Talking about Agents of Influence with Literary Treks!

LiteraryTreks-LogoA new book means new interviews!

They vary in number from book to book, but one show you can pretty much always count on to reach out about an interview is Trek.fm’s Literary Treks podcast. I mean, talking about Star Trek books is baked right there into the name!

Those rascals, Bruce Gibson and Dan Gunther, always manage to nab me for an hour or so in order to talk about my newest Star Trek publication. This time, our chat revolved around Agents of Influence, my Star Trek original series novel which was released back on June 9th.

To be honest, I always feel like I’m fumbling through these discussions because by the time I’m talking with people who are reading the book, it’s been at least several months since the last time I revisited the story, and there usually have been any number of things I’ve written or are in the midst of writing by the I start doing interviews for a newly published book. However, Bruce and Dan did a fine job hitting me with good questions and observations which made for a fun, thoughtful conversation. I some ways, chats like this allow me to enjoy a story I wrote all over again.

For those pondering having a listen but who haven’t yet read the book, please be aware that SPOILERS ABOUND IN THIS INTERVIEW. You’ve been warned.

Otherwise? Head on over to Literary Treks and stick this in your ears:

Literary Treks Podcast #306 – There’s Shag Carpet On This Ship Somewhere

LiteraryTreks-AgentsLogo

Many thanks to Bruce and Dan for having me on again. I’m sure our paths will be crossing again somewhere down the road!

Tied Up With Tie-Ins: Alan Dean Foster!

After an irregular, infrequent attempt last year to kickstart this (hopefully) recurring feature here on the blog, here I am with the second installment in less than a month!

The idea is simple: I’m a tie-in writer. Before that, I was a tie-in reader. I still am, of course, but way back when? I had no idea reading such books would lead me to writing anything, let alone my own tie-in books. Weird how life works sometimes, right? And yet, here we are.

Now that I’m a regular to this somewhat misunderstood and oft-derided genre of writing, I like to look back at the works of those who preceded me; books I read as a kid and which in hindsight proved to be something of an inspiration to me. Previous installments of this feature/wannabe column have included looks back at novels based on The Six Million Dollar Man and The Bionic Woman, Planet of the Apes, V, and Space: 1999.

You’ll note all of these are television series, and in the 1970s and 80s tie-ins to science fiction and fantasy shows were particularly commonplace, but we can’t forget about novelizations of popular genre films. I read a whole bunch of those during this same period, as well, and no conversation about the great film novelizations of this era can happen without some mention of the one and only Alan Dean Foster. Indeed, the man deserves his own conversation on this topic, which is…well…what I’m about to do here.

Continue reading “Tied Up With Tie-Ins: Alan Dean Foster!”

Agents of Influence

AgentsOfInfluence-CoverStar Trek: The Original Series

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 is my first Original Series novel since my 2016 collaboration with my bud Kevin, Purgatory’s Key. As I’ve recently said elsewhere, this era of Star Trek is my favorite, either while writing Kirk and the gang on the Enterprise or else other tales told in the same general time frame as we did with the Star Trek Vanguard and Star Trek: Seekers books. It’s always fun to return to this period, where Kirk and his crew are in their prime and out there exploring and seeking and boldly going.

It’s also worth mentioning that this is the 22nd Star Trek novel I’ve written and the eighteenth while working under the editorial guidance of Ed Schlesigner and/or Margaret Clark. For the better part of the past decade it’s been both of these folks. They tolerate my antics and my shenanigans and they keep calling me back to write more Star Trek, for which I am and will forever be grateful.

This is also my sixth Star Trek novel to receive an audiobook adaptation. As with the other five titles, this new book benefits from the vocal stylings of the wonderful Robert Petkoff. A self-professed Star Trek fan himself, Mr. Petkoff always brings enthusiasm and passion to these projects, and I simply love listening to him breathe life into my pithy little words.

Agents of Influence is now available at bookstores everywhere, in trade paperback, e-Book, and both digital and CD audiobook editions. If you’re still one of those folks who loves going to an actual store for your reading material, I humbly suggest patronizing your local independent bookseller. If that sort of thing isn’t feasible for whatever reason, then of course we have other options:

Simon & Schuster
Amazon.com
Barnes & Noble
Books-A-Million
IndieBound

In addition to providing a permanent home for links to find and order the book, this blog entry also will serve as the book’s “official” Q&A thread. Those of you who want to chat about the book, feel free to post your questions/etc. to the comments section. For those of you who’ve found this page and perhaps not yet read the book, BEWARE SPOILERS ARE POSSIBLE FROM THIS POINT FORWARD.

An interesting Agents of Influence observation.

AgentsOfInfluence-CoverI originally posted a version of this on my Facebook page, but upon further reflection I decided to have a bit more fun with it. So, bear with me. I’m writing this to avoid doing actual work for a little while longer.

