The Running Of The Fans

Sorry, guys, you know sometimes I wake up not all there.  This is a manifestation of that, since I woke up yesterday with this running through my head.  And as a day of opening boxes and dealing with vent cleaners looms, I decided to indulge myself.  Any of my colleagues borrowed for this exercise were borrowed unwittingly and it’s not really them, but the fan-space version of them.  I apologize in advance.  (Larry, don’t kill me!)  Most of the authors here are Baen or indie, because those are my friends and I stand a lower chance of their killing me.


The camera pans to a man who could stand to lose 50 or a 100 pounds, wearing a checkered suit and a loud tie that clashes with it, and holding his microphone in a way that conveys not so much excitement as that he wishes for YOU to think he is excited.  “Hello and welcome to the annual Running of The Fans event, which takes place at a different comicon every year.
Before the doors open to the vast majority of casual fans, people who can prove they’re rabid fans of one of the authors attending get issued a special entrance pass.  Proofs of special favor include knowing the author’s children, having once bought the author’s grocery list OR having a lock of the author’s hair.  There was this one who had a lock–”

“Which is where,” a younger, skinnier version of the big man says, pushing into the camera, ahead of his older colleague “some people say the Oh, John Ringo, no, expression originated.”

“Wait,” says the older one.  “I thought that was because of Ghost, a very fine book if I say so myself.  Not that I have read it.”

“You haven’t?” says the other one.  They trade a look so pregnant that were it a woman there would be a shotgun marriage in the offing.  The younger one breaks it by clearing his throat, “We want to emphasize that every writer who takes part in this is here voluntarily.”

Older announcer, “We have to emphasize that because some years ago we got accused of cruelty to animals, by the SPCA.  It seems that writers fall under some of the classifications for feral and reclusive animals.”

“Indeed,” younger announcer says, pushing to the front again.  “Which is why we are saying they choose it voluntarily.  It is believed to be a test of will and endurance and and…”


The camera pans to a group of maybe a hundred writers, jostling and moving restlessly, although in the middle there’s a heated discussion going, probably about what writers discuss when they get together.  That’s right.  Taxes.

A voice from above says “Five minutes until the doors open to the fans.”

“Ah, what a pity,” the younger announcer says.  “We were hoping to give you some interviews with the authors, pre event.  But there won’t be time for that.  As you see, the authors seem to be in fine fettle.”

The announcers spend some time panning the faces of individual authors and discussing their accomplishments.

This is interrupted by a voice from the ceiling, “The fans are coming, the fans are coming.”

The double doors open on a throng at the end of the hall.  Some of the fans are in costume.  There is a minotaur in an Acme costume, for instance, several ladies in corsets and men wearing uniforms of all epochs, some of them imaginary.

The announcers shriek and run behind the barriers which are formed by booths filled with books.  For a while the melee is too confused to focus on, and the announcers are both talking at the same time.

After a while the younger announcer says.  “John Ringo is down.  I repeat he’s down, and they’ve taken his kilt.  But he’s still fighting valiantly.”

“Larry Correia,” says the older announcer, “Is still running, though he is QUITE literally covered in fans demanding his autograph.  Look at him move!  That’s why they call him The Mountain Who Writes.”

“If mountains moved, of course.”

“We have the first author to escape the melee, ladies and gentlemen.  David Drake seems to have evaded the fans by the expedient of pretending to be lost and asking for directions, then fading away.”

“I don’t believe that was an expedient.  He probably is lost.  We’ll eventually find him in Timbuktu, all the while trying to find the convention restroom. He’s legendary for such dislocations.  We believe there might be magic involved.”

On camera, a group of fans gets hit by a volley of books, and falls back, “Ah, that is Mad Mike, aka Michael Williamson.  They didn’t let him bring his guns, so he has MacGyvered a book-throwing weapon out of booth construction tubes, banners and chewing gum.”

