Happy 20th Anniversary, Star Trek: Voyager – Elite Force!

Gotta start ’em early.

I’m not much of a gamer. I mean, I’ve played and occasionally still do play the odd computer or board game, but I’m not a “Gamer With a Capital G.” At best I’m a casual hobbyist, despite generally enjoying myself whenever I venture forth into this realm. If I’m being honest, my heyday for gaming likely peaked in the early 1980s with the advent of videogame arcades before plateauing during the years with the first games I bought for what I now laughingly call my first home computers or game systems.

We’re talking the age of the Commodore 64 and the Atari 2600/5200, kids, which at the time were the absolute cat’s meow. The first Nintendo systems were years away at that point, and ended up being something for which I didn’t have much time. Way back when, the systems we had for home use paled in comparison to the fun one could have at the local arcade though. Tron, Gyruss, Star Wars, Defender, and I long ago forgot the sheer number of quarters I dropped into a Star Trek: Strategic Operations Simulator game whenever I happened across one, and those of you who follow me with any regularity know I still have an upright cabinet version in my home office.

This one’s for you, Bill Smith.

Still, as home computing (and home computer gaming) technology improved, I did sample the odd game. If it wasn’t an early first-person shooter or adventure game, as often as not it’d be some flavor of Star Trek game. The C64 had a decent port of the Strategic Operations Simulator that even looked better than the original arcade version, but there were also text-based adventures like The Kobayashi Alternative and The Promethean Prophecy, and by 1990s we were getting some pretty decent offerings like Star Trek: 25th Anniversary and its sequel, Judgment Rites. By the end of the 20th century (it feels so weird to write that, yeah?), games like Starfleet Academy were pushing the limits of what gamers could experience on their home computer systems.

(Aside: You have to know I still have these and others stashed in a box somewhere.)

Then we skip ahead to September 2000, and Star Trek: Voyager – Elite Force.

Box art for Star Trek: Voyager – Elite Force

Released in the UK on September 15th and celebrating the 20th anniversary of its US release today, Elite Force was one of Star Trek‘s early forays into the now quite-popular realm of first-person shooters.” For those unfamiliar with the term, these are video games where everything in the game is presented as if from your personal point of view. You can only see what’s in front of you, you have to navigate the game’s scenarios and obstacles as though actually traversing a tunnel, space ship, jungle, or whatever. This usually involves a lot of shooting at various things that want to eat or otherwise kill you. Long before Fortnite and Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order begged for my children’s attention, we had games like Doom, Duke Nukem, and Star Wars: Dark Forces (another kick-ass game from days gone by).

At first blush, Star Trek having a game which could fit into this particular genre might seem off-putting, as Star Trek generally doesn’t evoke lots of images of ground combat or other situations where you’re blowing the shit out of things and people and whatnot. However, Activision and Raven Software managed a truly impressive feat with Elite Force: marrying an actual, bonafide Star Trek story to a first-person shooter setup.

You, the player, take on the persona of a character who’s part of Voyager‘s “Hazard Team,” a rapid-response group that could be described as something like Star Trek‘s version of a SEAL team. Voyager and its crew find themselves attacked by marauders and trapped in a graveyard of alien ships, you and the Hazard Team are dispatched to investigate. Along the way, you encounter various species previously encountered on the Voyager TV series like the Hirogen, Klingons, Malons, and…oh yeah…the Borg. You’re also introduced to all-new species created for the game as you and the team work to unlock the secrets of the graveyard and the mysterious creature that created it so Voyager can escape the alien trap.

Those reading this and thinking the solution is to shoot your way out will be pleasantly surprised to learn the game is much more than that, in the best Star Trek tradition. The entire cast from Star Trek: Voyager provided the voices for their characters, with whom you get to interact as you proceed through the game. Elite Force’s original release did not feature Jeri Ryan as Seven of Nine, as her schedule at the time didn’t permit her to participate, but a software patch eventually came along and added her into the mix. Many of the Voyager‘s interiors were recreated or invented after only being referenced in dialogue with painstaking detail. There are also a number of surprises and Easter eggs baked into the game, and it would be poor form to spoil any of that here.

