My Shore Leave 41 schedule!

shore-leave-logoOh, we’re getting close. I can feel that familiar itch.

No, not that itch. I told you, my doctor gave me a shot. Geez.

I’m talkin’ about us being less than three weeks away from the annual Shore Leave convention, which is all set to take place July 12th-14th at the Delta Hotels Baltimore Hunt Valley Inn! With only a couple of exceptions, I’ve been attending this con for more than fifteen years. Along with our annual jaunts to Denver for StarFest, this is my favorite con to attend. In addition to being a fan-driven show run by a dedicated group of volunteers rather than some corporate entity, I’m fairly certain it’s also the largest gathering of Star Trek writers of every sort. More importantly, it’s one of the few times I get to see many of my friend and colleagues who call the East Coast (mostly New York and points nearby) home.

As is usually the case, the convention is boasting a pretty solid roster of media guests, including Anson Mount and Ethan Peck, aka “Captain Christopher Pike” and “Mr. Spock” from Season 2 of Star Trek: Discovery. Also on the list are Michael Shanks (Stargate, Smallville), Lexa Doig (Stargate, Andromeda, Smallville), John Glover (Smallville, Shazam!), Erica Durance (Smallville, Saving Hope), Aaron Ashmore (Killjoys, Smallville, Warehouse 13), Laura Vandervoort (Supergirl, Smallville, Bitten), and Alex Mallari (Dark Matter, Indigo, True Justice). Topping it all off is the original Lieutenant Uhura herself, Nichelle Nichols, who is in the midst of a “farewell tour” as she prepares to retire from the con circuit.

There are also more author and science guests than can comfortably fit into one of the Titanic‘s lifeboats. Check out the con’s Guests Page for all the juicy deetz!

As one of those author guests looking for a good seat in said lifeboat, the con’s official schedule places me at these locations at these times. Plan your stalking accordingly:

Friday, July 12th

What’s New in Star Trek Fiction – 6pm-7pm – Hunt/Valley Ballroom
What are the latest plans for Star Trek publications? Moderated by John Jackson Miller and with fellow panelist David Mack.

Meet the Pros – 10pm-Midnight – Hunt/Valley Foyer
The con’s annual mass author autographing event! Bring your books and whatever else you might want signed by any of the convention’s author guests. You should be able to track down a particular author throughout the weekend, but this is the main event. If all goes to plan, local bookseller Novel Books will have vendor space throughout the weekend with plenty of new release and backlist titles from all the attending authors.

Saturday, July 13th

Own Worst Critic or Biggest Fan? – 11am-12pm – Chase Room
Some authors are extremely tough on themselves. Others love everything they do. Which is better, what are the pros and cons, and where do you fall on this spectrum? Moderated by Aaron Rosenberg, with fellow panelists Dave Galanter and Laura Ware.

Star Trek: Discovery: Season 2 – 12pm-1pm – Salon A
A recap of Season 2’s highs and lows, wishes for Season 3, and how the novels are addressing such tightly serialized storytelling. Moderated by Rigel Ailur, with fellow panelists Amy Imhoff, Dave Galanter, John Jackson Miller, Howard Weinstein, and Keith R.A. DeCandido.

It’s Not Linear – 1pm-2pm – Derby Room
Why do time-travel and Star Trek work so well together? Panelists will discuss Star Trek episodes, films, and novels that utilize time travel. Moderated by Derek Attico, with fellow panelists Amy Imhoff, Kelli Fitzpatrick, and Lorraine Anderson.

Meeting eSpec Books – 6pm-7pm – Derby Room
The publishers, editors, and authors of eSpec Books discuss their new and upcoming releases, including novels by Keith R.A. DeCandido, Christopher Bennett, and Bud Sparhawk and new volumes in their ever-popular Defending the Future and Beyond the Cradle anthology series. Moderated by Danielle Ackley-McPhail, with fellow panelists Mike McPhail, Keith R.A. DeCandido, Christopher L. Bennett, and Robert Greenberger.

