My Mars Attacks novella has its own trading card!


:: ahem ::

Regular readers of this space know that last fall, I wrote The Armageddon Directive, a Mars Attacks novella for Joe Books and Topps. It was commissioned as a “reward” for backers who supported a Kickstarter campaign to crowdfund a whole new set of Mars Attacks trading cards. As I write this, the Mars Attacks: Occupation card set is being proofed and readied for printing and shipping. So, you know….W00t!

Back in the fall, I shared the novella’s “cover art,” as rendered by amazing artist Steve Epting. As the story I wrote is set during the 1960s, the idea was to evoke pulp novels of that era, and holy hell did Steve knock it completely out of the park, past the parking lot and right through the windshield of some car way out on the freeway.

But wait! It gets better.

I was also told that the art Steve provided would serve as one of the cards in the Occupation set. Not just that, but the complete cover and “back cover text” will make up the card’s front and back. Check it out:

I’ve already been told that I’ll be able to get extras of the cards for gloating purposes. So, I say again: “Squeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!”

Mars Attacks: The Armageddon Directive will first be made available in e-Book form to the Occupation Kickstarter backers, after which it will be up for general sale at the regular e-Book haunts. Stay tuned for more details!

And as always, many thanks to the good folks at Joe Books and Topps for letting me play in their sandbox for a bit.

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The sorta late January writing wrap-up.


Just like that, 2016’s 1/12th in the books. The hell, calendar?

The short version is that I’m very happy January’s over. I may even get to sleep a little at some point in this coming month. Not a lot…but a little. I’ll take it.

Things have been and will continue to be busy in the coming days. There’s an outline for a novel to finish, ongoing work on the now current novel “in progress,” and a short story to complete by month’s end. I suspect there also will be editor’s notes if not a full-blown response to copyedits on the manuscript we delivered last week, and various admin and logistical stuff relating to other projects in various forms of gestation.

So, what’s going on? Well, here’s the January rundown:

Continue reading

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Columbia: 13 years ago today.

On the morning of February 1st, 2003, the Space Shuttle Columbia, returning to Earth after a successful 16-day mission, broke apart during re-entry and disintegrated, killing its seven-member crew.

I spent the rest of that afternoon and the ensuing days watching the news coverage as new information came to light, and possible explanations and causes for the disaster began to emerge. To this day, it’s hard to believe that something so seemingly simple as a few damaged heat tiles could wreak such unchecked destruction.

On the other hand, the tragedy served to reinforce the harsh reality of the incredible dangers inherent in manned space flight, and that nothing about it is “simple” or “routine.” I did and still believe that our exploration of space is a worthy and necessary endeavor, and I hope that the sacrifices made by men and women such as Columbia‘s crew always will be heeded when taking our next small steps and giant leaps.

Generations from now, when the reach of human civilization is extended throughout the solar system, people will still come to this place to learn about and pay their respects to our heroic Columbia astronauts. They will look at the astronauts’ memorial and then they will turn their gaze to the skies, their hearts filled with gratitude for these seven brave explorers who helped blaze our trail to the stars.

– Sean O’Keefe, NASA Administrator, Arlington National Cemetery, February 2nd, 2004.

(l-r, blue shirts): David Brown, William McCool, Michael Anderson.
(l-r, red shirts): Kalpana Chawla, Rick D. Husband, Laurel Blair Salton Clark, Ilan Ramon

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Remembering Challenger: 30 years ago today.

73 seconds after launch on a particularly cool Florida morning thirty years ago today, the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded, killing astronauts Dick Scobee, Michael Smith, Judith Resnik, Ellison Onizuka, Ron McNair, Greg Jarvis, and Christa McAuliffe.

