Tied Up With Tie-ins: Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea!

Has it really been *five months* since the last time I did one of these? Well, I suppose I’ve been busy, and besides…I warned you about this particular blog feature. I believe the words “irregularly recurring” were used.

So, there you go.

For those wondering what this is all about, “Tied Up With Tie-ins” is where I take a (usually) fond look back at a favorite series of movie or TV tie-in books. This often means something older, such as the many different tie-ins which were all over the place during my childhood and early adulthood. Examples include novels based on The Six Million Dollar Man and The Bionic WomanPlanet of the Apes, and Space: 1999 among others. That said, I’m not snobby about newer stuff, as I’ve previously written about novels based on one of my favorite TV series of the 21st century, 24 and I’m curretnly eyeballing for future installments shows like Castle and (maybe) the JAG/NCIS franchise. We shall see.

Meanwhile, this latest installment, I’m returning to those thrilling days of yesteryear as we dive beneath the waves and down into the ocean’s murky depths, on a Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea….

Continue reading “Tied Up With Tie-ins: Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea!”

Tuesday Trekkin’: Old-school Star Trek book covers.

“Wait,” I can hear someone saying. “It hasn’t even been a month since the last time Dayton did this. You don’t think he’s trying to make this ‘irregularly recurring’ thing of his more regular, do you?”

Sometimes, I like to change things up and actually do things like this on a more frequent basis than “Oh, holy hell. It’s been eleventy billion months since the last time I did something like this.”

And so, here we are.

For those just joining in our reindeer games, “Tuesday Trekkin’” is basically an excuse for me to wax nostalgic about some facet of old-school Star Trek fandom, be it a fondly remembered bit of funky merchandise, anniversaries or other celebratory observances and “milestones” of important dates in franchise history, convention memories, or whatever else tickles my fancy on any given day. The “Tuesday Trekkin’” moniker is something of a tip of the hat to a pair of friends, Dan Davidson and Bill Smith aka “The Hosts of the TrekGeeks Podcast.” Over on Facebook, they have a fan group, Camp Khitomer, devoted to all things Trek where all are welcome to join in their positive vibes and community. They also like to push a #TrekTuesday hashtag over there where they invite members to share updates, links, and/or pictures celebrating their fandom, so this feature is definitely offered in that same spirit.

What are we yammering about today? Old-school art that graced various Star Trek books way back in the Before Time. This is one of those topics which can go off the rails pretty quickly, so for today’s look back we’re sticking with those books published by Bantam Books during the 1960s, 70s, and early 80s. That means we’re starting our conversation with the covers that graced the set of original series episode adaptations written by James Blish.

Continue reading “Tuesday Trekkin’: Old-school Star Trek book covers.”

Star Trek: Coda – Moments Asunder back cover description!

Was it really just yesterday that I finally was able to share the cover for Moments Asunder, the first book the epic Star Trek: Coda trilogy, on which I’ve been working with friends and fellow word pushers James Swallow and David Mack for pretty much two years, now?

Why, yes. Yes, indeed, it really was just yesterday, but for those who don’t feel like clicking the link up there, here’s the cover again because why not?

(Click to Biggie Size.)

For today, however, I now can add other treats, like this tasty morsel of back cover description:

STARFLEET’S FINEST
FACES A CHALLENGE UNLIKE ANY OTHER

TOMORROW IS DOOMED
Time is coming apart. Countless alternate and parallel realities are
under attack, weakening and collapsing from relentless onslaught. If left
unchecked, the universe faces an unstoppable descent toward entropy.

WANDERER, ORACLE, ALLY
Scarred and broken after decades spent tracking this escalating
temporal disaster while battling the nameless enemy responsible for it,
an old friend seeks assistance from Captain Jean-Luc Picard and the crew
of the Starship Enterprise. The apocalypse may originate from their
future, but might the cause lie in their past?

EVERYTHING THAT WILL BE
Identifying their adversary is but the first step toward defeating them, but
early triumphs come with dreadful costs. What will the price be to achieve
final victory, and how will that success be measured in futures as yet undefined?

