Do you have your towel?

May 25th: Happy Towel Day! Did you remember yours?

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“A towel, it says, is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have. Partly it has great practical value. You can wrap it around you for warmth as you bound across the cold moons of Jaglan Beta; you can lie on it on the brilliant marble-sanded beaches of Santraginus V, inhaling the heady sea vapors; you can sleep under it beneath the stars which shine so redly on the desert world of Kakrafoon; use it to sail a miniraft down the slow heavy River Moth; wet it for use in hand-to-hand-combat; wrap it round your head to ward off noxious fumes or avoid the gaze of the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal (such a mind-bogglingly stupid animal, it assumes that if you can’t see it, it can’t see you); you can wave your towel in emergencies as a distress signal, and of course dry yourself off with it if it still seems to be clean enough.

More importantly, a towel has immense psychological value. For some reason, if a strag (strag: non-hitch hiker) discovers that a hitch hiker has his towel with him, he will automatically assume that he is also in possession of a toothbrush, face flannel, soap, tin of biscuits, flask, compass, map, ball of string, gnat spray, wet weather gear, space suit etc., etc. Furthermore, the strag will then happily lend the hitch hiker any of these or a dozen other items that the hitch hiker might accidentally have “lost”. What the strag will think is that any man who can hitch the length and breadth of the galaxy, rough it, slum it, struggle against terrible odds, win through, and still knows where his towel is is clearly a man to be reckoned with.”

— Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

Towel Day: Celebrating the Life and Work of Douglas Adams

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Talking about Star Trek III on the SciFi Diner Podcast!

scifidinerpodcastWhat’s that? You want me to join the search for Spock? Okay. Sure. Count me in.

It’s been a while since I last visited the SciFi Diner Podcast and hung out with friends and hosts Scott Hertzog and Miles McLoughlin. In the past, we’ve talked about some of my writing projects, but the real fun has come when they invite me to talk about something unrelated to anything I’m doing. We’ve had fun conversations about Rogue One, for example, and I’ve participated in a couple of sessions where we lay out our “Geeky Christmas Present” wish list.

This time, Scott and Miles invited me to sit in for an episode of their “SciFi Rewind” feature, where they take a look at an older science fiction film or TV show. For this installment, we took a nostalgic look back at Star Trek III: The Search for Spock.

Released in the summer of 1984, this third of the Star Trek films featuring the original series cast picks up not long after the events of the previous movie, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, and the (SPOILER ALERT!!) death of Spock. Of course, this is Star Trek, where death as often as not is little more than an inconvenience of one sort or another. And so it goes that Admiral Kirk and the remainder of his merry band soon find themselves on a quest to retrieve Spock’s body from the Genesis Planet. There, they find more than they bargained for when they discover Spock is…wait for it…alive.

Duh duh DIHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!

It’s a common fan stance that the “odd-numbered” Star Trek movies aren’t as good as their even-numbered companions. I don’t know that consigning Star Trek III in with the rest is a totally fair move. Sure, it’s not as good as its predecessor or the other “evens,” but it’s not as though it’s the worst Star Trek story ever told. Watched in concert with Star Trek II and Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, this film holds its own as one component of a larger story arc spanning the three movies.

Listen to my discussion with Scott and Miles, over at the SciFi Diner:

SciFi Rewind 328: Star Trek III: The Search for Spock

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Many thanks to Scott and Miles for having me back to the diner!

Why, yes. I will indeed be attending Shore Leave!

shore-leave-logoDue to my work schedule, I’ve been leaving certain convention appearances in the “Maybe” column. Among those was one I’ve made a habit of attending for the better part of the last 15 years or so: Shore Leave. Even with this one less than two months away, things were still iffy, but I can now finally say with confidence that – barring unforeseen circumstances, of course – I will once again be heading back to picturesque Hunt Valley, Maryland in order to participate in Shore Leave’s 40th anniversary con!

(I’m sure this news will be of interest to at least two or three of you. You know, as opposed to being excited that William Shatner, Ming-Na Wen, and several other cool TV and film guests are also appearing, along with more than fifty other author, editor, and science guests.)

Shore Leave is one of the shows I most look forward to attending each year, as it’s one of the few opportunities I have to meet up and catch up with east coast-based friends and colleagues. Along with all of the con’s other author guests, I’ll be participating in the mass autographing session on Friday night. There will also be numerous panel discussions and other activities taking place throughout the weekend. In and around all of that, there doubtless will be other shenanigans unfolding.

And after all of that? There’s the hotel bar.

Still sporting that new car smell during the weekend will be my two most recent publications: the Star Trek: U.S.S. Enterprise and Star Trek: The Next Generation U.S.S. Enterprise book and model kits from IncrediBuilds and Insight Editions. I’m told the local bookseller who always sets up shop during the con will have copies of both titles on hand, along with other selections from my backlist as well as those of the other attending author guests. Bring your wallets, yo.

For those of you planning to attend this year’s show, here’s hoping we run into each other. If you’re not coming, well…..it’s your loss. Shore Leave is always, always a fun con, and now that I’ve booked my flight I’m counting the days.

See you there?

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Happy 35th Anniversary, Blue Thunder!

