Happy 15th Birthday, Star Trek Vanguard.

YOU SHUT YOUR MOUTH, DAYTON! NO WAY IT’S BEEN THAT LONG!

Um, yep. I’m afraid it really has been that long.

Today, July 26th, marks the 15th anniversary for the official publication of Harbinger, the first novel in what would become “the saga of Star Trek Vanguard.”

vanguard-harbingerFor those of you who might not be familiar with these books, Vanguard as created by editor Marco Palmieri and author David Mack is a series of books that served as a “literary spin-off” of the original Star Trek television series. Running in parallel with the original show, Vanguard was set aboard a space station in a hotly contested area of space called “the Taurus Reach.”

Dave set events into motion with Harbinger, after which Kevin Dilmore and I were invited aboard to help continue the story. Over the course of seven novels and a handful of novellas, the series’ cast of characters found themselves in increasingly larger and more dire piles of shit as they learned more about the Shedai, the ancient race who once commanded the Taurus Reach, and generally were kinda sorta pissed that people were stomping around their old haunt like they owned the place.

And hilarity ensued.

I’m not going to ruin it all here with spoilers, but suffice it to say we got to have quite a bit of fun with those books. Spanning seven novels and a handful of novellas released over a period of seven years, Star Trek Vanguard, for whatever the hell my biased opinion is worth, remains one of the most interesting and exciting aspects of Pocket Books’ decades-long Star Trek publishing program. It also ranks as one of the most fun things I’ve ever done as a writer of Star Trek fiction. Being able to combine elements of my favorite incarnation of Star Trek with a serialized, epic storyline that unfolds over several books was like having – if you’ll pardon the Trekified expression – “the best of both worlds.”

(Note: Learn more than you ever thought you wanted to know about Vanguard by clicking on this link-type thing right here: DavidMack.pro – Star Trek Vanguard)

Yeah, it was and remains something special, at least to those of us who worked on it. If you haven’t yet given the series a try…well…what are you waiting for? How do you look at this set of supremely kick-ass covers created by Doug Drexler and not even be a little curious about what’s wrapped inside them?

VanguardCoverArt_2560x1600

Which brings us back to…it’s been 15 damned years? Man, I feel old.

But, I’m certainly not so old that I can’t pimp the hell out of the series on behalf of people who haven’t yet had the chance to read it.  If you’re into Star Trek and you’re looking for something a tad different, have I got a treat for you in the form of the Complete Star Trek Vanguard Reading Guide:

Harbinger – Dave
Summon the Thunder – me & Kevin
Reap the Whirlwind – Dave
Open Secrets – me (story by me & Kevin)
Precipice – Dave
Declassified – stories by me, Kevin, Marco, and Dave
What Judgments Come – me & Kevin (story by me, Kevin, and Dave)
Storming Heaven – Dave (story by Dave, me & Kevin)

There also are a couple of additional stories which, while not essential to enjoying the main “saga,” might still be of interest:

Distant Early Warning – me & Kevin (a Star Trek: Starfleet Corps of Engineers story)
In Tempest’s Wake – me (sort of a coda to the Vanguard series)

The Black Flag” – James Swallow
(Included in the anthology Star Trek: Mirror Universe – Shards & Shadows)

Do I regret that the series ended, rather than continuing on? Not one bit. Vanguard was always envisioned as a story with a defined beginning and ending, and despite our various diversions and course corrections over the span of the stories we wrote, we ended up not too far afield from what Dave originally envisioned. We also got to end the series on our own terms, something not done before or since in Pocket’s Star Trek publishing program, and those eight books sit on my bookshelf as a testament to one of the most creatively rewarding projects in which I’ve ever taken part. I’m forever grateful to Marco and Dave for inviting me and Kevin to play in this wonderful little corner of the Star Trek sandbox.

Of course, Vanguard also begat Star Trek: Seekers, which allowed us to take a bunch of characters who only played supporting roles in the previous series and elevated them to stars of their own show, so to speak. Elsewhere, elements from the series have managed to find their way into other areas of the Star Trek “expanded universe,” but so far the three of us–Dave, Kevin, and myself–have held to our “pact” to refrain from revisiting Vanguard‘s core storyline or central characters. As I wrote more than a few years ago in response to a question about returning to the concept in some fashion:

As far as I’m concerned, the stories of Vanguard’s core cast have been told. Within the fictional construct of the Star Trek universe, their reward—and penance—for what happened over the course of those novels and novellas is to be consigned to obscurity; footnotes to a history about which few people ever will know the complete truth.”