Star Trek: Elite Force comic, written by Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning with art by Jeffrey Moy & W.C. Carani, July 2000.

I’ve not played the game in years, but I remember having a blast playing through it. Elite Force combined the best aspects of adventure and first-person gaming with a fine Star Trek tale. Long ago, when I first started writing Star Trek fiction, I wanted to novels and other ties to the game that might offer more adventures for the Hazard Team. We got something in that vein thanks to Wildstorm Comics, who published a one-shot comic tie-in that offers a somewhat streamlined adaptation of the game’s core storyline. If there were plans for other such comics, they likely ended when Wildstorm lost the license to publish Star Trek comics in 2001. While I did pitch the idea of Hazard Team stories to Pocket Books (and I doubt I was the only one to do so), nothing ever came of such odd wish-listing. Such is life, and all that.

Meanwhile, the game begat its own sequels.

Box art for Star Trek: Elite Force II.

First, there was the Elite Force Expansion Pack, which as you might imagine from the title added a series of new scenarios to the original game. Even after all of these years, I’ve never acquired a copy of this but maybe one of these days I’ll happen across it. A full-blown follow-up came in 2003 with Star Trek: Elite Force II, which transports the Hazard Team to the Enterprise just after the events of Star Trek Nemesis. Of the Voyager cast, only Tim Russ returns to provide the voice for Tuvok, but that’s offset a bit by the addition of Patrick Stewart reprising his role as Jean-Luc Picard. While I’ve played this game, I must confess I enjoyed the original much more.

So, maybe you’ve read my yammering to this point and you’re all the way down here and you’re thinking, “Gee, Dayton. This game sounds pretty cool and I’d like to play. But…you know…you just told us the thing is 20 years old today and do they even make computers that can run a game as old as this anymore?”

Well, you can at least get a taste of retro Star Trek gaming thanks to The Last Outpost, a group of dedicated gamers who – with the permission of CBS and Raven Software – have recreated the game’s multiplayer “Holomatch” component and made it available as a free download. All you have to do is follow this linky-type thing RIGHT HERE.

I don’t have much time for gaming these days, Star Trek or otherwise, but I have to admit to having a bit of an itch to revisit this one. If you’ve played the game, share your thoughts and memories in the comments. Maybe you’ll convince me to chisel out a bit of time to have a bit of old-school gaming fun for a while.

Happy 20th Anniversary, Elite Force!

It Came from the Multiplex: 80s Midnight Chillers

Welcome to tonight’s feature presentation, brought to you by an unholy alliance of our spellcasters at Hex Publishers and movie-mages at the Colorado Festival of Horror. Please be advised that all emergency exits have been locked for this special nostalgia-curdled premiere of death. From crinkling celluloid to ferocious flesh—from the silver screen to your hammering heart—behold as a swarm of werewolves, serial killers, Satanists, Elder Gods, aliens, ghosts, and unclassifiable monsters are loosed upon your auditorium. Relax, and allow our ushers to help with your buckets of popcorn—and blood; your ticket stubs—and severed limbs; your comfort candy—and body bags. Kick back and scream as you settle into a fate worse than Hell. Tonight’s director’s cut is guaranteed to slash you apart.…”

And awaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay we go!

Last year while attending the annual Starfest Convention in Denver, Kevin and I were delighted to receive an invitation from Josh Viola at Hex Publishers along with our good friend of many, many conventions Bret Smith to contribute a story to a new anthology Josh was cooking up.

Our challenge: write a story set in the 1980s, with our inspiration the sorts of horror films which were all over the place all through that fanficul decade. How in the underworld could we possibly say no? As we both came of age during that time, many of our favorite movies are from that era. So far as horror goes, Kevin is perhaps the most knowledgable dude I know when it comes to the Halloween movies. Meanwhile, I’m more a fan of the Friday the 13th flicks. On the other hand, our mutual love of such films as The Return of the Living DeadThe ThingHouse, Fright NightCreepshow, and so many others knows no bounds.