“Let go of me, you daft buggers,” sounds from somewhere, and the camera finds Kate Paulk besieged by fans.  As she starts to sign books profferred by the bans, you can hear her mutter, “Ah, should have brought stakes.”

“Poor Kate Paulk.  After all David Weber caught carpal tunnel after such a mishap.”

“They also caught James Young, Sarah Hoyt — who tried to pretend to be Russian to escape–”

“No, that really is her accent.”

“At any rate,” says older announcer.  “It didn’t work.  And something very odd happened when they cornered Amanda Green.  It appears that a giant black cat leapt away from the fray, no one knows where.”

“Interesting.  I always thought that was just her books…”

“Then there is Sabrina Chase, who keeps crying out ‘they tempted me with science.’  Apparently someone asked her a science question, immobilizing her while her fans surrounded her.”

“The least said for the fates of Peter Grant and Pam Uphoff, the best.  I believe each of them has now signed 100 copies and there are still mountains of books to sign.”

“Dave Freer is the only author now still at large and not signing.  He’s barricaded in a booth and keeping rabid fans away with a barrage of coconuts.  Of course, sooner or later he’ll run out of ammunition.”

“Ladies and gentlemen, this has been the annual running of the fans, at a comicon somewhere in the US.  A blood sport only a few authors are brave enough to dare.”


149 thoughts on “The Running Of The Fans

  1. You stand a lower chance of your friends who are Baen or indie authors wanting to kill you, but if they did, they’re probably more capable of effective violence than the whiny girly-men SJW’s.

  2. *looks down from top of not-really-fake tree in corner of lobby* Is it safe to come down yet? *digs claws deeper into bark*

        1. I’d gladly run interference! Can I wear my viking helmet?
          (Seems only appropriate for a Hun.)

          1. Does Viking make a helmet? All I can find from them are things like these:

            BTW – the ghost of the old icebox has been exorcised and the new replacement is being brought to temperature to receive transplants. Arguments about proper placement of the mustards bin are being resolved through the traditional “Cook Rules” method as the twenty-sided dice have been misappropriated.

            New dust bunnies have already been spotted eyeing the space behind the appliance as a potential squatting site.

            1. That depends on how good you are with tin snips and an acetylene torch.

  3. In a different place from when I read Onward Drake. Hypothesis: David Drake is related to Ryouga Hibiki.

      1. I’m pretty sure the Drakes won’t go for the arranged marriage scam, unlike most of the characters of Ranma 1/2….

        The protagonist of Flying Witch suffers from the same affliction, but she’s getting a little bit better.

  4. I keep telling folks that I am a crazy cat lady AND that I don’t like crowds. I just didn’t say what sort of crazy and cat I was. VBEG

    1. What definition of crowd do you employ? In my experience, a number of people queuing up to buy an author whiskey are not deemed a crowd as readily as a similar quantity waving scythes, rakes, pitchforks and torches.

      1. Buying whiskey is good. Cornering is bad. Very bad. And tends to bring out the crazy in me and that, well, can lead to “interesting” things happening. VBEG

  5. Too bad authors are notorious for being short on funds, I’d see about importing that Japanese “your signature is a stamp” thing for signatures.

    Maybe the fantasy type folks could get away with a signet ring?

      1. Great, now I’m thinking of how to interpret that and the one that got suck in my head is swans doing synchronized swimming in a 50s musical.

            1. But seals are incredibly graceful in the water. Fans, not so much. Fan worms, on the other hand… you’d have to ask Dave Freer! Given his article up at Baen, he might even know!

        1. The image that came into my mind as the Ugly Duckling as a ring, in silver, impression of a long neck as the band.

          I’d probably design it as an adult swan for the ring, with the neck going around for the band, and then beak nestled on the wing, sort of sketchy; cygnet very clearly defined so that it can be used as an imprint.

        2. As I recall such musicals I suspect you’ve made a minor error — those were swains (although if you’re thinking of Esther Williams’ films your memory might be correct.)

