It’s Jupiter 2 Launch Day!

October 16th, 1997:

“This is the beginning. This is the day. You are watching the unfolding of one of history’s greatest adventures–man’s colonization of space beyond the stars. The first of what may be as many as ten million families per year is setting out on its epic voyage into man’s newest frontier, deep space. Reaching out into other worlds from our desperately overcrowded planet, a series of deep thrust telescopic probes have conclusively established a planet orbiting the star Alpha Centauri as the only one within range of our technology able to furnish ideal conditions for human existence.

Even now the family chosen for this incredible journey into space is preparing to take their final pre lift off physical tests. The Robinson family was selected from more than two million volunteers for its unique balance of scientific achievement, emotional stability, and pioneer resourcefulness. They will spend the next five and a half years of their voyage frozen in a state of suspended animation which will terminate automatically as the spacecraft enters the atmosphere of the new planet.”

Lost In Space, “The Reluctant Stowaway”

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My Name Is Tippy, by Gail LaRock.

A little over twenty years ago, well before Michi and I had kids and when we were living in Ward Manor 1.0 in south Kansas City, fate saw to it that we became friends with Gail and Gregg LaRock.

They lived mere minutes from us at that time, on a parcel of land where they board and care for Arabian horses–theirs and (at least in those days) those of others who paid them for that service. As they’re both animal lovers, they’ve always had at least two or three dogs and a varying number of cats wandering the premises, the latter a consequence of strays showing up on the property and finding shelter in the barn or nearby areas. They’ve even had a goat or two. As for the horses, G&G actually gave one of theirs to Michi at one point many years ago. That horse later had a foal, which I helped schlep across a dark pasture on the night of her birth because her mother had the audacity to deliver her at the absolute farthest point on the property from the barn. Okay, maybe not but it was far enough I was sure I had to set my watch back an hour, okay?

Continue reading “My Name Is Tippy, by Gail LaRock.”

The way late September writing wrap-up.

Previously, on The Fog of Ward:

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Yes, I have neglected this space for quite some time if my calendar is to be believed. After knocking down a bunch of cobwebs and blowing dust off a few of the shelves, I’m getting back to business around here.

Which means I have to yammer a bit about September and the kinda sorta writing stuff I did last month.

We’re now in the final quarter-mile lap of 2019.

I’m still learning the art of balancing my consulting duties with CBS with my freelance writing work. Compared to August, September was a bit less hectic and yet still a whole helluva lot of fun. There are days when I seriously can’t believe I’m getting paid to do something I enjoy so very much. I’m pretty sure I’m forever ruined for regular corporate office work. You know, like…forever.

So, what was up to last month? Here’s the September (and maybe the first part of October) rundown:

Continue reading “The way late September writing wrap-up.”

Happy Birthday, Star Trek: The Next Generation!

Tonight…the 24th Century begins…..”

That’s what greeted those of us lounging in front of our televisions 32 years ago tonight, when legendary radio and TV personality and ABC broadcaster Ernie Anderson introduced us to “Staaaaaaaaaar Trek: The Next Generation” with a 90-second teaser just before the premiere of the series first episode, “Encounter at Farpoint.”

Seems like…well, it sure as hell doesn’t seem like 32 years ago that’s for sure.

I’ve told this story before, but on September 28th, 1987, I watched Star Trek: The Next Generation‘s premiere in the TV room of my barracks at Camp Pendleton. The room was stuffed with Marines, and maybe it was because of the beer, but we all stayed to watch the whole thing.

While we didn’t hate it, it was obvious that this show would go through a growth period as the folks behind and in front of the camera tweaked and pulled at this or that. Still, it was new Star Trek, by golly,  and little did we know at the time what that would come to mean.

Now here we are, 32 years after the series premiere and 17 years since the last time he did so, and Patrick Stewart is preparing to return to the role of Jean-Luc Picard. It’s a helluva fun time to be a Star Trek fan.

And while we’re waiting to see what comes of that? Maybe I’ll run “Farpoint” later tonight. Happy 32nd Birthday, Star Trek: The Next Generation.

Go. Go see what’s out there.

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Happy 30th Anniversary, Alien Nation the TV series!

That was the scene in California’s Mojave Desert five years ago: our historic first view of the Newcomers’ ship. Theirs was a slave ship, carrying a quarter million beings bred to adapt and labor in any environment. But they’ve washed ashore on Earth, with no way to get back to where they came from, and in the last five years the Newcomers have become the latest addition to the population of Los Angeles.”

Cue funky opening music and credits.

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Los Angeles, 1995: Aliens are everywhere.

After their very massive starship crashes on Earth, 250,000 genetically engineered aliens who call themselves “Tenctonese” find themselves forced to assimilate into a world very different from the one to which they’d been heading. The people already living here also find themselves dealing with the very harsh reality that not only is there life “out there,” but there’s actually quite a lot of it. If one ship full of alien slaves can find their way to Earth, what about the people who enslaved them? What about any other enemies they might have? What would such people think of humans, and what if they decide we’re a threat?

Meanwhile, the Tenctonese just want to live, pay their bills, watch crappy TV, and basically take advantage of the unexpected gift of freedom they’ve received, but are they truly free? While many humans have welcomed these “Newcomers,” there are many others who’d be happy to see them climb back into their ship and fly away. Since that’s not really an option, such people are okay with taking more extreme steps to keep “Earth for earthlings.”

Then there’s Matt Sikes, cynical and halfway burnout police detective, who’s kinda sorta okay with the Newcomers, even though his last name when translated into Tenctonese is two words that mean “excrement” and “cranium” or “shit head.”

Then they make a Newcomer his partner. Whoops.

Continue reading “Happy 30th Anniversary, Alien Nation the TV series!”