Sunday, July 14th

Coming Out of the Desert – 12pm-1pm – Chase Room
Being creative can be difficult when the stresses of life get in the way. How to cope when your muse goes missing and there are still deadlines to be met. Moderated by Danielle Ackley-McPhail, with fellow panelists Richard White, Lorraine Anderson, and Michael Jan Friedman.

In and around all of the scheduled activities going on all weekend, I’ll be checking in on other panels, checking out the vendors room, and hopefully spending some time chatting with people I don’t get to see nearly often enough. And after each day’s obligations are met? Be sure to find most if not all of us in the hotel bar. It’s not just tradition; it’s a moral imperative.

Maybe I’ll see you there!

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Full cover reveal: Footprints in the Stars!

Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat?

If you’ve been reading my (admittedly infrequent) updates the past couple of months or so, you know I was invited by editor Danielle Ackley-McPhail of eSpec Books to contribute a story to a brand-spankin’ new anthology she was editing, Footprints in the Stars.

According to Danielle, the book is “put to bed” and is now at the printers, which means we get to share stuff like the book’s full front and back cover. Behold, yo:

FootprintsInTheStars_fullcover

As the back cover copy states:

To follow in the footsteps of those who have gone before, first we must find them.

Dreaded hope settles over mankind as we stare into the heavens, looking for a sign we are not alone. Fearing we will find it, puzzled when we don’t.

Among the stars or in our own backyard, lose yourself in the wonder of these tales as we humbly posit mankind’s reaction to the awesome certainty that ‘they’ are out there…or at least, they were…

Footprints in the Stars


Sounds pretty cool, amirite? The book will contain all-new stories by the likes of Gordon Linzner, Ian Randal Strock, Robert Greenberger, Aaron Rosenberg, Danielle Ackley-McPhail, Jody Lynn Nye, Christopher L. Bennett, James Chambers, Keith R.A. DeCandido, Russ Colchamiro, Judi Fleming, and Bryan J.L. Glass.

Oh, and me.

When Danielle invited me to submit a story, she described in her original pitch, “all of the stories will revolve around the central theme of humanity discovering evidence that we are not alone in the universe.” She stressed that she wasn’t looking for “first contact stories,” so we had to dig a little deeper and come up with something else.

When I started, I had what I thought was an interesting idea for a story. Then, as time passed and I started playing around with writing it, an idea for a completely different story began to take shape. Before I knew it, I realized this newer idea was something I wanted to dig in on, not just for this story but perhaps setting things up for a novel at some point. To her credit, Danielle did not, in point of fact, beat me with a tire iron when I changed lanes on her, and instead welcomed not just my idea but also the possibility of me exploring this notion further with eSpec.

I guess we’ll see.

You can check out the full deetz about the anthology over at the eSpec Books blog. As for the book itself? It’s due to premiere at the upcoming Shore Leave convention the weekend of July 12-14, which is when I’ll be able to get my grubby paws on my very own copies. Awwwwwww, yeah.

Many thanks to Danielle and Mike McPhail and eSpec Books for inviting me along for the ride!

Writing about William Shatner at the Star Trek Original Series Set Tour!

My job is pretty cool, sometimes.

So, here’s what happened: My wife, bless her, schemed a family vacation trip for my birthday weekend. Where were we going? An epic train adventure from Kansas City all the way to picturesque Ticonderoga, New York, and the Star Trek Original Series Set Tour!

StarTrekSetTour-Logo

Now, those of you who read this blog with any regularity may recall I’d already visited the Tour once before, along with a slew of fellow Star Trek scribes back in 2017. This was by no means any sort of “been there, done that,” though, because not only had Tour creator and owner James Cawley made a bunch of updates since then, there was also this little business about them hosting none other than OG Captain Kirk himself, William Shatner!

It was the second of his special “Captain’s Inspection Tour” weekends, whereby Shatner conducted tours of the recreated Enterprise interiors while reminiscing about his time filming the original Star Trek series. He posed for autographs on the bridge, signed autographs, hosted a beer and pizza party (you read that right), and held a discussion at nearby Ticonderoga High School, interviewing the principal and couple of teachers and discussing the state and challenges of education.