On March 21st, 1987, a permanent marker paying tribute to the crew was placed at Arlington National Cemetery, The marker’s face features likenesses of the crew and the following dedication:

In Grateful
and Loving Tribute
To the Brave Crew
of the United States
Space Shuttle Challenger
28 January 1986

Inscribed on the back of the marker is this poem:

High Flight

Oh, I have slipped the surly bonds of earth
and danced the skies on laughter silvered wings,
sunward I’ve climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
of sun split clouds – and done a hundred things
you have not dreamed of
wheeled and soared and swung
high in the sunlit silence hov’ring there.
I’ve chased the shouting wind along and flung
my eager craft through footless halls of air.
Up, up the long delirious, burning blue
I’ve topped the windswept heights with easy grace
where never lark or even eagle flew
and while with silent, lifting mind I’ve trod
the high untrespassed sanctity of space
put out my hand, and touched the face of God.

– John Gillepie Magee, Jr.

 L-R: Ellison S. Onizuka, Michael J. Smith, Sharon Christa McAuliffe, Francis R. Scobee, Gregory B. Jarvis, Ronald E. McNair, Judith A. Resnik

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God speed to the crew of Apollo 1.

49 years ago tonight, while conducting a routine test of their spacecraft’s power systems, the crew of Apollo 1–Virgil I. “Gus” Grissom, Edward H. White, and Roger B. Chafee–was killed when a fire broke out inside the capsule.

Grissom had been with NASA almost from the beginning, flying missions for both the Mercury and Gemini programs, and White also was a Gemini veteran. The Apollo 1 flight was to be Chaffee’s first space mission.

Their sacrifice, though tragic, ultimately played a monumental role in NASA’s effort toward bettering the machines which soon would fly to the Moon, and ensuring the safety of the men who would take them there.

(L-R: Astronauts Gus Grissom, Ed White, Roger Chaffee)




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Ask Dayton #114 on the G and T Show: “Nice save, Gene!”

Lookie what we have here!

It’s been a while since we’ve done one of these, but apparently the “Ask Dayton” option was once again added to the G and T Show this week. Hosts Terry Lynn Shull, Nick Minecci, and Mike Medeiros managed to scrounge together a few minutes during a rather action-packed show, taking them away from their usual discussion about the latest happenings in and around the “Star Trek Universe” in order to devote them to this sad little exercise.

(Never forget: This shit was all their idea. From the jump. 114 of these damned things, and every single one of them is on those three chuckleheads.)

Anyway, what was in the mailbox this time around?

Dear Dayton,

What do you think is on Gene Roddenberry’s floppy disks?

Okie doke, folks. Here’s your chance: cue up all those “You turn my floppy disk into a hard drive” jokes you’ve been saving since the 1980s. Go on, get it out of your system. I’ll wait.

Everybody cool, now? Grab your cigarettes and bask in the afterglow while I get on with answering the question.

A couple of weeks ago, geek circles were abuzz with news that a computer data recovery firm, DriveSavers, had been contracted by Gene Roddenberry’s estate to look into possibly retrieving whatever secrets might be squirreled away on 200 floppy diskettes that once belonged to the renowned Star Trek creator. 200 floppy diskettes! For all we know, the Great Bird of the Galaxy might well have been hoarding a heretofore undiscovered prototype copy of Windows or HALO.

Nah, probably not.

Though finding hardware to read such an antiquated storage medium is pretty tough for regular everyday folks, the gang at DriveSavers is pretty savvy, and this sort of thing was right in their wheelhouse. According to various articles I read, the group was successful in prying the data from the cold, dead claws of those ancient coasters. However, as DriveSavers was bound by a confidentiality agreement, they couldn’t tell the rest of us spectators just what had been retrieved. So far, the Roddenberry estate hasn’t shared anything, either. No doubt they’re sifting through the archives and deciding what’s private and what might be appropriate for sharing with the masses.

Therefore, we’re just going to have to speculate, aren’t we?

Now me? I figure a lot of the material is likely stored correspondence, like early versions of email or other documents Mr. Roddenberry would’ve first composed electronically before printing it and having it distributed to staff and whoever else. I’m sure a lot of it is pretty mundane, but given the time period the disks were used, there might be some pretty cool memos and whatnot pertaining to—for example—the early development of Star Trek: The Next Generation. We could be talking about stuff that has yet to be chronicled in any sort of “Making Of” book or documentary. That alone might make the whole effort worth the trouble of retrieving data from all those disks.

