Happy First Contact Day, Trekkies!

April 5th, 2063: We’re only 43 years from this most excellent of events, yo.

While we wait, we continue to look to the future with hope and excitement. After all, we know that this monumental meeting between humanity and intelligent beings from a world beyond our own will usher in a new era of peace, optimism, prosperity and collaborative spirit as the people of Earth take their first tentative steps into a larger universe.

first-contact

So, grab yourself the first Vulcan (or other non-terrestrial biological entity) you meet, wriggle to the left, wriggle to the right, and do the Ooby Dooby with all of your might. Let’s get this party started, all while living long and prospering in forthright, logical fashion, of course.

No April Fools gag this year.

After the century that was March, here we are at April.

April 1st, to be exact.

MrT-AprilFoolsI wish I could proclaim “April Fools!” and the first quarter of 2020 has been nothing more than some sick joke perpetrated by that one asshole in your office, but alas…it just ain’t so. It’s all real, and we’re still stuck with it.

I hope as you read this you and your friends and loved ones are taking care of yourselves and weathering the situation as best as you’re able. If you or someone you know is what we now call “essential personnel” during these trying times, I wish them well and that they remain healthy and safe.

We here at Ward Manor are fine. The kids are doing virtual learning for school, and my daily work routine hasn’t changed much at all. The big difference is, of course, on what you can and can’t do outside the home, and the varying degrees of challenges one encounters when shopping for household needs. We’re doing our best to remain in place as much as possible, venturing into the world for groceries and takeout from various local eateries we’re doing our best to support. The weather’s warm enough I can at least work in the yard, take walks, and so on.

As for “April Fools Day,” my big reason for abstaining this time around is that I simply wasn’t able to come up with something that fit the criteria I try to follow when conjuring such things. I don’t tend to go for pranks that are mean or hurtful, or target people or try to humiliate them in some way. I just like goofy things that elicit a chuckle or the occasional belly laugh if I can manage it. The gag products the team at ThinkGeek used to concoct are prime examples of the sort of April 1st shenanigans I prefer.

For example, there was that one time a bunch of us Star Trek novel writers each sent our editor a pitch for an erotic Star Trek story. Everything from Harlequin romance-level stuff to Hustler reader letters.

One year, I decided to write my first-ever review for a Star Trek fan film.

And, of course, who could forget the time Kevin I decided we were going to write a Star Trek rock-n-roll musical.

SpockOfAges-Poster

One year, Kevin and I broke up. Yes, I wrote this piece and convinced StarTrek.com to run it. Don’t worry, though; we got back together.

Pike-GuideToLifeMy favorite gags usually involve coming up with nutso book ideas. If we’re being honest, there’s a lot of inherent humor to be found within Star Trek. Long time fans know it has its own set of tropes, good and bad, which can be mined for laughs. The key for me is remembering to laugh with these things, not at them.

I went a bit overboard one year, when I pitched “The Quotable Captain Pike.” When I came up with the idea (which I revised with a snappy new cover last year…eyes left) our view of the good captain was dominated by how he was portrayed in the original series episode “The Menagerie.” Since then we’ve had Anson Mount’s top-shelf portrayal of Pike before the character’s tragic fate befalls him.

Return To HoratiusOther cover ideas were far more simple and cheesy. Last year, along with the Pike cover I also threw out one for Return to Horatius, my proposed sequel to the very first Star Trek novel ever written and which was published way back in 1968. That was just something I did on the spur of the moment and it shows, but it was enough to get a few giggles from my friends on Facebook, which is all I really wanted.

My favorite of these, though, was the one I could not have done with out the artistic awesomeness of my friend Aaron Harvey, who created what ended up being one of my absolute favorite covers for anything I’ve ever done, real or imagined, when I decided what the world needed was a novel-length story to bring to life one of the craziest Star Trek toys of the 1970s, Mego’s Mission to Gamma VI playset.