MOMENTS ASUNDER

The book is due in stores on September 28th and is available for pre-order from all of the usual haunts in trade paperback and eBook editions, as well as a digital audiobook download version. Star Trek: Coda continues on October 26th with James Swallow’s Book II: The Ashes of Tomorrow, and the senses-shattering conclusion arrives on November 30th with David Mack’s Book III: Oblivion’s Gate.

Come, join in our reindeer games.

Star Trek: Coda – Moments Asunder cover!

Awwwwwwwwww Yissssssssss.

At long last, we have the cover for Moments Asunder, the first book of the forthcoming Star Trek: Coda trilogy on which I’ve been collaborating with friends and fellow wordsmiths James Swallow and David Mack. It’s been a long road these past two years – getting from there to here, as the song goes – but we’re finally nearing the end of our writing journey and preparing to unleash this epic and dare I say unprecedented adventure not just for Star Trek but indeed media tie-in writing in general.

It’s one thing to be granted such wide latitude for Star Trek novels and comics to go boldly in all sorts of directions over lo these many years while there was little to no “new” Star Trek appearing on television or movie screens. But it’s something else entirely for those same publishing ventures, once Star Trek “woke up” and started producing new TV episodes (and, if rumors are true, more movies) to be given the chance to “re-align” themselves in what we consider rather grand fashion to better conform with those new stories in this ever-expanding universe. On behalf of Jim and Dave, I offer my sincere thanks and appreciation to our editors at Gallery Books and the good folks at ViacomCBS Consumer Products for affording us this rather unique opportunity.

(Here’s hoping we don’t screw it up.)

Okay, enough of that, because I know you’re here to see the cover, a creation of acclaimed and award-winning science fiction artist Stefan Martiniere. Check this out:

Cover for Star Trek: Coda Book I
Moments Asunder
(Click to Biggie Size)

As some folks have asked and others have suspected, this image is designed to work in concert with what will grace the covers for Books II and III, forming a triptych that’s gonna melt your brain. So, you’ve got that going for you…which is nice.

Moments Asunder is due in stores on September 28th and is available for pre-order from all of the usual haunts in trade paperback and eBook editions, as well as a digital audio download version which as of this writing I’m fairly certain will be read by frequent Star Trek audiobook narrator and all-around cool guy Robert Petkoff.

And in case this bit of trivia has somehow escaped you to this point, Star Trek: Coda continues on October 26th with James Swallow’s Book II: The Ashes of Tomorrow, and the senses-shattering conclusion arrives on November 30th with David Mack’s Book III: Oblivion’s Gate.

As always and if you are at all able to do so, I hope you’ll consider purchasing your copies through your favorite independent bookseller. You can find one close to you by utilizing the “Indie Bookstore Finder” feature of IndieBound.com. This includes features for supporting your favorite indie bookseller even if you opt to buy eBook or digital audiobook editions of new titles.

Welp. There you have it. All that’s left to do at this point is wait for September 28th, and awaaaaaaaaaaay we go!

Did you know June is “Audiobook Month?”

“Audio Book Vectors” graphic created by Vecteezy.

I mean, I didn’t. Not until this weekend, I mean. But, I’m told such things by – for example – the good folks at the Audiobook Publishers Association, and who am I to argue with them? After all, they’re advocates for the various entities who publish audio editions of the books we want to read but for which we maybe don’t always have time to settle back with a paperback (or eBook, if that’s your thing).

Me, personally? I’ve been listening to audiobooks for decades, going back to versions offered on cassette tapes – sometimes unabridged but more often savagely edited to fit on two (or perhaps even one…ONE!) 90-minute cassette. The advent of CDs seemed to allow for an expansion of titles and the ability to offer unabridged versions, but even then a complete audiobook adapation could still run into a dozen or more CDs. Now with digital downloads and physical media storage no longer being a primary consideration, unabridged audiobooks are all the rage.

For me, audiobooks fantastic for long road trips, but I’m just as liable to have one in my car’s player (or on my phone) so I can listen to one in chunks whenever I’m driving around town. I also use an app on my phone that lets me check out audiobooks from my public library system and download the file(s) for a set time to my device. These are great whenever I’m taking my walks around the lakes in our neighborhood.