Yep, I still feel that way. I remain immensely proud of the work we did, but I have no need to re-open that particular box. To borrow a bit of sports parlance, I think we left it all on the field. Better to leave it well enough alone, and move on to other challenges and opportunities.

So, Happy Birthday, Star Trek Vanguard. Here’s hoping you keep finding new fans.

Vanguard_series

Talking Star Trek V with the Trek Geeks!

TrekGeeksLogoBecause sure, two interviews posted in as many days isn’t annoying. At all.

To be fair, this really isn’t an interview so much as it is three fans sitting around, yakking about Star Trek. In this instance, it’s me joining Trek Geeks hosts Bill Smith and Dan Davidson to talk about – and even to defend to a certain degree – Star Trek V: The Final Frontier.

“Wait….what?” I can hear some overeager Star Trek fan starting to utter. I can hear the frothing and even the drawing of lines in the sand as they stand ready to die on the hill that is proclaiming this film as the worst Star Trek movie EVER. To those folks, I say, “Yo, simmer down a minute.”

StarTrekVposterTo be fair, Star Trek V holds a not undeserved reputation as being very flawed, and there are those do most definitely do consider it the worst of the Trek feature films. I tend to dismiss such easy, kneejerk criticisms the same way I give sideeye whenever somebody bellows, “‘Spock’s Brain‘ is the worst episode of Star Trek!” It’s low-hanging fruit. It’s the one non-fans and casual passersby can point to because it has that rep and let’s them get in on the action. Meanwhile, those of us over here in the fan circle know things like “And the Children Shall Lead” and “Code of Honor” exist and they suck the sort of donkey balls “Spock’s Brain” couldn’t find with two hands, a flashlight, and Siri guiding them in from the interstate.

TrekV-cupWith all of that said, I’m actually not here to tell the Star Trek V haters they’re wrong. First, I really don’t care that much, and second……there is no second. I simply don’t care. Like what you like, don’t like what you don’t like, we all shake hands (or bump elbows in the world of COVID-19…or offer matching Vulcan salutes) and move on with our lives. In the case of Star Trek V, I acknowledge its flaws but at the same time I’m not one to dwell on discussions about things I hate. With that in mind, what I came to do with Bill and Dan is talk about what there is to like about this flick.

Why? Because you’re not hard core unless you live hard core, which is why I still have that Star Trek V tumbler pictured above. Go big or go home, amirite?

Turns out, there’s plenty to like about this movie while still agreeing it’s got its share of problems. Yes, the special effects are a marked step down from previous installments. Bill, Dan, and I came down on similar spots with respect to how the story treats the characters of Scotty, Sulu, Uhura, and Chekov. While they were “merely” supporting characters portrayed by contract day players during the time of the original Star Trek series, with the feature films they were elevated in stature at least to a degree and deserved more time in front of the camera.

To be fair, each of the films struggles with this problem but it’s very obvious here, coming as it does after the events in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home where everyone gets their moment to shine a bit. Here, the focus is more on “the Big 3” of Kirk, Spock, and McCoy and while there are certain scenes that might make a fan wince, I will say without hesitation this film contains some of my very favorite moments between these three characters.

On the visual side of things, Industrial Light & Magic’s absence is keenly felt throughout the film and the ending is hampered by budget issues and perhaps director William Shatner’s being a bit too ambitious and failing to account for all the difficulties surrounding realizing his big climax the way it was originally envisioned. That said, I’m never gonna fault a guy for swinging for the fences.

Another aspect of the film I will absolutely defend is Jerry Goldsmith’s score. The music he wrote for Star Trek V revisits some motifs which had become familar by the time this movie was released. The main theme from Star Trek: The Motion Picture – later modified for use as the title theme for Star Trek: The Next Generation – gets a few new bells and whistles, and cements what will become a staple of Goldsmith’s future Star Trek film scores: wrapping this signature theme around music unique to each movie for its respective end titles sequence. He would do this three more times – Star Trek: First Contact, Star Trek: Insurrection, and Star Trek: Nemesis – but the end title theme for Star Trek V is my favorite variation on this particular theme. Another fan-favorite cue is the “Klingon theme,” which Goldsmith also created for The Motion Picture and gets its own new take here, as well. The new material he wrote for this outing is some of my favorite Star Trek music, across the board.