GammaVI

Mission-to-Gamma-Vi-set-2

 

 

 

 

 

 

star-trek-kirk-fu-manual-coverOf course, then there are the occasions when what probably should be nothing more than a quickly forgotten April Fools joke gets a little traction and before you know it there’s an actual book.

Sorry, y’all. I couldn’t help it. I’ll try to do better in the future. Nah, not really. On the other hand, it only came out a month ago, so maybe we just count Kirk Fu as my contribution to this year’s April Foolery, and call it a day.

Yeah. That sounds good.

New interview with the Trek This Out podcast!

What’s that? Another interview? Why, yes. Yes, it is.

TrekThisOut-logoThis time, I sit down for a virtual confab/interview with Andrea Davies and John Aitken, hosts of the Trek This Out podcast. As you can probably guess from the show’s title, we talk a little Star Trek during this conversation. Specifically, we talk about my recently released Kirk Fu Manual because that’s all the rage this month. It’s like everybody is Kirk Fu fighting as their minds become fast as lightning even though the future is a little bit frightening and it’s the book of their lives that they’re…..

:: ahem ::

Sorry. Distracted for a sec, there. Where were we? Oh, right. Podcast. Confab interview thing. Got it.

Anywho, in addition to Kirk Fu, we bounce around a bit, talking about other Trek projects I’ve worked on over the :: mumble mumble :: years I’ve been doing this whole writing thing, my “duties” as a consultant for CBS Global Franchise Management. Describing what I do in that role is a lot like Chandler trying to tell the other Friends what he does for a living. We also talk about Tom Brady leaving the Patriots to join the Bucs, Star Trek: Picard and Star Trek: Discovery, and a speed round of questions about favorite this and favorite that. Then we pick a redshirt death for another host who wasn’t there. Good times.

Check it all out here: Trek This Out Podcast – “The Dayton Ward Tapes”

Thanks very much to Andrea and John for having me on, and for the fun discussion. Maybe we can do it again sometime!

Dayton-Figures

 

 

IncrediBuilds: Klingon Bird-of-Prey

IncrediBuilds-BoPStar Trek

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

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

Skill Level: Intermediate

Order it directly from Insight Editions’ IncrediBuilds website!


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

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

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

Happy Birthday, William Shatner!

WilliamShatner-UnexplainedToday we celebrate the 89th birthday of the Man himself: Captain Kirk, T.J. Hooker, Rescue 911 Guy, Denny Crane, Priceline Negotiator, and CAPTAIN JAMES TIBERIUS BY GOD KIRK.

:: ahem. ::

We’re talking about a guy who’s been in front of a camera for the better part of seven decades. Seriously, go look at his IMDB entry. I get tired just reading it, and it’s even money you can find him somewhere on your TV right now. He’s currently serving as the host for The UnXplained on the History Channel, and that’s just the latest of his many projects. He shows no signs of slowing down. If the stars align in just the right way, I may even be able to hand him a copy of Kirk Fu later this year, and hopefully he won’t go full Jimmy Wall Banger on me.

The one and only William Shatner: 89 years old, and still running circles around people half his age. I’ll have what he’s having.

insp_captkirk

Happy Birthday, sir. May you enjoy many more.

Agents of Influence: We have a cover!

Huzzah!

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

AgentsOfInfluence-Cover(Click to Biggie Size)

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

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

Star Trek: Kirk Fu Manual

star-trek-kirk-fu-manual-coverAs 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 exploring deep space. 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, 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.

Continue reading “Star Trek: Kirk Fu Manual”

Kirk Fu reviews for YOU!

Look,

I think we all can agree creating a book based around the inimitable fighting style of Star Trek‘s very own Captain James T. Kirk is a bit on the silly side. But, here’s the thing: If anybody was going to do such a book, I wanted it to be me.