Listening to audiobooks is just one more weapon I can deploy in my seemingly neverending quest to conquer my ever-growing “To Be Read” pile. They’ve even helped me discover authors. The first time I “read” a book by Nelson DeMille, for example, was listening to the audiobook version of his novel The General’s Daughter. The reading on that early 1990s cassette edition was performed by actor Ken Howard, who for my money was bang-on perfect giving voice to the book’s first-person narrator, Army criminal investigator Paul Brenner. Howard returned to read DeMille’s sequel to the novel, Up Country, and again I thought he nailed Brenner perfectly, the same way noted audiobook reader Scott Brick has become The Voice for one of DeMille’s other popular characters, Detective John Corey, who stars in a series of novels involving him first as a police officer and later a member of a joint terrorism task force.

Other times, an audiobook is a means to revisit a novel I’ve already read but want to experience it in an a different manner than simply picking up the print edition. This has been the case for more titles and authors than I can easily list here, but some examples are Tom Clancy (The Hunt for Red October), Clive Cussler (Raise the Titanic, Vixen 03), Joseph R. Garber (Vertical Run), Andy Weir (The Martian, Artemis), and Ernest Cline (Ready Player One) to name just a handful.

Non-Fiction is in the mix, too. Motivated as I was by the previous presidential administration, I found myself listening to audio adaptations of Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein’s All the President’s Men as well as Woodward’s Fear. Other recent listens include Erik Larson’s Dead Wake, about the last voyage of the Lusitania, Chris Nashaway’s Caddyshack: The Making of A Hollywood Cinderella Story, and even Kevin Smith’s Tough Sh*t.

And yes, there are more than a few Star Trek audiobooks I’ve stuck in my ears. Occupational hazard, you know, but it also provides me with a nice little segue, as audiobooks have served as yet another intersection point between my reading hobby as well as my professional world. The first such audiobooks came out in in the late 1980s and continued with new releases into the early 2000s, focusing primarily on adaptations of hardcover Star Trek novels as well as the novelizations of the four movies featuring the Star Trek: The Next Generation cast. They went into limbo for a few years before experiencing a brief resurgence with audio versions of the novelizations for the first two “reboot” films, 2009’s Star Trek and Star Trek Into Darkness from 2013.

As part of Simon & Schuster’s celebration of Star Trek‘s 50th anniversary in 2016, the publisher tapped writers Greg Cox and David Mack along with Kevin Dilmore and myself to write the Star Trek: Legacies trilogy. As icing on the cake, we were informed that these books would be adapted as audiobooks, perhaps kickstarting a renewed interest in adapting various Star Trek novels for the format.

The Star Trek: Legacies trilogy, published from July to September, 2016

By all accounts, sales of the Legacies audiobooks – now offered primarily as unabridged digital downloads and with each book narrated by actor Robert Petkoff – were very strong, prompting Simon & Schuster to keep the party going with audiobook adaptations of other Star Trek novels in the production pipeline. To date, nearly every Star Trek novel published after the Legacies books has received the audio treatment, including the five I’ve written since Kevin and I teamed up for Purgatory’s Key. Though I haven’t seen an official announcement, I suspect this will also be the case for the Star Trek: Coda trilogy coming later this year, for which I wrote the first book, Moments Asunder.

(Yes, this it the part where I go into shameless marketing mode.)

Star Trek: Legacies – Purgatory’s Key
Star Trek: The Next Generation – Headlong Flight
Star Trek: The Next Generation – Hearts and Minds
Star Trek: Discovery – Drastic Measures
Star Trek: The Next Generation – Available Light
Star Trek: The Original Series – Agents of Influence

In addition to these, Mr. Petkoff lent his voice to most of the new offerings to date, actress January LaVoy has also offered her own considerable talents for a few titles, and author Kirsten Beyer narrated the audio version of her most recent Star Trek: Voyager novel, To Lose the Earth.

