This one’s going out to those of you who’ve ever thought to yourself or said aloud, “You know, those guys who wrote those Star Trek: Vanguard novels? Yeah. I wish they’d team up and do something else.”
Well, buckle up. Your wish is granted.
Now that David Mack has made the closest thing to an “official” announcement of our new collaborative venture at this year’s Shore Leave convention, I’m free to yell far and wide to anybody within screaming distance that after more than a year in the planning just to get us to this point, say hello to what’ll be keeping us busy for a while:
Early last year, David, Kevin Dilmore and I began talking about what we might do as a trio now that our duties on the Star Trek: Vanguard series had come to an end. Though our individual storytelling approaches differ from one another, the three of us are friends and we enjoy working together, hanging out together when opportunity presents itself, and talking shit about anyone and everyone who’s not the three of us.
(Note to self: Remove that last part before publishing final version of blog post.)
These discussions were triggered by the artwork of one Rob Caswell, who among his various credits lists some notable artistic contributions to the Star Trek: The Next Generation Officer’s Manual sourcebook for FASA’s Star Trek: The Role Playing Game. He’s done a ton of stuff since then, in a variety of media. He’s also an unabashed old-school Trekkie, and a lot of the pieces on his DeviantArt page pay tribute to Star Trek and in particular the original series. One of my favorite things of his is the set of book cover mock-ups he did as an “updating” of the great covers gracing the James Blish Star Trek novelizations from the 1970s. I even gushed a bit about those covers a couple of years ago. One image in particular stuck with me, because HEY! VANGUARD!
But what really got David, Kevin and me talking was a series of faux covers Rob started doing early in 2012 for an imagined series of Star Trek spinoff novels titled The Seekers. His cover mockups featured an Archer-class scout ship (based on the Sagittarius from Star Trek: Vanguard), in a style very reminiscent of those great Star Trek covers from the 1970s. For example:
Spurred on by these images, David, Kevin and I started talking in April 2012 about the possibility of revisiting the Sagittarius, along with the Constitution-class U.S.S. Endeavour and their crews from Star Trek: Vanguard. Though we did and still believe that we have put to bed the Vanguard series and its core cast of characters, there still existed these two ships and their crews, who would be given new assignments in the aftermath of Operation Vanguard. The seeds of one possible idea already had been sown, in that both ships had received orders to return to the Taurus Reach to carry out more traditional exploration of strange new worlds, the seeking out of new life and new civilizations, and so on and so forth.
“Okay,” one of us may have said, because I’m paraphrasing to compensate for not being able to recall the exact wording of our conversation, “but how would we do it? We don’t want to repeat ourselves, but we can’t have separate series for each ship/crew. Pocket would never go for that.”
“No,” another of us probably said, “but what if we pitch the idea of taking turns like we did with Vanguard, and we each take one of the two ships. We tell (mostly) standalone tales, but we alternate from book to book, and run them all under a single banner title?”
“That could work,” yet another of us almost certainly said, “but what would we call it?”
The answer was obvious: SEEKERS. After all, it was Rob Caswell’s fault, right?
Not long after that initial conversation, I sat down and put together a “pitch,” for the series, which I then handed off to the guys to mark up as we all worked to refine our ideas. Our biggest concern was that Seekers not simply be “Vanguard, Part II.” We wanted a different tone for this new series, something closer to the original Star Trek while still bringing to bear some of what we most enjoyed about writing Vanguard:
“Unlike the Star Trek: Vanguard saga, Seekers is not intended to be a sweeping, serialized tale. Instead, most books would be “stand-alone” stories within the shared continuity, though the premise will allow for occasional “team-up” or multi-book adventures. Our intention is to bring to this new series the same “TOS-plus” storytelling style that made Vanguard so much fun, also while serving up a broader range of stories with an emphasis on exploration and discovery as characterized by the original Star Trek and, more recently, the Star Trek: Titan novel series.
“Also, whereas Vanguard by design was intrinsically linked to the “canon” and even specific events and episodes of the original Star Trek, Seekers has for its playground the period following the original series (starting in 2269) as well as the largely untapped early movie era of 2270 and beyond.”
The pitch and any other related work had to get back-burnered for a while, owing in large part to other books Dave and I were writing for Pocket (From History’s Shadow for me, and we each have a novel for the upcoming Star Trek: The Fall miniseries, and so on), but once most of that was done, Dave went to work a few months ago crafting a series bible. As he had done for Star Trek: Vanguard, he wrote and updated copious notes on the Sagittarius and the Endeavour and their crews (including several replacements for characters lost over the course of Vanguard), as well as laying the groundwork for their new mission and the antagonists they might face. Once that was approved, contracts were signed and here we are!
(Now, all we need are our own custom T-shirts, emblazoned with the slogan, “THEY CALL US THE SEEKERS.” Somebody get on that, eh?)
Whereas the covers for all of the Star Trek: Vanguard books were rendered by our wonderful friend, Doug Drexler, we wanted this new series to have its own distinctive look. To that end, our masters at Pocket Books granted our wish to enlist Rob Caswell’s services as cover artist for Seekers, which is fitting considering it was he who inspired us to take a chance on pitching this new idea in the first place. With that in mind, Rob and Dave already have worked to give us a taste of what readers can expect once we get this thing cranking on all cylinders:
(Click to Biggie Size.)
MOCK-UP COVER FOR DROOL-INDUCEMENT PURPOSES ONLY. ART BY ROB CASWELL.
Oh, and you won’t have to worry about wondering what the books’ titles will be. In the tradition of the Blish Star Trek adaptations, we’ve decided we’re going to just go with numbers for each new installment.
Anybody need a minute? Anybody need a cigarette?
Star Trek: Seekers will launch next summer, with the first two books scheduled for publication in August and September 2014. As we did for the final two Vanguard novels, the three of us are working together to develop the storyline to drive these first two books and — as you likely can imagine — we’re rather jazzed to be teaming up again. As I write this, Dave’s outline for Seekers 1 has been submitted, and Kevin and I are working on the proposal for Seekers 2, big fat curvy numbers on the front, and everything.
So, how’s that grab you?
UPDATE! August 3rd – Dave Mack prepared a brief slide show for presentation last night at the Shore Leave convention, and had it running on his laptop during that con’s traditional “Meet the Pros” author signing event. He’s loaded the slides to his website, so here you go: DavidMack.pro: STAR TREK: SEEKERS – SERIES PREVIEW
UPDATE! August 4th – Artist Rob Caswell, who inspired the series with his imaginative “What If?” covers, weighs in with his own thoughts: Arcas-Art: Art Imitates Life Imitates Art Imitates Life…