Happy Birthday, Stars and Stripes!

One of the cool fringe benefits of volunteering at the National World War I Museum and Memorial here in Kansas City is that as I continue my learning journey about the war itself, I pick up bits of knowledge and trivia about all manner of subjects. Some are directly tied to the conflict, of course, and others have only tenuous connections. Even those serve to increase my understanding not just of the war but also the world and events which spawned it.

Among the little infonuggets I’ve happened across while perusing one of the many artifacts and didactics filling the museum’s galleries is this: Today, February 8th, marks the 102nd anniversary of Stars and Stripes, the first officially sanctioned military newspaper to carry that storied name.

Continue reading “Happy Birthday, Stars and Stripes!”

Back cover copy for my upcoming Star Trek novel Agents of Influence!

Those of you who frequent this space have likely read my occasional babbling about Agents of Influence, my upcoming Star Trek original series novel that’ll be out in June.

I’ve been waiting (im)patiently for quite a while to be able to share the book’s back cover description and at long last I have a green light to do just that. Therefore and without further ado, read on:


For years, Starfleet Intelligence agents have carried out undercover assignments deep within the Klingon Empire. Surgically altered and rigorously trained in Klingon culture, they operate in plain sight and without any direct support, while collecting information and infiltrating the highest levels of imperial power. Their actions have given Starfleet valuable insight into the inner workings of Klingon government and its relentless military apparatus.

After three of Starfleet’s longest serving agents fear exposure, they initiate emergency extraction procedures. Their planned rendezvous with the U.S.S. Endeavour goes awry, threatening to reveal their activities and the damaging intelligence they’ve collected during their mission. Tasked by Starfleet to salvage the botched rescue attempt, Captain James T. Kirk and the crew of the Starship Enterprise must discover the truth behind a secret weapons experiment while avoiding an interstellar incident with the potential to ignite a new war between the Federation and one of its oldest adversaries.


Agents of Influence will be published by Gallery Books on June 9th in trade paperback, eBook, and audiobook formats. Pre-order links appear to be a little jacked up at the moment, but once it’s straightened out I’ll be sure to post those details.

Meanwhile, it’s possible the blurb may prompt some questions. 🙂

It’s coming from the multiplex…in September!

The 1980s is a decade you had to experience in order to fully appreciate.

MaxHeadroomSure, you can listen to the music or watch TV shows or movies of the era and get a sense of what it was like, but unless you lived it — with the crazy fashion (much of which I eschewed) weird generational politics as the Baby Boomers made their mark while we young, developing Gen-Xers tried to figure out how best to sneak our Walkmans into school or infiltrate the theater and the R-rated raunchy comedy flicks after purchasing tickets to Explorers or The Goonies or whatever — you’re simply missing some key context and flavor. Attempts at recreating that aesthetic and vibe are all over the place so far as their levels of success, and I admit I enjoy shows like Stranger Things or comics like Paper Girls as examples of how to it right. I mean, it’s hard to explain to somebody why you thought you wanted to be Don Johnson or Max Headroom when you grew up.

(Okay, Max Headroom may not be the best example. You know what? Screw it. I’m leaving him in there.)

Continue reading “It’s coming from the multiplex…in September!”

Some holiday reading suggestions!

Ah, Christmas.

When I was a kid, that meant a slew of Christmas specials on TV. Charlie Brown, Frosty the Snowman, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, and the Grinch to name just a few folks who stared out from the family television all through the month of December. Nowadays, you can’t go a single day of the month without running into some channel airing something holiday related, and that’s without considering on-demand options or the really hard core folks who break out a Blu-ray, DVD, VHS or Beta tape, or LaserDisc.

(If you’ve got How the Grinch Stole Christmas! on LaserDisc, you are a holiday binge watching beast.)

Know what else is good to do this time of year? Curl up with a good book. Make it a holiday-themed book if you really want to be so sweet you break out in spontaneous diabetes.

