Writing about William Shatner at the Star Trek Original Series Set Tour!

My job is pretty cool, sometimes.

So, here’s what happened: My wife, bless her, schemed a family vacation trip for my birthday weekend. Where were we going? An epic train adventure from Kansas City all the way to picturesque Ticonderoga, New York, and the Star Trek Original Series Set Tour!

StarTrekSetTour-Logo

Now, those of you who read this blog with any regularity may recall I’d already visited the Tour once before, along with a slew of fellow Star Trek scribes back in 2017. This was by no means any sort of “been there, done that,” though, because not only had Tour creator and owner James Cawley made a bunch of updates since then, there was also this little business about them hosting none other than OG Captain Kirk himself, William Shatner!

It was the second of his special “Captain’s Inspection Tour” weekends, whereby Shatner conducted tours of the recreated Enterprise interiors while reminiscing about his time filming the original Star Trek series. He posed for autographs on the bridge, signed autographs, hosted a beer and pizza party (you read that right), and held a discussion at nearby Ticonderoga High School, interviewing the principal and couple of teachers and discussing the state and challenges of education.

DG-SetTour-001(Photo Credit: Dave Galanter)

Also on hand and conducting their own tours were Star Trek gurus Doug Drexler, Michael and Denise Okuda, and Daren R. Dochterman. Their knowledge of various “behind the scenes” aspects of the show’s production came to the fore here as they discussed how and why set designer Matt Jefferies made the choices he did, both for budget and storytelling reasons, and how the sets are both a product of the era in which they were created but also have an undeniable timeless quality we hardcore fans can’t get enough of.

Making the weekend even more fun for me and Michi was the fact our friends, fellow Trek novelist Dave Galanter and his lovely wife, Simantha, were also there, so we got to hang out a bit.

StarTrekSetTour-VIPbadgeAnyway, the good folks at StarTrek.com found out I was making my way to the Tour and reached out to me – while I was on the train, even – about possibly taking some photos and writing up a piece about the event for the website. I naturally obliged, and by the time I got there, the Tour staff was ready for me and made sure I had everything I needed to run around acting all important and whatnot while scoring some photos and jotting notes for my article. Talk about being allowed to run around without a leash or an adult to supervise. It was all I could do not to hide in the Jefferies tube and wait until everyone left for the day so I could just move in.

While most of the pictures I took sucked, Dave along with James Cawley and Michael Rizzo bailed me out. Their efforts yielded some fantastic candid shots that really showcased how much fun people – including Shatner himself – were having throughout the weekend.

The results of my efforts are now available for your reading pleasure, and you can check out just by clicking on the linky-type thing I’ve included right here:

StarTrek.com: William Shatner Returns to the Star Trek Set Tour

JC-SetTour-004(Photo Credit: Michael Rizzo)

Many, many thanks to James Cawley, Marybeth Ritkouski, and the entire Star Trek Original Series Set Tour staff for being such fabulous hosts. The weekend was too much fun, and I can’t wait to get back up to see you all.

StarTrekTour-ParkingSign

Hey! It’s Captain Picard Day!

What, you didn’t know this? Shame on you. It’s June 16th, which means…..

CaptainPicardDay-Banner'

That’s right, today we pause to recognize the life and accomplishments of Jean-Luc Picard: captain extraordinaire, explorer, diplomat, tea connoisseur, and 24th century renaissance man.

Oh, and he’s also a role model. Just ask him.


Of course, all he wants is to sit in the sun and read his book. Alone. Afterward? He really hasn’t thought that far ahead.

So, hey! Don’t just have a great Captain Picard Day. Get out there and “Make It So.”

Your Moment of TrekZen*.

All the old paintings on the tombs
They do the Trek dance don’t you know
If they move too quick (oh whey oh)
They’re falling down like a domino
All the Metron men by the rocks
On that planet way out past the border
Big Gorn who smiles (oh whey oh)
He snaps his teeth on your tricorder
The captain with bamboo cannons say
Ay oh whey oh, ay oh whey oh
Walk like an Egyptian

#DontLetDaytonWrite Lyrics

This bit of amazing is the creation of artist Josh Lane. Be sure to check out his other work at his website.