I mean, come on. You’ve seen me goofing off here and on social media, making or sharing all manner of Star Trek jokes, pics, cartoons, and whatnot. Remember the American Chopper meme? Coming up with Trek-themed April Fool’s gags like fake book projects or breaking up with Kevin? The idea that the voyages of the Starship Enterprise may have been faked?

And of course, there was Spock of Ages.

SpockOfAges-Poster

Such shenanigans are one of the main reasons I even bother with social media at all.

So, yeah. I’m the perfect clown to do something like a book about Kirk Fu. What I didn’t count on was the number of people who actually thought this was a good idea, let alone wanted to see it become a reality.

And yet, here we are.

star-trek-kirk-fu-manual-cover

It’s been a long road – as they say – getting from there to here. “There” being when I first pitched the idea to Chris Prince, my editor at Insight Editions, as I was finishing up work on the Vulcan Travel Guide. His initial enthusiasm for the idea was undeterred by the obstacles presented by a fickle publishing world, and he kept bringing it up at meetings and wherever else it was appropriate to broach such subjects.

By the time I was given a green light to actually write the book, editor Paul Ruditis was overseeing my efforts. Fate and circumstances saw to it Paul had to move on to other projects while I was still finishing up the manuscript, but he made sure I was left in good hands with the very awesome Holly Fisher, with whom I’d previously worked for the first two Star Trek IncrediBuilds projects. Holly was all about Kirk Fu from the jump, and she did an amazing job corralling not just me but also artist Christian Cornia while punching this thing into the end zone.

What I didn’t anticipate was how much attention the book would get.

To but this in perspective, my books don’t typically attract much in the way of mainstream interest. Yes, Star Trek and other genre news sites, fan sites, and reviewers report on them along with everything else going on in the Trek publishing sphere, and of course the hardcore Star Trek readers who follow what we do – day in and day out, month in and month out – are a treasure. But beyond that? It’s pretty rare for my work to be noticed “out there in the real world.”

That changed a bit with the aforementioned Vulcan Travel Guide, which gathered a bit of attention from higher profile outlets like Nerdist.com and even Entertainment Weekly. I don’t mind saying that last one was a pretty big deal for me. That my editors and the marketing group at Insight felt strongly enough to push the book in that direction told me they had real confidence the thing could sell. They keep calling me to write for them, so I guess I’m doing something right.

Which brings us to my latest Insight offering: Star Trek: Kirk Fu Manual.

You’ve been reading about this thing for the last couple of years as we slowly – s-l-o-w-l-y – move ever closer toward publication and now that we’re in the home stretch the marketing team has been going all out. In addition to sending review copies to literally hundreds of outlets well over the book’s on-sale date, they’ve even created what I’m told is the first of two different book trailers. Wanna see? BAM:

See? You’re ready to stretch and warm up and get on with fighting aliens Jimmy T style, aren’t you?

Another surprise this time around is that Insight has given the go-ahead to the various outlets to publish their reviews well ahead of the book’s release date. I’ve already done a handful of interviews, the first reviews started popping up weeks ago, and we’re still two weeks away from publication. As with the travel guides, I can only guess this means my publisher is jazzed about this book and is happy to get the word out well ahead of time so folks can pre-order their copies. In an ideal world, everybody will soon be Kirk Fu fighting, with me and Christian as your guides.

Here’s a rundown of some of the reviews I’ve seen, including some by fans that are just really cool:

TrekMovie– January 31st
Captain Foley/Trekyards – January 31st (YouTube video)
Starburst Magazine – February 4th
TrekToday – February 4th
Trek Central – February 5th
Syfy Wire – February 6th
Borg.com – February 6th
Treksphere – February 12th
The Future of the Force – February 14th
Irish Trekkie – February 14th (YouTube video)
Trek on the Tube – February 14th (YouTube video…and beware the Canon Cop!)
Daily Star Trek News – February 17th (podcast)

These are just the ones I know about.