What else might there be? Early drafts of an outline or chapters from The God Thing, the Star Trek novel Mr. Roddenberry was supposedly writing way back when, but for which nothing has seen the light of day beyond a very small circle of people? If you don’t think I’d love to get a call one day from somebody wanting to hire me to take all of those notes and make an attempt at finishing it, you’re insane.

Part of me is hoping there might be a draft of a never-completed and never dispatched reply to a fan letter I wrote him in 1977, but I’m not holding my breath.

How about this? What if there’s a contract he was drafting to put out a hit on George Lucas? Oh, relax. It’s a joke, people!

What if there’s a half-completed Star Trek script in there, somewhere, focusing on the legendary Garth of Izar and the Battle of Axanar? Hold on…who am I kidding? Who would want to watch that?


I’d love to think there might be notes and other stuff pertaining to ideas for new television shows he may have been trying to develop. We all know he attempted to do just that in the 1970s before his return to Star Trek, and I admit to having a soft spot for some of those efforts, flawed though they may have been. And let’s not forget that a couple of series actually were developed from his initial concepts, like Earth: Final Conflict and Andromeda. Personally, I’ve often wondered if one of the early ideas he was thinking of dusting off might be a new take on Assignment: Earth, the series he had devised in 1968 before making it a Star Trek episode. A new version of that, without the Star Trek connection, is something I’ve always been surprised has never happened.

Lastly, anybody want to take bets on whether they find a stash of his favorite Kirk/Spock slash fanfic? Come on, that’d be pretty damned epic, amirite?


Come on, Roddenberry estate! Don’t keep us waiting like this!

This question and its answer was read during G&T Show Episode #221 on January 24th, 2016. You can hear Nick read the answers each week by listening live, or check out the replay/download options when the episode is loaded to their website: The G and T Show. Listeners are also encouraged to send in their own questions, one of which will be sent to me each week for a future episode.

As always, thanks to Nick, Terry and Mike for making me a part of their show.

Posted in ask dayton, friends, g&t show | 1 Comment’s first look at my Vulcan Travel Guide!

Well, I pretty much spoiled everything in the headline, didn’t I?

The good folks over at are offering a tease about my forthcoming book from Insight Editions, Hidden Universe – Star Trek: A Travel Guide to Vulcan. While it’s not a novel, it’s definitely written “inside the box,” as it were, presented in a format that’s similar to those Lonely Planet or Frommer’s guidebooks you might buy before heading out on vacation to some exotic, faraway land.

So, we’re talking a lot of small entries about various locales and points of interest, places to eat and stay, and things of that nature. There will be maps to give you the lay of the land, and guide you on walking tours of ShiKahr, Vulcan’s Forge, and other places, and so on. The book will also feature sidebar articles about various topics, like what you should do if you find yourself the inadvertent host to a dying Vulcan’s katra, or you get sucked into ceremonial combat to the death. You know, the usual vacation hazards.

To help fill out the volume, I drew upon on screen references from the various television series and films, and I also made references and nods to things from a few novels as well as role-playing game materials and other books. That got me part of the way to my targeted word count, but I ended up…well…making up a lot of shit. I’ve been asked if this book is meant to be some kind of “official” or “canonical” reference, or a means of addressing inconsistencies across the series and/or different tie-in materials. The answer to that is, “Um…no.” It’s definitely meant to be more low-key than that.

As you hopefully can tell, the book’s tone is meant to be very casual, sometimes lighthearted, and perhaps even funny if I did my job correctly. Photos and art will accompany my text, and the book will be presented in a trade paperback size that’s perfect for your backpack.

Though it’s labeled as being “not final,” here’s the cover:


Insight has also provided the book’s marketing copy. I don’t want to steal any of that thunder, so I’ll just send you over there to read all about it:

FIRST LOOK: Hidden Universe – Star Trek: A Travel Guide to Vulcan

For those who may be wondering, the book is grounded in the “classic” Star Trek continuity, meaning everything from the original series up through Star Trek: Enterprise and the first ten movies. Indeed, the “Tips for A Fun Trip” section includes this advisory:

There’s a distinct possibility that the planet might not exist in all realities, universes, and timelines. Check with your travel agent for details.”


