Columbia: 14 years ago today.

On the morning of February 1st, 2003, the Space Shuttle Columbia, returning to Earth after a successful 16-day mission, broke apart during re-entry and disintegrated, killing its seven-member crew.

I spent the rest of that afternoon and the ensuing days watching the news coverage as new information came to light, and possible explanations and causes for the disaster began to emerge. To this day, it’s hard to believe that something so seemingly simple as a few damaged heat tiles could wreak such unchecked destruction.

On the other hand, the tragedy served to reinforce the harsh reality of the incredible dangers inherent in manned space flight, and that nothing about it is “simple” or “routine.” I did and still believe that our exploration of space is a worthy and necessary endeavor, and I hope that the sacrifices made by men and women such as Columbia‘s crew always will be heeded when taking our next small steps and giant leaps.

Generations from now, when the reach of human civilization is extended throughout the solar system, people will still come to this place to learn about and pay their respects to our heroic Columbia astronauts. They will look at the astronauts’ memorial and then they will turn their gaze to the skies, their hearts filled with gratitude for these seven brave explorers who helped blaze our trail to the stars.

– Sean O’Keefe, NASA Administrator, Arlington National Cemetery, February 2nd, 2004.

 (l-r, blue shirts): David Brown, William McCool, Michael Anderson.
(l-r, red shirts): Kalpana Chawla, Rick D. Husband, Laurel Blair Salton Clark, Ilan Ramon

Posted in nasa, tributes | 1 Comment

Headlong Flight

headlongflight-coverStar Trek: The Next Generation

Surveying a nebula as part of their continuing exploration of the previously uncharted “Odyssean Pass,” Captain Jean-Luc Picard and the crew of the Starship Enterprise encounter a rogue planet. Life signs are detected on the barren world’s surface, and then a garbled message is received: a partial warning to stay away at all costs. Determined to render assistance, Picard dispatches Commander Worf and an away team to investigate, but their shuttlecraft is forced to make an emergency landing on the surface—moments before all contact is lost and the planet completely disappears….

Worf and his team learn that this mysterious world is locked into an unending succession of random jumps between dimensions, the result of an ambitious experiment gone awry. The Enterprise crewmembers and the alien scientists who created the technology behind this astonishing feat find themselves trapped, powerless to break the cycle. Meanwhile, as the planet continues to fade in and out of various planes of existence, other parties have now taken notice….


What was — albeit in much different form — originally intended as a component of what became Armageddon’s Arrow, gets spun out into its own novel. Why? The idea I had while plotting Arrow became a bit unwieldy, at least when coupled with everything else I had going on in that book, so I opted to pull that bit of plot stuff and file it away, perhaps for use another day. At the time I was writing Arrow, it was with a view that another author might be tasked with writing successive Star Trek: The Next Generation novels. Between that and the other stuff Pocket asks me to do from time to time, I had no idea when I might revisit Captain Picard and company.

Turns out, I didn’t have to wait all that long, at all.

It while I was working on Elusive Salvation that my editor came to me, asking about a new “standalone” TNG novel (as in not part of a series or mini-series or other multi-book project) for the 2017 schedule. Pressed for time and needing to come up with something just to satisfy a requirement for a 1 or 2-paragraph pitch, I gave her the very broad strokes of what became Headlong Flight, throwing in a couple of twists that weren’t in the original idea, and worked out the details later.

This is a very weird job, sometimes. 😀

At first, I worked under the impression that Headlong Flight would be the next TNG adventure following Armageddon’s Arrow. It was only as I was well into writing the new book that I was informed Picard and the gang would factor heavily into another project that was in development, John Jackson Miller’s Prey trilogy, which would come out before my book. So, a couple of things had to be retooled, but my marching orders were to keep to the trail I was already on: providing a largely standalone story featuring the Enterprise-E crew.

The book is now available at bookstores everywhere. 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. For me, that’s Reader’s World in bee-yootiful Lee’s Summit, Missouri.

