Proof I Am a Monster

One of the high points of the annual BSDCan tech conference is the charity auction in the closing session. We habitually support the Ottawa Mission, right down the street from the venue. After walking past the mission every day to find breakfast, the attendees are highly motivated to donate. The auction is especially amusing because the contents of the lost and found get auctioned off. More than once auctioneer Dan Langille has announced “I have here a power supply for an Apple laptop” only to have an audience member groan. It’s become a point of honor that people buy their stuff back, and folks delight in running up the price to twice what a replacement costs. We auction off everything from “the last cookie from the lunch buffet” to novelty pens to entire servers that dealers don’t want to take back to the States. (git commit murder’s auction scene is stolen wholesale from BSDCan.) Really, it’s an excuse to collect charity cash from well-paid IT workers.

In early 2019, I declared that I’d auction off the mostly complete manuscript of Terrapin Sky Tango at BSDCan. This was mainly to give me a deadline to finish writing the dang book.

I made it with thirty hours to spare.

Time in the auction is tight, so I elected to do a silent auction for the “mostly complete Terrapin Sky Tango” manuscript at my table. Competition quickly narrowed down to two people, Bob Beck and Kristof Provost. But at 4 PM Saturday, an hour before the closing session, my bid sheet disappeared. I couldn’t end the auction.

The closing session ends at 6 PM, and Bob had a flight out at 7PM. He’s in the closing session with his suitcase, coat over his arm, ready to charge out the door the moment the session ends. (You can do this when flying in a civilized country.)

You can see what happened on the video and skip ahead to my pics for the coda, or just read on.

What should turn up in the main auction but my silent auction bid sheet? It went for $40.

Turns out the last bid was Bob’s, for $189. Kristof runs him up to $200. A good laugh is had by all. Bob throws money at the secretary and bolts for the door.

Dan announces the next auction item: the last 27 pages of TST.

Bob freezes in place.

That bit where I said the manuscript was mostly complete? It sounds like it just needs editing, right?

Yeah. I suck. Stealing the last 27 pages of a thriller is downright mean.

That person on the video screaming LUCAS? Bob’s got a real good set of lungs on him.

Bob remains to bid on those last pages. He’d blown his wad on the main manuscript, though, so Kristof handily outbids him. Kristof tucks the envelope containing those last pages under Bob’s arm as he heads out the door. Kristof gets a well-deserved round of applause for his good sportsmanship. I’m told that the flight attendants didn’t actually bruise Bob’s butt slamming the airplane door behind him, but it was a close thing.

Time passed. Visualize those calendar pages flipping past as TST goes through copyediting, into production, and hits the bookstores. I sent Bob and Kristof ebook copies as soon as they were available. It really was the least I could do. The very least. Seeing as they paid hundreds of dollars for parts of an unedited manuscript, though, I decided I should ship them a signed print copy.

For reference: here is a photograph of the hardcover edition cover. The paperback edition is the same, but more difficult to photograph.

Here’s the paperback I shipped Bob and Kristof.

TST, Beck Edition

Both put it on the shelf, or in the recycle bin, and sent me a nice thank you note. Neither noticed the blank back cover, or thought anything was amiss with the book.

Two weeks later, I sent this.

TST Provost Edition

Each had a sticky note on the front that said “OOPS, MY BAD ==ml”

Yes, the first book they received was missing the last 27 pages.

Four copies of the Beck Edition and the Provost Edition exist. Bob and Kristof each got one. I’m keeping one. The fourth will be auctioned off at BSDCan 2020.

I love being a monster.

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