We get into all of this and so much more during a chat that runs something like 98 minutes in length, but it goes pretty fast as the three of us found ourselves getting caught up in the spirit of things. No, our “fresh assessment” isn’t going to make Star Trek V: The Final Frontier a better film and maybe it won’t change anyone’s rankings when they list their favorite (and not so favorite) Star Trek films, but if we can convince even one person to appraise the movie and find something to like they may have dismissed the first (or tenth) time around, then it was worth the effort. Even if we don’t get that kind of response, I still had fun. Check out the results of our nerdfest right here:

Trek Geeks Episode #225 – The Final Frontier

TrekGeeksEp225

Many thanks to Bill and Dan for having me back on the show. As always, I had a blast hanging with them and I’m sure I’ll find a reason to wander back over to their sandbox somewhere down the road.

 

 

 

Kevin and me…talking Trek with the Positively Trek podcast!

PositivelyTrek-logoAnother interview? Really?

Yes, really, but take heart, reluctant listeners! This time it’s not just me and my signature style of babbling and yammering. Nope! For this latest outing I’m accompanied by my best bud, hetero lifemate, and occasional co-writer Kevin Dilmore as we sit down for a virtual confab with Bruce Gibson and Dan Gunther of the Positively Trek podcast!

If the names Bruce and Dan sound familiar, it’s because I’ve been a frequent guest of theirs on another podcast, Literary Treks, where they usually have me on to discuss my latest Star Trek book. Positively Trek casts a wider net, where the world of books and comics is just one aspect of various Star Trek-related conversations. For this discussion we move away from such things and instead talk about topics of interest to a larger segment of Star Trek fandom. The format is also easier so far as finding excuses to partner up with Kevin so we can have some fun. Either one of us are fully capable of filling whatever pocket of time a podcaster wants to allocate, but both of us together? Buckle up, y’all.

Vegas-Dayton-Kevin-WrongSigns

The conversation starts with reactions to the recently released trailer for the upcoming Star Trek: Lower Decks animated series before we move to a larger discussion about “Star Trek canon.” Does this new show fit with and honor the existing canon? Is it just a jokefest, or is there a Star Trek heart beating beneath this thing’s skin?

Anybody who follows me on social media or who’s engaged me on this topic at cons or elsewhere knows I loathe “canon arguments.” I’m not interested in debates about whether this or that is or isn’t “canon,” particularly when the word is so often incorrectly used when the person really means “continuity.” This stuff is supposed to be fun, and those who insist on sucking the fun out of everything in service of lording over other people their perceived superior knowledge of a fictional universe tend to annoy the shit out of me. I’m as hardcore a Star Trek fan as any you’re going to find, but I don’t hesitate to tell or share Star Trek jokes – especially on social media where my shenanigans occasionally draw fire from “purists.” I can absolutely laugh along when Star Trek embraces a bit of whimsy or even absurdity. Meanwhile, I actually got hate mail for this, which only makes me laugh harder. I mean, come on, people. Lighten up a little, eh?

After a fun, multi-threaded conversation about the whole “Star Trek canon” thing, Kevin takes the wheel and discusses the latest round of awesome new Star Trek Storytellers” ornaments from Hallmark. Seven figure ornaments – one each for Captain Kirk and his command crew – along with a gorgeous U.S.S. Enterprise tree-topper to tie it all together – bring you a condensed version of the classic Star Trek episode “Mirror Mirror” using dialogue, sound effects, and music direct from the show. Kevin brought be the Enterprise and the first two character ornaments – Kirk and Sulu – and we goofed with it long enough to put each individual ornament through its paces along with tying them together. The Uhura ornament is coming in October and the remaining characters will come out in 2021 and 2022. This set is AMAZEBALLS, y’all.

Wait…do people still use “amazeballs” to describe things? Screw it! I’m bringing it back.

Anyway, the edited and family-suitable version of our converation is ready and waiting to fill your ears. You can find it here:

Positively Trek #22: Is It Canon?

PositivelyTrek-banner

Thanks very very much to Bruce and Dan for hosting such a lively discussion, and to my bud Kevin for coming out to crank up the fun to 11. Maybe we can do it again sometime soon!

It Came from the Multiplex…now available for pre-order!

ItCameFromTheMultiplex-CoverWelcome 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….

Awwwww yisssssss.