Anyway, it’s like this: An intrepid fan over on the TrekBBS has made an intriguing observation regarding my upcoming Star Trek original series novel Agents of Influence.

According to his observations, this title will be the 100th novel released by Simon & Schuster since it began publishing Star Trek novels in 1979 which is explicitly set during the period chronicled by the original television series, “the five-year mission.” It’s an interesting milestone, if a bit of a confusing one to anyone not mired in this stuff.

(Another term for such individuals is “normal people.”)

HoratiusThere have been hundreds of Trek novels published over the years and featuring Kirk and the gang (or some subset of those characters), dating back to 1968 while the original show was still in production. With the advent of the feature films, many early S&S novels (published at that time by their imprint, Pocket Books) were set in an around the various movies, mixed in with those set during the TV series timeframe. This doesn’t even take into consideration those based on the spin-off series, or “original” book spin-offs like Star Trek Vanguard, Star Trek: New Frontier, etc. It gets really confusing when you consider that at the time Pocket Books was publishing Star Trek novels, the films featuring the original series characters were in regular production and even though a novel might be set during the time of the TV show, as often as not it might sport cover art reflecting the most recent movie at that time. Examples:

TrekNovels-Sample(Click to Enlarge)

And yes, that’s also including the times the art took liberties and gave us TV-movie hybrids of existing uniforms, which was a common thing when legendary artist Boris Vallejo was painting the Star Trek book covers in the 1980s. They may not have been the most screen accurate, but daaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaamn did they have style. I want a book of nothing but Star Trek book cover art, with a subsection devoted to Boris, because…again: daaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaamn.

Anyway, our intrepid fan pushed through all the obstacles and distractions, keeping his eye on the prize while doing the work to arrive at a list of “just five-year mission stories” published by Simon & Schuster and what do you know? According to him, Agents of Influence will be #100.

I never really gave too much thought to how many books were set in which particular timeframe. Indeed, the other day a friend on Facebook asked me how many “original series” stories I’ve written over the years, and I had to stop and think for a minute. To be honest, I had to come back here and review my own backlist to get a correct count, and this is what I came up with this list of short stories and novels:

“Reflections” – Star Trek: Strange New Worlds, June 1998
“The Aliens are Coming!” – Star Trek: Strange New Worlds III, June 2000
In the Name of Honor – January 2002
“First, Do No Harm” – Star Trek: Constellations, September 2006*
Things Fall Apart – Star Trek: Mere Anarchy, September 2006*
That Which Divides – March 2012
From History’s Shadow – August 2013
Elusive Salvation – May 2016
Purgatory’s Key – September 2016*
Agents of Influence – June 2020

And that doesn’t even count “original series-adjacent” stories featuring original characters and situations yet taking place in that same time frame like these:

Star Trek Vanguard:
Summon the Thunder – July 2006*
Open Secrets – May 2009
Almost TomorrowStar Trek Vanguard: Declassified, July 2011
What Judgments Come – October 2011*
In Tempest’s Wake – October 2012

Star Trek: Seekers:
Point of Divergence – August 2014*
All That’s Left – November 2015*

Star Trek: S.C.E./Corps of Engineers:
Foundations – 3-part story, June-August 2002*
Where Time Stands Still – September 2004*
Distant Early Warning – June 2006*

Other:
The First PeerStar Trek: Seven Deadly Sins, March 2010*
“The Menace of the Mechanitrons!” – Star Trek: Waypoint (comic), November 2016*

* = written with Kevin

Of everything listed, all but three take place during the period of time covered by the five-year mission. So, you know…that’s a lot of stuff in that window, and that’s just me/me & Kevin. Yikes, amirite?

StarTrek-JamesBama ArtI know there are those who feel the five-year mission era is pretty crowded at this point. Over the course of nearly 54 years as I write this, two television series along with novels, comics, video games, role-playing games and such have mined the territory pretty well. One could make the argument there have been enough such stories and it’s time to leave that period alone.

I give such people side-eye.

For me, this era of Trek “history” is a setting; a point of departure. Just as Superman or Batman or Nancy Drew or Mack Bolan or James Bond never age and remain in their prime even with the passage of decades since their first stories were told, I view Kirk and company in the same light. I can always find a new tale to tell with these characters. If I have my way, I’ll be reading a good original series-era tale while being wheeled into the dining facility at the retirement home.

With luck, they may even still let me write a few. 🖖😎

Trek-5YM-Negativity

Tied Up With Tie-Ins: The “No-Frills” Books!

Last year, I started an irregular feature here on the blog: offering a nostalgic 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, V, and Space: 1999. The feature ended up being far more irregular than I’d originally envisioned and as you can see with a simple glance at the calendar I’m not doing all that well with it this year, either. However, I figured it was time to give it another go.