Your Moment of TrekZen.*

The toys of my youth, when strict onscreen accuracy took a backseat to our imaginations on our way to hella fun.

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That’s right, kids: back when I was 9 years old, these were the bomb. No, the “real” U.S.S. Enterprise didn’t shoot fat orange discs out the front of its saucer section, and neither did the Space: 1999 Eagle ever sport green as part of its color scheme. And let’s not even talk about the Enterprise‘s shuttlecraft.

I never managed to get my hands on the Enterprise (or the Klingon cruiser that was also available), but I do have distinct memories of breaking at least one Eagle.

Ah, the good old days.

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

Happy 45th anniversary to Planet of the Apes…the TV series!

Yeah, I can see some of you younger folks out there, giving me that Kevin Hart blinking side-eye GIF. You’ll just have to bear with me as we dive headlong into a nice inviting pool of nostalgia.

I know. Again.

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The success of 1968’s Planet of the Apes film spawned four (Count ’em! Four!) sequels over the ensuing five years. However, as budgets dwindled with each successive installment and returns on investment following suit, the fifth film, 1973’s Battle for the Planet of the Apes, was viewed by many as the franchise finally running out of steam. That said, each of the five films made money, so the idea continuing to do something with the property was still very much a real thing.

Continue reading “Happy 45th anniversary to Planet of the Apes…the TV series!”

Happy Birthday, Star Trek!

“Space…the final frontier….”

These are the voyages where the legend began, 53 years ago tonight!

I’ve mentioned this before (about a zillion times), but my earliest memories include Star Trek to some degree. I wasn’t old enough to watch the show during its original broadcast run, but I watched the reruns every day after school. Beyond that, I had the Mego figures and that crazy bridge set. I built the AMT models, and I read the occasional Gold Key comic book or poster book or collection of James Blish episode adaptations.

All of that was just filler of course. Anchoring all of that were the reruns. Always, the reruns.

Back then, before VCRs, DVD, iTunes or NetFlix, you had to wait for your favorite episodes to cycle back around in the rotation. I watched the series on a little black and white television and its crappy little antenna as the show was broadcast on a low-power local UHF station in Tampa. Depending on the time of day and prevailing weather conditions, I might not always get a decent picture. If I was out in the boonies somewhere–like my aunt’s house–I might have to fiddle with the antenna throughout the episode, and as often as not I might be forced to choose between having a picture or having sound.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out that today also marks the 46th anniversary of the animated Star Trek series, which premiered on NBC on this date in 1973. I did catch (most of) those episodes during their initial run, and the show helped to spark a lot of the Trek-related toys and other merchandise which came out in the mid 1970s, like those aforementioned Mego action figures.

Today, of course, I have Star Trek literally at my fingertips: Blu-rays on the shelf or episodes streaming over the internet, and I even have my favorite episodes stored on my phone. Then there are the books (Fun fact: I’ve written a few of those, in case you were wondering), comics, role-playing games, computer games, toys, models, websites, and pretty much anything you’d care to name. Star Trek is everywhere. Hold up a picture of the original Enterprise or Kirk and Spock, and most people will know what you’re talking about.

Star Trek looks pretty dapper for 53. Enjoy your cake.

Kirk Fu preview pages!

star-trek-kirk-fu-manual-coverY’all need to start limbering up. Kirk Fu is coming.

Oh yeah, it is.

That’s right, kids! Star Trek: Kirk Fu Manual is heading to bookstores on March 3, 2020, from Insight Editions, with words by me and awesome art by Christian Cornia. The book is being distributed by Simon & Schuster, and wouldn’t you know they’ve loaded up some preview pages to the book’s page?

Oh yeah, they did.

Go to the book’s page and tap on the “Look” button in the upper lefthand corner and you’ll get to leer at six spreads from the book, showcasing some fun examples of Christian’s work. Here’s a couple from one of twelve signature Kirk moves you’ll learn about in the book:

star-trek-kirk-fu-manual-9781683835219.in05(Click to biggie size these.)
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Head over to the Star Trek: Kirk Fu Manual page on SimonandSchuster.com to check out the rest of the preview. Just be sure to stretch beforehand. I don’t want you pulling any muscles when you try to take on a Gorn or whatever.

I went and Trekked myself…again!

Again, with the babbling. Again, with someone recording it for playback by unsuspecting innocents.

It’s been many months since my first virtual sitdown with Darrell Taylor and J.K. Woodward for their Go Trek Yourself podcast. Back in November, we chatted about my Star Trek: Discovery novel from last year, Drastic Measures, as well as a smattering of other topics such as my longtime writing partnership with my best bud, Kevin.

AvailableLight-coverThis time, the main topic is Available Light, my Star Trek: The Next Generation novel from earlier this year. We also cover a bit of ground so far as what the novels have been doing over the past several years. This includes plotty-plot threads which have brought us to where my book is in the “Star Trek novel timeline,” and what’s next when I had the baton to David Mack next month for his own TNG novel, Collateral Damage.

The “too long, didn’t read” version of what you might want (but don’t necessarily need) to read to prep yourself for reading this whole plotline:

  • TNG: A Time to Kill, by David Mack
  • TNG: A Time to Heal, by Dave
  • Section 31: Control, by Hey! Dave
  • TNG: Hearts and Minds, by me
  • TNG: Available Light, by me
  • TNG: Collateral Damage, by Dave (coming in October)

Unlike last time where I think we talked for something like a week, this installment comes in at a more reasonable running time of 45 minutes. Wanna listen? Go here:

Go Trek Yourself Episode 57: Dayton Ward

Many thanks to Darrell and J.K. for having me back on to hang with them for a while. We did talk about doing this again in the near future, so stay tuned!

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