DG-SetTour-001(Photo Credit: Dave Galanter)

Also on hand and conducting their own tours were Star Trek gurus Doug Drexler, Michael and Denise Okuda, and Daren R. Dochterman. Their knowledge of various “behind the scenes” aspects of the show’s production came to the fore here as they discussed how and why set designer Matt Jefferies made the choices he did, both for budget and storytelling reasons, and how the sets are both a product of the era in which they were created but also have an undeniable timeless quality we hardcore fans can’t get enough of.

Making the weekend even more fun for me and Michi was the fact our friends, fellow Trek novelist Dave Galanter and his lovely wife, Simantha, were also there, so we got to hang out a bit.

StarTrekSetTour-VIPbadgeAnyway, the good folks at StarTrek.com found out I was making my way to the Tour and reached out to me – while I was on the train, even – about possibly taking some photos and writing up a piece about the event for the website. I naturally obliged, and by the time I got there, the Tour staff was ready for me and made sure I had everything I needed to run around acting all important and whatnot while scoring some photos and jotting notes for my article. Talk about being allowed to run around without a leash or an adult to supervise. It was all I could do not to hide in the Jefferies tube and wait until everyone left for the day so I could just move in.

While most of the pictures I took sucked, Dave along with James Cawley and Michael Rizzo bailed me out. Their efforts yielded some fantastic candid shots that really showcased how much fun people – including Shatner himself – were having throughout the weekend.

The results of my efforts are now available for your reading pleasure, and you can check out just by clicking on the linky-type thing I’ve included right here:

StarTrek.com: William Shatner Returns to the Star Trek Set Tour

JC-SetTour-004(Photo Credit: Michael Rizzo)

Many, many thanks to James Cawley, Marybeth Ritkouski, and the entire Star Trek Original Series Set Tour staff for being such fabulous hosts. The weekend was too much fun, and I can’t wait to get back up to see you all.

StarTrekTour-ParkingSign

Hey! It’s Captain Picard Day!

What, you didn’t know this? Shame on you. It’s June 16th, which means…..

CaptainPicardDay-Banner'

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.

Oh, and he’s also a role model. Just ask him.


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.

So, hey! Don’t just have a great Captain Picard Day. Get out there and “Make It So.”

Your Moment of TrekZen*.

All the old paintings on the tombs
They do the Trek dance don’t you know
If they move too quick (oh whey oh)
They’re falling down like a domino
All the Metron men by the rocks
On that planet way out past the border
Big Gorn who smiles (oh whey oh)
He snaps his teeth on your tricorder
The captain with bamboo cannons say
Ay oh whey oh, ay oh whey oh
Walk like an Egyptian

#DontLetDaytonWrite Lyrics

This bit of amazing is the creation of artist Josh Lane. Be sure to check out his other work at his website.

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

June 6th, 1944.

“Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen of the Allied Expeditionary Force! You are about to embark upon a great crusade, toward which we have striven these many months. The eyes of the world are upon you. The hopes and prayers of liberty loving people everywhere march with you. In company with our brave Allies and brothers in arms on other fronts, you will bring about the destruction of the German war machine, the elimination of Nazi tyranny over the oppressed peoples of Europe, and security for ourselves in a free world.

Your task will not be an easy one. Your enemy is well trained, well equipped and battle hardened, he will fight savagely.

But this is the year 1944! Much has happened since the Nazi triumphs of 1940-41. The United Nations have inflicted upon the Germans great defeats, in open battle, man to man. Our air offensive has seriously reduced their strength in the air and their capacity to wage war on the ground. Our home fronts have given us an overwhelming superiority in weapons and munitions of war, and placed at our disposal great reserves of trained fighting men. The tide has turned! The free men of the world are marching together to victory!

I have full confidence in your courage, devotion to duty and skill in battle. We will accept nothing less than full victory!

Good Luck! And let us all beseech the blessings of Almighty God upon this great and noble undertaking.”

General Dwight D. Eisenhower

dday

75 years ago, today.

We remember.

