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SYFY WIRE Bad Astronomy

Space Walking at Comic-Con With Adam Savage

By Phil Plait

Every year, I go to San Diego Comic-Con, the annual nerd bash where something like a mole of people converge on the town to celebrate pop culture. It’s a lot of fun, and one of the joys for me is to get together with friends I don’t get a chance to see otherwise.

I’m also privileged that all of my friends there are supremely talented, smart, and interesting people. One of them is My Close Personal Friend Adam Savage™; we’ve known each other for many years (so much so that he is starting to look like me).

As you might know, Adam is something of a celebrity, and getting around at the con can be a challenge for him; the huge crowds guarantee he’ll get stopped, and once that happens it’s all over. That’s how he got the idea of “Adam Incognito,” where he wears a full head-to-toe costume that conceals his identity. He then walks the exhibit hall of the con (where tens of thousands of fans visit exhibitors, goods dealers, artists, and more), and anyone who spots him and correctly IDs him wins some sort of prize, usually a VIP pass to one of Adam’s talks at the con.

This year he walked as Judge Dredd. But he threw in a twist: The next day, he decided to do it again, but this time bringing along a very special guest. The whole thing was recorded for Entertainment Weekly and, and it’s pretty fun. Watch!

Cmdr. Chris Hadfield is a Canadian astronaut; he worked three stints on the Space Station (commanding it the third time), covered David Bowie while up there, and is an all-around nice guy—I highly recommend his book, too.

I’d never met him, so when I got a note from Adam asking if I’d like to sit behind the scenes and watch them prep for the con walk, I said YES. On the Saturday morning of the con I headed over to Adam’s hotel, met Chris, and watched with some amusement as they suited up. I wasn’t able to walk the con with them (Adam eschews anyone going with him, since it might give away the show, though in this instance they happened to run into Andy Weir, author of The Martian—soon to be a major motion picture—and they let him tag along), but I was around when they got back to the hotel room.

The suits were amazing, as you can see in the photos here. I put together an album of pictures on Flickr for your perusal as well. I think my favorite part of all this, besides the coolers Adam built to prevent them from overheating (a lesson he learned last year in his full-blown Alien space suit, complete with face-hugger), was the fact that they made sandwiches for the trip as well. That’s right out of the Moonbus scene from 2001, where Heywood Floyd and the other travelers eat lunch on the way to seeing the Monolith. Adam even made sure the crusts were cut off, an homage to the sandwiches in that scene!

Full disclosure: I ate the last sandwich. It was better than astronaut ice cream. As is everything.

And that wasn’t the end of it: That evening Adam did a one-hour Q&A on stage in the huge Room 6 of the exhibit hall, and asked several friends to come on stage and ask him questions as special guests. I was first, then Andy Weir, then Alton Brown, and finally Chris came on. It was a huge amount of fun, as you can see:

It was an honor to be able to watch this unfold and to be a part of it. Cmdr. Hadfield really is as nice as he seems, a wonderful thing to behold. He is a true gentleman, and someone who honestly and openly wants to share his joy of the world with that world. Adam is the same way; erudite and charming, he just loves what he does, and his enthusiasm is as infectious as his smile and laugh.

Although I wouldn’t say it’s a requirement, it’s a great bonus that my friends inspire me to be a better person, to work harder, to just do more. To all of them, I say: thanks.

And special thanks to Will Smith and Norman Chan of Tested for their patience, and for taking some of the pictures in the album.

Correction, July 23, 2015: This post originally misspelled Norman Chan's last name.

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