The Official Dayton & Kevin 2017 Convention Stalking Guide.

It’s still early, but the 2017 convention season is already starting to build out for me and Kevin. I don’t typically do very many cons each year, and Kevin does a few more in his role representing Hallmark. That said, there are a couple we always never to miss, along with a few others we’re always game to attend if schedules and planets align in proper fashion.

As of this writing, this Official Stalking Guide is a work in-progress, but we do have a handful of tentative dates already slotted. Nothing’s been absolutely confirmed, but it’s our sincere intention to lower property values at the following locales during throughout the year:

Starfest 2017 – April 21-23 – Denver, Colorado
One of our very favorite cons, Kevin and I will almost certainly be making our fifteenth consecutive annual trip to Denver to hang with the Starland gang. The trip has truly become something of a “family reunion” as much as it as a convention, as we’ve made so many friends there over the years, and each new con brings with it the chance to make new friends, or put faces to names we encounter over the internet.

Shore Leave 39 – July 7-9 – Hunt Valley, Maryland
Another show we make every effort to attend, mostly because it’s one of the few media cons of this size that also caters to a large list of author guests. Pocket Books and the Star Trek fiction cabal is usually well-represented, but there are also several other writer guests who show up every year and who have loyal followings. It’s three days of jam-packed programming, after which I may have to build in an extra day or so of sight-seeing so I can get down to D.C. and check out the restored U.S.S. Enterprise model at the Smithsonian.

Comic-Con International – July 19-23 – San Diego, California
Does this con really require an introduction? Kevin will be at this one, acting in his capacity as a representative of Hallmark Cards. If the writer gods are kind, he may also participate in a book signing or two, and perhaps even the odd panel.

The Official Star Trek Convention – August 2-6 – Las Vegas, Nevada
Sin City plays host to one of the largest Trek cons going. Boasting a guest list that now routinely hits the 100+ mark, it really is five full days of Star Trek fandom goodness. Though this one is still written in pencil, Kevin looks to be heading that way to man a booth on behalf of Hallmark, and — as of now — there’s a slim chance I may make this one, too. Stay tuned.

New York Comic Con – October 5-8 – New York ‘Effin City
It’s the smaller, feistier version of the San Diego con. As with that one, Kevin will be working his ass off on behalf of Hallmark. Book signings and panels possible, depending on his schedule.

And there you go. The list is, once again, tentative and subject to change, additions, or even deletions.

So, if you plan to be at any of these cons, maybe we’ll see you there!

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Posted in comic-con, cons, fandom, friends, nerdity, shore leave, starfest | Leave a comment

Apes trading card booky goodness…coming at us!

For the past few years, Abrams ComicArts has been producing a truly fun series of books. Working in partnership with Topps, these tomes have revisited popular sets of non-sports trading or “bubble gum” cards or stickers from the days of old.

Each book presents one or more sets of cards from a given property, providing crisp images of each card’s front and back, with all of the pictures accompanied by background info or other anecdotes about the card set or the property in question. There are volumes devoted to fondly remembered sets like the Garbage Pail Kids, Wacky Packages, Bazooka Gum, and my personal favorites: Mars Attacks, Star Wars, and Star Trek. The last one is even cooler because it was written by friends and ace wordsmiths Paula M. Block and Terry J. Erdmann.

topps-collage

Each book is a true slice of nostalgic heaven, made even more interesting because in most cases, they’re developed with the help of someone who was actually involved in the creation of the particular card or sticker set, or at least is familiar with the film or TV property being highlighted that they can provide entertaining background text. The dust jackets are even made from a wax paper similar to the old pack wrappers, and reproduce the original art. They even bundle in extra, all-new “bonus cards” which fit seamlessly with your original set, should you be so lucky to still have them. All that’s missing is a stick of that hideous gum that came in every pack, but even that’s reproduced on the book’s cover.

topps-planetoftheapesWhich brings us to the latest entry in this series: Planet of the Apes: The Original Topps Trading Card Series. This book has a subtitle previously known only to me, and which I’m now sharing with you: Yet Another Book I’m Supremely Jealous I Didn’t Write.