#DDay75

We’re going back to Neosho to talk writing and stuff!

Some of you may recall that Kevin and I traveled from KC down to Neosho, Missouri earlier in the year to participate as guests to the first ever ArtCon. Sponsored by the Neosho Arts Council, this comic and pop culture convention featured several comics and art guests, along with Kevin and myself. For a first con, it was pretty well attended and the people hosting it and working as volunteers were on point all day. They treated us very well and invited us to come back at some point.

Then, they doubled down on that last bit a month or so ago, by asking Kevin and me if we’d be up for a return visit not for a con, but instead to “talk shop.”

Neosho-AuthorTalk

“That’s great, Dayton,” I can hear some of you saying. “Um, whatcha gonna talk about for an hour or so?”

Good question!

In addition to talking about the challenges and fun to be had while writing in our chosen realms, it’s also been suggested that, with the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission looming on our calendars, maybe Kevin and I could also devote a bit of time to talking about the symbiotic relationship that NASA and science fiction in general and Star Trek in particular have enjoyed over the years. As we’ve both been able to talk with various folks who actually work at NASA (including, he says totally without shame, a couple of actual astronauts who’ve “been up there”) and even discussed this very thing, we can definitely speak a bit to this topic.

Our little author talk will be held at the Neosho Chamber of Commerce at 2pm on Saturday, June 22nd. Once we’re done, we’ll have a table set up where we’ll be happy to sign books (and maybe even sell a few).

Thanks very much to Sarah Serio and the Neosho Arts Council for inviting us back to hang with them for a bit!

May writing wrap-up.

Dear 2019: Slow the hell down, whydontcha.

May. A lot like April, in that there’s a great deal taking place in my little writing world about which I can say precious little. Work continues apace on a new novel. A short story is awaiting edits. Another thing is awaiting “the writing” once I have further instructions and marching orders. Revisions to another thing were finished and delivered. Other things were discussed, plotted, and schemed. Many plates are spinning and games are afoot, yo.

Wanna see (at least those parts I can show you)? Here’s the April rundown:

Continue reading “May writing wrap-up.”

Happy 35th Anniversary, Star Trek III: The Search for Spock!

The death of Spock is like an open wound. It seems that I have left the noblest part of myself back there …on that newborn planet…..”

June 1st, 1984: Spock was dead, but he was about to get better.

search-for-spock-poster

Celebrating 35 years since its release to movie screens far and wide, Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, as its title explains, was the third theatrical film featuring Captain (nay, “Admiral”) Kirk and his merry band of senior officers from the U.S.S. Enterprise. Picking up soon after the chaotic and tragic events of the prior movie, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, the film opens with the Enterprise, still wounded from its encounter with the maniacal Khan Noonien Singh, on its way back to Earth. Once there, Kirk and his gang learn that all of that business with the Genesis planet and torpedoes which can create entire planets–and destroy them, too–has become something of a political hot potato.

That might well have been the end of it, making for a pretty short movie and all that, except that Spock’s father, Sarek, shows up at Kirk’s apartment and basically tells the admiral that he done gone and dicked up, big time. He shouldn’t have left Spock’s body in a burial tube on Genesis, you see. Also, Kirk and Sarek learn that Spock, prior to his untimely demise, mind-melded with Doctor McCoy and transferred his katra–sort of like a flashdrive backup of his living spirit–from himself to the doctor.

This, of course, explains why McCoy has been acting like three flavors of crazy since the Enterprise‘s return to Earth. Now armed with a mission to retrieve their friend’s body and return it and his katra to Vulcan, Kirk and his posse steal the Enterprise and make for the Genesis planet. And, as they often do in these sorts of movies, things get seriously weird and Kirk’s plan goes right out the window when it’s discovered that Spock is alive. You know…again.

Huh.

Directed by the OG Spock himself, Leonard Nimoy, and working from a script by the great Harve Bennett, Star Trek III is a tight little flick. While not the best the franchise has offered us over the years, it’s definitely not the worst, either. Its modest budget betrays the production in a few spots, particularly in the scenes spent on the “Genesis planet” (in reality a studio soundstage), and the cringe-worthiness of a few wardrobe choices only worsens with the passage of time (lookin’ at you, Chekov).

