LepreCon bound!

If anybody’s looking for Kevin and me for the next four or five days, we’ll be hanging out in balmy Phoenix, Arizona. Why? Because LepreCon, people!


That’s right! We’ll be hanging out with the likes of Jennifer Brozek, David Gerrold, Larry Hama, Ken Kelly, Camille and Kennerly Kitt, Victor Moreno, and a party of favorites. Kevin and I will be doing panels and signings throughout the weekend, and generally making nuisances of ourselves. In and around all of that, I’ll be busy driving toward my deadline for the 24 novel. Should make for an entertaining weekend, amirite?

So, if you’re in or near the Phoenix area and looking to get your geek on, come around and say “Howdy!”

Posted in cons, fandom, nerdity | 2 Comments

Happy 40th Anniversary, Jaws!

Y’all know me. Know how I earn a livin’. I’ll catch this bird for you, but it ain’t gonna be easy. Bad fish. Not like going down the pond chasin’ bluegills and tommycods. This shark, swallow you whole. Little shakin’, little tenderizin’, an’ down you go. And we gotta do it quick, that’ll bring back your tourists, put all your businesses on a payin’ basis. But it’s not gonna be pleasant. I value my neck a lot more than three thousand bucks, Chief. I’ll find him for three, but I’ll catch him, and kill him, for ten. But you’ve gotta make up your minds. If you want to stay alive, then ante up. If you want to play it cheap, be on welfare the whole winter. I don’t want no volunteers, I don’t want no mates, there’s just too many captains on this island. Ten thousand for me by myself. For that you get the head, the tail, the whole damn thing.”

June, 20th, 1975: The day everybody started reconsidering their summer beach vacation plans.

Based on Peter Benchley’s 1974 novel of the same name, Jaws essentially paved the way for what we now know as the “summer blockbuster event” movie. Forty years to the day after its initial release, the film really does hold up very, very well (yes, even considering what is obviously a fake shark.). What makes up for the sometimes scary/sometimes goofy-looking shark itself is the screenplay, keen directorial choices made by then-journeyman filmmaker Steven Spielberg, a landmark, haunting, and timeless musical score as delivered by veteran composer John Williams, and the razor-sharp performances of lead actors Roy Scheider (police chief Martin Brody), Robert Shaw (the salty sea fisherman Quint), and Richard Dreyfuss (oceanographer Matt Hooper).

As for the shark, Spielberg, owing to persistent malfunctions with the model and perhaps planning for the worst while hoping for the best, elected to keep the shark “behind the curtain” for most of the film. He waits until the one-hour or so mark to provide the first teasing glimpse, when it attacks a boater near the Amity beach. Even then we only get a fleeting look at the creature’s head before the camera cuts away, and we’re left to consider just how frikkin’ big this thing really is. It’s not until the pivotal moment twenty minutes later, when Brody is tossing chum into the water behind Quint’s boat, the Orca, that the shark reveals itself to the boat’s crew, and us, and provides what is arguably the most memorable line of the entire movie: “You’re gonna need a bigger boat.”

There are a few things which obviously date the film, such as fashion, automobiles, and the like. Speaking of clothes, actor Murray Hamilton as Amity mayor Larry Vaughn gets my vote as worst-dressed dude in a movie not featuring RuPaul. Holy Shit on a Ritz Cracker…that multi-colored pinstripe number? I still have nightmares about going to prom wearing something like that. Still, such things are easy to dismiss when we’re talking about a film that’s able to transcend the era in which it’s made. For such movies, I simply consider them period pieces, and enjoy.

Yeah, these days we know that much of the shark’s behavior is wholly at odds with the way sharks really act, but we don’t care. It’s still a riveting story of man facing off against one of nature’s perfect creations; the consummate eating machine which goes about its singular purpose with simple, brutal efficiency. As for the lead characters, Scheider brings what would become his patented “every man” approach to the role of Brody, a regular joe caught up in a ridiculously extraordinary situation. Richard Dreyfuss is our translator as Hooper, explaining the shark’s actions and drive to do what it does, and providing much of the comic relief in the film’s latter half. Robert Shaw offers up an assload of quiet menace to his performance as Quint, and his recounting of the U.S.S. Indianapolis sinking and its aftermath is quite simply one of the most bone-chilling monologues in cinema, period.

Jaws did phenomenal business during the summer of 1975, and continues to be listed among the best films ever made by whoever bothers to make such lists. As for what came after? A sequel was inevitable, especially considering one of the producers involved with the film, Richard D. Zanuck, was the head of 20th Century Fox Studios when the original Planet of the Apes was made and greenlit the first of the sequels to that film (Hey, the man knew how to capitalize on an idea). What about the Jaws follow-ups? Jaws 2 is a serviceable if largely unremarkable sequel, the only saving grace of which is the always watchable Roy Scheider reprising the role of Brody. The less said of the subsequent two films, Jaws 3-D and Jaws: The Revenge, the better.

No. We’re not talking about those films here. Ever.

