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Looks like Margaret Atwood, whose day job involves writing a curiously intoxicating blend of science fiction, feminism and mythology, invents gadgets by night.

A remote book signing machine that she has prototyped is the Online Answer to Writer's Angst , particularly when such angst originates from having to sign a lot of books when on tours.

“Last time I did a tour in Britain it was pretty horrendous,” she said. “This will mean a lot less angst, inconvenience, starvation, sitting in airports and eating out of minibars.”

Can't blame her: Book signings can tire even a pumped up Jose Canseco. I might even buy one of the machines (whatever they end up being called) from her, if she promises not to write the instruction manual the way she talks here.

And she insists that there will be no appreciable lessening of an autograph's authenticity, because writing is already only a distant cousin of thought. “The mind is the device that is thinking out the signature,” she said. “The hand is the extension of the mind, and the pen is the extension of the hand - so the pen is at two removes from the author's mind already. This thing is just another remove.”

How profound! Makes you wonder how many removes blogging is.