Why, yes. I will indeed be attending Shore Leave!

shore-leave-logoDue to my work schedule, I’ve been leaving certain convention appearances in the “Maybe” column. Among those was one I’ve made a habit of attending for the better part of the last 15 years or so: Shore Leave. Even with this one less than two months away, things were still iffy, but I can now finally say with confidence that – barring unforeseen circumstances, of course – I will once again be heading back to picturesque Hunt Valley, Maryland in order to participate in Shore Leave’s 40th anniversary con!

(I’m sure this news will be of interest to at least two or three of you. You know, as opposed to being excited that William Shatner, Ming-Na Wen, and several other cool TV and film guests are also appearing, along with more than fifty other author, editor, and science guests.)

Shore Leave is one of the shows I most look forward to attending each year, as it’s one of the few opportunities I have to meet up and catch up with east coast-based friends and colleagues. Along with all of the con’s other author guests, I’ll be participating in the mass autographing session on Friday night. There will also be numerous panel discussions and other activities taking place throughout the weekend. In and around all of that, there doubtless will be other shenanigans unfolding.

And after all of that? There’s the hotel bar.

Still sporting that new car smell during the weekend will be my two most recent publications: the Star Trek: U.S.S. Enterprise and Star Trek: The Next Generation U.S.S. Enterprise book and model kits from IncrediBuilds and Insight Editions. I’m told the local bookseller who always sets up shop during the con will have copies of both titles on hand, along with other selections from my backlist as well as those of the other attending author guests. Bring your wallets, yo.

For those of you planning to attend this year’s show, here’s hoping we run into each other. If you’re not coming, well…..it’s your loss. Shore Leave is always, always a fun con, and now that I’ve booked my flight I’m counting the days.

See you there?

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Happy 35th Anniversary, Blue Thunder!

“This ship is equipped with a forward-mounted, twenty-millimeter electric cannon. Its six barrels are capable of firing four thousand rounds of ammunition per minute. And that, gentlemen, is one hell of a shit-storm in anybody’s language!”

BlueThunder

Frank Murphy, helicopter pilot for the LAPD and former Army chopper pilot during the Vietnam War (and whom we see suffers from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder as a result of his service during that conflict), is selected as a test pilot for a brand new helicopter packed to the gills with state of the art armaments and quasi-futuristic stealth and surveillance technology. It’s supposedly intended for use during large scale civil disobedience operations, but that doesn’t ring right with Murphy, particularly after the helicopter, nicknamed “Blue Thunder,” blows the shit out of a simulated city street setting with mocked-up vehicles and human-sized targets. That a former rival of his from the war, Colonel “Catch ya later” Cochrane, is in on the whole thing doesn’t sit well with him, either.

Murphy, along with his rookie partner, Richard Lymangood (aka “JAFO,” or “Just Another Fucking Observer”), uses Blue Thunder’s sooper seekrit peeping tech to follow Cochrane to a clandestine meeting, and collects evidence that the colonel and a group of government douche nozzles are behind the death of a prominent city councilwoman. Her murder is part of a larger conspiracy put into motion by this wannabe cabal, who plan to use the helicopter to assassinate political enemies. After Lymangood is killed, Murphy steals Blue Thunder and it’s a race for him to get the evidence to someone who can expose the conspiracy before the bad guys get to him, culminating in a helicopter chase between Murphy and Cochrane in the skies above Los Angeles.

Released on May 13th, 1983, Blue Thunder made a point of letting potential audiences know that all of the surveillance and weapons technology stuffed into the helicopter was real, if not used in this particular configuration. Of course, we look at it today and think, “Pffft. That’s all he’s got? Drones, dude. Drones.” Thirty years ago, however, Blue Thunder was bad-ass.

Personally, I still think the helicopter looks pretty slick.

The plot of Blue Thunder is so thin that it makes Smokey and the Bandit seem like Inception, but a lot of what makes the movie work can be credited to actor Roy Scheider, who offers up yet another of his “every man” performances which served him so well throughout his career. Malcolm McDowell chews every scene with relish as the dick antagonist, Cochrane, and a young Daniel Stern provides much of the film’s early humor (both as instigator and target) as Lymangood the JAFO. Obviously, the hardware and the flying stunts take center stage, especially in the movie’s latter half, but Scheider is there to anchor things and keep them from going too far into the realm of absurdity.

Don’t get me wrong: I dig this film. It’s one that’s an easy candidate for a rewatch on a rainy day, and it’s interesting to see how some of the ideas it proposes stack up against our pervasive “conspiracy theory culture” and our “surveillance society” with cameras everywhere, expanded police powers, and even those drones we mentioned earlier.  How much of the stuff that seemed “far out” in 1983 is now at the disposal of law enforcement, or even has been surpassed by current technology?

