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Jim Baen, Warren C. Norwood, and The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

Tuesday, December 3rd, 2019 | Posted by Pierce Watters

Pierce Watters, Anne McCaffrey, Warren Norwood, and Linda Sanders 1978-small

Pierce Watters, Anne McCaffrey, Warren Norwood, and Linda Sanders (1978)

I got an Advance Review Copy of Douglas Adams’ The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy at Worldcon ’81 (in Denver).

Jim Baen was handing them out at the Simon & Schuster suite. I was working for Ace, sharing my room with Warren C. Norwood, budding author, and one hell of a good friend. A great drinking buddy, too. The night before, Warren and I spent too much time in the SFWA suite and its free beer.

We saw William F. Wu and James Patrick Kelly. Kelly, Wu, and I, all three of us 1974 Clarion East graduates, were there.

I don’t quite remember how we acquired the copies of the book, but I remember Baen’s grinning face in there somewhere.

I like to call that the night Warren and Pierce almost fell out of a hotel window. Don’t try this if your hotel is higher than the first story. If the curtains in your room somehow come loose and now reside on the hotel room floor, leave them there.

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy Pocket Books-small

You’ve been drinking, and OMG Warren has pulled a chair over to the windows. If you are inebriated in an hotel room above the first floor, and the remains of curtains lie on the floor, for God’s sake DO NOT get a chair. Just don’t.

I believe Warren and I, at one time, shared that chair. Then, limbs akimbo, the Norwood and the Watters fell. But, we were so drunk, we missed the window.

Come 6am, the Pierce was awakened to the sound of shuffling cards. I thought, “WTF?”

Warren was lying on his bed sorting 3×5 cards. When Warren took over my old job at Ballantine, he began keeping track of everything on 3×5 cards. I mean his whole life was those cards, and, well, cards.

Now awake and somewhat hungover… why were the curtains on the floor? Why were all the windows open — we had a veritable gallery of windows in our room — and why was a chair almost out the window? I got up to soak in the tub, trying to steam the alcohol out of my system.

I remember Star Trek: The Motion Picture was playing on the tv at 7am… and I believe it was Sunday morning. Whilst soaking in the tub, I began reading the Hitchhiker’s book.

“Hey Warren! This a great book.”

So, I soaked in tepid water, and read Douglas Adams out loud, while Warren continued his endless shuffling.

The next day, my boss, Ralph Arnote (Grosset & Dunlop/Ace) laid me off and what was left of the company soon dissolved into rancor.


Pierce Watters is Director of Sales at Paizo Publishing. His last article for us was Ralph Arnote: In the Middle of Interesting Stories.

1 Comment »

  1. An amusing but truly elegiac post, Pierce.
    Publishing has been in steady upheaval for a long time now, and it doesn’t look to be settling down any time soon.

    Comment by John Hocking - December 7, 2019 11:52 am


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