Writing something set during the 80s has long been a Bucket List item for both of us, so the idea to lean into that fondly remembered decade (at least so far as movies and some TV goes) was something we couldn’t refuse. The result of our endeavor is “Helluloid,” just one of 14 stories cramming the pages of It Came From the Multiplex: 80s Midnight Chillers.

Kevin and I are thrilled to share a table of contents with this list of amazing word pushers:

Mario Acevedo
Kevin J. Anderson
Paul Campion
K. Nicole Davis
Sean Eads
Keith Ferrell
Orrin Grey
Warren Hammond
Angie Hoddap
Gary Jonas
Stephen Graham Jones
Betty Rocksteady
Bret & Jeannie Smith
Steve Rasnic Tem
Josh Viola
Dayton Ward & Kevin Dilmore
Alvaro Zinos-Amaro

In addition to having a total blast writing our story, Kevin and I realized the setting we created – the Vogue, a rundown and very haunted movie theater in a small town – was the perfect setting for all sorts of shenanigans which might unfold in future tales. We shall see!

Meanwhile, Kevin and I extend our sincere appreciation to Josh, Bret, and the crew at Hex for inviting us to come jam with them for a bit. Kevin and I had tremendous fun with this story and we hope to revisit the Vogue again one day, whether it’s with Hex or via other means.

You’re already buying copies for you and all your friends, right?

Happy Birthday, Star Trek!

“Space…the final frontier….”

These are the voyages where the legend began, 54 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 47th 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 54. Enjoy your cake.

Happy 45th Anniversary, Space: 1999!

The totally unforeseen accident on the lunar surface has caused very serious repercussions here on Earth. The gravity disruption, the earthquakes in the United States along the San Andres fault, and in Yugoslavia, as well as Southern France, has caused enormous damage to life and property. The International Lunar Commission, with its new chairman, is in executive conference at this moment, deciding what steps might be taken to rescue the three hundred and eleven men and women on Moonbase Alpha. Little hope is held, however, that there are any survivors. For a short time it was thought a rescue might have been attempted from the Space Dock, until that too was hurled out of orbit. It has now been established that the Moon’s acceleration away from Earth has put it beyond the reach of any Earth launch….

September 13th, 1999: It was a bad day, all around.


Premiering on September 4th, 1975 (in the UK; July 23rd in Australia; all over the place in US first-run syndication), Space: 1999 introduced us to the men and women of Moonbase Alpha, Earth’s first permanent lunar colony, which in the show’s continuity had been established in the early 1980s as a natural progression from the Apollo landings. Things were all hunky-dory for a time, with the base continuing its various research efforts and preparing to launch a manned mission to Meta, a mysterious planet that’s been detected by long range probes and which is believed to support “life as we know it.”

Oh, and they’re also overseeing the disposal of nuclear waste transported from Earth to the Moon’s far side, and dealing with a strange medical condition that’s been affecting numerous base personnel, including the astronauts slated to depart for the Meta mission.

Of course, and as things tend to do, the aforementioned nuclear waste finally decided enough was enough and opted to get back at the Moon by punching a gigantic hole in its taint. The result? Moonbase Alpha and its three hundred-plus colonists (“Alphans,” in moonbase hipster speak) are sent hurtling through space on a lonely quest, boldly going where at least a couple of science fiction shows from the 1960s had kinda sorta gone before.

And all of that happened just in the first episode, “Breakaway.” Dayuuuuum, amirite?

