"S" Book Signing - JJ Abrams! A Bad Robot!

I’ve gone to almost 200 premieres but only two book signings in London. That’s not because I’m illiterate so much, it’s just that these events aren’t quite as well publicised, and they aren’t really so much events as a long queue through a bookshop (or outside a bookshop), leading to a table inside where an author signs

Also, unlike premieres where it’s free to queue, generally in a book signing you (a) have to buy a book to gain access, and (b) maybe you can take photos of the author, but they will not really pose or high-five or stand on a raised stage with a microphone to be interviewed by Alex Zane, which isn’t quite what you get at Thor the Dark World or The Hunger Games Catching Fire

Still….. director JJ Abrams? The enigmatic book “S”? In London? I might already have photographed him at the world premiere of Star Trek Into Darkness earlier this year, but I’m totally there.

Here’s how it (literally) went down.

It’s a little after 3pm for a 6pm event, so there’s almost three hours to go. And first in line is a guy dressed as the mascot for JJ Abrams’ production company ‘Bad Robot’. I’m number 26 in the queue, and laughing at ordinary passersby refusing to make eye-contact with a large robot.

Apparently the guy in the robot suit has been in line since noon and hasn’t stopped for a toilet break. And he’s carrying a large-capacity Big Gulp container. (I decided not to ask whether it was in the process of being emptied or filled).

After a very pleasant couple of hours talking to the fans in line next to me, we’re led inside where it’s warm, and where we’re not blurring the line between us Geeks and the people just waiting for a bus at the nearby busstop. A short time later, The Man himself arrives. (Sadly, Doug Dorst, the less well known of the two authors, wasn’t at the event).

The press presence at the event is small, but don’t let that fool you. They run an impressive defensive game. (And wearing a yellow shirt under maroon might be a ‘thing’ you’ll see at fashion shows next year)

Now there’s something not every director/production company head gets to see – somebody dressed as his own mascot at a book signing! (At the next Jerry Bruckheimer premiere, I’m totally going to think about dressing up as a tree with a giant bolt of lightning hitting it) (then I’ll realise it’ll really impede my photography, and won’t)

“Don’t believe the stories. I wasn’t wearing this suit from noon. I actually got up this morning, THEN put on the suit, took the tube to work, worked a half day in the office, THEN came over here and queued from noon. Also, if you shake my robot hand, I promise never to take it off”

The suit really is amazing. Peripheral vision is clearly a problem, though.

The eyes glow! That’s even more cool.

“Make it out to one of the names of whatever Darth you’re making up for Episode VII, please” Nice try. Wish I’d thought of it.

“I’ll consider you for a 1st AD role on Star Wars Episode VII if you can totally discredit the professionalism of my incument 1stAD. Actually, he’s a friend. Please don’t”

My original plan, when told that JJ Abrams would personalise the book, was to ask for the the dedication to be made out to ‘JJ Abrams’ HIMSELF and thus (cleverly, I thought) score a double autograph. But the Waterstones employee taking names and dedications looked at me like I was crazy, so I went with my name instead.

Got on the train afterwards and started reading. It seems my copy’s of ‘Ship of Theseus’ been vandalised by a a couple of kids writing messages and notes to each other throughout. Ah… I see… .that’s the story-within-a-story-on-top-of-a-story that this experience is about.

So… that was pretty cool. I’ve started the book and it’s fascinating. Conspiracies, multiple timelines, several levels of storytelling… and I’m barely twenty pages in. I’ll let you know how it works out.

Until next time, for now I think it’s still appropriate to call it a book premiere, and thus put it into The Archive of (not just) Movie Premieres

Journal Comments

  • Mel Brackstone