Early last year (was it really so long ago?), Kevin and I were delighted to receive an invitation from Josh Viola at Hex Publishers along with out good friend of many, many conventions Bret Smith to contribute a story to this new anthology Josh was cooking up. Writing some kind of story set in the 1980s had been on our joint Bucket List for a while now and we’d even tossed around some ideas that made us both laugh, but other things always seemed to get in the way. When Josh told us about the anthology’s theme, 1980s based horror, we absolutely could not say no.

Kevin is your goto guy when it comes to all the Halloween movies, whereas I’m more a Friday the 13th sort. However, we both love such entries from this genre like House, The Return of the Living Dead, The Thing, Fright Night, Creepshow, and so on. As we are both children of the 80s, leaning into that fondly remembered decade (at least so far as movies and some TV goes) seemed easy enough.

The result of our endeavor is “Helluloid,” just one of 14 stories filling to overflowing It Came From the Multiplex: 80s Midnight Chillers. Kevin and I had so much fun writing our story we 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. But, that’s fodder for another day.

It Came From the Multiplex features tales spun by this impressive roster of 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

The anthology was originally set to debut at the Colorado Festival of Horror in September, but the ongoing COVID situation has understandably made that impossible. However, Josh and the good folks at Hex have made the book available for pre-order through their website as well as with the usual online suspects. It’s currently slated for publication on September 15th, and you can check out the full details by visiting the book’s page at Hex Publishers.

Hex-Multiplex-PreOrder

Thanks once again 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.

Is it September 15th yet?

Scribe Award Winners!

iamtwIt’s that time of year again!

Even without San Diego Comic-Con to provide a venue for the festivities this time around, the International Association of Media Tie-in Writers was still able to convene and review submissions for its annual Scribe Awards. The Scribes celebrate excellence in the field of writing licensed works that tie into other media such as television, movies, gaming, or comic books. They include original works set in established universes as well as adaptations of stories that have appeared in these other formats. They appear in every genre from mainstream police procedurals to science fiction, fantasy, and horror to romance.

I don’t need to waste any more time ramping up for this. Instead, I’m totally taking the email sent out by IAMTW president and all-around awesome dude, Jonathan Maberry, and providing it here. The list of nominees and winners includes several people I’m proud to call friends and colleagues, so without further ado:

Continue reading “Scribe Award Winners!”

Shore Leave 41.5: the virtual con!

Among the many mass gathering events impacted by the ongoing COVID-19 situation are comic and pop culture conventions. Whereas I likely would have attended at least a couple of such events by this point in the year, all of my 2020 con appearances have been cancelled or at the very least postponed until a date “to be determined.” Among those shows falling victim to this are two of my favorite cons: Starfest, held each year in Denver, Colorado, and Shore Leave, which takes place every summer in Hunt Valley, Maryland (just north of Baltimore).

I’ve been attending both of these conventions for many years, now, and I’ve made many friends to whom I look forward to seeing every year. For Shore Leave, it means a rare opportunity to meet up with several of my fellow writer friends, particularly among those of us who write Star Trek stories in novel or comics or even gaming formats. While I understand and appreciate the commitment to safety for staff, volunteer, and attendees who participate in these and so many other conventions, I regret not getting to see those aforementioned friends and getting the chance to make some new ones.

However! All is not totally lost. The fine folks responsible for putting on Shore Leave each year have taken a page from other shows and are presenting an “online con.” Through the wonder that is the internet and video conferencing software, we’re gonna get together and talk really geeky stuff. The con staff has assembled a series of discussion panels spread across this coming weekend beginning the evening of Friday, July 10th and sprinkled through the afternoon and evening of the ensuing Saturday and Sunday. What’s that? You want to see a complete schedule? Well then BEHOLD:

Shore Leave 41.5 Scheduleshoreleave-logo

Kicking things off on Friday evening? A panel discussion devoted to Star Trek: Strange New Worlds, the new television series currently in development by CBS and Secret Hideout, Inc., who of course have already brought us Star Trek: Discovery, Star Trek: Picard, the (as I write this) upcoming Star Trek: Lower Decks animated series, and another animated series which also is in development but which has not yet been officially named or “announced.”

What about Strange New Worlds? Well, it’s set aboard the original U.S.S. Enterprise several years before Captain James T. Kirk commanded the fabled starship on its historic five-year mission of exploration as chronicled in the original and animated Star Trek TV series as well as enough novels, short stories, comics, video games, and other tales to account for pretty much every minute of those five years.