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

We’re going back to Neosho to talk writing and stuff!

Some of you may recall that Kevin and I traveled from KC down to Neosho, Missouri earlier in the year to participate as guests to the first ever ArtCon. Sponsored by the Neosho Arts Council, this comic and pop culture convention featured several comics and art guests, along with Kevin and myself. For a first con, it was pretty well attended and the people hosting it and working as volunteers were on point all day. They treated us very well and invited us to come back at some point.

Then, they doubled down on that last bit a month or so ago, by asking Kevin and me if we’d be up for a return visit not for a con, but instead to “talk shop.”

Neosho-AuthorTalk

“That’s great, Dayton,” I can hear some of you saying. “Um, whatcha gonna talk about for an hour or so?”

Good question!

In addition to talking about the challenges and fun to be had while writing in our chosen realms, it’s also been suggested that, with the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission looming on our calendars, maybe Kevin and I could also devote a bit of time to talking about the symbiotic relationship that NASA and science fiction in general and Star Trek in particular have enjoyed over the years. As we’ve both been able to talk with various folks who actually work at NASA (including, he says totally without shame, a couple of actual astronauts who’ve “been up there”) and even discussed this very thing, we can definitely speak a bit to this topic.

Our little author talk will be held at the Neosho Chamber of Commerce at 2pm on Saturday, June 22nd. Once we’re done, we’ll have a table set up where we’ll be happy to sign books (and maybe even sell a few).

Thanks very much to Sarah Serio and the Neosho Arts Council for inviting us back to hang with them for a bit!

Happy 35th Anniversary, Star Trek III: The Search for Spock!

The death of Spock is like an open wound. It seems that I have left the noblest part of myself back there …on that newborn planet…..”

June 1st, 1984: Spock was dead, but he was about to get better.

search-for-spock-poster

Celebrating 35 years since its release to movie screens far and wide, Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, as its title explains, was the third theatrical film featuring Captain (nay, “Admiral”) Kirk and his merry band of senior officers from the U.S.S. Enterprise. Picking up soon after the chaotic and tragic events of the prior movie, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, the film opens with the Enterprise, still wounded from its encounter with the maniacal Khan Noonien Singh, on its way back to Earth. Once there, Kirk and his gang learn that all of that business with the Genesis planet and torpedoes which can create entire planets–and destroy them, too–has become something of a political hot potato.

That might well have been the end of it, making for a pretty short movie and all that, except that Spock’s father, Sarek, shows up at Kirk’s apartment and basically tells the admiral that he done gone and dicked up, big time. He shouldn’t have left Spock’s body in a burial tube on Genesis, you see. Also, Kirk and Sarek learn that Spock, prior to his untimely demise, mind-melded with Doctor McCoy and transferred his katra–sort of like a flashdrive backup of his living spirit–from himself to the doctor.

This, of course, explains why McCoy has been acting like three flavors of crazy since the Enterprise‘s return to Earth. Now armed with a mission to retrieve their friend’s body and return it and his katra to Vulcan, Kirk and his posse steal the Enterprise and make for the Genesis planet. And, as they often do in these sorts of movies, things get seriously weird and Kirk’s plan goes right out the window when it’s discovered that Spock is alive. You know…again.

Huh.

Directed by the OG Spock himself, Leonard Nimoy, and working from a script by the great Harve Bennett, Star Trek III is a tight little flick. While not the best the franchise has offered us over the years, it’s definitely not the worst, either. Its modest budget betrays the production in a few spots, particularly in the scenes spent on the “Genesis planet” (in reality a studio soundstage), and the cringe-worthiness of a few wardrobe choices only worsens with the passage of time (lookin’ at you, Chekov).

While unspooling their story as Kirk and company race to Genesis to retrieve their friend, Nimoy and Bennett do a nice job lacing the film with nods, callbacks and affectionate hat tips to various bits and bobs from the original Star Trek series. Like Star Trek II and very much unlike Star Trek: The Motion Picture, the script features a healthy dose of humor to balance out the otherwise heavy story, and the onscreen chemistry between the actors is as good as the best of the original series episodes. The movie’s ending leaves Kirk and his crew at something of a crossroads, of course, and fans would have to wait more than two years until lingering questions were answered by the next film in the series, Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home.

