Happy 25th anniversary, Star Trek Generations!

Captain of the Enterprise, huh?

That’s right.

Close to retirement?

I’m not planning on it.

Let me tell you something: Don’t. Don’t let them promote you. Don’t let them transfer you. Don’t let them do anything that takes you off the bridge of that ship, because while you’re there, you can make a difference.

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Released on November 18th, 1994, just six months after Star Trek: The Next Generation completed its seven-year television run and proved to naysayers lightning could be captured twice–albeit in a slicker and shinier bottle–Star Trek Generations launched Captain Jean-Luc Picard and the crew of his starship Enterprise to the silver screen. With the cast of the original series having taken their final bow three years earlier in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, the time had come to pass the baton so another crew might boldly go on to successful cinematic adventures.

However, and perhaps due to concerns Picard and company might not entice enough viewers to follow them from their televisions to theaters and while also hoping to attract that larger mainstream audience films need to thrive, the decision was made to stack the deck, so to speak. Therefore, this “next generation” of Star Trek films (see what I did there?) would be given a sendoff by none other than the legendary James T. Kirk himself.

It actually wasn’t a bad idea, in and of itself. Besides, the idea of a character from a previous series helping to launch a new one had already been done twice before (McCoy appears in the TNG pilot, “Encounter at Farpoint,” and Picard himself appears in the first episode of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, “Emissary”) and had become something of a Star Trek tradition that would later be observed in the first episodes of Star Trek: Voyager and Enterprise, to say nothing of “original Spock” being on hand for the 2009 reboot film.

Generations opens in the 23rd century, nearly 80 years prior to the events of TNG, with Kirk, Scotty, and Chekov on hand to celebrate the launch of the U.S.S. Enterprise, NCC-1701-B, the successor to the starship said to be retired after the events of Star Trek VI. When “Stuff Happens” as it always does, the trusty trio is on hand to help save the day and the lives of a number of refugees from a disabled spaceship that’s been caught in a mysterious “energy ribbon.” However, that comes at a steep price: the death of Captain Kirk…or so we’re led to believe.

Flash forward 78 years to Picard’s Enterprise (NCC-1701-D on your scorecards), where they encounter Dr. Tolian Soran, a dude who’s hellbent on finding his way back to that aforementioned energy ribbon. Oh, and did we mention he was one of those refugees Kirk and the gang saved all those years ago? Oh, and did we also mention Guinan, the Enterprise‘s enigmatic bartender, is also a refugee? Remember this…it’ll be on the test later.

Hijinks ensue, eventually leading to a confrontation between Picard and Soran on the surface of an uninhabited planet, where Soran has developed a means of changing the ribbon’s course through space. This is done by blowing up key stars and sending gravimetric shockwaves that alter its trajectory, and he’s been hop-scotching through the quadrant in order to move the ribbon close enough for him to get into it. Why? Because when he and Guinan and the others were transported from their doomed ship decades earlier, they were in the ribbon’s grip; phasing in and out of our space-time continuum, and part of each of them is still in there, somewhere, so they feel a constant yearning to return to “that place.” It’s sort of like longing for Taco Bell even though you get there too late for FourthMeal.

Of course, this whole “blowing up stars” bit also has the effect of destroying any nearby planets, including inhabited ones. As that’s pretty much a huge buzzkill for anyone living on said worlds, Picard has to stop Soran before he can blow up this planet’s sun and wipe out the civilization living on an adjacent world. That doesn’t work out so well for Picard, who’s helpless to watch as Soran launches a rocket into the star, destroying it and bringing the ribbon to him. As the Enterprise, in orbit above the planet and getting its ass kicked by a Klingon ship, crashes on the surface, the planet is destroyed by the shock wave from the exploding star just as Soran and Picard are swept up in the ribbon’s effects.

And that’s when shit gets weird. Why? Well, let’s just say once he’s in the ribbon, Picard should probably have a sit down with astronauts Bowman and Cooper and discuss bizarre trips through spatial phenomena, amirite? And that’s before he runs into the aforementioned James T. Kirk chopping wood outside a remote mountain cabin.