“This ship is equipped with a forward-mounted, twenty-millimeter electric cannon. Its six barrels are capable of firing four thousand rounds of ammunition per minute. And that, gentlemen, is one hell of a shit-storm in anybody’s language!”

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Frank Murphy, helicopter pilot for the LAPD and former Army chopper pilot during the Vietnam War (and whom we see suffers from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder as a result of his service during that conflict), is selected as a test pilot for a brand new helicopter packed to the gills with state of the art armaments and quasi-futuristic stealth and surveillance technology. It’s supposedly intended for use during large scale civil disobedience operations, but that doesn’t ring right with Murphy, particularly after the helicopter, nicknamed “Blue Thunder,” blows the shit out of a simulated city street setting with mocked-up vehicles and human-sized targets. That a former rival of his from the war, Colonel “Catch ya later” Cochrane, is in on the whole thing doesn’t sit well with him, either.

Murphy, along with his rookie partner, Richard Lymangood (aka “JAFO,” or “Just Another Fucking Observer”), uses Blue Thunder’s sooper seekrit peeping tech to follow Cochrane to a clandestine meeting, and collects evidence that the colonel and a group of government douche nozzles are behind the death of a prominent city councilwoman. Her murder is part of a larger conspiracy put into motion by this wannabe cabal, who plan to use the helicopter to assassinate political enemies. After Lymangood is killed, Murphy steals Blue Thunder and it’s a race for him to get the evidence to someone who can expose the conspiracy before the bad guys get to him, culminating in a helicopter chase between Murphy and Cochrane in the skies above Los Angeles.

Released on May 13th, 1983, Blue Thunder made a point of letting potential audiences know that all of the surveillance and weapons technology stuffed into the helicopter was real, if not used in this particular configuration. Of course, we look at it today and think, “Pffft. That’s all he’s got? Drones, dude. Drones.” Thirty years ago, however, Blue Thunder was bad-ass.

Personally, I still think the helicopter looks pretty slick.

The plot of Blue Thunder is so thin that it makes Smokey and the Bandit seem like Inception, but a lot of what makes the movie work can be credited to actor Roy Scheider, who offers up yet another of his “every man” performances which served him so well throughout his career. Malcolm McDowell chews every scene with relish as the dick antagonist, Cochrane, and a young Daniel Stern provides much of the film’s early humor (both as instigator and target) as Lymangood the JAFO. Obviously, the hardware and the flying stunts take center stage, especially in the movie’s latter half, but Scheider is there to anchor things and keep them from going too far into the realm of absurdity.

Don’t get me wrong: I dig this film. It’s one that’s an easy candidate for a rewatch on a rainy day, and it’s interesting to see how some of the ideas it proposes stack up against our pervasive “conspiracy theory culture” and our “surveillance society” with cameras everywhere, expanded police powers, and even those drones we mentioned earlier.  How much of the stuff that seemed “far out” in 1983 is now at the disposal of law enforcement, or even has been surpassed by current technology?

Things that make you go, “Hmmm….”

The movie was successful, both critically and financially. A spin-off series aired on ABC the following year, which wasn’t a sequel but rather a reworking of the premise, in which the helicopter is used by a special unit to hunt down the baddest of bad guys, and so on and so forth. The show was cancelled after eleven episodes, ceding the helicopter action show bragging rights to the other 80s AwesomeChopper, Airwolf, which premiered that same year.

(So far as the helicopters go, I’ve always preferred Blue Thunder to Airwolf, even though I think Airwolf would win in a head-to-head contest. Yes, I’m a geek, and I put some thought into that particular battle royale.)

Blue Thunder seems like the perfect choice for a remake, doesn’t it? I’m sure someone’s thought about it, or is thinking about it, and they’ll eventually get on with dicking it up. Meanwhile, we still have the original. I may have to spin it up tonight.

“Catch ya later.”

Because I need the distraction, let’s do another “Ask Dayton” thing.

Also, hey! It’s been a while since I last did one of these, and as fate would have it, I’m working in and around a few writing projects that allow a bit of time for these sorts of antics.

Okay, so here’s the deal: Ask me anything, if you’re so inclined, and I’ll do my best to provide a brief yet thoughtful answer. If I’m unable to accomplish this seemingly straightforward feat, I’ll instead craft wise-assed comment, tailored and customized especially for you! It’s sort of like an “AMA” over on Reddit, but without the requirement of me needing shotgun a barrel of sanitizer once it’s all said and done.

Asker’s choice, so far as the topic goes. We can talk about writing, pop culture bullshit, deep thoughtful musings on the duality of man and the blurred line between good and evil, how science has finally proven to all those whiny shits that two spaces after a period is the way to go, why “Assignment: Earth” has not yet been reimagined or rebooted to be the TV show or film series we all so richly deserve, whatever.

I reserve the right not to answer anything I deem too personal or inappropriate for this particular venue, but this is a rule I’ve never actually had to invoke. Still, it never hurts to make such things clear up front.

Okey-dokey, then. Who’s got a question?

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More presents from the Book Fairy!

What’s this? New books with that new book smell? Awwwwwwwwwww, yeah.

