I love it when a plan comes together!


So, last summer, I received a message on Goodreads from the wife of a fan. It was an unusual request. She was hoping I could send her a signed photograph or some kind of momento for her husband. In the body of her message, she said that she hadn’t seen her husband such a huge fan of someone since he discovered Neil Degrasse Tyson.

What a coincidence! I had just met Neil at a function Gizmodo put together in New York. I had a picture of the two of us. Why don’t I sign that pic and send it along?

But then — as is my wont — my thoughts got nuttier. What if I could get Neil to sign the photograph as well?

I went to CVS and had a few copies of the photo printed out. They looked great in black and white (heh. No pun intended). In fact, the photo looked so awesome, I couldn’t believe I was going to send it off for Neil’s signature and someone else was going to end up with it! To make it more likely to go through, I put an envelope within an envelope, paid for the shipping on both, wrote a note to Neil and his secretary, and included some cardboard for protection. I crossed my fingers and sent off this fan grenade. And then I waited.

And I waited.

Days went by. Weeks. Months.

I pinged Neil’s secretary a few times, and she apologized for how busy Neil was. For a long while, I thought it wouldn’t happen. I started to feel bad that I’d promised a signed photo, and now the wife of this reader would get nothing. She would think I’d forgotten.

Last week, I got the news: The photo had arrived! With both signatures! And of course, one of us being far more famous than the other, the husband wondered why in the world someone was standing beside Neil in the photo. Then he heard the story, realized who I was, and I got a thank you note in my Goodreads inbox that nearly brought me to tears.

I love that his grin mirrors the one I had while standing beside one of my idols.

16 responses to “I love it when a plan comes together!”

  1. Yay! I wondered what ever became of that! Score (another) one for the good guys!

  2. This is incredible! I am a high school science teacher and every year my kiddos come to know all about my “Intellectual” crush on Mr. Tyson. Now that I have them reading Wool I am totally showing them this in class tomorrow. Sweet.

  3. Absolutely Perfect!

  4. I’d forgotten all about the photo. Good thing you didn’t. That is one happy reader – you did good!

  5. Seriously, Hugh, you are SO fan-worthy! No wonder why we all <3 you so much. :)

    1. PS: That’s also one awesome wife! I hope he took her out to a nice dinner for starting this chain of events.

  6. That’s so awesome that it all came together! I remember you mentioning it earlier. Now I love Neil Degrasse Tyson even more.

  7. What a great story! I have to say that the timing of reading this is such a funny coincidence. My son and I just went to your talk tonight in Berkeley (I was the one with the big stack of POD Wool versions you were so kind to sign). On our drive home he turned to me and said, “Now I have two answers to that question ‘if you could have dinner with anyone famous who would you pick?’ I would love to have dinner with either Neil deGrasse Tyson or Hugh Howey.”

    Couldn’t pick two more inspiring people, if you ask me!

  8. AWE-SOME!!! Two of my favorite authors together!!!

    Just curious… How did the two of you happen to meet?

  9. Hugh? You is Good People!

    I’m pleased to inform you that I have embarked on a course of action that will result in my no-longer being a Wool virgin… No. No, not that course of action. Perverts… I’ve started reading Wool this evening. Yay me! :-)

  10. Awesome!!!!!!!!

  11. Brilliant! this is the best story I’ve heard all month. Thanks for sharing and thanks for being awesome!

  12. Talk about going the extra mile for a fan! And it makes for a fantastic story. That’s one for your memoirs! Outstanding!

  13. What a cool story! I love that you’re keeping in touch with fans. I think that’s one of the best things about being a reader in an age where we can reach out and actually correspond with our favorite authors!

  14. I love this story! This is quite possibly one of the best author/fan stories I’ve ever heard. How awesome!

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