This time I have a brief look back at a very quirky collection of tomes: the “No-Frills Books.”

GenericBeerPublished in 1981, this series of four “books” (each really not much more than a very long short story or perhaps a lean novella) were exactly what they purported to be: a generic, no-frills tale written for the specified genre. I only vaguely remember seeing them here and there in places like Waldenbooks or the book/magazine section of the local grocery store, which made sense because at that time such stores were really leaning into the idea of cheaper “generic” products for store shelves. I recall entire sections of aisles and coolers in the frozen food section devoted to this stuff, just as I remember my father opting to try out a six-pack of generic beer and lamenting it tasted like diluted monkey piss.

(How he might know what undiluted, full-strength monkey piss could taste like was one of those questions I opted to let go unasked.)

Anyway, books. “No-Frills Books,” as it were.

Continue reading “Tied Up With Tie-Ins: The “No-Frills” Books!”

It Came from the Multiplex, and now It’s a Real Book!

Days that include presents from the Book Fairy are better than days that don’t.

Multiplex-ContribCopyThis time it’s courtesy of Josh Viola and Hex Publishers, and contributor copies of It Came from the Multiplex: 80s Midnight Chillers, a brand-spankin’ new anthology that will be out later this year.

Those of you who follow me here have likely read me yammering about this project off and on over the past year or so. Kevin and I were invited by the antho’s editor, Josh Viola, and a good friend of ours, Bret Smith, to contribute a tale to this collection and we leaped at the chance. We’d been wanting to something tied somehow to the 1980s for a while, and here was the perfect opportunity to get our asses in gear. I mean, why should people making TV shows and comics and books and other stuff and who never actually lived or grew up in this most excellent of decades be having all the fun, amirite?

The result? “Helluloid,” a story we wrote very consciously in the same vein as classic 80s horror flicks like House or The Return of the Living Dead. We made ourselves laugh pretty much the entire time we were planning and writing this thing. What also happened as we tossed ideas and note back and forth was that the location where our story takes place, a rundown movie theater, could very well be a setting for multiple tales, with or without any of the characters we were creating for this outing. “Helluloid” is set in 1985 at the Vogue, which by the mid 80s is running on fumes and is far removed from its 50s and 60s heyday. What else may have happened over the decades within those walls which have seen and heard so much?

Maybe we’ll see.

Meanwhile, you can totally pre-order It Came from the Multiplex by checking it out its page on the Hex Publisher’s website.

Hex-Multiplex-PreOrder

Many, many thanks to Bret for reaching out to us about this in the first place, and to Editor Josh who made the process so very easy and painless. It was a lot of fun working with him and the Hex crew. Hopefully we can do it again someday.

Stick this in your ears: Agents of Influence audiobook!

Need some Star Trek audiobook action this summer? While I’m hoping this means something to which you might listen while commuting to and from work or…really…anywhere that’s not another room of your house or apartment, we’ll start small. I don’t know about you, but I listen to audiobooks when I take my walks around our neighborhood.

No, not mine. That’d just be weird. However, you can totally listen to one of mine, and HEY! I’ve got a new one on the way in the form of Agents of Influence, my latest Star Trek original series novel which will (as of this writing) be published on June 9th. The audio version drops the same day as the trade paperback and eBook editions, and will be available as a digital download and a CD edition. As has been the case with pretty much all of the Star Trek novels which have received audio adaptations these past few years, this latest effort of mine is narrated by the always awesome Robert Petkoff.

Thanks to a tip from The Trek Collective, I was made aware the cover/packaging art for the audiobook is now available for perusual. It’s not that much different from the actual cover, though it does feature a bit more detail and of course carries Mr. Petkoff’s name as our grand reader. Check it out:

AgentsOfInfluence-Audiobook(Click to Biggie Size)

“But, Dayton,” I can hear some of you saying. “What’s it supposed to be about?”

WELL I’M GLAD YOU ASKED.


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.


And there you go.

You can find links for purchasing the audio edition on the book’s page at the Simon & Schuster website.

Is it June 9th yet?

Zlonk! Zok! Zowie!

Zlonk Zok Zowie-CoverThe Subterranean Blue Grotto Guide to Batman ’66 – Season One
edited by Jim Beard with Rich Handley

Another Bright, Sunny Day in Gotham City…Or is it?

The Riddler, the Penguin, the Joker, and Catwoman are all making their first fiendish forays to prey upon Gotham’s innocent citizens, but Batman and Robin, the famous Caped Crusaders, stand ready to Z-ZWAP! their diabolic schemes–all the time knowing full well that even more arch-criminals such as the Bookworm, King Tut, and False Face will follow!

Maybe you already know these stories and have thrilled to them since their debut during the inaugural 1966 season of the beloved Batman television series–but when eighteen energetic essayists all descend upon these episodes to evaluate them for enlightenment, suffice to say, citizen, you’ve never seen them like this before!