While there don’t seem to be any plans to dig into Simon & Schuster’s rather massive backlist and adapt older Star Trek novels for audio, I was very pleased back in 2019 when they opted to republish Gene Roddenberry’s novelization of Star Trek: The Motion Picture to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the book’s publication but also their publishing of Star Trek books dating back to 1979. For the first time, the book received an unabridged audio adaptation (read by Mr. Petkoff), which for me provided an easy means of revisiting the novel…something I’d not done in many, many years and which I’d been planning to do that year in observance of the anniversary. It was quite the treat to “relive the story” in this manner.

Away from Star Trek, I’ve been fortunate to have a few other tales of mine ported to audiobook format. First, there was my short story “Day to Day,” my contribution to one of my very favorite projects in recent years, 2113: Stories Inspired By the Music of Rush. Edited by Kevin J. Anderson and John McFetridge, all of the anthology’s stories is read by actor Paul Boehmer, whose commanding voice breathes vivid life into each of the tales. It was a privilege to be invited to write for the anthology in the first place, but to have it given such a wonderful audio adaptation was quite the bonus.

Then came the audio version of the Predator anthology If It Bleeds, edited by Bryan Thomas Schmidt. Included among the collection’s 16 stories is my tale “Recon.” This time around, Editor Bryan and publisher Titan Books saw to it each story received its own narrator; an impressive feat of logistics and cat herding if I’ve ever heard one. For “Recon,” I benefitted from the vouce talents of actor Peter Berkrot. The strategy of recruiting an entire cast to narrate the book looks to have been pretty smart, as the audiobook edition of If It Bleeds ended up winning the 2018 Best Narration – Short Story Anthology award from the Society of Voice Arts and Sciences. How ’bout them apples?

So, yeah…audiobooks are pretty dang cool.

Trying to compile a list of favorites or even a roster of candidates for anyone looking to try a few (more) of their own would keep us here all day. Suffice it to say there’s something out there for anyone looking to put some storytelling between their ears. But, don’t let that or me stop you from offering your favorites down in the comments.

Happy listening, and “Happy Audiobook Month!”

Announcing The Four ???? of the Apocalypse, an anthology that needs your help!

Friend and fellow word-slinger Keith R.A. DeCandido and his wife, Wrenn Simms have started their own small-press publishing house, Whysper Wude! What do you do when you start a new small-press publishing house? Why, you start curating stories for a new anthology!

(Sure, there are other things you might do, but this is where they’re starting so just roll with it, all right?)

So, what is Whysper Wude’s inaugural offering gonna be? Well, let me just let Keith and Wrenn describe it:

We all know about the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse: Death, War, Famine, and Pestilence, riding on pale horses and all that Book-of-Revelation stuff.

But why does it have to be guys on horses? Why can’t it be the Four Cheerleaders of the Apocalypse? Or the Four Customer Service Reps of the Apocalypse? Or the Four PTA Moms of the Apocalypse? Or the Four Squirrels of the Apocalypse?

For our inaugural project with the brand-spanking-new very-small-press publisher Whysper Wude, editors Keith R.A. DeCandido & Wrenn Simms are putting together The Four ???? of the Apocalypse, in which we get nifty alternate takes on this very old (like, biblically old) concept.

Keith and Wrenn have assembled a pretty kick-ass roster of authors to fill out this anthology. Check out this list:

Jonathan Maberry, David Gerrold, David Mack, Peter David, Dayton Ward & Kevin Dilmore, Jody Lynn Nye, Michael Jan Friedman, Laura Anne Gilman, Aaron Rosenberg, Gail Martin, Mary Fan, Derek Tyler Attico, Danielle Ackley-McPhail, Adam-Troy Castro, Kathleen O’Shea David, Randee Dawn, Robert Greenberger, Gerard Houarner, Gordon Linzner, Megan Mackie, Jenifer Purcell Rosenberg, Hildy Silverman, Patrick Thomas, Michael A. Ventrella, and Keith R.A. Decandido & Wrenn Simms.

Some of these awesome word pushers have already their stories for the book, while others (:: raises hand:: :: raises Kevin’s hand ::) are still working the kinks out of theirs, but worry not! All of these apocalyptic tales will be ready by the time Keith and Wrenn are ready to start putting the actual book together.

Which is where YOU come in!