Cage-Pike-SpockThis show will focus on Kirk’s predecessor, Christopher Pike. For those of you who may not know (and really…what’s that about?), Pike was the Enterprise‘s captain in Star Trek‘s original 1964 pilot, “The Cage” (portions of which were incorporated into the two-part original series episode “The Menagerie”), and portrayed by the late Jeffrey Hunter, and who had serving under him a young Vulcan lieutenant named Spock and played by Leonard Nimoy. Only Nimoy was carried over from the unsold pilot when Star Trek was given a second chance, this time assigned as Kirk’s first officer, and so began the Star Trek we all know and love.

Greenwood-PikePike has featured in a number of novels and comic stories over the years and was played by actor Bruce Greenwood in 2009’s Star Trek reboot film as well as its sequel, 2013’s Star Trek Into Darkness. However, it was Anson Mount who helped bring the character back to prominence during Discovery‘s second season. Mount’s portrayal was one of the season’s true highlights, right alongside Ethan Peck playing a pre-Kirk Spock and Rebecca Romijn as “Number One,” Pike’s first officer. They along with an updated U.S.S. Enterprise which both evokes and effectively updates the classic 1960s ship had fans talking, and many clamored for Pike, Spock, and Number One to headline their own series. Well, BOOM. It’s comin’, y’all.

SNW-Big3(Awwwwww yisssssssss……….)

As for our discussion panel, since the show is still in its earliest development stages, we’re left to wonder aloud what we might expect once Star Trek: Strange New Worlds hits CBS All Access sometime in the (hopefully) near future. Like the panel description says: “What can we expect from the new Pike – Number One – Spock show? Is it just retreading old ground or will it provide a chance to explore more of the 23rd century with three compelling characters?

It’s going to be a fun discussion, made all the more so because I’ll be joining friends and fellow word pushers Christopher L. Bennett, Kelli Fitzpatrick, Michael Jan Friedman, Amy Imhoff, and John Jackson Miller. The panel kicks off at 7pm Eastern time via Zoom. Details will be available on the Shore Leave 41.5 virtual con’s schedule page.

Hope to “see” you there!

Adding the Klingons to Star Trek Adventures!

Regular followers of my blatherings may be aware that – seemingly an eternity ago, what with COVID-induced time dilation – I helped out a bit with the Star Trek Adventures roleplaying game created Modiphius. Working with friends and fellow Star Trek scribes Jim Johnson and Scott Pearson was tremendous fun. However, given my role was to help with some of the early playtesting by developing a story premise for the game’s “living campaign,” and once that was done I figured my time working on STA was at an end. After all, they have actual game developers and other people who really know what they’re doing, and it’s obvious from how the game has developed and expanded over these past few years that the good folks at Modiphius totally have a handle on things.

But of course Jim Johnson couldn’t resist dragging me back.

STA-KlingonRulebook-CoverYesterday, Modiphius announced the release of a major new expansion to Star Trek Adventures: The Klingon Empire Core Rulebook. Not simply a rules supplement, this new volume essentially is its own standalone game, allowing players to carry out missions of conquest in the name of Kahless completely from the point of view of the Klingon characters they create. According to a new article on StarTrek.com:

This core rulebook contains the same rules presented in the Starfleet-focused core rulebook released in 2017. The award-winning design team, including 2d20 developer Nathan Dowdell, took the opportunity to edit and streamline the rules chapters based on fan feedback since the game’s launch, and introduce new rules for reputation, honor, glory, and house management. Now, for the first time, you and your fellow players can create your own noble Klingon House and seek out glory. Everything you need to create brave Klingon warriors and fearsome Klingon warships are available for you to use.”

What else can you expect to find within this book’s nearly 400 pages?

In addition to the revised rules, the book contains extensive chapters on Klingon history, culture, politics, military, and planets. Players have more than a dozen Klingon starships to choose from and make their own, creating their own ship to crew and take into battle. Players will be able to play Klingons from most any Star Trek era, including pure-bred Klingon warriors as well as those afflicted with the Augment Virus, the QuchHa’. Fans of Star Trek: Enterprise, The Original Series, and The Next Generation era will all find materials to use in their games and play in any time they choose.”

STA-KlingonRulebook-01

Read the entire piece here: StarTrek.com – Boldly Go Into the Klingon Empire

For those wondering, Klingons and additions to the lore as depicted on Star Trek: Discovery are not included in this new rulebook, as Modiphius does not currently possess a license to develop material based on that series. Never say never, though!