The book is currently slated for publication on or about July 19th, and it’s up for pre-order at Amazon. Start planning your vacations now!

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

“The Secret of Bigfoot, Part 2” on Cyborgs: A Bionic Podcast!

At long last….the cliffhanger is resolved!

Back in October(!), hosts John S. Drew and Paul K. Bisson of Cyborgs: A Bionic Podcast, continued their retrospective of The Six Million Dollar Man by plunging headlong into the series’ third season by taking a long look at the first half of the epic, landmark two-part episode, “The Secret of Bigfoot.” I yammered all about that installment of the podcast right here.

And now here we are, with Part 2!


As was the case with Part 1, covering the second half of this legendary episode was too big a job for John and Paul to handle on their own, or even with the assistance of a single guest host. With that in mind, they enlisted the help of three guests to help shoulder the burden. In addition to my dumb geeky ass, the podcast features Matt Hankinson (chief creative consultant for Time-Life’s definitive The Six Million Dollar Man DVD collection), and bionic guru Joe Burns, webmaster of The Six 1973.

Do we really need to recap this episode? Hell no. It’s a classic slice of 1970s TV sci-fi cheesy goodness, most of it presented in slow motion. What’s to know? What’s not to love? Let’s just get on with it, all right?

Cyborgs: A Bionic Podcast – “The Secret of Bigfoot, Part 2″

As always, many thanks to John and Paul for inviting me back to the podcast. They’re always fun to do. Here’s hoping I can get back there again, one of these days.

Posted in cyborgs podcast, feelin' nostalgic, friends, nerdity, podcasts, tv | Leave a comment

Novel Spaces – “The 7 Phases of Almost Any Writing Project.”

writerWhat? It’s the 17th again? Didn’t we just do one of these, like, a month or so ago?

Of course, being the 17th means it must once again be my turn at bat over at the Novel Spaces blog!

This time around, as I labor to complete a Writing Project That Will Not Die, my thoughts turned to the repetitive nature of the “writer’s life,” and how so much of what a writer encounters during the life cycle of a project is repeatable. Indeed, such things seem unavoidable, no matter how many times we tell ourselves, “Yep! I’ve definitely learned my lesson. I’m going to make some changes and to tackle the next project so much better than this one.”

Yeah. Whatever.

The result of that sleep-deprived bit of rumination is something I’ve decided to call “The 7 Phases of  Almost Any Project.” In short, it goes like this:

  1. Enthusiasm
  2. Procrastination
  3. Disillusionment
  4. Panic
  5. Self-Loathing
  6. Cramming
  7. Coma

For the details on each phase of this “writer’s life cycle,” check out the full article:

Novel Spaces – “The 7 Phases of Almost Any Writing Project”

If you find yourself nodding and pointing at the screen and yelling stuff like, “Hell yeah! That’s what I’m talking about! See, honey! Not just me!” then post your anecdotes to the comments.

My Novel Spaces archive.

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What Happens on Page One: 30 Ways to Start a Novel

Friend Bryn Donovan offers up thirty tips on how to start that new novel you’re sitting down to write, calling upon examples from classic literature and recent titles to show you how it can be done. Bookmark this one.

Bryn Donovan

This post contains spoilers for Star Wars: The Force Awakens. But come on — you should have seen it by now.

Even when you have a basic idea of your story, sometimes it’s hard to know where to begin it. I’m going to talk a little more about first scenes than first lines, though I’ll mention some first lines, too.

I think one of the best things you can do with your first five or ten pages is get the readers to care about what happens to your main character (or one of them.)

In my opinion, and in the opinion of most editors, a prologue that only serves as backstory is generally a bad idea. It makes a novel feel like it’s taking too long to really get started. You can weave the backstory into the present-day action. Build some mystery and anticipation about past events, and they will thoroughly enjoy it when…

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