Your Moment of TrekZen*.

Misadventures In Merchandizing, episode #3,962,175:

What’s wrong with this picture, amirite?

The above panel is from Passage to Moauv, a Star Trek tale written in 1975 for Power Records, which at the time was producing stories tying into various comic book characters and other entertainment properties. The stories were originally developed for vinyl records (latter cassette tapes) and this was one of three such tales originally issued on a larger 33-rpm LP record. The story itself has the disinction of being written by notable science fiction author and all-around media tie-in king Alan Dean Foster, who also wrote the accompanying stories, In Vito Veritas and The Crier In Emptiness.

Front and back covers for the original 12″ LP record sleeve.

Later in 1975, the story was re-issued on its own smaller 45-rpm record, this time accompanied by a comic-like adaptation of the script drawn by artist Russ Heath and inked/colored by Dick Giordano & Neal Adams (yes, you read those names right. THAT Dick Giordano and THAT Neal Adams), along with a cover by Adams. Of course, it’s with the comics companion that they got themselves intro trouble. I mean…..

Anyway…….

1970s Star Trek merch. Sometimes, you just have to roll with it.

(* = with acknowledgments–and apologies–to The Daily Show)

Catching up – Star Trek: Coda interviews!

Previously, on The Fog of Ward:

So, yeah. It’s been a minute since my last update. A confluence of events – work, volunteer stuff, kid stuff, other stuff – saw to it that the tree fort here was left neglected for a bit. That leaves me with a few housekeeping tasks to take care of. Namely, a whole bunch of interviews!

With the release of any new book, I’m asked for a varying number of interviews. These usually take the form of answering questions via email, or a phone interview transcribed for publication, and/or something done live via Zoom or recorded for later dispersal online. The release of Moments Asunder, the first book of the Star Trek: Coda trilogy on which I shared writing duties with friends and fellow word slingers James Swallow and David Mack, has attracted a greater degree of attention than I’m used to experiencing. It makes sense, of course, given the nature of this “Star Trek literary event.” As I, along with Jim and Dave, are grateful for this increased interest, we’re more than happy to “have a sit-down” with anyone who invites us into their space to talk Star Trek and our work.

So far, I’m pretty sure I’ve managed to avoid spoiling anything in any of the books, as a few of these were conducted before my book even came out. I’m obviously not looking to undercut anyone’s ability to enjoy the books due to my having given away anything, in particular for Books 2 and 3 as there’s still just so much coming after Book 1. Jim and Dave more than deserve their chance in the spotlight and to talk about the project without my having mucked things up beforehand. As I write this, the following interviews with me have been posted:

First, I talked via Zoom with Alex Perry from TrekCore.com and he somehow managed to translate my ramblings into something resembling coherence. That interview appears here, published the day before the book officially went on sale.

Timed to post the same day the book went live is an interview with David Powell and the Daily Star Trek News website. I carried out this one via email, which allowed me to consider more detailed answers than when I’m asked during a live Q&A. Read all about it here.

My first “live” interview was with the Beyond Trek podcast. Lots of fun questions and discussion, all while I tried (and sometimes failed) to ignore the football game unfolding on the TV in my office. You can watch/listen to that on YouTube, and be sure to check out their other episodes.

Friends Darrell Taylor and J.K. Woodward had me back for yet another episode of their Go Trek Yourself podcast. We talked about a lot of things, and somehow even managed to talk about Coda and Moments Asunder. Stick that in your ears here.

It’s been a while since I’ve talked with Matt Rushing, host of Trek.fm‘s Literary Treks podcast, and Coda gives us a reason to rectify that oversight. Check out our discussion here.

For a change of pace? I was interviewed back in August during Planet Comicon here in Kansas City. Multiverse Tonight podcast host Thomas Townley caught me at by exhibitor table and hit me with a special edition of his “5 Questions” challenge. Check it out here.

And hey! Some of the most interesting discussions about the book and the trilogy don’t involve me at all! For example, there’s this extended discussion about Moments Asunder with Chrissie De Clerck, Brandon Mutala, and Justin Oser on their Infinite Diversity podcast. Check it all out here.

As I write this, I have (at least) two more interviews about Coda coming over the next week or so, and I’ve had discussions about a couple of others. So, you know…keeping busy, but hopefully not so busy that I won’t forget to let folks know about them.

I probably just jinxed all of that, didn’t I?

Moments Asunder

Star Trek: Coda

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?


At long last, we’re finally here.