Granted, most of the options on this list I’m about to roll out are aimed at children, but so what? Unless you’re just utterly dead inside, you’ve still got a little bit of kid hunkering down within you, so why not feed that little tyke with some smooth, seasonal words of joy and celebration….well, most of the time, anyway (see below). For example:

CharlieBrownChristmasA Charlie Brown Christmas – An adaptation of the classic special shown every year since 1965. There are actually several different adaptations running around out there, so finding one is pretty easy. You could do worse than to add a copy to your bookshelf. “That’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown!”

PolarExpress

The Polar Express – The movie might’ve been disappointing for some folks, but Chris Van Allsburg’s original storybook – for which he provided the gorgeous cover and interior art – remains an annual tradition for children and adults alike.

HomeAlone-IllustratedHome Alone: The Classic Illustrated Storybook – Adapted by Jason Rekulak and illustrated by Kim Smith, the heartwarming tale of 8-year old maniacal killer-in-training Kevin McCallister and his epic Christmas Eve battle against robbers Harry and Marv attempting to break into his family’s home makes for a charming kid’s story. Come on. It practically sells itself. I suspect it’s only a matter of time before we can all behold Love Actually: The Illustrated Holiday Classic.

WishForWingsA Wish for Wings That Work – I’ve been a fan of Berke Breathed’s Bloom County (and, later, Outland) since the jump, including the recent “reboot.” I still have a stuffed Opus and Bill the Cat in my home office, and I breathlessly await word of a reunion tour for Billy and the Boingers. Since I was already buying the collections of Bloom County strips at the time, it was a foregone conclusion I’d add this to my library, too. Opus just wants to fly. Is that so much to ask? But, it is Christmas…the season of miracles….

ShootingAtTheStarsShooting at the Stars: The Christmas Truce of 1914 – Author/illustrator John Hendrix takes his cue from real stories from the first Christmas celebrated on the Western Front during the First World War. I discovered this book at the gift shop while volunteering at the National World War I Museum and Memorial, and decided to add it to my growing collection of WWI titles.

KlingonKhristmasA Very Klingon Khristmas – Written by Paul Ruditis and lavishly illustrated by Patrick Faricy, the text is fun and the artwork is absolutely amazing, making this a keeper right out of the gate. How this wonderful tome isn’t offered in stores every year alongside other perennial favorites remains a mystery to me.

GrinchHow the Grinch Stole Christmas! – It’s just not Christmas without Dr. Seuss’ classic tale. The mean one, Mr. Grinch, turned 60 this year, after a version of the story first appeared in an issue of Redbook Magazine in October 1957. Most of us have seen the animated special that’s aired every year since 1966. The story’s been adapted for film, the stage, and audio dramatization, but how many of you have a copy of the original story on your shelf?

DieHardXmasA Die Hard Christmas – The most recent entry on this list, and one destined to become an instant classic, worthy of its place on the bookshelf alongside other iconic favorite yuletide tales. You already know how I feel about Die Hard being regarded as a Christmas movie, so you have to know that I had a copy of this bad boy the day it dropped just like Hans Gruber taking a dive off Nakatomi Tower. Yippee Kai Yay, Mr. Kringle!

And there you have it: A short list to get you started. This list obviously isn’t meant to be inclusive or definitive, or a “best of” list, and neither did I “forget” anything. Feel free to chime in with your own suggestions in the comments. Go on. You know you wanna.

However you choose to observe or celebrate the season, I hope it’s a safe and happy occasion!

StarTrek.com: 40 years of Star Trek publishing at Simon & Schuster!

PocketBooks-TMP-StoreDisplay.JPG1979: The human adventure – on the screen and on the page – really was just beginning.

For those of you new to this neck of the woods, you may or may not know I write – among other things – Star Trek novels. A bunch of ’em, in fact. Been doing it for a long time…long enough I’m beginning to feel a little self-conscious about how many years we’re talking.

(Narrator: “It’s something like 20. Damn. This dude is old.”)

Shut up, narrator.

