Eating Authors: Tobias Buckell

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In my fiction, the Amazing Conroy travels the galaxy in search of a good meal. On Mondays, here on my blog, various authors drop in to share memories of their most memorable meals.

Our guest today is Tobias Buckell. I’ve known him for a good many years; we came up through the old Rumor Mill together, and both wrote articles for Speculations back in the day. I’ve also had the pleasure to publish one of his stories in the first book from Paper Golem, Prime Codex. Toby may well be the world’s only living Grenadian SF author (or if not, surely the only one who is currently living in Ohio), but that’s not what makes him so special. Many people know him for his Carribean flavored Xenowealth trilogy Crystal Rain, Ragamuffin, and Sly Mongoose. Gamers are more likely to recognize him for his best-selling Halo novel The Cole Protocol. Toby was also one of the contributors to the ground-breaking audio-book-turned-print-book Metatropolis, and his short fiction has been collected in Tides From the New Worlds.

Crystal Rain The Cole Protocol Tobias Buckell Tides from the New World

LMS: So tell me, Toby, what’s your best, most memorable meal?

TB: Short answer: hot dog, March 2008, San Francisco.

Long answer: I’d scored some sweet tickets out to SFO on the cheap on impulse during winter when I wanted to get the fuck out of Ohio, and found a nice little motel to spend the weekend in with my wife, Emily. Neither of us had ever been to San Francisco.

We did all the touristy stuff we could in a weekend, but the highlight was the Golden Bridge State Park (to see the bridge, but afterward to walk around near the water down below). After all that walking around we were pretty hungry, and I spotted a hot dog cart.

Now, it’s not a hot dog cart like what you’ve seen at a ballgame or on the gritty streets of New York. This is a cart advertising the fact that these are hot dogs aimed at the sort of people in San Francisco that people in Ohio make fun of. So according to the cart in question these are hot dogs made from cows that are ‘well taken care of.’

I’m talking free range cows, grass fed, given backrubs every day, and fed only grains from wheat that willingly dropped their grains. As far as I can tell from the advertising on the side of the cart, until the moment they died, these cows led more decadent lives than someone on an episode of The Rich and Famous.

And some dude who looked like Cheech Marin (if he was white and only visited Army Surplus stores for his wardrobe) was selling them. I think the hot dog was like $10, excluding a bottle of water, so we had to split just the one. We didn’t have the cash on hand for two. And I was pretty grumpy about that.

But I’ll be damned if that hippy, grass fed cow hot dog was not the most amazing hot dog either of us had ever tasted. I mean, of all the places we ate that weekend (and we ate at some very nice restaurants!), the food we kept talking about when we got back from San Francisco was that damn hot dog.

= = = = =

Thanks, Toby. I’m reminded what the Dali Lama is purported to have said when he visited a hot dog cart in New York. “Make me one with everything.” I wonder if he had to pay ten bucks for it though.

Next Monday: Another author and another meal!

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