In addition to myself and Scott as well as the game’s already solid roster of talented developers and writers, Jim wielded his editor mojo and assembled a small band of Star Trek fiction writers to contribute to the book: Derek Tyler Attico, Christopher L. Bennett, Keith R.A. DeCandido, Kelli Fitzpatrick, and Lawrence M. Schoen. I was asked to contribute a variety of background materials relating to Klingon history, politics, the military, and the Empire’s relationships with various allies and adversaries.

STA-KlingonRulebook-02

As always, it was great fun to work on a group effort like this, and I think Star Trek Adventures players and Klingon fans in particular will enjoy how this book adds a new dimension to the game. The book is currently available as a watermarked PDF you can download immediately upon purchase for $19.99, with hardcover “standard” and “deluxe” print editions available for pre-order and coming in the fall.

Thanks very much to Jim Johnson for inviting me back to play in the Star Trek Adventures sandbox for a while!

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.

Star Trek IV movie watch party…with me!

“Dayton, we want to ask you some questions about your writing and other stuff, before we all sit down to watch a movie together, and then we want you to keep talking all during the movie.”

I’ve trained my whole life for this moment.

Okay, so here’s the deal: Friend David Weiner is – among other things – a writer and documentary filmmaker. His In Search of Darkness: A Journey Into Iconic 80s Horror made quite the splash when it was released last year. I highly recommend checking it out, but bring a lunch as it’s over 4 hours long and you’re not going to care. As I write this he’s in the midst of assembling a similar project, In Search of Tomorrow: The Definitive 80s Sci-Fi Documentary which is at this moment in the final days of its Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign and promises to be as epic as its predecessor.

FamousMonsters286-CoverI “met” David several years ago thanks to the wonder that is the internet. At that time he was working as the editor for Famous Monsters of Filmland, and in that capacity he contacted me and my best bud Kevin about writing a couple of articles for the magazine as part of its celebration of Star Trek‘s looming 50th anniversary. Write for one of the magazines that fueled my interest in movies and TV in that oh-so innocent pre-internet era? Yeah, you know that had to happen.

Thanks to social media we’ve managed to keep in touch even after David left Famous Monsters. A lot of his writing time is focused on his own site, It Came From Blog, an ongoing celebration of all things nostalgic from a childhood and early adulthood that in many ways very eerily resembles my own experiences from the 70s and 80s.

Star Trek IV, Dayton,” I can hear someone saying. “I saw Star Trek IV in the title and that’s why I’m here. Get on with it.”

Okay. Cool.

A few weeks back, David invited me to do a virtual sit-down/Q&A as a bit of pregame prior to a virtual watch party for Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, just one of the many awesome 1980s science fiction films which will be highlighted in the aforementioned In Search of Tomorrow (ISOT). The plan was for me to do the interview online before everybody cues up/streams their copy of the movie. I’d then get out of everybody’s way so the group of people who’ve been assembling for the other films in this series of get-togethers could enjoy the movie in peace.

But wait! There’s more!

They actually invited me to stay with them while everybody’s watching the movie, and continue our dialogue in some manner. Whether that’s me pointing out things about the film or offering up trivia or other Trek nerdity, or me participating in a dialogue with David and others as things move merrily along, I’m honestly still a bit fuzzy on. However, I’m told all will be good and fine and it’s about the communal experience….less movie theater and more living room as we all enjoy each other’s company and a shared love of the flick itself.

I admit I was hesitant at first. As I told them, I didn’t want to come off like that jackass who can’t shut up while people are trying to watch the movie, but I’m assured that won’t be a problem and is indeed part of the draw. All righty, then. Also, I wasn’t even sure I could hang around for the whole thing, but with our current and common situation and  stay-at-home advisories being what they are, I realized there was nothing keeping me from sticking around and seeing how things went once the movie starts.

So, here’s how (I think) it’s going to go: The fun is scheduled for this coming Sunday, May 10th, beginning at 3:30pm Eastern Time/12:30pm Pacific Time. The Q&A/Watch Party is being hosted via the Discord app. The ISOT group has a community within the service, and those interested in joining the festivities are encouraged to visit this link I’ve highlighted with these words and things right here. They’ll put me through the wringer for a half-hour or so, and then we all push “PLAY” and get on with the movie. Sounds easy, right?

Yeah. I’ll find some way to dork it up.

If you’ve got time to chill-ax and watch one of the better Trek movies with a bunch of virtual friends old and new, come on out (virtually speaking). Maybe I’ll “see” you there!

STIV-WatchParty

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!