Join Jim Beard, creator and editor of Gotham City 14 Miles, as he bounds back to the Batcave with a few fearless friends to dig deep into Batman Season One’s seventeen episodes and the 1966 Batman feature film. With particular points-of-view and a worldly wealth of Bat-knowledge, these writers tackle themes, tones, and tropes beyond any previous Batman episode guides–Holy Hooks! They’ll ZLONK! ZOK! ZOWIE! your senses!

Featuring Special Guest Essayists: Jim Beard, Ed Catto, Joe Crowe, Keith DeCandido, Kevin Dilmore, Chuck Dixon, John S. Drew, Pat Evans, Chris Franklin, Bob Greenberger, Dan Greenfield, Rich Handley, Paul Kupperberg, Will Murray, Alan J. Porter, Mark B. Racop, Peter Sanderson, Steven Thompson, and Dayton Ward. Cover by Sean E. Ali.

Trade Paperback from Amazon.com
Kindle eBook from Amazon.com

Zlonk-IntArt-01


Find something “serious” to write about for a show that was never really intended to be taken all that seriously? Sure, Jim. No pressure.

The truth is that despite its over-the-top and in-your-face campy nature, the 1960s Batman series did have a few layers to it. Many of its episodes managed to slip a little bit of subtle messaging past viewers caught up in the on-screen craziness, usually in the form of some sly writing by the likes of Lorenzo Semple Jr., Ralph Ross, Charles Hoffman, and so many other writers who contributed scripts over the course of the show’s three seasons. Anything earth-shattering? Perhaps. Perhaps not. That sort of thing ultimately is for viewers and fans to decide, but maybe we can help a little.

Enter the Subterranean Grotto (not the Sub-Subterranean Grotto…that’s only for emergencies). Published by Crazy 8 Press, Zlonk! Zok! Zowie! is presented as an exploration of just what might be baked into the episodes of the show’s first season along with the 1966 Batman feature film based on the series. Kevin and teamed up to provide a look at the two-part story that features the return of the Clown Prince of Crime himself, “The Joker Goes to School” and “He Meets His Match, the Grisly Ghoul.” It’s all about how Batman’s arch nemesis involves himself in juvenile deliquency. Hey, slow day in Gotham, I guess.

Volumes examining the second and third seasons are already in the planning stages. If you’re a fan of Adam West’s Batman (and really…who isn’t), you should give this new tome a look. To the bookstore*, citizens!

Zlonk-IntArt-03

* Yes, I know that as I write this, visiting a bookstore “just because” is not really an option due to the current state of affairs, but you still have online resources to help you during these trying times until some semblance of sanity is restored!

IncrediBuilds: Klingon Bird-of-Prey

IncrediBuilds-BoPStar Trek

Get ready to boldly go where no one has gone before with this exciting Klingon wood model set. The 32-page softcover book is packed with information on the Bird-of-Prey warship, from its basic capabilities to its pivotal role in the Star Trek universe. Complete with stunning imagery and behind-the-scenes content, this book and model set is a must-have for any Trek fan. The wood model is easy to assemble and forms a dynamic, displayable 3D version of the Klingon Bird-of-Prey that fans will love.

Includes:
– Laser-cut, FSC®-certified wood sheet with easy-to-assemble pieces
– Step-by-step instructions
– Coloring and crafting ideas
– A Klingon Bird-of-Prey book

Skill Level: Intermediate

Order it directly from Insight Editions’ IncrediBuilds website!


Like the previous Star Trek and Toy Story IncrediBuilds projects I’ve worked on for Insight Editions, this is a departure from the sort of things I usually write, but still a lot of fun. The book I write to go with each model is aimed at the younger audience (10+ in this instance). Most of the material is offered from “inside the box” as though providing something of an historical record about the ship, while the last few pages talk about how the BoP was created for its use in the Star Trek films as well as how the design as evolved over the course of the subsequent television series up to and including Star Trek: Discovery.

As for the model? For my money, this may be my favorite one so far. They really did a nice job translating the ship’s design into the IncrediBuilds mold, and the instructions include options for painting and customizing yours once you build it. No tape or glue required!

There’s been some talk about doing additional Star Trek IncrediBuilds projects. Assuming I’m involved with any of those, I’ll be sure to share all the juicy details as I’m able.

Agents of Influence: We have a cover!

Huzzah!

While I’ve been occupied with other things, Simon & Schuster snuck in the side door and left me a care package in the form of the brand-spankin’ new cover for my forthcoming Star Trek original series novel Agents of Influence. I’m not even going to waste a lot of time with a meandering introduction to get you there. Here. Look:

AgentsOfInfluence-Cover(Click to Biggie Size)

What’s it all about, you ask? Well, BOOM:

Continue reading “Agents of Influence: We have a cover!”