Mark Lenard’s brief appearance as Sarek is a highlight, with the actor reprising the role he helped create 17 years earlier in the original series episode “Journey to Babel.” It’s the second of six occasions Lenard would return to the role, after providing the voice for his cartoon doppelganger in the animated Star Trek episode “Yesteryear.” Fans know to look for him in Star Trek IV and Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country as well as guest turns on the Star Trek: The Next Generation episodes “Sarek” and “Unification, Part I.” He also provided an oh-so short voice snippet for a younger version of the character in Star Trek V: The Final Frontier.

Christopher Lloyd seems an odd choice to play the Klingon captain, Kruge, and there are times when you’re sure he’s channeling Reverend Jim from Taxi but he manages to pull it off, especially in some of the higher-tension scenes. He also gives William Shatner a run for his money in the scenery-chewing department when the two finally face off as the Genesis planet comes apart around them.

Wrapping up everything in a neat little package is another solid score from composer James Horner. For years, it was criticized as being little more than a knock-off of his previous work for Star Trek II. It’s a perception strengthened by the release of a truncated soundtrack which, for reasons surpassing understanding, was limited largely to those pieces which evoked the previous movie. However, I think his efforts were more than redeemed upon the 2010 release of the complete score from Screen Archives Entertainment.

So, with all that, I guess I’ll spin this up and let it run today as I work. Join the search, y’all, and celebrate. Happy Anniversary, Star Trek III.

Talking about Available Light with the Trek Geeks!

Having failed to learn their lesson the last couple of times I was on their show, hosts Dan Davidson and Bill Smith of the Trek Geeks Podcast invited me back for another sitdown chit-chat.

Suckers.TrekGeeks-Banner

Of course I kid. I’ve known Dan and Bill for a couple of years now thanks to the wonder that is social media along with a few chance encounters at the annual big-assed Star Trek convention in Las Vegas. They do a stellar job representing Trek fandom in the best possible way by bringing people together to celebrate that which we all love so dearly. They do this through their “Camp KhitomerStar Trek fan group on Facebook as well the array of podcasts they host or support through the Trek Geeks website.

They’re good eggs, that Dan and Bill.

This time, they invite me back to talk about Available Light, my recently released Star Trek: The Next Generation novel. We dig in a bit about how the book came to be, not just as its own thing but also how it picks up and runs with story threads that have been weaving in and out of the “expanded universe” continuity Star Trek novels have been building for well over 15 years at this point.

This is particularly relevant here, as Available Light not only takes the baton from David Mack’s Star Trek: Section 31 novel Control from 2017, but like that book also reaches all the way back to events Dave chronicled in A Time to Kill and A Time to Heal from the 2004 Star Trek: A Time to… mini-series. Plus, I get to set the stage for Dave and his upcoming novel Collateral Damage, which will be out in October. So, yeah, we talk some about how it works when collaborating with other writers to keep things consistent, how to keep readers new to the novels from feeling overwhelmed, and all sorts of other neato things.

Yes, we even delve a bit into my favorite ever Star Trek word, “canon.”

(Spoilers: Grr. Argh.)

Have a listen, whydontcha?

Trek Geeks #179: Available Light

TG179

Many thanks to Dan and Bill for having me on again. It’s always a blast hanging out with you two. Maybe we can do it again soon!

Eaglemoss I.S.S. Enterprise NCC-1701-D, with words by me!

Though most of my writing is found in novels or short stories, I occasionally get the opportunity to step outside my wheelhouse and try something new. First it was magazine articles (often working with Kevin) and website content or essays about various pop culture topics (ditto). Then came really fun projects like the Vulcan and Klingon travel guides and IncrediBuilds kits, and we certainly can’t forget things like our first comic collaboration. And hey, there are even a few things still in the hopper that I can’t yet talk about.

Eaglemoss-ISSenterprise-DBut here’s one I can talk about because it’s out in the wild and I even have one in my hot little hands!