To fund this all-new venture, Keith and Wrenn have launched a Kickstarter campaign with the goal of raising enough money to pay the writers for their stories and cover the anthology’s other production costs. This means those eager folks who opt to support this endeavor will receive some pretty nifty perks for their part in bringing this project to life. In addition to the book itself, there are special packages that will include copies of books by the anthology’s various contributors, the chance to have your name be a character in one of the stories, receive audio adaptations of certain stories, and so on.

If the campaign exceeds its $6,000 goal, then the focus turns to unlocking several “stretch goals” such as a nifty cover by artist J.K. Woodward and others Keith and Wrenn are keeping close to the vest to surprise folks when the time’s right.

But none of that can happen without backers, and maybe that’s you! Head on over to Kickstarter and give the campaign’s overview a gander. Peruse the list of perks and see if any of that strikes your fancy and – if you’re willing ad able to do so – I hope you’ll consider supporting us. This is gonna be hella fun!

Click This Here Link:

The Four ???? of the Apocalypse: An Anthology of Biblical Proportions!
A Kickstarter Campaign for the End of the World

Tuesday Trekkin’: the Star Trek Giant Poster Books.

Okay, so at least this time it’s been less than a month since the previous installment of this “irregularly recurring” blog feature. Not too bad, when considering all the other things on my various plates. I originally thought “monthly” might be a good schedule for this sort of thing, but if I’m feeling froggy and I’m unexpectedly inundated with free time*, who knows?

(* = Yeah, that’s not really a thing, is it?)

For those joining the program already in progress, “Tuesday Trekkin'” is pretty much just an excuse for me to wax nostalgic about some facet of old-school Star Trek fandom, be it a fondly remembered bit of funky merchandise, “milestones” or convention memories or whatever else tickles my fancy on any given day. For this latest entry, I’m digging into my archives and pulling out some truly 1970s pop culture goodness: the Star Trek “Giant Poster Books.”

Continue reading “Tuesday Trekkin’: the Star Trek Giant Poster Books.”

Thrilling Adventure Yarns 2021: Now available in hardcover and trade paperback!

So, it’s like this: Back on March 16th, Thrilling Adventure Yarns 2021 was released by Crazy 8 Press in eBook format. As editor Bob Greenberger explained at the time, the eBook was obviously easier to format and make available as a download, helping him to start sending digital perks to those folks who supported the Kickstarter campaign to secure the funds required to publish the book. At the same time, preparations were being finalized to have the book made ready to offer in hardcover and trade paperback formats.

Well, they’re now available!

Thrilling Adventure Yarns 2021 is yet another celebration of those exciting pulp fiction stories of yesteryear, but with something of a modern twist. The book is jammed to overflowing with 27 stories told in classic pulp style, each one filled to overflowing to action, adventure, excitement, thrills, chills, mystery, romance, humor, and all sorts of juicy pulpy stuff.

Several of the writers from the original Thrilling Adventure Yarns return for the new volume, spinnning all-new tales with characters created for the first go-around. Others take on popular characters who now lurk and quest in the public domain, such as Sherlock Holmes himself! There are also new additions to roster, which explains Kevin Dilmore and myself teaming up for a new story, “Protocol 23,” which might very well be the first such yarn featuring characters we created. Plus, the cherry on top has to be a never-before-seen story by legendary pulp writer Lester Dent, the creator of Doc Savage. That alone has to be worth the price of admission, but buy your ticket and you still get 26 more stories as a bonus, amirite?

The roster for Thrilling Adventure Yarns 2021 includes: Michael A. Burstein, Russ Colchamiro, Greg Cox, Paige Daniels, Lester Dent, Mary Fan, Kelli Fitzpatrick, Michael Jan Friedman, Robert Greenberger, Glenn Hauman, Heather E. Hutsell, Paul Kupperberg, Karissa Laurel, William Leisner, Jonathan Maberry, David Mack, Ron Marz, Danielle Ackley McPhail, Stuart Moore, Will Murray, Jody Lynn Nye, Scott Pearson, Aaron Rosenberg, Dayton Ward & Kevin Dilmore, Richard C. White, and Sherri Cook Woosley.