        1. Yes. All of us writers should try to write cygnet rings into a story because we will all do something different with it.

    1. Do you have a Daiso handy? I found a nifty blank soapstone chop there for a writer friend who has a whole collection of Assyrian/Akkadian fantasy stories, so he could “sign” his books in cuneiform 😀 (and since it was a 1000Yen store, cheep!)

        1. It’s a wonderful thing 😀 I think we got the first US store, in Seattle. Roaring success…

          1. Ooh, there’s one near D/FW. I have to go down there next year for an FAA renewal . . . And it’s not that far from the German food et cetera place.

            1. Of course! Where else would I get inflatable fruitcakes and devil duckies??

              1. Don’t forget Dress-Up Shakespeares, Jane Austen Toothpaste, and Edgar Allan Poe Air Fresheners!

                1. Dress-Up Shakespeares? I though that was “Brush-Up Shakespeares!

                  I don’t know about the Jane Austen Toothpaste but I tried an Edgar Allan Poe Air Freshener once … nevermore.

    2. Why not just start doing it?

      Get a Hanko from these guys, and do note the link to the self-stamping ones, down near the bottom of the page.

      Start a new custom, I say–Personalized chops in lieu of signatures, and maybe just write inscriptions for those who so desire it. No matter what, you’re gonna eliminate having to do a bunch of writing…

      1. I did one better– dropped the idea in with this lot. 😀

        No, it doesn’t make me money, but it means people might think it’s a neat idea and start doing it…without feeling guilty.

    3. Hmm . . . signature stamps are inexpensive, but it’s probably not good to have a stamp of a legal signature floating around. Something like a portable engineer’s or architect’s stamp, with a name or signature in an arc, or initials in a fancy design is still inexpensive. An embosser is a tad more but not expensive, and might have more of a value-added feel.

      1. I’ve seen artists sign their work with something that looks like a chop. You probably have, too. I’m thinking especially of a lady illustrator (can’t remember her name) who uses a two-color version, red and black. Doesn’t have to be a signature, in fact it’s more elegant-and-exotic-looking the more stylize it is.


      1. “Why did they ever invent touch screens? The hideous fiends!” Pam clutches her spasming hand. A stylus is duck taped to the back of it now, as she scrawls a sig across all the screens coming at her.

        In the background someone believed to be her husband is making jokes about how that has improved the readability of her signature.

        Pam growls a bit, but can’t argue. “This is all Sarah’s fault! It’ll be fun, she says, you need to be more visible, she says . . . “

      1. my theory: she rubs her feet on the carpet, touches a capacitor, then mails it to you.

  6. Nothing like a little morning/afternoon silliness. Love it. Hope your compatriots don’t hurt you too much fictionally after this. 🙂

  7. Nooooo! You have revealed my Secret Weakness! Now I will have to retreat to my lair and sulk whilst paging through Submarine Fancier’s Monthly

      1. Pictures, or rumors of cheap second-hand subs work best. Yes, there is a second-hand submarine market. Never mind how I know.

        1. Sometimes they even show up on eBay. (I think everything shows up on eBay eventually – just not necessarily when you need/want it.)

        2. I so wanted to buy this used Russian diesel boat in the late 90s when that “roughing it vacation for yuppies” was peaking. I’d read a few article about the “hobo vacation packages” (where a guide helped you jump trains and camp along rail lines) and then saw the Russian boat for auction. I figured if I could get it and get it servicable me and some guys I knew in the Navy could take dot-com idiots out for “a week of hunting the Red October” and have them pay $5K a pop to do all the watchstanding and scut work we hated.

          1. The one on eBay?

            A few years later there was a decommissioned aircraft carrier for sale on one of the Federal bid sites. It went for $80K. (not M!) Accomodations for 1,500 of your closest friends too.