Anyway, yes. I’ve been writing Star Trek novels for a long time but it’s compared to how long Star Trek novels have been getting published, I’m just getting warmed up. Indeed, Star Trek publishing has been active in one form or another since the days of the original series being in active production in the 1960s. Several publishing houses have added various tomes to the Final Frontier’s ever-expanding library, but one publisher in particular stands apart from the rest, as much for the longevity of their relationship with Star Trek as the width and breadth of the titles they’ve offered: Simon & Schuster.

snw-coverNow, sure, I’m here to be a bit of a cheerleader for S&S, because after all I’ve had a lengthy and prosperous relationship with these folks. The house’s Pocket Books imprint, which for decades oversaw the publication of hundreds of Star Trek novels and other books, gave me my start. The Strange New Worlds writing contests were responsible for my first paid professional stories. The first novel I wrote for publication was a Star Trek novel, and Pocket was also the publisher of my first original science fiction novel, The Last World War. Those initial successes paved the way for numerous other opportunities, and I’ve been fortunate enough to be able to ride that wave ever since.

And all of it thanks to Simon & Schuster and a publishing program which began forty years ago.

Trek-TMP-NovelizationOkay, so it began more than forty years ago…these things take time to get up and running, you know. However, the fruits of that labor started showing up in stores in the fall of 1979 as part of the leadup to the release of Star Trek: The Motion Picture. S&S had acquired a publishing license which would take over from rival Bantam Books, who to that point had been publishing their own Star Trek novels as well as adaptations of original series episodes. Though new original novels would not begin hitting shelves until 1981, owing to the remaining time on Bantam’s existing agreement, S&S was still able to kick things into gear by rolling out an ambitious publishing effort designed to capitalize on the new, big-budget Star Trek movie. While Gene Roddenberry’s novelization of the film’s script was arguably the highest-profile item on a slate featuring fifteen titles, there were quite a few really coooooool books released as part of this package.

Looking at you, Spaceflight Chronology.

So, as fans celebrate the 40th anniversary of Star Trek: The Motion Picture this month, I thought it would be appropriate to also take a look at the beginnings of Simon & Schuster’s Star Trek publishing program. The results of my latest stroll down Memory Lane can be found in this new piece just published over at the official Star Trek website:

StarTrek.com: Simon & Schuster and 40 Years of Star Trek Publishing

SimonSchuster-TMPcollage

Launching as a tie-in to the film, S&S’s Star Trek publishing efforts continue to this day. Indeed, Dead Endless, the latest Star Trek: Discovery novel and written by Dave Galanter, will be published by S&S’s Gallery Books imprint on December 17th.

Shameless aside on our way out: Star Trek books make great gifts for that Trekkie on your holiday shopping list. Just sayin’.

Tied Up With Tie-Ins: Space: 1999!

This irregular blog feature I proposed back at the start of the year has become more infrequent and irregular than I originally envisioned, but I guess I have decent excuses for at least some of those lags. You know, work, deadlines, etc. It’s been a busy year on a number of fronts, but I still try to squeeze in some fun, nostalgic stuff like this as opportunities present themselves.

“Shush, blog monkey,” I can hear someone shouting from the cheap seats. “Give us the bookie bookie talk!”

For those wondering what you’ve stumbled into, back at the beginning of the year I announced I’d offer an occasional look at a favorite series of movie or TV tie-in books. So far, we’ve revisited novels based on The Six Million Dollar Man and The Bionic Woman, Planet of the Apes, and V.

Next up? We turn our attention to the men and women of Moonbase Alpha and the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day they had on September 13th, 1999.

Space: 1999 TV series title card.

Continue reading “Tied Up With Tie-Ins: Space: 1999!”

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.”

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.)
star-trek-kirk-fu-manual-9781683835219.in06

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.

Pangaea III: A new SF anthology that needs you!

My friend Michael Jan Friedman is causing mischief. You know…again.

pangaea-logo

Among the various successful crowdfunding efforts he’s shepherded in recent years is a pair of anthologies focusing on a shared-world he created, Pangaea.

The first anthology debuted back in 2015, featuring stories by Michael Burstein, Adam-Troy Castro, Russ Colchamiro, Peter David, Michael Jan Friedman, Robert Greenberger, Glenn Hauman, Paul Kupperberg, Kelly Meding, Aaron Rosenberg, Lawrence M. Schoen, and Geoffrey Thorne. Kevin and I also teamed up for a story, “The Ardent,” which introduced Ames and Grinnoj, an unlikely pairing of cops who find themselves caught up in all sorts of shenanigans.