Back in February, I was contacted by Ben Robinson, supreme overseer of everything Star Trek and various other things over at Eaglemoss, a UK-based purveyor of models and other collectibles representing various popular franchises. He and his team were prepping a new entry for their Star Trek Official Starships Collection and asked if I was available for some fast-turnaround work providing material for the magazine that was to accompany the model.

For those who are wondering what the heck I’m talking about, when you order one of these slick little jobs from Eaglemoss, each highly-detailed model comes with a companion magazine with all sorts of information and a few short articles about the ship the model represents, interviews with or articles about its designers, and so on. If you’re into the ship/tech side of Star Trek, these are fun additions to your collection.

MirrorEnterprise-01For this latest entry, Ben and the gang were tackling something a bit different: a ship seen not on movie or TV screens, but instead the pages of a comic! After Captain Kirk and his crew encountered the “Mirror Universe” in the “Mirror, Mirror” episode of the original Star Trek series way back in 1967, it wasn’t until 1994 that the premise was revisited on screen, in the form of the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode “Crossover” from the show’s second season. Hardcore fans know DS9 would revisit the Mirror Universe several times, and sequel series Star Trek: Enterprise and Star Trek: Discovery would have their own kinds of fun there, as well.

MirrorEnterprise-02However, numerous comics, novels, and games have also explored this aspect of the Star Trek mythos in various ways. For example, the I.S.S. Enterprise NCC-1701-D as pictured here was introduced in Mirror Broken, a Star Trek: The Next Generation miniseries from IDW Publishing and focusing on the “Mirror Universe” versions of Captain Jean-Luc Picard and other TNG characters.

As for me? Ben asked if I could come up with a 3,000 to 3,500-word essay highlighting the different times Star Trek has visited the Mirror Universe in the pages of a novel or comic. So, to my bookshelves and archives I went! While the internet is always a nice way to help dial in when conducting research, I still enjoy pulling references from my library so I can paw through them while writing. All of that came to the fore as I wrote in rather rapid fashion the requested essay.

What didn’t I know until I received my copy of the model and its magazine? The article I wrote wasn’t just a feature of the magazine; instead, it was pretty much the whole thing. Ben and editor John Ainsworth took my pithy words and dressed them up all nice and pretty with loads of awesome cover art to accompany the text. For the comics we also get a few choice panels from some of the more memorable “4-color adventures.” As with the model itself, the magazine turned out really nice, if I do say so myself.

Apparently, subscribers to the Official Starships Collection don’t automatically get sent this one as their next offering. Instead, the I.S.S. Enterprise-D is a “shop exclusive.” Of course, those without subscriptions can also buy one if they want. Example? Such a person could just click on this linky-type thing right here:

Star Trek: The Official Starships Collection – I.S.S. Enterprise NCC-1701-D

When it comes to the books and comics and other “expanded universe” media, I’ve always enjoyed pulling together this sort of material and presenting to a part of the Star Trek fan base who might not be familiar with these corners of the franchise. Who knows? Maybe somebody buying this model will read the essay and decide they need to check out a novel or comic or three. I’d be all right with that.

This was my first time working with Eaglemoss, and I enjoyed working with them. I don’t know if I’ll get to do it again, but I’d certainly be up for it if the planets align in favorable fashion. Until then, many thanks to Ben and John for the opportunity!

Talking about Available Light with Literary Treks!

AvailableLight-coverSo, I’m babbling again.

This time it’s about my still minty fresh Star Trek: The Next Generation novel Available Light, and the thankless task of not only enduring my blatherings but also recording them for others to hear fell to the inimitable duo of Bruce Gibson and Dan Gunther, they of the Literary Treks podcast.

I always enjoy talking with Bruce and Dan. They’re longtime supporters of the Star Trek novel line, and the interviews they conduct are fun and even a little challenging, as some of the questions go beyond the usual sorts of topics we might cover while discussing this sort of thing. I also love that they always seem able to dial in on some of the subtler things I might try to sneak into one of my books when I think no one’s paying attention.