The book also contains all-new art to go with each story, so readers be treated to the artistic stylings of June Brigman, Kerry Callen, Gary Carbon, Mike Collins, Daerick Gross, Matt Haley, Karl Kesel, Peter Krause, Luke McDonell, Ron Randall, Dan Schkade, Bart Sears, Daniele Sera, Jeff Weigel, and Mark Wheatley.

The book’s page at Amazon.com has been updated to reflect the availability of the hardcover and trade paperback editions along with the eBook version, so go and get your pulp on, whydontcha?

Tied Up With Tie-ins: Mission: Impossible!

You can tell I have no pressing writing deadlines when I have time for more fanciful pursuits such as this. In between a bunch of reading for the consulting gig, I decided to add another entry to this irregularly recurring blog feature, even though the previous installment was just a couple of weeks ago. I know…daring, amirite?

For those new to this bit of distraction, “Tied Up With Tie-ins” is where I take a look back at a favorite series of movie or TV tie-in books. This usually means something older, such as the many different tie-ins which were all over the place decades ago. Examples include novels based on The Six Million Dollar Man and The Bionic WomanPlanet of the Apes, and Space: 1999 among others. I’m not snobby about newer stuff, though, as I’ve previously written about novels based on one of my favorite TV series of the 21st century, 24.

For this latest installment, your mission — should you choose to accept it — is to take a trip with me down Memory Lane as we revisit the handful of novels tying into Mission: Impossible…both the classic TV series as well as the feature films….

Continue reading “Tied Up With Tie-ins: Mission: Impossible!”

Tuesday Trekkin’: the Star Trek “Fotonovels.”

To the surprise of perhaps no one, my most recent attempt at an “irregularly recurring” blog feature has unfolded pretty much in keeping with my master plan. It’s been four months since the last installment of “Tuesday Trekkin’,” which at the time I was thinking could be a monthly thing. Sounds like government, amirite?

So, what’s the point of “Tuesday Trekkin’?” It’s basically an excuse for me to wax nostalgic about some facet of old-school Star Trek fandom, merchandise, fond memories of various “milestones” or convention memories or whatever else tickles my fancy on any given day. For this latest entry, I’m reaching up to the top shelf of older books and focusing on twelve little jewels; ambassadors for Star Trek from a truly bygone era.

Covers for Star Trek Fotonovels 1-4.

Published in 1977 and 1978, each of these “Fotonovels” takes an episode of the original Star Trek series and retells it in a neat little hybrid of paperback book, comic book, and film strips (anybody remember film strips from school?). Each installment boasted “300 Full Color Action Scenes” from the selected episode, with dialogue and exposition presented in “comic book style,” with word and thought balloons and so on.

A 2-page spread from Star Trek Fotonovel #1, “City On the Edge of Forever”

The selection of episodes to adapt into Fotonovel form – as well as the order in which each book was released – appears to have been largely random. The 12 installments include six episodes from Star Trek‘s first season, four from its second year, and two from the final season. While most of these rank among my favorite episodes from across the series, prominent installments such as “Arena,” “The Doomsday Machine,” “Mirror, Mirror,” and “The Tholian Web” among others are conspicous in their absence. I mean…an “Arena” Fotonovel? Shut up and take my money.

Perhaps the selected episodes represented favorites of writer Thomas Warkentin, who was tasked with crafting scripts adapting the episodes for the books’ format. Fans of Star Trek comics may recognize Warkentin as one of the writers who later worked on the Star Trek comic strip which appeared in newspapers via the Los Angeles Times Syndicate between 1979 and 1983. For his work on the Fotonovels, he chose the images from each episode and also added captions, thought balloons, and other bits which weren’t present in the episodes themselves or even their original scripts.

The first one of these I remember buying was #4, “A Taste of Armageddon,” sometime in 1978 or 79, when I happened across it in a local department store’s book section. I don’t remember, but I’m sure at least one or two of the Bantam Star Trek novels were also occupying space somewhere on those shelves, along with other popular science fiction and fantasy novels of the day. So, for $1.95 I was able to revisit this particular episode over and over, and of course the hunt began to find the other books in the series…a quest which would not be completed for several years, as I recall. Over the years, the Fotonovel copies I had as a kid deteriorated to the point that a few of them were coming apart, but being an adult generally means having more disposable income, so as circumstances presented themselves I eventually replaced all twelve books with pristine copies lovingly sealed in mylar bags.