Things that make you go, “Hmmm….”

The movie was successful, both critically and financially. A spin-off series aired on ABC the following year, which wasn’t a sequel but rather a reworking of the premise, in which the helicopter is used by a special unit to hunt down the baddest of bad guys, and so on and so forth. The show was cancelled after eleven episodes, ceding the helicopter action show bragging rights to the other 80s AwesomeChopper, Airwolf, which premiered that same year.

(So far as the helicopters go, I’ve always preferred Blue Thunder to Airwolf, even though I think Airwolf would win in a head-to-head contest. Yes, I’m a geek, and I put some thought into that particular battle royale.)

Blue Thunder seems like the perfect choice for a remake, doesn’t it? I’m sure someone’s thought about it, or is thinking about it, and they’ll eventually get on with dicking it up. Meanwhile, we still have the original. I may have to spin it up tonight.

“Catch ya later.”

Because I need the distraction, let’s do another “Ask Dayton” thing.

Also, hey! It’s been a while since I last did one of these, and as fate would have it, I’m working in and around a few writing projects that allow a bit of time for these sorts of antics.

Okay, so here’s the deal: Ask me anything, if you’re so inclined, and I’ll do my best to provide a brief yet thoughtful answer. If I’m unable to accomplish this seemingly straightforward feat, I’ll instead craft wise-assed comment, tailored and customized especially for you! It’s sort of like an “AMA” over on Reddit, but without the requirement of me needing shotgun a barrel of sanitizer once it’s all said and done.

Asker’s choice, so far as the topic goes. We can talk about writing, pop culture bullshit, deep thoughtful musings on the duality of man and the blurred line between good and evil, how science has finally proven to all those whiny shits that two spaces after a period is the way to go, why “Assignment: Earth” has not yet been reimagined or rebooted to be the TV show or film series we all so richly deserve, whatever.

I reserve the right not to answer anything I deem too personal or inappropriate for this particular venue, but this is a rule I’ve never actually had to invoke. Still, it never hurts to make such things clear up front.

Okey-dokey, then. Who’s got a question?

horshack

More presents from the Book Fairy!

What’s this? New books with that new book smell? Awwwwwwwwwww, yeah.

The good folks at Insight Editions sent me a present yesterday, in the form of author copies of my two latest publications: a pair of IncrediBuilds wood model kits, each with their own book as scribbled by me! Check it out, y’all:

(Click to biggie size.)

Aimed at a younger audience, the models are designed for easy assembly and require no glue, tape, or anything else. Everything fits together all nice and snug. I’ve not yet built either of these, but my kids and I have experimented with a couple of the Star Wars IncrediBuilds offerings. These things are kinda fun. 🙂

I was first able to talk about these back at the end of March, when Insight and StarTrek.com made the official announcement. Each book is 32 pages, stuffed to overflowing with various facts, stats, and little anecdotes about the ships as portrayed on TV and film, along with a few behind the scenes nuggets.

Both model/book sets are due in stores on or about on Tuesday, June 12th. I’m pretty happy with how these came out, and we’ve had conversations about potential future entries in this series. Stay tuned for more info as details develop!

April writing wrap-up.

mad-writer

So. April was a bit of a blur, huh?

The month was a bit of an odd one, with more conversations about work than actual work. The day job was, as has become normal, a big part of my writing output, but I still managed to get a few things done. Meanwhile, things are in motion, pieces are being moved, and so on and so forth.

For now, though, here’s the April rundown:

Continue reading “April writing wrap-up.”

Your Moment of TrekZen.*

From the StarFest Convention held a couple of weekends ago, this was one of my favorite entries in the con’s annual costume contest. She pulled this off with no tribble at all.

kirk-tribbles-starfest

I laughed way hard the first time I saw this. I wish I’d had a chance to catch her name and let her know.

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

2018 Scribe Awards announced!

iamtwThe International Association of Media Tie-In Writers (IAMTW) has announced their nominees for this year’s Scribe Awards. Among the nominees several people I’m proud to call friends and colleagues, or just sources of inspiration and admiration. Some of the names listed are people whose work I’ve been reading for years. Behold this year’s list of nominees!