Yeah.

When I was a kid in the 1970s, Planet of the Apes was my jam, ranking right up there with the original Star Trek and The Six Million Dollar Man as the favorite science fiction shows of my childhood. I never saw the original movies in a theater at that point, but I did watch every episode of the short-lived live action television series and its animated successor as broadcast. At the time, Apes had a pretty decent merchandising machine going, with all sorts of toys, comics, games, and other stuff on store shelves. Topps, arguably the king of bubble gum cards back then, seemed to be releasing card sets for every film and TV property it could find, and that included Planet of the Apes not once but twice. The first set was based on the original 1968 film, and which was long gone from stores by the time I was old enough to start collecting. Not so for the second set, which showcased the aforementioned TV show, and I was all over those cards like a dog on an unattended sandwich.

Just my luck! Planet of the Apes: The Original Topps Trading Card Series will be revisiting both sets, providing eager readers with a gloriously priced way to revisit these tasty slices of Apes goodness.

And hey! It releases on June 6th, just before my birthday. Go, me.

The only question left to answer is whether the bonus cards included in the book will fit with the TV set I still have.

Waiting until June is gonna suck.

Posted in apes, books, fandom, nerdity | 3 Comments

Hey, wait. I’ve got my own “writer-versary,” this month!

I guess I’m getting old, and forgetful.

A reader e-Mailed me this evening, responding to my blog post from last week about the “50th anniversary” of Star Trek fiction. What’s that? You didn’t read it? Well, here: Let me provide you with a handy link.

You’re welcome.

Anyway, my loyal reader was also kind enough to remind me that I’m celebhonor-coverrating my own little anniversary, this month. Why? It was January 2002, fifteen years ago, that my first novel was published. As it happens, it was a Star Trek novel, In the Name of Honor, and kinda set in motion what’s become something of a recurring theme in my writerly life.

Those of you familiar with my secret origin story know that this first novel came about after I sold short stories to each of the first three Star Trek: Strange New Worlds anthologies. Upon rendering myself ineligible to compete in future contests, then-Star Trek fiction editor John Ordover asked if I was interested in writing a full-length novel for him.

Having never written anything longer than a short story before, of course I said, “Yes,” and the rest…as they say…is a frappin’ mystery.

(Takeaway: All of this is John’s fault.)

Since then, I’ve been afforded some incredibly fun opportunities – things I likely would never have done if not for those SNW contests and this first novel. I met the dude who would become my best friend and frequent writing partner, Kevin Dilmore, but I’ve also befriended so man other people – writers, fans and fellow Star Trek enthusiasts, people involved with the various Star Trek television series and films (and a few non-Trek, productions, as well), and even a couple of honest-to-goodness astronauts.

My world has gotten weird, on occasion.

I’d like to think I’ve written better books since In the Name of Honor, and indeed when I flip through the pages this one every so often, I cringe a little here and there. That said, and while I can’t honestly point to any one of my books and call it my “favorite,” this one obviously holds special meaning for me.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I should probably get back to work, completing the outline for what will be my 25th novel.

It’s been a long, strange, and yet amazing little journey, but I’m enjoying the hell out of it. Thanks for riding along with me.

Posted in books, ramblings, trek, writing | 1 Comment

Your Moment of TrekZen*

Pretty much every episode of Star Trek, ever.

everystartrekepever

This little slice of awesome was created by “Strangely Charismatic” on Tumblr, and makes me smile every time I look at it, so thanks very much to her for sharing it with the rest of us.

(* = inspired by the “Your Moment of Zen” segments from The Daily Show)

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Talking Rogue One at the SciFi Diner!

rogueonedeathstar.png

So, hey! It’s me, again.

Babbling.