          1. I loved those books! My favourite was the story about the Flying Sorcerer, which was both an amazing Edisonade and a tragic snapshot of triumph brought low.

              1. There was a publisher that recently republished several volumes plus a new one.

                1. Oh wow. I knew read the first book (many times) and the second (at least once), but I never knew about any other stories. Alright, one wasn’t published until recently, but the other… more to add to the To Be Read list – and when those get acquired (or reacquired) the rest might be suspended for a bit.

              2. That was in The New Adventures Of TMSC, and if I remember rightly the story about the sub was in that same volume. (I always remember that story because of the hilarious “downbidding” contest between Freddy and Dinky to buy the sub.)

                1. I love those books! I just had to introduce to them to my kids/henchmen.

                2. No wonder I don’t recall it very well. I had the first book – and re-read it a few times. I think I only had The New Adventures Of TMSC though inter-library loan.

        3. You want to be careful about searching for such pictures online. You’re likely to find yourself on subp*rn sites and then you’re well and truly dommed.

            1. “Describe the internet for me.”

              “Alright. Think of something, anything – DON’T tell me what it is. Alright… got it?”


              “Somewhere on the internet there is a group discussing having sex with whatever you thought of. Yes, even that.”

              “Diesel eng-”


      2. I had a submarine for lunch the other day and it was quite effective at temporarily ridding me of hunger.

      1. Anyone got a spare $90 mil lying around? I think I’d like a Phoenix. (With Optional deep diving satellite submersible, of course. Sound’s perfect for the aspiring Bond Villian.)

        1. What kind of idiot are you? You don’t pay cash for an asset like this, you put 5% down and finance the rest.

    1. If you’re interested in subs, have you ever heard about/seen the International Submarine Races?

      No, not the puchline to a bad joke. It’s a real event. (isr sub race dot org) I’ve been to a few. 🙂

      1. When I was in high school, we always tried to get the girls to come watch the submarine races.

        1. _chuckle_

          Yeah, that was my first thought on hearing about the ISR. Does not help that most of the participants are college age males.

  8. ((blinks))

    ….. I got nuthin.

    But I’d pay good cash money for a ticket to see that.

  9. Just finished my space portal — opens within the author section– “hurry if you want to live…” Portal closes, catching an arm of a fan waving a book–

      1. “…a malfunction in the fabric of Reality. Which, being polyester, is easily malfuncted…”

        1. It’s odd how some things are considered. Pa did injection molding for a while and had one story of a place/fellow that said, “We want this made of Nylon, not plastic.” Uhh…

          1. I used to get some plastics trade magazines. Their editorial policies were apparently inflexible; plastic was always referred to as “alloy.”

            Then again, some of the car magazines always referred to any metal that wasn’t ferrous as “alloy.” They were usually, by context, trying to refer to aluminum.

            Being mostly journalism types, it’s entirely probable they had no idea what they were trying to say…

  10. Dynamic pricing!

    What, you thought I was going to save my husband from his fans? No, no! I’m standing in front, charging for the books & autographs and organizing the line, and tucking the money away in my corset. The more tired he gets, the higher the price…

    By the way, Brings The Lightning is now out in Hardcover! If you want a signed copy at LibertyCon, let me know how many I should order!

  11. The “Oh, John Ringo, no,” reference reminds me to tell the Huns here to go on Audible and download Correia’s Tom Stranger audiobook. It’s free for a little while yet, I think. And he got Adam Baldwin to do the reading. The John Ringo reference in that work jogged my memory.

    The wife has shown no interest whatsoever in Correia’s books thus far, but expose her to a minute of audio, and I’m not allowed to listen to it without her.

    1. I just found out the hard way that evidently the Audible app and the Kindle Fire don’t play nice together. Now, does this mean I should consider Audible to be useless crap, or that my next tablet will be J. Random Android and not a Kindle, since then the damn thing might work – as *I* want? Or… yes?