1994 was a fantastic time for Star Trek. Two successful television series were in first-run syndication and the original series cast had bid their fond farewells. Star Trek: The Next Generation had wrapped, but Star Trek: Deep Space Nine had just started its third season and Star Trek: Voyager was waiting in the wings, and the TNG crew of course was now transitioning to the big screen. Merchandising was cooking with gas, and Star Trek was even embracing the still-minty fresh World Wide Web. Did you know that Star Trek Generations was the first film to get its own promotional website?

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Though not a perfect film and while not my favorite of the bunch, I still have a soft spot for Generations. In many ways, it really was the “passing of the torch” so far as Star Trek in the mainstream went. After saying goodbye (so we thought) to Kirk and his crew in the previous film, the events in Generations serve to cement the transition, figuratively and literally, and tell old-school Trekkies our Star Trek, the one we’d grown up with, was over. All good things, and all that, right?

Meanwhile, the TNG cast does get a bit of a short-shrift here, with so much time given over to Picard’s “Brave and the Bold”-esque team-up with Kirk. It wouldn’t be until their next outing, Star Trek: First Contact in 1996, that they’d get the screen all to themselves…sorta.

The story takes a bit of heat for a few logic problems, and the more vocal critics maintain that screenwriters Ronald Moore and Brannon Braga actually did a better job with their script for the TNG series finale episode, written in two weeks, than the film, which was the result of months of work. I tend to forgive Moore and Braga on this point, as the story they were asked to write was saddled with various studio requests and directives in order for the film to be the “baton pass” from Kirk’s era to Picard’s.

The scene where Kirk tells Picard not to retire is perhaps my favorite of the film. Until that point, Picard had largely been portrayed as the leader who manages situations while sending others to the front, which of course was a completely different (and arguably more proper) approach than what we’d seen Captain Kirk do every week on the original show, when he beams down and gets into trouble episode after episode. For me, this scene is a turning point for the character not just for actor Patrick Stewart, who would see Picard’s action quotient increase in the subsequent films, but also those of us who ended up writing the character in different media. I always look to this moment between Kirk and Picard to explain or justify why Picard continues to eschew retirement or promotion in the novels set after the TNG movies.

That’s my story, anyway, and I’m sticking to it.

Generations also has special meaning for me because I used the film’s climax as a point of departure for “Reflections,” the story I submitted to the very first Star Trek: Strange New Worlds writing contest back in 1997. You know how things went down after that.

So, Happy 25th Anniversary, Star Trek Generations. That predator time seems to have been pretty good to you.

Talking NaNoWriMo and Trek over at StarTrek.com!

Ah, November.

It’s the month writers of every stripe anticipate or loathe; that period of thirty days where many take the challenge of casting aside anything and everything as they attempt to write 50,000 words as either a short novel or a pretty decent chunk of a longer one.

That’s right. National Novel Writing Month is once again upon us.

While I’ve participated in this exercise a few times, myself, this year I don’t find myself in the position of writing a novel during this time of year, and for that I say HUZZAH! Yes, I do have other writing projects on my plate, but they’re smaller efforts which all told will I don’t believe will add up to a 50k, so I can’t even fudge a bit by combining them for NaNoWriMo purposes.

For those of who you are taking the challenge and especially those of you who may be doing so for the first time EVAH, I’ve taken the liberty of pulling together some nuggets of unsolicited writing advice for a new piece posted on StarTrek.com. With that in mind, I’ve included emphasis on how I’ve previously used the NaNoWriMo challenge as a way of logging some serious progress for a few different Star Trek novel projects over the years. The result is a new piece now available for your reading, dining, and dancing pleasure

StarTrek.com: Trekking Through National Novel Writing Month

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The fine folks over at the website also posted a companion piece, written from the point of view of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine’s Jake Sisko, the resident writer within the Star Trek universe, who also offers a few tips for achieving NaNoWriMo success:

StarTrek.com: Jake Sisko’s Do’s and Don’ts for #NaNoWriMo

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Many thanks to the good folks over at StarTrek.com for inviting me to come play in their sandbox for a bit. It’s entirely possible I may be showing up there again in the near future. Muwah-ah-ah.

Happy Birthday, Star Trek: The Next Generation!

Tonight…the 24th Century begins…..”

