“YOU SHUT YOUR MOUTH, DAYTON! NO WAY IT’S BEEN THAT LONG!”
Um, yep. I’m afraid it really has been that long.
Today, July 26th, marks the 15th anniversary for the official publication of Harbinger, the first novel in what would become “the saga of Star Trek Vanguard.”
For those of you who might not be familiar with these books, Vanguard as created by editor Marco Palmieri and author David Mack is a series of books that served as a “literary spin-off” of the original Star Trek television series. Running in parallel with the original show, Vanguard was set aboard a space station in a hotly contested area of space called “the Taurus Reach.”
Dave set events into motion with Harbinger, after which Kevin Dilmore and I were invited aboard to help continue the story. Over the course of seven novels and a handful of novellas, the series’ cast of characters found themselves in increasingly larger and more dire piles of shit as they learned more about the Shedai, the ancient race who once commanded the Taurus Reach, and generally were kinda sorta pissed that people were stomping around their old haunt like they owned the place.
And hilarity ensued.
I’m not going to ruin it all here with spoilers, but suffice it to say we got to have quite a bit of fun with those books. Spanning seven novels and a handful of novellas released over a period of seven years, Star Trek Vanguard, for whatever the hell my biased opinion is worth, remains one of the most interesting and exciting aspects of Pocket Books’ decades-long Star Trek publishing program. It also ranks as one of the most fun things I’ve ever done as a writer of Star Trek fiction. Being able to combine elements of my favorite incarnation of Star Trek with a serialized, epic storyline that unfolds over several books was like having – if you’ll pardon the Trekified expression – “the best of both worlds.”
Yeah, it was and remains something special, at least to those of us who worked on it. If you haven’t yet given the series a try…well…what are you waiting for? How do you look at this set of supremely kick-ass covers created by Doug Drexler and not even be a little curious about what’s wrapped inside them?
Which brings us back to…it’s been 15 damned years? Man, I feel old.
But, I’m certainly not so old that I can’t pimp the hell out of the series on behalf of people who haven’t yet had the chance to read it. If you’re into Star Trek and you’re looking for something a tad different, have I got a treat for you in the form of the Complete Star Trek Vanguard Reading Guide:
Harbinger – Dave
Summon the Thunder – me & Kevin
Reap the Whirlwind – Dave
Open Secrets – me (story by me & Kevin)
Precipice – Dave
Declassified – stories by me, Kevin, Marco, and Dave
What Judgments Come – me & Kevin (story by me, Kevin, and Dave)
Storming Heaven – Dave (story by Dave, me & Kevin)
There also are a couple of additional stories which, while not essential to enjoying the main “saga,” might still be of interest:
“The Black Flag” – James Swallow
(Included in the anthology Star Trek: Mirror Universe – Shards & Shadows)
Do I regret that the series ended, rather than continuing on? Not one bit. Vanguard was always envisioned as a story with a defined beginning and ending, and despite our various diversions and course corrections over the span of the stories we wrote, we ended up not too far afield from what Dave originally envisioned. We also got to end the series on our own terms, something not done before or since in Pocket’s Star Trek publishing program, and those eight books sit on my bookshelf as a testament to one of the most creatively rewarding projects in which I’ve ever taken part. I’m forever grateful to Marco and Dave for inviting me and Kevin to play in this wonderful little corner of the Star Trek sandbox.
Of course, Vanguard also begat Star Trek: Seekers, which allowed us to take a bunch of characters who only played supporting roles in the previous series and elevated them to stars of their own show, so to speak. Elsewhere, elements from the series have managed to find their way into other areas of the Star Trek “expanded universe,” but so far the three of us–Dave, Kevin, and myself–have held to our “pact” to refrain from revisiting Vanguard‘s core storyline or central characters. As I wrote more than a few years ago in response to a question about returning to the concept in some fashion:
“As far as I’m concerned, the stories of Vanguard’s core cast have been told. Within the fictional construct of the Star Trek universe, their reward—and penance—for what happened over the course of those novels and novellas is to be consigned to obscurity; footnotes to a history about which few people ever will know the complete truth.”
Yep, I still feel that way. I remain immensely proud of the work we did, but I have no need to re-open that particular box. To borrow a bit of sports parlance, I think we left it all on the field. Better to leave it well enough alone, and move on to other challenges and opportunities.
So, Happy Birthday, Star Trek Vanguard. Here’s hoping you keep finding new fans.