While unspooling their story as Kirk and company race to Genesis to retrieve their friend, Nimoy and Bennett do a nice job lacing the film with nods, callbacks and affectionate hat tips to various bits and bobs from the original Star Trek series. Like Star Trek II and very much unlike Star Trek: The Motion Picture, the script features a healthy dose of humor to balance out the otherwise heavy story, and the onscreen chemistry between the actors is as good as the best of the original series episodes. The movie’s ending leaves Kirk and his crew at something of a crossroads, of course, and fans would have to wait more than two years until lingering questions were answered by the next film in the series, Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home.

Mark Lenard’s brief appearance as Sarek is a highlight, with the actor reprising the role he helped create 17 years earlier in the original series episode “Journey to Babel.” It’s the second of six occasions Lenard would return to the role, after providing the voice for his cartoon doppelganger in the animated Star Trek episode “Yesteryear.” Fans know to look for him in Star Trek IV and Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country as well as guest turns on the Star Trek: The Next Generation episodes “Sarek” and “Unification, Part I.” He also provided an oh-so short voice snippet for a younger version of the character in Star Trek V: The Final Frontier.

Christopher Lloyd seems an odd choice to play the Klingon captain, Kruge, and there are times when you’re sure he’s channeling Reverend Jim from Taxi but he manages to pull it off, especially in some of the higher-tension scenes. He also gives William Shatner a run for his money in the scenery-chewing department when the two finally face off as the Genesis planet comes apart around them.

Wrapping up everything in a neat little package is another solid score from composer James Horner. For years, it was criticized as being little more than a knock-off of his previous work for Star Trek II. It’s a perception strengthened by the release of a truncated soundtrack which, for reasons surpassing understanding, was limited largely to those pieces which evoked the previous movie. However, I think his efforts were more than redeemed upon the 2010 release of the complete score from Screen Archives Entertainment.

So, with all that, I guess I’ll spin this up and let it run today as I work. Join the search, y’all, and celebrate. Happy Anniversary, Star Trek III.

Talking about Available Light with the Trek Geeks!

Having failed to learn their lesson the last couple of times I was on their show, hosts Dan Davidson and Bill Smith of the Trek Geeks Podcast invited me back for another sitdown chit-chat.

Suckers.TrekGeeks-Banner

Of course I kid. I’ve known Dan and Bill for a couple of years now thanks to the wonder that is social media along with a few chance encounters at the annual big-assed Star Trek convention in Las Vegas. They do a stellar job representing Trek fandom in the best possible way by bringing people together to celebrate that which we all love so dearly. They do this through their “Camp KhitomerStar Trek fan group on Facebook as well the array of podcasts they host or support through the Trek Geeks website.

They’re good eggs, that Dan and Bill.

This time, they invite me back to talk about Available Light, my recently released Star Trek: The Next Generation novel. We dig in a bit about how the book came to be, not just as its own thing but also how it picks up and runs with story threads that have been weaving in and out of the “expanded universe” continuity Star Trek novels have been building for well over 15 years at this point.

This is particularly relevant here, as Available Light not only takes the baton from David Mack’s Star Trek: Section 31 novel Control from 2017, but like that book also reaches all the way back to events Dave chronicled in A Time to Kill and A Time to Heal from the 2004 Star Trek: A Time to… mini-series. Plus, I get to set the stage for Dave and his upcoming novel Collateral Damage, which will be out in October. So, yeah, we talk some about how it works when collaborating with other writers to keep things consistent, how to keep readers new to the novels from feeling overwhelmed, and all sorts of other neato things.

Yes, we even delve a bit into my favorite ever Star Trek word, “canon.”

(Spoilers: Grr. Argh.)

Have a listen, whydontcha?

Trek Geeks #179: Available Light

TG179

Many thanks to Dan and Bill for having me on again. It’s always a blast hanging out with you two. Maybe we can do it again soon!