In the course of talking about Available Light, we also discuss the rather expansive “24th century continuity” the novels have built across multiple series and more books than I can count over the course of many years. It’s quite something, for whatever my opinion’s worth, and I’m rather proud to be a part of it. We also tease (Just a little!) about what might be next, particularly with the forthcoming Collateral Damage, David Mack‘s follow up to my book that’s due to hit bookstore shelves in October.

In the meantime, have a listen to our little chat:

Literary Treks #266: Bringing the Truth Out of the Shadows

LitTreks266

Thanks as always to Bruce and Dan for having me on. I’m sure we’ll do it again at some point! 🙂

The first AVAILABLE LIGHT interview!

So, yeah. I’m babbling again. It happens, every so often.

AvailableLight-coverThe last time writer Paul Semel caught up with me, it was back in early 2018 for an interview about my Star Trek: Discovery novel, Drastic Measures. With the release of Available Light earlier in this week, Paul found me again for a fresh set of questions about the book as well as its development, collaborating with my editors and other Star Trek novel writers like my occasional partner in literary mischief, David Mack, and a few other lines of inquiry designed to keep me on my toes. 🙂

Paul has published my latest yammering responses to his questions, and the complete interview is now available for your perusal. Check it out:

PaulSemel.com: Exclusive Interview – Star Trek: The Next Generation – Available Light Author Dayton Ward

Thanks very much to Paul for the invitation to chat!

Available Light

AvailableLight-coverStar Trek: The Next Generation

Section 31, the covert organization which has operated without accountability in the shadows for more than two centuries, has been exposed. Throughout the Federation, the rogue group’s agents and leaders are being taken into custody as the sheer scope of its misdeeds comes to light. Now Starfleet Command must decide the consequences for numerous officers caught up in the scandal—including Admirals William Ross, Edward Jellico, Alynna Nechayev, and Captain Jean-Luc Picard who, along with many others, are implicated in the forced removal of a Federation president.

Meanwhile, deep in the distant, unexplored region of space known as the Odyssean Pass, Picard and the crew of the Starship Enterprise must put aside personal feelings and political concerns as they investigate a massive mysterious spacecraft. Adrift for centuries in the void, the ship is vital to the survival of an endangered civilization which has spent generations searching for a world to sustain what remains of its people. Complicating matters is a band of marauders who have their own designs on the ancient ship, with only the Enterprise standing in their way…


Welcome back to the 24th century! It’s been a long road, getting from there–

“SHUT UP, DAYTON!”

:: ahem ::

Sorry.

After an extended hiatus thanks to forces beyond the control of mere mortals, Simon & Schuster is ramping up its publication of Star Trek novels, continuing an effort they’ve shepherded since 1979 and the release of their novelization of Star Trek: The Motion Picture. Since then and even with the occasional bump in the road, S&S through imprints such as Pocket Books, Wallaby Books, and now Gallery Books has continued to publish Star Trek novels, short story collections, and a broad spectrum of reference books and other cool things.

I’ve been privileged to contribute to that effort for what is fast approaching 20 years, either working solo or in partnership with my bud and frequent co-writer, Kevin Dilmore, and often collaborating with other writers and editors to varying degrees depending on the needs of a particular project. Available Light is my 21st Star Trek novel and 26th novel overall, with about half of those written with Kevin. Then there are the novellas, short stories, magazine articles, and funky things like the Vulcan and Klingon Empire travel guides. Yes, Star Trek has been pretty good to me these past two decades and in some ways, I feel in some ways like I’m really just getting warmed up. I think I may be able to keep doing this for a while longer.

Anyway…..

So, for those wondering, Available Light picks up the ongoing Star Trek: The Next Generation post-film/novel-focused narrative a bunch of us have been spinning for a good number of years now. More specifically, it picks up the action after we left you hanging back in the summer of 2017 with David Mack‘s Section 31: Control and my own Hearts and Minds. Dave dropped a big bomb right into the middle of our breakfast table with Control, and the effects will quickly start to become apparent first with this book, and then Collateral Damage, Dave’s own ST:TNG novel coming later this year.

And, we’ve had conversations about what happens after that. Mwuah-ah-ah.

Available Light 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 our 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.