Again.scifidinerpodcast

And so it was last week or so that I sat down (virtually speaking, of course) to hang with Scott, Miles, and M at the fabulous SciFi Diner. It’s been a while since I last made it over to their neck of the woods for an actual chat. Earlier in December, they asked if I might be interested in chatting about Rogue One, the new Star Wars flick that’s tearing up movie screens across the country, around the world, and maybe even kicking its way into other dimensions and universes.

SciFi Diner Podcast – Rogue One: A Star Wars Story Movie Review

Though we may pick a few nits here and there, I think we all agreed the new film is a very fun ride, particularly for old-school Star Wars fans like me, who went in wondering how well Rogue One slots in as it’s intended to, acting as a true prequel to the original Star Wars movie (aka, “Episode IV: A New Hope” for you youngsters). What’s that, you say? You’re one of the precious few who still doesn’t get where this new flick fits in with the larger Star Wars saga? Well, then here; let me help you:

rogueone-explained

Boom. Done.

The highlight of the evening may have come from Scott’s son, Kiefer, who’s about the same age as my oldest daughter and like her knew precisely where Rogue One fits into the Star Wars mythos, and explained with authority just how kick-ass this new movie is, and why everybody should go and see it at least three times while it’s still in theaters.

Can the rest of us clear the bar set by Kiefer and his analysis? You’ll have to listen in to find out.

SciFi Diner Podcast – Rogue One: A Star Wars Story Movie Review

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Thanks very much to Scott, Miles, M, and Kiefer for inviting me to talk Star Wars for a bit. It’s always fun hanging with that bunch, and here’s hoping we can do it again soon.

Posted in fandom, interviews, movies, nerdity, podcasts, star wars | Leave a comment

Happy 50th Anniversary, “TrekLit!”

As was pointed out over on the TrekBBS by user “ryan123450,” this month marks the 50th anniversary of “Star Trek Literature.”

Star Trek, the first collection of original series episode adaptations written by noted science fiction author James Blish, was published by Bantam Books in January 1967. It would later be renamed Star Trek 1 once it was obvious that the program of translating the original series scripts to prose form would continue, and indeed it did for eleven more volumes. Blish would also pen one of the very first original Star Trek novels, 1970’s Spock Must Die!

Since then, there has been at least one Star Trek novel or novelization (and in most cases, way, way more than one) published each year over that entire five-decade span. Over time, there would also be short story collections, and comic books, and reference books of every flavor, and just about every other sort of book you can imagine.

It’s somehow fitting that the Star Trek novel published to coincide with this milestone is itself a story set in the era of the original series, written by friend and fellow word pusher Christopher L. Bennett. That whole five-year mission thing has really gone into overtime, amirite?

treklit-50th

As someone who’s guilty of adding to that pile over the years, I raise my glass and offer a toast: “Happy Anniversary, TrekLit,” along with my thanks and appreciation to everyone who’s ever been involved with this rather notable endeavor. Damn, but that’s a lot of Trek, y’all.

Here’s to 50 more.

Posted in books, fandom, nerdity, trek | 9 Comments

Bucs Blog! 2016 Season, Week 17.

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaand that’ll just about do it.

bucs-2014-logoBucs 17 – Panthers 16

Sure, the Bucs needed this win to help they’re playoff chances, but they went into yesterday’s game with the deck stacked against them – including cards from a bunch of other decks, because why not – so far as any post-season plans were concerned. The odds of all the dominoes falling just the right way were astronomical in a way that makes a voyage to Saturn look like ducking over to the 7-Eleven for a pack of smokes.

And of course, the odds were not overcome.

Despite the disappointment of staying home to watch yet another post-season on TV, the Bucs have much to be happy with, and much to work with as they look to next year. After a rocky start and looking oblivion in the eye very early on, Tampa was able to turn things around and make a serious run for the playoffs. They end their season with a 9-7 record under first-year head coach Dirk Koetter — including a truly impressive 5-game winning streak in the season’s second half — and with a lot of potential when they start scheming for 2017.