That’s what greeted those of us lounging in front of our televisions 32 years ago tonight, when legendary radio and TV personality and ABC broadcaster Ernie Anderson introduced us to “Staaaaaaaaaar Trek: The Next Generation” with a 90-second teaser just before the premiere of the series first episode, “Encounter at Farpoint.”

Seems like…well, it sure as hell doesn’t seem like 32 years ago that’s for sure.

I’ve told this story before, but on September 28th, 1987, I watched Star Trek: The Next Generation‘s premiere in the TV room of my barracks at Camp Pendleton. The room was stuffed with Marines, and maybe it was because of the beer, but we all stayed to watch the whole thing.

While we didn’t hate it, it was obvious that this show would go through a growth period as the folks behind and in front of the camera tweaked and pulled at this or that. Still, it was new Star Trek, by golly,  and little did we know at the time what that would come to mean.

Now here we are, 32 years after the series premiere and 17 years since the last time he did so, and Patrick Stewart is preparing to return to the role of Jean-Luc Picard. It’s a helluva fun time to be a Star Trek fan.

And while we’re waiting to see what comes of that? Maybe I’ll run “Farpoint” later tonight. Happy 32nd Birthday, Star Trek: The Next Generation.

Go. Go see what’s out there.

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Your Moment of TrekZen.*

The toys of my youth, when strict onscreen accuracy took a backseat to our imaginations on our way to hella fun.

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That’s right, kids: back when I was 9 years old, these were the bomb. No, the “real” U.S.S. Enterprise didn’t shoot fat orange discs out the front of its saucer section, and neither did the Space: 1999 Eagle ever sport green as part of its color scheme. And let’s not even talk about the Enterprise‘s shuttlecraft.

I never managed to get my hands on the Enterprise (or the Klingon cruiser that was also available), but I do have distinct memories of breaking at least one Eagle.

Ah, the good old days.

(* = inspired by the “Your Moment of Zen” segments from The Daily Show)

Happy Birthday, Star Trek!

“Space…the final frontier….”

These are the voyages where the legend began, 53 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 then, before VCRs, DVD, iTunes or NetFlix, you had to wait for your favorite episodes to cycle back around in the rotation. 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 station 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 46th 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.

Star Trek looks pretty dapper for 53. Enjoy your cake.

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.)
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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.

I went and Trekked myself…again!

Again, with the babbling. Again, with someone recording it for playback by unsuspecting innocents.

It’s been many months since my first virtual sitdown with Darrell Taylor and J.K. Woodward for their Go Trek Yourself podcast. Back in November, we chatted about my Star Trek: Discovery novel from last year, Drastic Measures, as well as a smattering of other topics such as my longtime writing partnership with my best bud, Kevin.

AvailableLight-coverThis time, the main topic is Available Light, my Star Trek: The Next Generation novel from earlier this year. We also cover a bit of ground so far as what the novels have been doing over the past several years. This includes plotty-plot threads which have brought us to where my book is in the “Star Trek novel timeline,” and what’s next when I had the baton to David Mack next month for his own TNG novel, Collateral Damage.

The “too long, didn’t read” version of what you might want (but don’t necessarily need) to read to prep yourself for reading this whole plotline:

  • TNG: A Time to Kill, by David Mack
  • TNG: A Time to Heal, by Dave
  • Section 31: Control, by Hey! Dave
  • TNG: Hearts and Minds, by me
  • TNG: Available Light, by me
  • TNG: Collateral Damage, by Dave (coming in October)

Unlike last time where I think we talked for something like a week, this installment comes in at a more reasonable running time of 45 minutes. Wanna listen? Go here:

Go Trek Yourself Episode 57: Dayton Ward

Many thanks to Darrell and J.K. for having me back on to hang with them for a while. We did talk about doing this again in the near future, so stay tuned!

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The cover for Star Trek: Kirk Fu!

I was holding off on this until they pimped it at the big Star Trek convention that’s still going full-tilt boogie out in Vegas. But, there was an apparent technical glitch during the publishing panel which saw to it this wasn’t one of the titles highlighted. Add in the fact it’s been up on the Simon & Schuster website, Amazon.com, and other bookseller sites as well as various Trek fan news sites for the past several days, I figure I should join the party.

Oh, the hell with it. Enough ado. Behold the cover for Star Trek: Kirk Fu Manual, coming March 3, 2020, from Insight Editions!