There have been rumors circulating for a while now that a remake of the original film is in the works (in 3-D, even). Whether this might be a straight-up retelling of the film itself, or a new take on Benchley’s original novel never seems to crop up during such mindless blathering. So far as I’ve been able to tell, cooler heads at Universal have prevailed in this regard, at least so far. Perhaps they’re worried about Steven Spielberg’s continued association with the studio (via Dreamworks), and the belief that he might aggressively fight any attempts at a remake, along with making miserable the lives of as many Universal execs as he’s able. In a world that’s given us Mega Shark Versus Giant Octopus and Sharknado, I’m content for studio folk to leave this one well enough alone.

Yep, even after all these years, the original Jaws remains an eminently rewatchable film.

Posted in fandom, movies, nerdity, tributes | 8 Comments

The Batcave Podcast, Episode 42!

Hey! Weren’t you thinking, “Gee, isn’t it about time for yet another exciting episode of  The Batcave Podcast?”

BOOM! Here you go.

As you doubtless know by this point, host John S. Drew has been taking an extended walk down Memory Lane as he continues his review of the classic 1960s Batman television series starring Adam West and Burt Ward. For the second season’s twenty-first story (and 43rd and 44th episodes overall), he’s joined by the purveyor of podcasts over at Views from the Longbox, Michael Bailey, as they discuss the return of the Catwoman in “Catwoman Goes to College” and “Batman Displays His Knowledge.”

From John’s write-up:

“Julie Newmar makes her final bow as the Catwoman in an episode many fans remember fondly. Catwoman decides to follow the straight and narrow as she enters college. But the theft of a statue of Batman from the college and a found beanie cap are all the clues Batman needs to figure out Catwoman is up to something.”

See what John and Michael think of these episodes: “Catwoman Goes to College/Batman Displays His Knowledge

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

Novel Spaces – “The Write Space?”

writerHey, what do you know? It’s the 16th again.

You know, already. Didn’t we just do this a month or so ago?

Anyway, if it’s the 16th, that means it’s my turn in the hopper over at the Novel Spaces blog!

This month, I ponder the elusive answer to an oft-asked question: What’s the best place for you to write? Is it the location where you’re most productive, simply somewhere that offers a nice setting for you to collect your thoughts and maybe order them into something cohesive for the page? Are you lucky enough that it’s the same place?

Novel Spaces – “The Write Space?”

So, come on, let’s have it: What’s your favorite place to write? Where are you most productive with your writing? Are they the same place? Does it have to be the cozy, familiar confines of home, do you have an “auxiliary writing spot,” or are you able to tap a bit into the “guerilla writing” mindset and just go for it anywhere and everywhere?

My Novel Spaces archive.

Posted in guest blogging, novel spaces, writing | Leave a comment

Hey! It’s Captain Picard Day!

Today, June 16th, is “Captain Picard Day.” What, you didn’t know this? Shame on you.

That’s right, today we pause to recognize the life and accomplishments of Jean-Luc Picard: captain extraordinaire, explorer, diplomat, tea connoisseur, and 24th century renaissance man.

So, you know…make it so, and all that.

Of course, all he wants is to sit in the sun and read his book. Alone. Afterward? He really hasn’t thought that far ahead.

Posted in nerdity, trek, TrekZen | 3 Comments

Ask Dayton #112 on the G and T Show: “Do I Still Remember How to Do This?”

Wait. What?

Holy Schnikes, kids! Look what’s back up and running? I mean, I guess I think it’s back up and running. Let’s see what things are like next week, before we get all excited and shit.

But for now? It’s Sunday, and with it came another episode of the G and T Show, with hosts Terry Lynn Shull, Nick Minecci, and Mike Medeiros bringing you all the latest happenings in and around the “Star Trek Universe.”

And when they got to a point of the show that otherwise would’ve been filled with dead air? They brought out an old chestnut, blew off the dust, and let it fly. To wit:

Dear Dayton,

It’s been a while. How’s the Witness Protection Program? So much is going on. With Daredevil and Age of Ultron, can Marvel do any wrong on the screen at this point? Also, what have you been reading you can recommend to us?

Witness Protection? I didn’t go anywhere. I’ve been here all along. To borrow and tweak an oft-used phrase that you’ll hear a lot with respect to religion or politics, I didn’t leave my podcast; my podcast left me.

I mean, fuck: How long’s it been since the last time we had an “Ask Dayton?” Three months, by my calculations. That’s almost a football season. That’s one third of a gestating baby. That’s how long Barbra Streisand says goodbye during her latest farewell tour.

(Truth be told, I’ve had this question in my hopper for a couple of weeks, now, but I’d been holding out for more money from the show, and contract negotiations had stalled. My agent was finally able to get me a nice raise and from now, on I’ll be making three times as much per answer as I was making before. Pretty sweet, right?)

What have I been doing since then? I’ve been working my ass off. That’s what. Since the last time we spoke, I’ve written one book, finished co-writing another, banged out a couple of short stories and the odd web-based thing, and plunged ass-deep into writing two different novels at the same time. Why? Because I’m a fucking idiot, that’s why.