Quarterback Jameis Winston, though still rough around some of the edges, made great strides to improve his game. His work during the off-season was evident with respect to his presence in the pocket along with his response to pass pressure. What will need definite improvement is his awareness when on the move and finding ways to protect or get rid of the ball when he’s flushed out of the pocket. He had a couple of truly stellar performances where he was able to guide his team to late-game comeback victories, there were also a tad too many instances where poor choices resulted in costly turnovers or other heartbreaking drive-killers.

A lot of these points can be addressed by giving Winston additional offensive weapons. The Bucs need to look at finding another receiver to complement Vincent Jackson and workhorse Mike Evans. Winston and Evans in particular found a rhythm that provided the Bucs offense with some nice options downfield, so building on that is definitely a priority.

Likewise, the running back situation will need shoring up. Doug Martin, a solid back who’s had a hand in much of Tampa’s recent successes, did not have a good year. Jacquizz Rodgers helped to cover that gap, and he was a damned freight train against the Panthers on Sunday. The Bucs will be courting him heavily to stay with them rather than lose him to free agency. As for Martin, he’ll be on the bench for the first three games of the 2017 season as he serves a suspension related to substance abuse issues. There’s been some (minor) talk that Tampa might part ways with him, but for the moment I’m not giving such gossip a lot of credence. Still, another back to either partner with or replace him and Rodgers has to be an item on any Bucs offensive coordinator’s shopping list.

On defense, give it up for safety Keith Tandy. That dude was one of the key drivers for the Bucs D finding the right gear. Moreover, the whole unit’s performance against Carolina capped off a year of steady, solid improvement that shows a potential for returning to the dominating, crushing defenses that Tampa used to field as a matter of course. Three interceptions of Panthers quarterback Cam Newton, two sacks, and a highlight reel-worthy goal line stand at the end of the game to deny Carolina a two-point conversion and the victory. Sure, there were a few missteps throughout the year, but overall? Yeah, there’s a lot there for next year. Bring it.

So, yeah, I’m bummed that the Bucs are done for the year, but unlike past seasons, I’m optimistic about what we might see in the fall when all of this rolls back around. I’ll furl my colors and lower my sails, and I’ll do it not with despair but instead anticipation.

Besides, I still have beach volleyball season to look forward to, right?

Bucs Life, yo.

Posted in bucs, football | Leave a comment

December writing wrap-up.

all-the-wordsAnd now we say goodbye to December, and 2016.

Holy crap. That year went by fast.

As for January 2017? I’m hitting the ground running, that’s for sure. There are already several balls in the air, but I’ll take busy over thumb twiddling any day.

Wanna see what’s up? Read on for December’s rundown!

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Looking back at my 2016.

What a year.

It’s definitely been something of a ride. Dominated by the protracted and ever-stupefying election cycle and its culmination with Biff Tannen’s ascendance to the presidency, 2016 on so many fronts just feels like a year that took five years to endure. A constant stream of memes have popped up on social media to describe individual feelings about the year, and I couldn’t resist offering one of my own:

toht01

Yeah, that about sums it up.

What’s that? You want me to elaborate? Fine. Read on.

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Posted in family, friends, life, ramblings, writing | 2 Comments

“Assignment: Earth,” the so-so Star Trek episode that keeps on giving.

WARNING: Nerdy rambling lay ahead.

garyseven01The other day on Facebook, noted science fiction author and all-around good guy Robert J. Sawyer mentioned that he’d stumbled across a fan website devoted to “Assignment: Earth,” the Star Trek original series episode that closed out the show’s second season in 1968. As the conversation evolved, mentions where made about how various novels and comics have revisited the idea of super human agent Gary Seven, his assistant, Roberta Lincoln, and an enigmatic cat/possible shapeshifter named Isis working behind the scenes of Earth history to make sure humanity is able to survive the challenges and obstacles it will face in the late 20th and early 21st centuries, until such time as it evolves into a “mature civilization.”

Continue reading

Posted in books, comics, ramblings, trek | 6 Comments