I’ve already written at length about the journey to this book and the trilogy of which it’s just the first part, so I’m not going to rehash it here. What I will tell you is that it is my 23rd Star Trek novel and the 19th I’ve written under the editorial guidance of Margaret Clark and Ed Schlesinger, representing Simon & Schuster’s Gallery Books imprint. I’ve been working with either or both of these folks for more than fifteen years. They don’t get nearly enough of the credit and thanks they so richly deserve, and that is most certainly true with Moments Asunder and indeed the entire Star Trek: Coda trilogy.

This is also the seventh Star Trek novel of mine to receive an audiobook adaptation. As with the previous 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.

Moments Asunder 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

Star Trek: Coda will continue on October 26th with Book II: The Ashes of Tomorrow by James Swallow, and conclude on October 30th with Book III: Oblivion’s Gate by David Mack.

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.

Before all the moments go asunder…..

So, here we are. The eve of the official release date for Moments Asunder, the first book in the Star Trek: Coda trilogy.

Along with its two companions – James Swallow’s The Ashes of Tomorrow and Oblivion’s Gate by David Mack – this is the culmination of more than two years of planning, plotting, scheming, writing, sweating, agonizing, doubting, cursing, and maybe even a bit of crying. It was a difficult path to navigate for a number of reasons, not the least of which was the sense of responsibility and obligation the three of us felt as we developed the story and then went to our corners to write our books, reconvening as necessary to discuss some plot point or weird idea one of us conjured late some evening. Then came the reading each of our respective manuscripts, poring over page after page to ensure consistency. I’m abolutely certain there’s something in there somewhere missed by at least one of us, but I promise you it wasn’t for lack of trying.

All of that’s done, now, with nothing for us along with our editors to do but wait.

Oh, and perhaps also offer links to where you can pre-order each of the books: Follow the links below for each book in trade paperback, e-Book, and audiobook editions:

Book I: Moments Asunder by moi
Book II: The Ashes of Tomorrow by James Swallow
Book III: Oblivion’s Gate by David Mack

Continue reading “Before all the moments go asunder…..”

Star Trek Adventures: Shackleton Expanse Campaign Guide out now!

If you’re into Star Trek and roleplaying games and you haven’t yet sampled the Star Trek Adventures roleplaying game, we need to have a chat about that because I think you’re missing out on some kickass gaming potential.

Those of you who follow my ramblings are (hopefully) aware that I make occasional contributions to the game. My association with Modiphius Entertainment began waaaaaaay back in 2016 when friend, fellow word pusher, and STA’s project manager, Jim Johnson, invited me to work with him and Scott Pearson on some early story development. This resulted in the “Living Campaign,” something of a juiced up testbed where players took the then-new game’s rules out for a spin and offered feedback to the developers while (hopefully having a good time).

Working with direction from Jim and the rest of the game’s core team of developers, Scott and I created “the Shackleton Expanse,” a region of space ripe for exploration within the game’s setting, as well as the “Tilikaal,” a mysterious alien race which along with the Expanse itself was to be the main driver for the living playtest. We laid down some basic info on the area and the aliens, provided some story springboards as to how a proper campaign might evolve over time with additional adventure scenarios thrown into the mix – those offered by Modiphius as well as anything a gamemaster might devise for their group of players – sat back, and watched what happened.

Wow. Did stuff happen.

Continue reading “Star Trek Adventures: Shackleton Expanse Campaign Guide out now!”

Happy Birthday, Star Trek!

“Space…the final frontier….”

These are the voyages where the legend began, 55 years ago tonight!

I’ve mentioned this before (about a zillion times), but my earliest memories include Star Trek to some degree. I wasn’t old enough to watch the show during its original broadcast run, but I watched the reruns every day after school. Beyond that, I had the Mego figures and that crazy bridge set. I built the AMT models, and I read the occasional Gold Key comic book or poster book or collection of James Blish episode adaptations.

All of that was just filler of course. Anchoring all of that were the reruns. Always, the reruns.

Back in those far off days of Yesteryear which was the setting for my childhood, you had to wait for your favorite episodes to cycle back around in the rotation on one of your local TV stations. I watched the series on a little black and white television and its crappy little antenna as the show was broadcast on a low-power local UHF channel in Tampa. Depending on the time of day and prevailing weather conditions, I might not always get a decent picture. If I was out in the boonies somewhere–like my aunt’s house–I might have to fiddle with the antenna throughout the episode, and as often as not I might be forced to choose between having a picture or having sound.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out that today also marks the 48th anniversary of the animated Star Trek series, which premiered on NBC on this date in 1973. I did catch (most of) those episodes during their initial run, and the show helped to spark a lot of the Trek-related toys and other merchandise which came out in the mid 1970s, like those aforementioned Mego action figures.

