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review 2013-01-23 00:00
Stand By for Mars! by Carey Rockwell
Stand by for Mars! - Carey Rockwell

True story, though not much of a review.

Labor Day week-end, 1987. NASFic, CactusCon, Phoenix, Arizona. Hotter than bloody hell.

I was there with one friend and a lot of strangers. The friend and I and a couple of the strangers decided to get some dinner at the Spaghetti Factory the first night of the con, so maybe Wednesday? Thursday? I think the restaurant was on Central Avenue, but who knows? This was 25 years ago! Anyway, part of the decor in the restaurant consisted of shelves with books on them, kind of oldish looking books. Compulsive reader that I am, I decided to have a look see what was on the shelf by our table. As fate would have it, the book on the far left end was Stand by for Mars!

How appropriate! I thought as I reached to take the book off its shelf.

Except the book was glued to the next one. In fact, all of the books on the shelf were glued together. Not to be vanquished by a spot of glue, I carefully unstuck Tom Corbett from his companions and took him back to the table to meet mine.

Everyone thought it was a rollicking bit of fortune, maybe an omen if you will, and yes, I dared to steal the book.

It's just a cheap Grosset & Dunlap edition, and the dust jacket was long gone, but except for the torn cover where the glue was, it's in reasonably good shape. And it provided a great way to collect autographs.

Over the next four or five days, I dared to approach some names and some unknowns, people I chatted with and drank with and listened to fabulous stories with. Eventually the book took on a bit of a life of its own, as people began to come up to me and ask to see it -- and of course to sign it. L. Sprague de Camp. Catherine de Camp. Julius Schwartz. Hal Clement. W. Michael Gear. He and Kathleen had just recently signed the contract for their "North America's Forgotten Past" series with Tor. There's a quick little original sketch by Real Musgrave, and a much larger sketch on the end papers by P.D. Breeding-Black. ("Thrust! We need more thrust!")

But y'know what? I've never actually read the book. . . .

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