Created by the legendary Gerry and Sylvia Anderson, Space: 1999 actually began life as a proposed second series/season to another of their shows, UFO. By the time it was decided UFO would not continue, a great deal of pre-production work had already been completed or was still underway, so the Andersons repurposed that effort into the new series. In addition to containing several hints as to its UFO lineage, Space: 1999 also owes more than a bit of its visual aesthetic to 2001: A Space Odyssey. However, any similarities between the new series and Stanley Kubrick’s landmark science fiction film end pretty quickly.

Often described back in the day as a “successor to” or “son of ” the original Star Trek in particular, Space: 1999 quickly settled into a formula whereby the Moon drifts near or into orbit around an alien world, and Commander John Koenig and an assortment of Alphans proceed to get into some kind of trouble. The clock is usually ticking, as the Moon never hangs around any one planet for any real length of time, and if Koenig and his posse dawdle too long, they’ll be stranded as their home away from home continues on its merry way. Every so often a world offers the possibility of providing a new haven for the wayward travelers, but something always goes wrong and our heroes are left staring out the windows from Alpha as the Moon pulls away.

Then there’s the variation on the formula, whereby representatives from an alien species come calling for one reason or another, and hilarity ensues. Sometimes, just to shake things up, elements from both forks in the Space: 1999 story road are mixed together, and we go all the way to madness run amok, by golly.

At some point, theories begin to emerge that the Moon’s journey through the cosmos may not be random; that it’s being guided by some unseen hand, directed through wormholes or other spatial phenomena that might serve to explain how the Alphans are able to explore a strange new world (Sorry. Not sorry.) each week. This point, which is actually kind of cool on the face of it, is never really explained or exploited, particularly after the series moved to its second season.

Boasting the largest production budget for any British television series to that point, Space: 1999 starred Martin Landau and Barbara Bain as Commander Koenig and Dr. Helena Russell. Married at the time, Landau and Bain had previously worked together on Mission: Impossible. Needing a science officer to fill out the Trek-like captain-science dude-doctor triad, veteran actor Barry Morse (The Fugitive) was cast as Professor Victor Bergman, my favorite character of the whole shooting match. So, it figures his was one of the folks not brought back for the second year.

Visually, the show remains impressive in many ways. The model work used to realize Moonbase Alpha in particular is still eye-catching, as are the Eagle transports, which in my mind still rank as one of the coolest space vehicles in all of science fiction. Behold, yo:

That’s what I’m talkin’ about.

Despite storylines that often stretched “scientific principles” from eyebrow-raising to outright laughable, and performances that sometimes felt as though the actors were store mannequins, I must confess to having a really big soft spot for Space: 1999…particularly its first season. The effort to make the show top-notch is obvious, in everything from the model work to the sets and props and–yes–even the storytelling, which was entertaining more often than not.

I’m less enamored with the second season, which was characterized by simpler, more action-oriented plots, the replacement of key characters, and other little choices that bugged me to varying degrees. Such changes were viewed as necessary following the show’s cancellation after the first year and last-minute renewal. On the one hand, I get having your command center not being in a giant room with a bunch of windows overlooking the lunar surface is probably a good idea when your base is always getting shot at by alien spaceships and death rays and whatnot. That said, the original “Main Mission” from the first season was some pretty kick-ass set design.

Space: 1999‘s television run was accompanied by the usual assortment of toys and other merchandise, including books, comics, models, action figures, and so on. I still have a complete set of the original novels/novelizations from the 1970s, later supplemented by editions of adaptations written years later. There are also a few novels written exclusively for foreign markets. There have been recent efforts to revive the property in novel and comic form, and of course the series is available on DVD and Blu-ray, the latter enjoying a complete series release just last year that is FREAKING GORGEOUS.

More recently, Big Finish has launched an audiobook series that is something of an update of the show’s premise while at the same time presenting it as an “alternate history” of 20th century human space exploration where things went very differently in the years after the Apollo program. The first installment is an updating of “Breakaway,” the TV series’ first episode, and the next entry is slated to be a trio of stories — two updated versions of TV episodes and one all-new tale. As I said in my review for SciFi Bulletin for “Breakaway,” it’s basically a period piece from an alternate history, and it totally works for me.