Who writes two novels at the same time? :: points thumbs at self :: This moron, right here. Thankfully, neither book is remotely like the other in terms of story, themes, characters, or even genres. That’s the only thing saving me from running out into the street and trying an open-field tackle on a bus, although it does make for some interesting dreams…you know, when I get around to actually sleeping, and shit.

But, you probably don’t give a damn about any of that, do you? No, no. I’m fine. Thanks for asking.

As for what Marvel can and can’t do wrong so far as their much-vaunted “Cinematic Universe” goes, I’m going to have to be that guy who says he didn’t really get all that excited about Age of Ultron. I wasn’t in that much of a hurry to see it, and once I finally made it to a screening, it’s not like I was champing at the bit to see it again. Contrast that with Mad Max: Fury Road, which I wanted to watch again as soon as the credits finished rolling the first time. Hot damn what a fun movie that was.

As for Ultron? No, it certainly wasn’t a bad movie, but it was like Chinese food; a half hour after I was done watching it, I wanted something to fill the void because in the end, the flick just didn’t do that much for me. So far as I’m concerned, the best Marvel movie to date is Captain America: The Winter Soldier. As entertaining as both Avengers movies are, neither one of them comes close to knocking that one off the top of the heap, for me. The only one that might have a chance is Cap’s next outing, Civil War.

Taking a look ahead at what else is coming from Marvel, I have to admit to a healthy skepticism about Ant Man. I mean…really? Then again, I was one of those folks who thought Guardians of the Galaxy was going to be a big misfire, and I was quite happy to be proven wrong about that. I don’t really have feelings one way or another about yet another Spider-Man reboot, and I was never a big Doctor Strange or Thor fan, but Captain Marvel intrigues me. Speaking of characters who need their own movie, we seriously need a Black Widow flick. Natasha Romanoff is arguably the biggest badass of the whole group we’ve seen so far. No super powers, no high-tech toys, just skills and sass. What are we waiting for?

Switching gears to the other part of your question, my leisure reading has taken a hit in recent months, to be honest. Anything I read these days is almost always research or “homework” for whatever writing project is front and center. That doesn’t stop me from buying new books, you understand. The way I see it, I’m lining up my activities calendar for when I finally retire.

That said, I did have recent opportunities to read a couple of books. The first was called Home Before Morning, a memoir written by a former Army nurse that chronicles her experiences at an evac hospital during the Vietnam War. If that premise sounds familiar to you, it’s because this book was the basis for the 1980s television series China Beach. The other book I read was The Martian by Andy Weir, which is one of the more entertaining science fiction novels I’ve read in a long time. I wanted to read it before the movie adaptation hits theaters later this year, and the movie’s going to have a tough act to follow. I used to be able to say, “Hey, it’s Ridley Scott! That’s like money in the bank!” But, I still haven’t completely forgiven him for recent efforts like Prometheus, and the very idea of a sequel to Blade Runner is blasphemous. So, here’s hoping The Martian marks the start of a big-time bounce-back for Sir Ridley.

I think that’s enough babbling for one answer, don’t you? I look forward to addressing the next “Ask Dayton” some time in 2017 or so.

This question and its answer was read during G&T Show Episode #196 on June 14th, 2015. 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.

And as always, many thanks to Nick, Terry and Mike for continuing to make me a part of the show.

Posted in ask dayton, books, friends, g&t show, movies, writing, writing advice | 2 Comments

Talking “Armageddon’s Arrow” with Literary Treks!

Because I know you were thinking, “Hey! It’s been a while since that Ward guy babbled at length about anything.” You say you need a fix, and I’m your dealer.

Well, not really. In this case, it’s Literary Treks who’s doing the dealing. Being just one of Trek.fm‘s rotating schedule of Trek and genre-themed podcast, episodes of Literary Treks focus on the Star Trek prose and comics. This includes interviewing writers (and artists, in the case of comics) of the various stories, and for this latest installment, hosts Matthew Rushing and Dan Gunther install safety rails and netting around the perimeter so that I don’t hurt myself as we talk about my latest book offering, Armageddon’s Arrow.

To hear Matthew and Dan describe it:

“In this episode of Literary Treks hosts Matthew Rushing and Dan Gunther are joined by Dayton Ward to talk about this latest adventure for the TNG crew. We discuss changing course in the 24th century, the new crew with the old, Picard’s changes, creating races and technology, being careful what you wish for, literary on ramp, balancing resources, how things circle back, Section 1701, what Taurik saw, the ending, trying to surprise readers and upcoming things from Dayton.”

As for what Taurik saw and the ending, I refer you to this memorandum from the Department of Temporal Investigations.

Have a listen, whydontcha:

Literary Treks #107 – Death Star DeLorean


Thanks very much to Matt and Dan for having me on again. It’s always great to talk to you guys.

Posted in fandom, interviews, podcasts, q&a, trek | 5 Comments