Today, of course, I have Star Trek literally at my fingertips: Blu-rays on the shelf or episodes streaming over the internet, and I even have my favorite episodes stored on my phone. Then there are the books (Fun fact: I’ve written a few of those, in case you were wondering), comics, role-playing games, computer games, toys, models, websites, and pretty much anything you’d care to name. Star Trek is everywhere. Hold up a picture of the original Enterprise or Kirk and Spock, and most people will know what you’re talking about.

Meanwhile, fate and circumstances have seen to it that I’m able to continue contributing — albeit in a very small way — to this vast, ever-expanding universe that Gene Roddenberry gave us back in 1966. It is the very definition of a “dream job.” I doubt I’ll ever have another job that’s as rewarding and just plain fun as what I’m currently privileged to do, and I never allow myself to take that for granted. Ever. My only regret is that I didn’t figure this out years and years ago.

Speaking of years? Star Trek looks pretty dapper for 55. Enjoy your cake, everybody.

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.”

Eddie Paskey, August 20, 1939 – August 17, 2021

Star Trek fans were saddened yesterday to learn of the passing of Edward J. Paskey, who died three days short of his 82nd birthday.

If his name isn’t familiar even to longtime fans of the original Star Trek series, chances are good those same fans would recognize his face. Mr. Paskey was a ubiquitous presence in numerous episodes throughout the show’s three-year run.

Though he sometimes had other names – whenever he had a name at all – Paskey’s character was most often referred to as “Mr. Leslie” or “Lieutenant Leslie.” As you can see from the small gallery of photos, he showed up all over the place, wearing different uniforms and occupying different positions, such as various bridge stations or as a member of a landing party or security detail. He also served as a stand-in for William Shatner and his hands were used in a couple of close-up shots as stand-ins (hand-ins?) for James Doohan, who was missing the middle finger of his right hand as a consequence of wounds suffered during his service in World War II.

Beginning with the second pilot episode, “Where No Man Has Gone Before,” Mr. Paskey appeared in 58 of the show’s 79 episodes, more than George Takei as Sulu or Walter Koening as Chekov, though his role was of course much smaller. He only had spoken dialogue in four episodes, and only received screen credit for two of those appearances. He even died a couple of times, only to appear an episode or two later, perhaps wearing a different color shirt or sitting at a different station. This “phenomenon” is but one of the original series’ many quirky charms, and Mr. Paskey’s contributions to the show make for one of its most fun anecdotes.

We send our sincere condolences to Mr. Paskey’s family and friends for their loss.

Gene Roddenberry at 100.

Today marks what would have been the 100th birthday of Gene Roddenberry. Though he had worked consistently in Hollywood by contributing scripts to a number of television series throughout the 1950s and early 1960s, it was in the fall of 1964 that he unknowingly began creating something of a cultural shift when he sat down at his typewriter and wrote this:

The opening scenes of “The Menagerie,” the very first Star Trek story (later retitled “The Cage”) as written by Gene Roddenberry – November 1964

Yes, he’d written about Star Trek before, largely in the form of an extensive pitch document which he used to convince executive producer Herbert F. Solow and Desilu Productions (including, yes, the legendary Lucille Ball herself) to take a chance on his concept for a new science fiction/action-adventure series unlike anything which had yet graced TV screens. But it wasn’t until he actually set to the task of writing that first story that his idea took on substance.

While the completed pilot episode as presented to NBC didn’t wow network executives, it intrigued them enough that they allowed Roddenberry to try again. His second effort, “Where No Man Has Gone Before,” was enough to get a thumbs up and a series order, and the rest…as has often been said…is history.

Promotional ad for “The Man Trap,” the premiere episode of Star Trek, which was broadcast on NBC the evening of Thursday, September 8th, 1966.

Since then, what spawned from Mr. Roddenberry’s typewriter has grown and expanded to to include (to date) ten television series along with two more which will premiere in the coming months (and others in various stages of gestation), 13 feature films with — as I write this — another on the way, hundreds of stories told in the pages of books and comics as well as computer and other gaming platforms, and so much more.

Not me, but only because I couldn’t afford the wardrobe.

I think, at this point, it’s safe to say the man had an influence on a writer/blogger/online babbler of your acquaintance. My earliest childhood memories include watching afternoon reruns of the original series. Then a bit later there was the animated series on Saturday mornings, followed by playing with the Mego action figures and using them to create my own adventures for Captain Kirk and his crew. Building the U.S.S. Enterprise model, or even that “Exploration Set” so I could run outside and “play Star Trek” with my friends. The giant swing/ball/slide thing in the middle of our neighborhood playground was our Enterprise, and everything else we filled in with our imaginations. Those were the days, amirite?

Then there were the comics, and the books.