There’s on again-off again talk of a reboot, but I don’t know if that’ll ever happen. Regardless, we still have the original Space: 1999, which stands alongside Battlestar Galactica, Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, The Six Million Dollar Man, and The Bionic Woman as cheesy yet charming 1970s TV sci-fi.

Eagle One, ready for lift-off!

August writing wrap-up.

Is it still 2020?

:: closes eyes, counts to ten, opens eyes ::

Yep. 2020.

Things being what they are, I did what I’ve been doing these past several months: Work. My largely isolated, work-at-home existence hasn’t changed from what it was before the pandemic. The kids’ “summer vacations” are rapidly drawing to a close with school slated to begin on September 8th as a virtual experience. That should prove interesting, but thankfully both kids are good students and rather adaptable so I expect they’ll be okay so long as my wife and I do our part to help them through any rough patches.

Meanwhile, my consulting duties continue apace. Some days are more frantic than others, but all in all I’m having a good bit of fun. In and all of that, a bit of writing still got done. Here’s the August rundown:

Continue reading “August writing wrap-up.”

Tied Up With Tie-Ins: Alien Nation!

After managing a trio of entries over a fairly short time span, I allowed more than a month to go by without revisiting this inconsistently recurring “blog feature. ” One of these days, I’ll figure out to make this more of a regular thing, but until then? Surprise!

The basic idea is pretty simple: I present a nostalgic look at a favorite series of movie or TV tie-in books. Usually this means something from Way Back When, but I’m also up for taking a look at more recent entries to the genre if inspiration strikes. To this point, previous installments have included looks back at novels based on The Six Million Dollar Man and The Bionic WomanPlanet of the ApesSpace: 1999, and others. However, the Die Hard one was something of an odd duck that demanded a little attention. See? Unpredictable.

This time, I’ve decided to revisit a fondly remembered television series from the late 1980s/early 1990s as well as the film that spawned it, and in turn the novels it produced: Alien Nation.

This unlikely franchise began life as an oft-overlooked and underrated science fiction/noir/action flick that most people seemed to ignore when it was released to theaters in the fall of 1988. The story goes like this: in the “near future” of 1991, it’s three years after a giant spacecraft crashes in the Mojave Desert. We find out the ship was carrying 300,000 aliens, “Newcomers,” who end up settling in Los Angeles in a perhaps not-so subtle nod to the 1980 Mariel Boat Lift, during which more than 125,000 refugees fled from Cuba to Florida. After his partner is killed by a Newcomer during a robbery, Detective Matt Sykes teams with another alien who’s recently been promoted from uniformed cop to detective, and hijinks ensue. What follows is a fairly standard procedural with the added discussions and observations about racism, immigration, law and order, and civil rights all filtered through a science fiction-y lens thanks to the Newcomers being the marginalized group.

The film was written by Rockne S. O’Bannon, at that time formerly a story editor on the 1980s revival of The Twilight Zone and still a few years away from giving us seaQuest DSV (the first season of which I will die defending and I remain convinced it would have been a better show throughout if he’d stayed with it) and the oh-so-amazing Farscape. So, right away genre fans should be thinking, “Okay, I’m listening.” The movie cast James Caan and Mandy Patinkin as its two leads and Terence Stamp as its main bad guy, so at this point you’re like, “Holy, shit! How can this not be awesome?”

While it wasn’t “awesome,” it was still a tight little SF/action hybrid. Caan as human detective Sykes and Patinkin as Sam/George Francisco make for an entertaining team in the best 1980s buddy cop tradition. Though it received mixed reviews from critics and enjoyed only a modest box office return, Alien Nation has since become something of a minor cult classic. Like many films of the 1970s and 1980s, Alien Nation received a novelization of its script from author Alan Dean Foster, who is pretty much a king of this particular corner of the tie-in writing field. It was thanks to this novel that I came to even know about the film, as I was stationed on Okinawa and so missed a lot of first-run American movies during this period. I scratched that itch with novelizations for several films and even a TV series or two which hit screens during the year I spent on “the Rock.” Indeed, my copy of Foster’s Alien Nation novelization still bears the stamp showing I purchased it in a Pacific Stars & Stripes bookstore.