Pangaea II: The Rise of Dominjaron came along in 2016, pulling together a new collection of stories by Ilsa J. Bick, Michael A. Burstein, Peter David, Kevin Dilmore, Michael Jan Friedman, Robert Greenberger, Paul Kupperberg, Kelly Meding, Aaron Rosenberg, Lawrence M. Schoen, Geoffrey Thorne, and Marie Vibbert. This time, Kevin flew solo while penning a second tale with Ames and Grinnoj.

And here we are, three years later, and Mike’s decided the time’s right for a third (and final?) visit to Pangaea. Kevin and I have signed off to give our boys A&G one more at-bat, joining a stellar line-up of word pushers…most of whom wrote for either or both of the previous anthologies. That said, Mike still found a few new voices to spice up things.

What’s it all about? Well, in the words of Mr. Friedman himself:

At least four times in Earth’s history, the continents have come sliding together. Over millions of years, separate and distinct landmasses have crawled across the planet’s surface on immense tectonic plates to form a single mass–a super-continent. Geologists have dubbed the most recent such formation Pangaea.

Of course, Pangaea broke up a long time ago, and because it did, mankind developed in drastically different climes and circumstances. But what if we twenty-first century types were living in one of the super-continental periods–those characterized by “lid tectonics” rather than “plate tectonics?” What would it be like if all of humanity was confined to a single landmass…and had been so confined for all of our recorded history?

That’s the ever-so-tantalizing axis on which our Pangaea anthologies turn.

It’s an exciting and original idea, one that deserves the best shared world-building talent available. So to explore this world on your behalf, we’ve harnessed the word-smithing abilities of some of science fiction’s most inventive writers.



As with his previous projects in this vein, M
ike is once again turning to Kickstarter in a quest to secure some modest funding for this newest effort. There naturally are a number of rewards and add-on incentives to be had…far too many to describe here without resorting to copying and pasting everything Mike took the time to write. However, I will call out one backer reward in particular:

Pledge US$ 100 or more

Tuckerization by Dilmore and Ward!

At this level Kevin and Dayton will include you or someone you love (presented phonetically, of course, since this is not our world) as a character in their story. You will be thanked by name on the anthology’s acknowledgements page. Additionally, you will receive a trade paperback copy of Pangaea III, signed by at least three of its featured writers, as well as a DRM-free e-pub version of the book suitable for viewing on either Kindle or Nook. Finally, you will receive an e-mail from one of our authors thanking you for your generosity.

 

For everything else? Let’s just point you to Pangaea III‘s Kickstarter page:

Pangaea III, by Museworthy, Inc.

So, who’s writing stories this time around? Kevin and I are happy to say we’re joining this pretty nifty line-up:

Ilsa J. Bick, Michael A. Burstein, Russ Colchamiro, Peter David, Keith R.A. DeCandido, Mary Fan, Michael Jan Friedman, Robert Greenberger, Glenn Hauman, Paul Kupperberg, Ron Marz, Aaron Rosenberg, Lawrence M. Schoen, Geoffrey Thorne, Tiffany Trent, and Marie Vibbert.

I’m proud to call most of the people on this list friends so of course this is gonna be hella fun, and hey! You can help! Check out Pangaea III‘s Kickstarter page, and if it sounds like something you want to support, please pledge as you see fit.

Thanks to Mike for inviting us to play one more time, and here’s hoping we can all get to work spinning some more crazy tales.

PangaeaIII

Tied Up With Tie-Ins: V!

It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these. I know I said it would be an irregularly recurring series of self-indulgent babbling, but it’s been a little more irregular than I originally planned or would’ve preferred. So, let me try to get back on the horse here and see what happens.

V-SeriesLogoA short while back on Facebook, I made a post mentioning the 1983 miniseries V. This four-hour “limited” or “event series” (as it’d likely be called today) depicted the arrival of aliens on Earth with seemingly benign motives. They show up in massive, saucer-like spaceships that hover over every major city around the world and proceed to make all sorts of awesome, too-good-to-be-true promises while asking for a comparatively minor favor in return: help with engineering a special compound for use fighting environmental contamination on their home planet.

Continue reading “Tied Up With Tie-Ins: V!”