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As captain of the legendary U.S.S. Enterprise, James T. Kirk engaged in his share of fisticuffs, besting opponents with a slick combination of moves and guile that remains unmatched. Is there anyone you’d rather have watching your back as you take on Klingons, alien gladiators, genetically engineered supermen, and even the occasional giant walking reptile?

Kirk Fu is a series of unarmed combat techniques developed by one of Starfleet’s most celebrated starship captains over several years of encounters with alien species on any number of strange new worlds. A blend of various fighting styles, Kirk Fu incorporates elements of several Earth-based martial arts forms as well as cruder methods employed in bars and back alleys on planets throughout the galaxy. It is as unorthodox in practice as it is unbelievable to behold. Including excerpts from Kirk’s own notes and personal logs, the Star Trek: Kirk Fu Manual is the perfect training guide for surviving the depths of space. With proper training and practice, every Starfleet cadet can become one with Kirk Fu.


For those who’ve been with me here in this space for a while, you know Insight Editions is the publisher behind the two Star Trek travel guides I wrote as well as — through their IncrediBuilds imprint — the Star Trek and Toy Story book/model kits to which I contributed…you know…the book part of those projects.

With text by me and illustrations by artist Christian Cornia, Kirk Fu is one of those projects I’ve been dying to do for years. This little 64-page slice of awesome also holds the honor of being my first ever hardcover Star Trek publication.

Because that’s just so damned perfect, isn’t it?

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I know I’m hopelessly biased, I am honestly giddy with anticipation for the release of this thing. I’ve seen the finished book’s layout and it turned out even better than I’d hoped when I pitched the thing. The combination of Christian so hilariously illustrating the absurdity of some of these moves when combined with the text I wrote is exactly the tone I was going for. He had me laughing pretty much all the way through. I can’t wait for the green light so I can start teasing some of the finished pages.

Stay tuned for more info about Star Trek: Kirk Fu as I’m able to share.

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(WARNING: Don’t actually try any of this shit.
I mean, for real. You’re just gonna get your ass kicked.)

All kinds of Star Trek novel action coming your way, this year and next!

It was a busy day at the big Star Trek convention out in Las Vegas. In and around all the cool Q&A’s, photo ops, and autograph opportunities with celebrities from the various Star Trek series and films, a quiet little panel with a small yet loyal and enthusiastic audience very smoothly laid out a bunch of news about upcoming Star Trek publications in various formats.

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Continue reading “All kinds of Star Trek novel action coming your way, this year and next!”

Talking about writing Star Trek novels with David R. George III and Trek.fm!

For reasons which continue to surpass my level of understanding, people want to talk to me. About writing.

Further, they want to record what I have to say on the subject and make it available for other people to hear. Like it’s some kind of punishment or humiliating task they need to accomplish before they can pledge to a fraternity or sorority or something.

I don’t get it, but here we are. Again.

Sandwiched between the normal news updates and reviews from the world of Star Trek publishing in all its various forms, the latest episode of Trek.fm‘s Literary Treks podcast brings me together with friend and fellow Trek wordsmith David R. George III so the show’s hosts, Bruce Gibson and Dan Gunther, can grill us about the crazy world of writing Star Trek novels.

Let’s face it, calling it “crazy” barely scratches the surface.

Over more than an hour, Bruce and Dan hit us with a pretty wide range of questions about this rather odd niche of writing. We discuss our secret origin stories and how we got into the game, the wickets a Star Trek story must go through from concept to finished novel, the differences between writing media tie-in fiction and original fiction, what “rules” exist when working with someone else’s characters and settings, collaborating with CBS, editors, and other writers to maintain something resembling consistency when working on larger efforts like ongoing series or “event series,” and the challenge a new writer faces when attempting to break into the realm. We even find a moment or two to lament the gone but not forgotten Star Trek: Strange New Worlds writing contest, which we all know holds a special place for me.

Have a listen, if you’re of a mind to do so:

Literary Treks 276: There’s A Line We Can’t Cross

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Many thanks to Bruce and Dan for having me on the show once again, and also to David for inviting me to be his wingman for this outing. I hope we didn’t crush too many dreams, but if we did know it was done out of love.

Wait……what?