What I don’t think many people were expecting was that the film would generate enough interest to inspire a television series, but that’s exactly what happened. Developed by TV veteran Kenneth Johnson — who’d already brought The Bionic Woman, The Incredible Hulk and V to our television screens — Johnson took O’Bannon’s already juicy setup and characters and took them in directions the film itself didn’t have time or space or even money to do. Premiering on Fox during the fall of 1989, Alien Nation the TV series ever so slightly tweaks the film’s original premise to ease it into the weekly format. The heightened emphasis on the partnership between Matt Sikes (now played by Gary Graham and yes, they changed the spelling) and George Francisco (Eric Pierpoint) as well as the Francisco family allowed for further exploration of Newcomer (now known as “Tenctonese”) society and culture and a deeper look at prejudice, racism, rights, and all the other social issues the film hinted at but never got to really pick apart.

Despite being a critical and ratings success, Fox canceled the series after a single season (which ended on a pretty hefty cliffhanger!) due to financial issues larger than the show itself. However, fan support for the series remained high enough that it did return in 1994, in the form of what ultimately would be five television movies over the next three years, each reuniting the original series cast. The first film, Alien Nation: Dark Horizon, was a modified version of the storyline which would’ve served as the second season’s first episode, resolving the first season’s cliffhanger finale. This story in particular has its own odd history within the franchise. Hang on, we’re getting there!

Despite the series being cancelled in 1990, Simon & Schuster’s Pocket Books imprint — which regular readers of this blog should recognize as a longtime publisher of Star Trek novels including several written by your blog host — began publishing novels based on the series. Eight novels were released between March 1993 and July 1995. The first of these, Day of Descent written by Judith and Garfield-Reeves Stevens, is arguably the strongest of the lot. A prequel to the film as well as the television series, the book reveals how the Newcomers came to Earth and what police sergeant Matt Sikes was doing as life changed not just for the citizens of Los Angeles but indeed people all over the world. It’s a meaty little tome and does a terrific job filling in a story hinted at yet never really examined throughout the TV series’ tragically short run.

The next three novels in the each draw on unproduced scripts for what would

have been Alien Nation‘s second television season. Dark Horizon by K.W. Jeter is particularly notable as it does a very effective job giving fans of the series what they so desperately wanted at that point in time: a conclusion to the cliffhanger season finale. In fact, Adventure Comics (an imprint of Malibu Comics), who’d begun publishing Alien Nation comics in 1990, beat Pocket to the punch with their own adaptation of this story. Likewise, Peter David’s Body and Soul gets a chance to examine the growing romance between Sikes and Newcomer Cathy Frankel, which had been hinted at during the series. These two stories would later form the basis for the first and second Alien Nation TV movies and while fans welcomed the return to television, there are those who prefer the prose version of the events depicted.

Meanwhile, The Change was the first of two Alien Nation novels written by renowned science fiction author Barry B. Longyear, a name genre readers should recognize for – among many other things – Enemy Mine, the Hugo and Nebula award-winning novella which was adapted into a cult classic film of its own. His next contribution to the series, Slag Like Me, is one of the line’s strongest entries. Inspired by journalist John Howard Griffin’s groundbreaking book from 1961, Black Like Me, Longyear places a human journalist undercover as a Newcomer to expose the systemic racism and discrimination endured by the aliens as they strive to assimilate to life on Earth. When the journalist is murdered, Sikes goes undercover as a Newcomer to find those responsible.