If that sort of thing isn’t a feasible option for you, then of course we have online options:

Mass-Market Paperback, Kindle e-Book, or Audible Audio Edition from Amazon.com
Mass-Market Paperback or Nook e-Book from Barnes and Noble
Mass-Market Paperback, ePub format e-Book, or Digital Audiobook from Books-A-Million
Audiobook from iTunes

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 THAT SPOILERS ARE POSSIBLE FROM THIS POINT FORWARD.

Posted in my books, q&a, trek, writing | 5 Comments

It’s the first interview about Headlong Flight!

Last week, I was contacted by a representative from Simon & Schuster’s publicity department. She was handling whatever duties in this regard might be required for the pending release of Headlong Flight, my new Star Trek: The Next Generation novel, which officially goes on sale tomorrow (January 31st). Apparently, she had received an interview request for me.

Now, I have to tell you that if you count the time spent submitting to the Strange New Worlds writing contests, my relationship with S&S stretches back to 1997. Wanna guess how many times the publisher has been contacted about interviewing me?

Put your fingers down. It’s zero.headlongflight-cover

Normally, people wanting interviews just reach out to me directly via that email thing, rather than bothering an overworked, understaffed publicity office who has real writers with BIG NAMES on the covers to worry about. Compared to them, I’m small fish.

I’m bait, really.

So, this was something of a pleasant surprise. I accepted the request and in short order was connected with Paul Semel, who writes news and reviews about TV and movies, books and comics, games, and all sorts of other pop culture shenanigans. For whatever reason, he took an interest in me and the new book, and the result of that is this new interview you can find only at Paul’s website, PaulSemel.com:

BEWARE! SPOILERS FOR THE NEW BOOK ABOUND!!!

Exclusive Interview: Headlong Flight Author Dayton Ward

BEWARE! SPOILERS FOR THE NEW BOOK ABOUND!!!

Oh, and hey! There are spoilers in that interview. Seriously. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Many thanks to Paul for reaching out, and to Hannah at S&S Publicity for setting it all up.

Posted in books, interviews, q&a, trek, writing | Leave a comment

An Animated review with Saturday Morning Trek!

startrek-tas-titlecardHey, whaddaya know? I’m babbling again.

This time, I join Aaron Harvey, host of Saturday Morning Trek, Trek.fm’s podcast devoted to the animated Star Trek television series. On this occasion, we hung out to talk a bit about the recently released Blu-ray “complete series” set, and to reminisce about the show itself.

I’m old enough that I was able to watch the show first-run on Saturday mornings during 1973-74. In the days before home video, it was a rare occasion to happen across the series, as it did not enjoy the same level of rerun exposure as the original series (which was on tas_castpretty much everywhere in the 1970s and 1980s). There were the novelizations of the episodes, adapted by Alan Dean Foster, and some of the merchandising during the 70s definitely took cues from the show (puzzles, toys, games, and other items either utilized or were inspired by imagery from the series), but watching the actual episodes in rerun was a challenge until Nickelodeon started running them at some point.

Then came home video, with the series tas-laserdisceventually being released on VHS and LaserDisc in the 80s and 90s, followed by a complete series DVD set in the mid 2000s, followed by the most recent incarnation, an HD Blu-ray set released last fall as part of the Star Trek 50th anniversary celebration.

(Check out that crazy 90s artwork. I mean….the hell, people?)

Anyway, it’s the Blu-ray set we’re talking about now, and Aaron invited me to sit down and wax nostalgic about our mutual love for this quirky little slice of the Star Trek mythos. We’re both collectors of animated Trek merch, and though Aaron has me beat in this department, I do have a couple of animation cels and a few other doo-dads stashed here and there. But, how do these new Blu-rays stack up? Is it a step too far so far as preserving this bit of 70s cartoon goodness? You can probably guess our answer, though I don’t know that we let the show and the set completely off the hook. Don’t take my word for it, though. Instead, check it out for yourself:

Trek.fm – Saturday Morning Trek #24: Blu-Rays and Pink Tribbles

smt-tas-blurays

Many thanks to Aaron and the rest of the Trek.fm gang for having me on!