“Photo novels,” from what I’ve learned over the years, were fairly popular in other countries as far back as the 1950s (including editions of American TV shows and films), but it seems as though no one attempted the concept in the U.S. until the 1970s. So far as Star Trek is concerned, the Fotonovel was indeed a neat concept, particularly for me as a kid, in the days before home video let alone on-demand streaming.

Other shows and films got the Fotonovel treatment during the late 1970s and early 1980s. Among the “cooler” ones I own are Battlestar Galactica, Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, the first telemovie for The Incredible Hulk, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, as well as large trade paperback versions for the original Alien film and the movie Outland. However, as VCRs became more common in the 1980s and the costs of printing entire books of slick, glossy, full-color pictures became increasingly ginormous, the concept faded into near-obsolescence.

With the release of Star Trek: The Motion Picture in 1979, Pocket Books revisited the concept with a “Photostory” book, adapting the film in much the same manner as the original Fotonovels. A similar tome was released in conjunction with the second movie, 1982’s Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, but this time black and white photos on regular paper replaced the glorious full-color glossy pages of Fotonovels past, and the comic-style dialogue and thought balloons were swapped out for captions beneath each photo. As one might imagine, this edition wasn’t quite as well received as its predecessors, but it remains a collector’s item to this day. Both “Photostory” editions were written by Richard J. Anobile, who also was behind several of the other film and TV Fotonovel/”Video Novels” of the time.

I know of a few attempts to resurrect the format in recent years (the Charlie’s Angels film, The Blair Witch Project, and the first Fantastic Four movie), but they didn’t catch on. Why bother with something like this, when the movie’s available for home viewing a few months after it leaves theaters. That’s even more true now, as we’ve moved into the realm of simultaneous releases of films to theaters as well as on-demand streaming.

That said, Star Trek wasn’t quite done with the idea.

In late 2013, IDW Publishing – who currently holds the license to create Star Trek comics – tried an experiment. Legendary comics writer and artist John Byrne, a self-professed fan of the original series, employed photo manipulation and other techniques as he selected images from various episodes of the show to create “Strange New Worlds,” an all-new Star Trek story using these edited and enhanced photos instead of comics. Images from the show, so familiar to so many fans, were inserted into all-new backgrounds and environments generated by Mr. Byrne’s imagination and computer. The story, a sequel to the series’ second pilot episode, “Where No Man Has Gone Before” (and which was – coincedentally – adapted as one of the original Fotonovels), was popular enough and sold enough copies that it spawned its own series of follow-ups.

Published under the umbrella title Star Trek: New Visions, 22 all-new stories were presented by Mr. Byrne in this format between May 2014 and June 2018, along with a special issue adapting the original pilot, “The Cage” released in 2016 as part of celebrating Star Trek‘s 50th anniversary. While several of the issues were sequels to episodes from the series, there also were wholly original tales, each one lovingly constructed using what had to be an intense process of image selection and manipulation to achieve the desired effect. As this usually meant selecting a character with a pose appropriate for the new scene and inserting them into a new panel of Byrne’s creation, part of the fun for readers was trying to guess from which episode a particular character or pose was drawn.

(Okay, maybe it was only fun for me.)

EDIT: Friend and comics guru Rich Handley reminded me that in addition to the 24 “Photonovel” comics, Mr. Byrne also created three special shorter stories. One of these, “Eye of the Beholder,” was included as bonus content to the second Star Trek: New Visions trade paperback collection. The second story, “More of the Serpent Than the Dove,” supported a special online sale of Star Trek digital comics a few years ago. It was later included in the fifth New Visions trade paperback collection. The final short, “Dream A Little Dream,” was included as a bonus in the eighth collection.

There’s no denying the “Fotonovel” is well and truly a relic of Yesteryear, likely appealing only to the older or hardcore collector, but those 12 little gems carry with them many fond memories from my childhood.

That said, if anyone wants to make that “Arena” one…..I’m still here and I’ve still got cash, all right?