The series’ final entry, K. W. Jeter’s Cross of Blood, is also one of its high points. Whereas the romance between Sikes and Cathy Frankel had attracted scrutiny and varying flavors of commentary since its introduction during the TV series, Cross of Blood kicks things up several notches when Cathy becomes pregnant with Sikes’ child. The idea of such a child had already been the subject of Body and Soul but of course it’s a much bigger deal here as it involves main characters, and there’s much more focus on the social and political ramifications of humans conceiving children with members of an alien species. It’s the sort of thing at which Alien Nation excelled throughout its brief TV run and Cross of Blood honors the spirit of the show in fine fashion.

Like so many other book series that came and went during my formative years, the Alien Nation novels were over and done with long before I even entertained the crazy notion of entering the realm of professional writing. They suffered the same fate experienced by many such books based on television shows: once the parent property is no longer active on TV (or movie) screens, interest tends to dwindle as fans and readers move on to other things. There are exceptions to that unwritten rule of course; Star Trek is a prime example but let me tell you some time how novels based on Murder, She Wrote continue to be published two decades after that TV series ended.

But for the most part? Such books tend to have a pretty limited lifespan, which is a damned shame. Like many fans almost certainly did, I came up with a couple of ideas on how to revisit Alien Nation, either as a continuation of the series and character or else a sequel set years if not decades later. Don’t take me too seriously, though, as I’ve harbored similar notions and dreams for pretty much every science fiction TV series I’ve enjoyed for the past 40-odd years. It’s a sickness, I tell you!

Meanwhile, if you’re a fan of Alien Nation, particularly the series, and you’ve never sampled these novels, here are eight stories you may have missed which might feed your fannish fever.

Previous entries in this series:
Introductory Post
The Six Million Dollar Man and The Bionic Woman
Planet of the Apes
Space: 1999
The “No-Frills” Books
Alan Dean Foster!

Die Hard

Happy Judgment Day!

Roses are Red
Violets Are Blue
Humanity’s toast
Suck on my big fat CPU.

Love, Skynet.                                             

Celebrating the 23rd anniversary of the fall of humanity and the rise of the machines.


Judgment Day: August 29th, 1997. Sunblock optional.

Here’s hoping you can get out, enjoy it, and maybe take advantage of all the sales!

Talking Agents of Influence with the Captain’s Table podcast!

:: checks watch ::

So, hey! It’s been a minute since my last interview. Indeed, it’s been a bit since I last talked to someone about my most recent Star Trek novel, Agents of Influence, and I’ve rather enjoyed chatting up this one, so why not do it again?

Enter the Captain’s Table podcast.

It’s been an even longer, more stretched-out and interminable minute since I last spoke with show hosts and friends Michael Clark and Roslyn Scholarios, so this was definitely part interview and part catching up.

Sure, we spend a fair amount of time talking about the new book, but we also cover a lot of ground relating to adjacent subjects like the state of Star Trek with all these new shows coming at us. Part of the conversation focuses on what it’s like to write characters introduced more than 50 years ago with a modern sensibility while staying true to their original portrayals. We also talk a bit about my consulting duties for CBS, which tend to evolve pretty much with the changes in wind direction. No two days are the same, that’s for sure…but I ain’t complainin’.

It’s Star Trek, yo. Life is good.

Spoilers about Agents of Influence abound during the interview, so if you’ve not yet read the book but are planning to do so, proceed with caution. Otherwise? Head on over to the Captain’s Table and give the new interview a listen:

The Captain’s Table: Dayton Ward and Agents of Influence

Many thanks to Michael and Roslyn for having me on the show! We’ve already talked about return visits somewhere down the road. I guess we’ll see what we see. 🙂

Happy Birthday, Gene.

Today marks what would have been the 99th birthday of Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry.

“I would hope there are bright young people, growing up all the time, who will bring to [Star Trek] levels and areas that were beyond me, and I don’t feel jealous about that at all….It’ll go on without any of us, and get better and better and better. That really is the human condition–to improve.”

– Gene Roddenberry, 1988

Thank you for giving us such a wondrous sandbox in which to play and dream.