Short Story
Planet of the Apes: “Banana Republic” by Jonathan Maberry
Joe Ledger: “Ganbatte” by Keith DeCandido
Planet of the Apes: “Murderers’ Row” by John Jackson Miller
Planet of the Apes: “Pacing Place” by Bob Mayer
Deadworld: “Rear Guard” by Sarah Stegall
Predator: “Storm Blood” by Peter Wacks and David Boop

Adapted Speculative and General
Doctor Who: The Pirate Planet by James Goss
Resident Evil: The Final Chapter by Tim Waggoner
Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets by Christie Golden
Kong: Skull Island by Tim Lebbon

Original Speculative
The Librarians and the Mother Goose Chase by Greg Cox
Interface Zero: Solar Singularity by Peter J. Wacks, Guy Anthony Demarco, and Josh Vogt
Halo: Legacy of Onyx by Matt Forbeck
Star Wars Battlefront II: Inferno Squad by Christie Golden
Star Trek: Discovery: Desperate Hours by David Mack
Supernatural: The Usual Sacrifices by Yvonne Navarro

Original General
Don Pendleton’s The Executioner: Fatal Prescription by Michael A. Black
The Will to Kill by Mickey Spillane and Max Allan Collins
Robert B. Parker’s The Hangman’s Sonnet: A Jesse Stone Novel by Reed Farrel Coleman

Young Adult Original
Star Wars: Adventures in Wild Space – The Cold  by Cavan Scott
Warriors Three: Godhood’s End by Keith R. A. DeCandido
X-Files Origins: Devil’s Advocate by Jonathan Maberry

Audio
Doctor Who: Across the Darkened City by David Bartlett
Doctor Who: Cold Vengeance by Matt Fitton
Warhammer 40,000: Agent of the Throne, Blood and Lies by John French
Torchwood: Cascade by Scott Handcock
Torchwood: The Dying Room by Lizzie Hopley

Also announced was the winner of this year’s Faust Award,  in recognition of their significant contributions to the realm of tie-in writing over the course of a prolific career. This year, IAMTW has voted for author Greg Cox to be elevated to “Grandmaster” status.

The Scribe winners will be announced in July, at San Diego Comic-con. Congratulations to all of the nominees, and to Greg!

Predator: If It Bleeds…the Hold-It-in-Your hands edition audiobook!

An unexpected treat in today’s mail.

Those of you who know who might not know (and, really…what’s that about?), If It Bleeds, the anthology of all-new Predator short stories that came out last fall, was graced with an audiobook edition back in February.

In addition to the digital audio download edition which is all the rage-these days, Blackstone Audio also saw fit to take pity on us hold-outs for old-school physical media by issuing both an MP3 CD version of the audiobook as well as an older-still-school version on regular CD.

Hey. I like my CDs. That’s right, I said it.

Moving on…

Anyway, back to today’s mail treat:

predator-audiobook-CDs

That’s right, pursuers of elusive electrons. Bask in the glory that is physical media. This’ll look way better on the brag shelf than an index card with a link to my iTunes or Audible account, amirite?

I’d been looking forward to listening to this during my work commute. Looks like I can get started on it tomorrow morning. Awwwwwwwwwwwww, yeah.

So, you know….get to da bookstoah!

 

Our StarFest Convention schedule!

Starfest2018-logoHoly schnikes!

A week from today, we’ll already be on the third and final day of this year’s 3-day StarFest Convention, held as it is each year in Denver, Colorado.

2018 will mark mine and Kevin’s 16th consecutive appearance at this con, which has long been one of our very favorite shows to attend each year. Some of you have likely seen me write or heard me say this, but we almost always lock in the dates for this con before committing to any other appearances, in order to avoid date conflicts. The StarFest family has treated us like two of their own pretty much from the jump, and reconnecting with all the friends we’ve made over the years – along with meeting new ones each year, is a highlight.

So, what are we doing this time around? Well, in addition to taking up space and oxygen in the con’s “Author Alley” area, Kevin and I are involved in several activities throughout the weekend. Check it out:

Friday, April 20th

Taming the Novel Series – panel discussion – 5pm-6pm: Writing one book is REALLY hard. Writing several novels is even harder. Writing several novels in a coherent series with consistent characters and satisfying story arcs can make your brain explode. These series novelists will offer their best advice for how you can wrangle hundreds of thousands of words into a compelling story. Moderated by Travis Heerman, with Betsy Dornbusch, Kevin, and myself.

StarFest Meet and Greet – Main Events – 7pm-8:30pm: Come meet our guests face to face and to get to know them a bit at the start of the convention. You’ll enjoy desserts, coffee and nonalcoholic beverages while you have the opportunity to chat in a relaxed atmosphere.  Door prizes and fun guaranteed. All our guests have been invited to come subject to flight arrivals and last-minute schedule changes.

A convention membership (that includes Friday) is required to attend this event.