Not nearly so prevalent as they are today, Star Trek comics in the early-mid 1970s along with the occasional book were squeal-inducing finds at the local Woolworth’s or other department store. Pickings were slim back in those days, and let’s be honest: As kitschy, charming and whimsical as I still believe them to be, the Star Trek comics as published by Gold Key during the late 1960s and early 1970s are pretty insane. I mean……

So, yeah. Those.

On the prose front, from what I remember my Star Trek reading began or at least was heavily influenced by the slim volumes of episode adaptations as penned by noted science fiction author James Blish. Working from early script drafts, Blish translated each of the episodes into short stories, divided across what ultimately became 12 books, with an additional book, Mudd’s Angels, adapting the two episodes that featured rogue scoundrel Harcourt Fenton “Harry” Mudd as well as an original Mudd tale penned by Blish’s his wife, author J.A. Lawrence, who also assisted with the final installments of the episode adaptations when her husband’s health began to decline.

These were but the first of my many forays into the written world of Star Trek. Little did I know that reading these books and the ones that followed would eventually lead me down a path toward wanting to try my own hand at writing. Not for one second did I ever dream I might one day be able to contribute to what is now a very large number of Star Trek books, as I’ve been privileged to do for going on 20 years, now. Perhaps even more exciting than that, I actually get to help other people make Star Trek, and I don’t mind telling anyone who’ll listen that it’s a pretty good gig to have. Talk about your dream jobs….

All because of a little TV show my mother let me watch every day after school before starting my homework, created by a man who would’ve celebrated his 100th birthday today.

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

– Gene Roddenberry, 1988

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

Tuesday Trekkin’: Leaf’s 1967 Star Trek card set!

Welcome to this irregularly appearing latest installment of my irregular recurring blog feature, “Tuesday Trekkin’.” Basically, it’s a place for me to wax even more nostalgic than usual about some older, perhaps little known or even wholly unknown aspect of Star Trek, Trek fandom, Trek collecting, and whatever other Trek-related thought tickles my fancy. For this latest excursion down Memory Lane, we’re going back – waaaaaaaaaaaay back – all the way back to 1967, but first? A bit of set up.

When I was a kid in the 1970s and early 80s, I collected all sorts of trading cards. Baseball and football cards, for sure, but also a ton of “non-sports” cards. Star Wars had major representation in my house, of course, due in no small part to the three…four…six bazillion sets Topps produced just for the first film, followed by multiple sets for The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. Then there were all manner of sets for a variety of films and TV shows of my childhood: Raiders of the Lost Ark, Space: 1999, Planet of the Apes, Alien, The Six Million Dollar Man (actually a set of card-sized stickers) to name just a few, along with…naturally, Star Trek.

I don’t have much in the way of card sets, anymore. However, Topps in recent years has seen fit to release special books revisiting some of the more popular non-sports sets. The 1976 Star Trek set along with Star Wars and Planet of the Apes, for example. These have proven to be an inexpensive means of revisiting these fondly remembered cards from yesteryear, as finding original sets can be challenging…and pricey.

One set I never expected to see in the flesh is the very first collection of Star Trek trading cards. Produced by Leaf in 1967, they were apparently distributed in limited quantities and were of course long gone from store shelves by the I time was wandering around with loose change in my pockets. I’d seen a few individual cards, sold by dealers at cons over the years, and suffered sticker shock when I saw how much a complete 72-card set might cost me.

Leaf-967-Star-Trek-Wrapper
Wrapper for a pack of Leaf’s Star Trek trading cards. Groovy!

Like so much other Star Trek merchandise from the late 1960s and early 70s, this card set is fun and more than a little hokey. The card images are black and white, which by itself is rather retro and cool. Publicity photos — including a few which had to be taken before the show’s premiere — are mixed in with what look to be stills taken during filming of various episodes. Most if not all of the images are naturally from Star Trek‘s first season, including a good number from the pilot episode “Where No Man Has Gone Before.”

What kills me about this set are the captions on many of the cards. They only rarely have any connection to the image or the episode from which said image was taken, and a few have no link to any episode at all. For example:

I know, right?

Flash forward to the 2017 Star Trek convention in Las Vegas. I’m wandering the exhibitor hall and come across a dealer selling stacks of card sets. Sitting on the table was a set of the Leaf cards for a rock-bottom price. I was informed this was a reprint set, and that was good enough for me, as I just had to have it.

I’ve since learned Rittenhouse created a different reprint set back in 2006 for Star Trek‘s 40th anniversary, and even included a special subset of “new” cards to go with the originals. One of these days, I’ll have to see about hunting those down.

If you’re a Star Trek or card collector and don’t have these, I’d recommend tracking down a set. They’re like a wacky little time capsule from a period when the original series was still in production, and therefore hold a charm forever lost to card sets that came years later.

In the meantime, call me “Big Joker.” I have no idea why.