Last Christmas, a friend of mine bought me a book he thought I might like. It was Dr Grordbort’s Victory, written and illustrated by Weta Workshop Conceptual Designer, Greg Broadmore. In it, Dr Grordbort detailed a science-fiction history that never was. Hearkening back to the classic sci-fi serials of yesteryear, and influenced by the Victorian era (steampunk springs to mind), it blew my mind. I loved it so much, my wife, bless her, went out and bought one of the ray gun models (the Unnatural Selector – mini). It was the mini because the full scale model costs $8000. Unless I sell one of my kidneys (hmmm), I don’t think I will be the proud possessor of one of these anytime soon.
Anywho (I’m going somewhere with this – be patient), a friend of mine (thank you Jill Jessop!) works at Stardome observatory. She mentioned casually in passing that the Stardome was hosting a conference attended by various international observatory luminaries. A certain Mr Greg Broadmore would be the guest speaker and would I like to attend. Would I? Would I? Yes, I said, equally casually, although a voice inside me that sounded suspiciously like an 8 year old school girl was making an embarrassing noise that went something like this: ‘eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee’.
So, excitedly clutching my Dr Grordbort’s handbook in one hand and a copy of my own novel, Rapture, nervously in the other, I turned up. Greg, gentleman that he is, ignored my babbling, graciously accepted my fumbling handover of my book and happily signed my copy (he drew a picture too ‘eeeeeeeeeeeeeee’) of his book. It doesn’t end there; at the risk of sounding like an excited school girl (again) I got to sit down and have dinner with him. Ha!
Greg is what I would term a celebrity that I want to meet. He may not be a movie star, but I would much rather have a chat with someone like this that meet an actor who may or may not be able to string a series of interesting or coherent sentences together. Greg is clearly very intelligent, articulate, talented, interesting and passionate. I didn’t realize it, but he developed all the weapons and ships for District 9 (love that movie), plus did a lot of the concept art for the aliens. He’s also worked on Lord of the Rings and King Kong. He’s currently working on director Neill Blomkamp’s follow up to District 9 along with his own Dr Grordbort’s projects.
For me, this is geek heaven. It turns out, gratifyingly, that we read the same comics growing up. I now feel that I can justify the storage space all my comics are currently taking up.
I got home, feeling like a cat that’s just eaten too much catnip, and reflected on what a great evening it had been. You don’t often get to meet people you really admire and I consider myself lucky. Now, I just have to sort out having dinner with Peter Jackson, Iain M. Banks, Peter F. Hamilton, Richard Morgan and Jack Vance. To quote my wife: ‘good luck with that.’
Phillip W. Simpson
Phillip W. Simpson is an author of YA and children's books.