The good folks at Insight Editions sent me a present yesterday, in the form of author copies of my two latest publications: a pair of IncrediBuilds wood model kits, each with their own book as scribbled by me! Check it out, y’all:

(Click to biggie size.)

Aimed at a younger audience, the models are designed for easy assembly and require no glue, tape, or anything else. Everything fits together all nice and snug. I’ve not yet built either of these, but my kids and I have experimented with a couple of the Star Wars IncrediBuilds offerings. These things are kinda fun. 🙂

I was first able to talk about these back at the end of March, when Insight and StarTrek.com made the official announcement. Each book is 32 pages, stuffed to overflowing with various facts, stats, and little anecdotes about the ships as portrayed on TV and film, along with a few behind the scenes nuggets.

Both model/book sets are due in stores on or about on Tuesday, June 12th. I’m pretty happy with how these came out, and we’ve had conversations about potential future entries in this series. Stay tuned for more info as details develop!

April writing wrap-up.

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So. April was a bit of a blur, huh?

The month was a bit of an odd one, with more conversations about work than actual work. The day job was, as has become normal, a big part of my writing output, but I still managed to get a few things done. Meanwhile, things are in motion, pieces are being moved, and so on and so forth.

For now, though, here’s the April rundown:

Continue reading “April writing wrap-up.”

Your Moment of TrekZen.*

From the StarFest Convention held a couple of weekends ago, this was one of my favorite entries in the con’s annual costume contest. She pulled this off with no tribble at all.

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I laughed way hard the first time I saw this. I wish I’d had a chance to catch her name and let her know.

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

2018 Scribe Awards announced!

iamtwThe International Association of Media Tie-In Writers (IAMTW) has announced their nominees for this year’s Scribe Awards. Among the nominees several people I’m proud to call friends and colleagues, or just sources of inspiration and admiration. Some of the names listed are people whose work I’ve been reading for years. Behold this year’s list of nominees!

Short Story
Planet of the Apes: “Banana Republic” by Jonathan Maberry
Joe Ledger: “Ganbatte” by Keith DeCandido
Planet of the Apes: “Murderers’ Row” by John Jackson Miller
Planet of the Apes: “Pacing Place” by Bob Mayer
Deadworld: “Rear Guard” by Sarah Stegall
Predator: “Storm Blood” by Peter Wacks and David Boop

Adapted Speculative and General
Doctor Who: The Pirate Planet by James Goss
Resident Evil: The Final Chapter by Tim Waggoner
Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets by Christie Golden
Kong: Skull Island by Tim Lebbon

Original Speculative
The Librarians and the Mother Goose Chase by Greg Cox
Interface Zero: Solar Singularity by Peter J. Wacks, Guy Anthony Demarco, and Josh Vogt
Halo: Legacy of Onyx by Matt Forbeck
Star Wars Battlefront II: Inferno Squad by Christie Golden
Star Trek: Discovery: Desperate Hours by David Mack
Supernatural: The Usual Sacrifices by Yvonne Navarro

Original General
Don Pendleton’s The Executioner: Fatal Prescription by Michael A. Black
The Will to Kill by Mickey Spillane and Max Allan Collins
Robert B. Parker’s The Hangman’s Sonnet: A Jesse Stone Novel by Reed Farrel Coleman

Young Adult Original
Star Wars: Adventures in Wild Space – The Cold  by Cavan Scott
Warriors Three: Godhood’s End by Keith R. A. DeCandido
X-Files Origins: Devil’s Advocate by Jonathan Maberry

Audio
Doctor Who: Across the Darkened City by David Bartlett
Doctor Who: Cold Vengeance by Matt Fitton
Warhammer 40,000: Agent of the Throne, Blood and Lies by John French
Torchwood: Cascade by Scott Handcock
Torchwood: The Dying Room by Lizzie Hopley

Also announced was the winner of this year’s Faust Award,  in recognition of their significant contributions to the realm of tie-in writing over the course of a prolific career. This year, IAMTW has voted for author Greg Cox to be elevated to “Grandmaster” status.

The Scribe winners will be announced in July, at San Diego Comic-con. Congratulations to all of the nominees, and to Greg!

Predator: If It Bleeds…the Hold-It-in-Your hands edition audiobook!

An unexpected treat in today’s mail.

Those of you who know who might not know (and, really…what’s that about?), If It Bleeds, the anthology of all-new Predator short stories that came out last fall, was graced with an audiobook edition back in February.

In addition to the digital audio download edition which is all the rage-these days, Blackstone Audio also saw fit to take pity on us hold-outs for old-school physical media by issuing both an MP3 CD version of the audiobook as well as an older-still-school version on regular CD.

Hey. I like my CDs. That’s right, I said it.

Moving on…

Anyway, back to today’s mail treat:

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That’s right, pursuers of elusive electrons. Bask in the glory that is physical media. This’ll look way better on the brag shelf than an index card with a link to my iTunes or Audible account, amirite?

I’d been looking forward to listening to this during my work commute. Looks like I can get started on it tomorrow morning. Awwwwwwwwwwwww, yeah.

So, you know….get to da bookstoah!