Planet of the Apes 50th Anniversary Screening – Main Events – 10pm-Midnight: It’s going to be a madhouse in Main Events on Friday night, as we celebrate the 50th anniversary of a true science fiction classic! Based on Pierre Boulle’s 1963 novel and starring Charlton Heston, Kim Hunter, Linda Harrison, and the great Roddy McDowall, 1968’s Planet of the Apes launched one of the most successful and enduring motion picture franchises. Its revolutionary and iconic makeup designs earned artist John Chambers a “Special Achievement” Academy Award. The film contains one of the most unforgettable endings in the history of cinema, and occupies an indelible place in popular culture. Get to Main Events, you maniacs, and join author guests Dayton Ward and Kevin Dilmore for a late-evening screening of this landmark film on the occasion of its golden anniversary!

Saturday, April 21st

Costume Contest – Main Events – 8pm-10pm: As we do each year, Kevin and I assist with judging the con’s big Saturday night costume showdown. Kids, families, groups, etc. are all invited to show off their costuming and fandom passions. Prizes galore, along with emcee Kevin Atkins regaling us between categories and filling dead time with his latest collection of memes, jokes, and other oddities found on the internet since the last con.

Deadpool Late Show Screening – Main Events – (approx) 10:30pm-Midnight: Did we leave the stove on? You’ve got an eHarmony date with destiny! Oh, and author guests Dayton Ward and Kevin Dilmore as they defy all standards of good StarFest behavior and taste with our late-evening screening of Deadpool, the best superhero movie ever that’s not Black Panther, last year’s Wonder Woman, 1978’s Superman, or even 2011’s Green Lantern. If you’re looking for something to round out your Saturday at the con that doesn’t involve dancing, come on in to Main Events and hang for a bit with Kevin, Dayton, and the Merc With A Mouth. Just remember that this flick is rated “R,” as in “It’s REALLY REALLY RATED R,” so be aware. If you give us grief about this, Kevin and Dayton will find you and boom-box “Careless Whisper” outside your hotel room. WHAM! #DriveBy

Sunday, April 22nd

Starfest Talent Show – Main Events – 9am-9:45am: Do you have a song you need to sing? A skit you need to perform? Main Events is the place to do it on Sunday morning! Sign up Friday and Saturday at Costume Contest registration (near Convention Information). Walk-ons will be accepted on Sunday if time permits. Please keep performances to under 5 minutes each. Categories are 18+ and under 18.

Warm up those pipes, practice that guitar, or put the finishing touches on your skit!! You could win fabulous prizes!

And there you have it! Now, it’s also possible, even likely, that Kevin and I will find additional mischief in which to insert ourselves. We’re also trying to organize a joint signing with comic artist Gordon Purcell, who provided the oh-so nifty art for our Star Trek: Waypoint comic back in 2016. It may well end up being us crashing each other’s tables at different points during the weekend. Follow me on Twitter if you’re at the con, and I’ll shoot updates there as they happen!

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Talking Drastic Measures and other stuff at Discovering Trek!

Everybody look out! I’m talking. Again.

This time, I join Dan Davidson and Bill Smith, hosts of the Trek Geeks and Discovering Trek podcasts for a special installment of the latter show. Why? Well, as you may have heard, I wrote this one little Star Trek: Discovery novel called Drastic Measures, which came out a little bit ago.

Yeah….

In addition to the book and how it was developed (with the able assistance of Discovery‘s own Kirsten Beyer and my editor, Margaret Clark) and how the story’s events affect the characters of Philippa Georgiou and Gabriel Lorca ten years before the events of the series’ first season, we talk about the show itself and “Star Trek canon” and how my head explodes whenever that word comes up, how I got into writing Star Trek stories for Pocket, favorite Star Trek projects like the Vanguard novels, reading the novels as a fan before getting into the whole writing thing, and the close-knit circle of friends that is the Star Trek writing cabal.

Podcasters are getting wise to my antics, though. They’re smart enough to ask fairly open-ended questions, knowing that I’ll ramble and yammer long enough for them to run to the bathroom, pick up dinner, get their car detailed, or head out for a weekend in Vegas. Such is the case here, though Dan and Bill exercised great patience and grace by remaining with me throughout my answers, even staying conscious long enough to drop in the occasional “Uh-huh,” “yeah,” or, “oh, right.”

Thanks for indulging me, guys.

Anyway, the results of this latest stream-of-conscious babbling can be found here:

Discovering Trek Bonus Episode: Drastic Measures

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Many thanks to Dan and Bill for having me on the show. I had a great time talking to these fine gents. With any luck, our paths will cross again in the near future at Vegas or some other swank con. 🙂