion at the festival only sold one book per author. In Bujold's case, this was Cryoburn, which I already have as an ebook (though I haven't read it). For Vinge, it was The Children of the Sky -- ditto. And for Hopkinson, it was The Chaos. Which... I'm sorry, the fact is, I have not actually read any of Hopkinson's books yet, and I don't think it would be fair to start with her first YA novel, when I'm not that fond of most YA and that book doesn't appeal to me much.
So we hiked up to the local Barnes & Noble, but by the time we got back to the festival, we only had time to make the Vinge booksigning.
Fail for the National Book Festival books pavilion. Also, fail for Barnes & Noble: they carried nothing by Nalo Hopkinson, and only one book by Vinge that I hadn't already read. So I ended up getting Vinge to autograph my ebook cover (after I showed him my ebook copy of The Children of the Sky and assured him that I had indeed paid for it) and a paperback copy of Rainbow's End, which I've now added to my physical TBR pile which keeps getting bigger even though I swore I was going to reduce it in size this year.
Lois McMaster Bujold
I have to confess that I've only read one of her Vorkosigan novels. It was okay, but not that memorable. I have a bunch of others on my ereader which I keep meaning to get to one of these days. Of the three authors I heard speak, though, she was the most lively and engaging and concise, going through the questions people had lined up to ask her with admirable brevity and clarity. She talked about how she got started as an author, and hinted at her ambivalence about ebooks and what she fears the economic implications might be for newer authors. (She has nothing against ebooks as a format, but clearly she's not thrilled about things like the Baen CD of her entire collected works being posted online, though she was smart enough not go off on a rant about epiracy.)
She was asked a lot about whether she was going to write any more books in her fantasy series; she said basically that she hasn't ruled it out, but right now nothing is in the works because she hasn't been inspired with anything. She said she keeps trying to end the Vorkosigan saga, but people keep wanting more and she keeps writing more.
She seems like a cool person and very witty. I'll have to give her books another try.
I've heard many great things about her, but she's another author who's been on my "get around to her eventually" list. She was also quite witty and interesting, talking about her background and of course how she still gets side-eyed because who ever heard of a black woman from Jamaica who's a science fiction author?
She did a reading from The Chaos which sounded well-written and thematically poignant, but sorry, still gonna have to find another book by her to get started with.
Someone (of course) asked her about Octavia Butler. She said: "I found out about her while I was working as a librarian. Of course I immediately ordered all of her books through the interlibrary loan, and read everything she'd ever written in about a month, and promptly became very depressed." She and Butler were friends before the latter's untimely death.
I found it very sad when she mentioned that she'd recently spent two years basically homeless with her partner. This was after she'd become a published author. She was literally missing book contracts (because of no fixed address), and only now is starting to make enough money from writing and teaching gigs to have some financial stability.
There was a definite aging pale male cast to Vinge's audience, as opposed to those who came to listen to Bujold and Hopkinson. (Also: Bujold had a huge audience; she packed the tent. Vinge had a pretty sizable one too, especially considering he was speaking late in the day. Hopkinson had quite a few people in attendance, but definitely a much smaller crowd.)
Vinge spent a lot of time talking about the Singularity and how he thinks the 21st century will be big for space exploration. Uh, what? Sorry, dude, love your books, but you're dreaming. At least he didn't waste too much time on libertarianism.
He said he's had writer's block for 67 years.
People didn't get to ask him as many questions because he was kind of long-winded answering them. Lots of stuff about the nature of the Singularity and artificial intelligence and knowledge.
Most memorable comment (when trying to draw comparisons between different types of intelligence and talking about the speed of human technological and social change): "If you could bring Mark Twain back to life and he came to the 2012 National Book Festival, you could probably bring him up to speed about our era and everything that's happened in an afternoon. You can explain our era to a person from an earlier era [the farther back, the longer it would take and the harder it would be to get them to believe you]. You can't explain our era to a goldfish."
I asked him, at the book signing, whether he was going to write a sequel to The Children of the Sky, since it so obviously needs one. He somewhat reluctantly admitted that there were a few issues needing resolution, and said it would take him at least three years to write another follow-up. So, I take that to mean maybe, someday.