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Cosplay and Andy Weir’s Geekdom: Scenes from NYCC 2018

Andy Weir, author of THE MARTIAN and ARTEMIS, opened up about his work at NYCC 2018. Photo (C) NASA/Bill Ingalls. All other photos by Shani R. Friedman.

By Shani R. Friedman

Thursday I made my first official visit to New York Comic Con at the massive convention hall that is the Javits Center. This is the 13th annual NYCC, which spans four days with events taking place at the Hammerstein Ballroom, Pier 94 and elsewhere, in addition to the Javits. Organizers are expecting to break records again this year with 250,000 people coming through the doors. I had gone once before, briefly on the last day when there were far fewer people, leaving me utterly unprepared for the sheer volume of fans in attendance.

Given that the hall is so huge, I spent A LOT of time walking, getting lost and nearly weeping with joy when I finally found an information desk and a map. My main bone to pick with NYCC is the lack of signage. Even one of the vendors had to check which level her booth was on because she was as confused as I was.

Moving onto the fun! The cosplay was my favorite part hands-down: the level of imagination and ingenuity that goes into the costumes is truly mind-boggling. There’s much joy in the corridors amid the commerce, celebrity signings and panels. I checked out “Skyscraper: The Impossible Leap VR Experience”. Participants have the opportunity to do the crane jump across the Hong Kong skyline that Dwayne Johnson did in this summer’s movie Skyscraper. It turns out that if you have a fear of heights, you really should not be doing such jumps. The virtual becomes very real. By the end my eyes were closed, I was sweating and nearly having a panic attack. It definitely made me appreciate being firmly on the ground! But everyone else was having a very good time and to their credit, the two people running the booth were very patient and encouraging as I tried to make certain leaps and not pass out.

I capped off the day with the very affable Andy Weir, the author of The Martian (the novel that inspired the hit Ridley Scott film) and Artemis. He sat down for a Q&A and shared his lifelong love for being a “geek” and cursing, of which there was plenty in The Martian. He said his editor told him that his favorite job was highlighting all of the swearing when Weir did a classroom edition of his bestseller and had to swap those out for something more PG. He admitted that his astronaut protagonist Mark Watney is the “idealized version of me” while Artemis’s heroine Jazz is “very flawed and more like the real me”. Weir explained that he writes in the genre known as “Hard Sci-Fi”, in which “you’re trying to stay as close to existing technology as possible without violating the rules of science” and sees himself as a “Pollyanna with a high opinion of human nature. Humanity keeps getting better.” When asked what he read as a kid he answered that he connected strongly with his father’s collection that featured Isaac Asimov and Arthur C. Clarke. His ideas about the human race were inspired by their hopeful take on the future. In these fairly dystopian times, a little hope for the future goes a long way.

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The main event may be nearly sold out but there are also tickets for the Anime Festival at Pier 94, which goes through Saturday:

Stay tuned for more on NYCC and other great stories from Honeysuckle!

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