At the BEA, there was this huge marketing push for Men of Bronze
by Scot Oden, which is apparently Egyptian historical fiction with assassins and pharaohs and lots of drama. There were posters! There were banners! There were references in the show daily! There were ads in the show guide! They passed out pins and postcards! Even my mom, who has almost no interest in this sort of book, noticed the push -- I mentioned the title to her, and she said "oh, yes, I remember those signs."
and I noticed that the line for an autographed copy was extremely short toward the end of his hour, and popped over into his line. We tried to get a second copy just signed, but, alas, he wouldn't do that. He needed to sign it to someone in particular. This is uncomplicated code -- it means that he, or his publicist, was worried that signed copies would be sold on EBay. As m_shell
said afterward, "Dude, don't flatter yourself."
Anyway, later I was looking for a book to read on the train ride back to Philadelphia, and I pulled that out (it was on top). I opened it up and... winced mightily, for lo! the dustflap copy is printed in a display face, and is very difficult to read. I flipped the first few pages and counted seven
faces: three display (one vaguely-ancient, one all-caps serif, and a second all-caps serif that looks a lot like the first until you look closer and realize that it's got calligraphic accents), two reading fonts (one for the text and one on the copyright page), and two Celtic-ish fonts on the maps. And that's not even counting the inexplicably bolded AND italicized version of the text font used in the table of contents.
And then I turned to the table of contents, and saw the following:
On Pronunciation and Spelling / 435
Bibliography / 437
Glossary / 440
Chronolgy / 465
Timeline of Egypt's Twenty-Sixth Dynasy and the Near East / 468
If this were pre-press I could forgive two typos in the ToC, even if they came after a section on pronunciation and spelling (though it would make me giggle). This isn't an ARC. This is the first edition, hardback. Yowch.
And then the first paragraph, which I have to quote here:
In the blue predawn twilight, a mist rose from the Nile's surface, flowing up the reed-choked banks and into the ruined streets of Leontopolis. Remnants of monumental architecture floated like islands of stone on a calm morning sea. Streamers of moisture swirled around statues of long-dead pharaohs, flowed past stumps of columns broken off like rotted teeth, and coursed down sandstone steps worn paper-thin by the passage of years. As the sky above grew translucent, streaked with amber and gold, a funerary shroud settled over the City of Lions, a mantle that disguised the approach of armed men.
Now, could I have entered that in the Bulwer-Lytton contest or what? (BTW, the wide spacing after the first sentence appears in the original, though you may not be able to see it here depending on the line breaks.)
I read it out loud when darthrami
was here last week, and we laughed like mad. Even more hilarious? On amazon.com, this consistently gets FIVE STARS.ETA
: If anyone wants to glance at a copy of this fabulous book, we've got a second copy, if you don't mind it being signed to one of us.