      1. I love my audible, but mostly listen on my comp whilst slaughtering orcs or sniping zombies. I’m surprised, though, that Fire is not audible compatible.

        1. I just found it was pre-installed on the Fire, but the app setup does NOT usefully say ‘INSTALLED’ but instead fails with an incompatibility message. And I’d like to listen on my computer, but I run Linux… I have NO respect for the folks saying “Use anywhere” and then assuming and desktop/laptop device is Windows or OS X. Both kinds of music ‘thinking’, that.

        2. The Sandisk 8GB Clip Jam MP3 Player works extremely well for Audible’s files and is available for under $40. It will hold amply programs capable of entertaining you as long as the battery charge.

  12. So how exactly does Sarah sound saying “Nuclear Vessels?” Now I have Checkov in my head as the voice of Sarah Hoyt.

    1. If Sarah is being identified as having a Russian accent please tell me the new house does not have a steep driveway.

          1. Good, because Baba Yaga and her house on chicken feet scare the %$# out of me.

          2. I didn’t say that. I just said that if you come home and find out that your house got a ticket for foraging on the right-of-way, you might want to triple check the name of the realtor.

    2. Are you volunteering to ask her to say it? Are you willing to volunteer to ask her to say “Moose and Squirrel”, too?

      …just asking…

          1. Nah, if you “expected somebody to die”, you’d shoot him (or some other quick means of death) not set up an elaborate way of killing him.

            After all, you won’t want to give that person the chance to escape death. 👿

    3. I did hear they need a new Chekov, and Hollywood does have a tendency to swap females into formerly-male roles. Sarah could be a candidate. 😉

      1. I don’t know…how transgressive there is having a Moron White Male with a Great Rack playing a Russian twenty-something these days?

  13. “We want to emphasize that every writer who takes part in this is here voluntarily.”

    I believe that John Calvin would say otherwise.

  14. They’d best hope Dave Freer *doesn’t* run out of coconuts. Monkeys are famous for . . . shall we say, “producing” their own ammunition.

      1. Waste of decent fertilizer. And risk of getting it on oneself. If you’re at the point where that is your only ammunition… you are *truly* scraping the bottom of the barrel.

    1. Hah! Get my mom to tell you that story of how she and her brother used to pick sapucaia nuts.

      Side note: the AutoCorrect feature tried to turn “sapucaia” into both aphasia and upper Cheyenne. Oy.

  15. “That’s right. Taxes”

    Come on, we all know what you really mean is “Taxation is theft.”

      1. I know one woman like that in my immediate meatspace circle of friends, but she’s spoken for.

  16. When _Magic: The Gathering_ first became A Thing, I was witness to “The Running Of The Gamers” at GenCon, as people tried to snarf up as many packs as possible in order to get “the good cards”.


      1. Anime Central used to have (might still) helpful hints in the con program booklet like “All hotel rooms come with free packs of shampoo, conditioner, and soap, and have washcloths. Use these things, and you’ll be able to get closer to the fangirls!”

        1. A geek model acquaintance of mine I sometimes meet at cons is very huggy. When Iast hugged her, she complimented me on how clean and nice-smelling I was. 🙂

              1. *chuckle* And I read that as “Display is not Content,” and thought you were talking about the graphics vs. gameplay ongoing furball.

              2. There’s really a fair amount I will consent to, provided I am properly asked first. No, aacid14, that does not involve steak knives.

                  1. That reminds me, where’s the duty roster for rotating the brachiosaurus loins in the marinade tank before the July 4 cook out?

                    1. Just to be on the safe side, you might want to request clarification be next to you receive an invitation to a roast – especially if it says you’re going to be the guest of honor.

        2. One year, the gaming lead at the convention I used to help run was gave away blocks of soap with dice in them to gamers that won little games that he ran at the door. My understanding is that he got quite creative with the rules to insure that some particularly egregious cases won soap.

          And then there’s this:

Comments are closed.