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Dateline: Orlando, June 8 — My M. C. Escher Moment

06/10/2006

Every year there’s a big trade show for the “display industry” – plasma and LCD TVs and monitors, video equipment, huge screens you see in football stadiums and ballparks, and all the related stuff – called InfoComm. This year it was in Orlando, Florida, and the NEC Corporation invited me to do a book signing and talk there. The last stop of my book tour.

This was inherently weird, of course. A pivotal scene in Killer Instinct is set at a huge trade show, which I call “TechComm.” Now I was talking there. It was like that M. C. Escher drawing of a hand drawing a hand – surreal.

I arrived at the show half an hour before my scheduled appearance and saw a huge line at the NEC booth. When I asked what that line was for, they said it was for me.

I signed and signed until all 250 books were gone and my hand started cramping. A couple of techie-looking guys came up to my signing table, not in the line, and started looking at the piles of books.

“What’s this?” Guy One said to the other, picking up a copy of Killer Instinct.

“I think it’s a book,” Guy Two said.

“A book?” Guy One turned it over and over.

I looked up from signing. “Yeah, a book,” I said to Guy One. “Dead Tree Technology. Old Media.”

Guy One nodded. Turned the book over again and said, “Where’s the On button?”