People are picking up what I’m throwing down, and I’m so totally here for it. I mean, it’s been almost a month since the first reviews started popping up, and here we are flying headlong toward Publication Day and I cannot wait to see this thing in stores. With all of that said, I’m still sorta gobsmacked this book has gotten the traction it seems to be enjoying, and to think: this is my first hardcover publication.

My high school English teacher and guidance counselor so owe me monster apologies.

You’ve pre-ordered your copy, right?

KirkFu

Your Moment of TrekZen*.

Because your off-brand landing party cosplay attempt isn’t complete without a little 2-way comm action.

Remco_Star_Trek_Astro-Wrist_Radios(Click to Biggie Size…if you dare.)

Ah, Remco. Gone, but not forgotten.

We are, of course, talking about that toy manufacturing king of the 1940s, 50s, and 60s. Particularly in that last decade before it closed its doors in 1971, Remco was (in)famous for toys tying into various popular television shows of that era such as the Adam West Batman, Lost In Space, The Munsters, and Star Trek. Many if not most of their toys bore little or even no resemblance to anything you might see on any of the actual shows, you understand, and often were actually the same toys across the different lines…just painted different colors and featuring show-specific decals. In this case, the Star Trek wrist radios might be yellow, whereas Batman and Robin sported their own semi-cool blue ones.

Among those items bearing the Star Trek label were the Astro-Helmet (with non-shattering lenses!) as well as my personal favorites, the Astro-Buzz-Ray Gun, and…of course, the notorious Space Fun helmet.

I mean, come on….

dayton-spockhelmet(I make this shit look good.)

Back in December, StarTrek.com convinced the awesomely good sport Ethan Peck to participate in an “unboxing video” in which he took an original Space Fun helmet out of its box (much to the horror of collectors across the known universe and perhaps other planes of existence) and actually placed it atop his own Spock-portraying head. I am forced to admit Mr. Peck looks far better in his helmet than I do in the one I borrowed from friend Nick Duguid for the above photo.

Much attention and discussion centers around the screen accuracy of any product – toy, replica, or whatever – tying into a film or television series, and that attention and discussion is multiplied times a bazillion when we’re talking about Star Trek. There are those among the fan contingent who want all knowledge of knock-off products such as these purged from all human memory. Then there are anarchists like me, who constantly lobby for some courageous would-be licensing partner to take up the mantle of producing sacrosanct reproductions of these off-kilter toys of yesteryear.

That’s right. Some days, I just want to watch the world burn.

Trek-Never Let Normal-Interfere-With-Awesome

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

Back cover copy for my upcoming Star Trek novel Agents of Influence!

Those of you who frequent this space have likely read my occasional babbling about Agents of Influence, my upcoming Star Trek original series novel that’ll be out in June.

I’ve been waiting (im)patiently for quite a while to be able to share the book’s back cover description and at long last I have a green light to do just that. Therefore and without further ado, read on:


For years, Starfleet Intelligence agents have carried out undercover assignments deep within the Klingon Empire. Surgically altered and rigorously trained in Klingon culture, they operate in plain sight and without any direct support, while collecting information and infiltrating the highest levels of imperial power. Their actions have given Starfleet valuable insight into the inner workings of Klingon government and its relentless military apparatus.

After three of Starfleet’s longest serving agents fear exposure, they initiate emergency extraction procedures. Their planned rendezvous with the U.S.S. Endeavour goes awry, threatening to reveal their activities and the damaging intelligence they’ve collected during their mission. Tasked by Starfleet to salvage the botched rescue attempt, Captain James T. Kirk and the crew of the Starship Enterprise must discover the truth behind a secret weapons experiment while avoiding an interstellar incident with the potential to ignite a new war between the Federation and one of its oldest adversaries.


Agents of Influence will be published by Gallery Books on June 9th in trade paperback, eBook, and audiobook formats. Pre-order links appear to be a little jacked up at the moment, but once it’s straightened out I’ll be sure to post those details.

Meanwhile, it’s possible the blurb may prompt some questions. 🙂