Posted in fandom, friends, interviews, podcasts, reviews, trek | 2 Comments

KC-area peeps! Come see us at “Books in the Bottoms!”

Are you local to the Kansas City area, and just itching to come say “Howdy!” to me and Kevin Dilmore and see what we’ve been up to on the writerly front?

newlogoblackNext weekend, the historic West Bottoms District of Kansas City is hosting its Second Annual “Books in the Bottoms” event. It’s part of the District’s monthly “First Festival Weekend” that they do on the first weekend of every month. Kevin and I will be joining a number of other area writers to hock our wares in and around sampling the food and shopping and just taking in the festive ambiance that’s sure to be permeating the area.

The event runs Friday thru Sunday, February 3rd-5th, with writers staged at different shops and eateries around the District. The entire weekend promises to be fun, but if you’re specifically looking for me and Kevin, you’ll find us on Saturday morning from 9am-Noon at Good Juju, a wonderful little treasure trove of antiques, vintage collectibles, and pop culture goodies.

Additionally, a scan of the author line-up shows a number of friends on the roster, including J.R.Frontera, Dennis Young, James Young, Thaddeus Nowak, and the one and only Robin Wayne Bailey.

Hey. Wait. Instead of reading me ramble on about this, why not just check out the official press release:


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact:   Amber Arnett-Bequeaith
VP and Spokesperson – West Bottoms Entertainment District & Full Moon Productions 816.842.4280 / 913.406.7833 1401
W. 13th St., KCMO 64102

Authors on-hand at Second Annual Books in the Bottoms Event  First Festival Weekend February 3-5 

KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI, January 26, 2017 – Benjamin Franklin’s truism, “Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing” has a special meaning for First Festival Weekend, February 3-5. Not only will the event host sixteen local authors at the Second Annual Books in the Bottoms coinciding with First Festival Weekend, but it will draw on those looking for extraordinary experiences worth writing about and sharing socially.

Participating authors will represent a range of fiction genre from science fiction, fantasy and the supernatural, to children’s books, thrillers, and history-based fiction.  Fiction authors include David Pederson, Duane Porter, Jennifer Frontera, Claire Ashgrove, Ted Nowak, Kevin Dilmore, Dayton Ward, Aaron Hollingsworth, Dennis Young, Robin Wayne Bailey, and Anita Young.

Books in the Bottoms will also have five non-fiction authors, including Kansas City crime writer Phil LeVota, poet and prose writer Carol Estes, beer recipe author Pete Dulin, military analyst author James Young and Kansas City historian Pat O’Neill.

The free, three-day West Bottoms First Festival Weekend averages around 20,000 people looking for vintage, antique and one-of-a-kind statement pieces for their wardrobe and décor and enjoying the many cafés, drinks and food truck options.  The area’s six-blocks of multistory buildings makes it the largest indoor, year-round antique and vintage district in the country.

“The creativity in Kansas City is over-flowing, so it is no surprise we are able to gather so many talented authors,” said Amber Arnett-Bequeaith, VP of the West Bottoms Business District. “People are looking for unique experiences that are worth writing about and sharing with others. The West Bottoms’ First Festival offers a fun place to shop and the rare chance to actually meet and interact with authors.”  

West Bottom’s First Festival Weekend
Opens Friday through Sunday  –  Shops Open around 9 A.M. 
Food Truck Wine & Dine
Available Friday, Saturday and Sunday, off the 12th St. Bridge

About the West Bottoms Historic Entertainment District: 
The West Bottoms Historic Entertainment District has more than thirty-five stores in a six block area.  Many of the large, multi-story buildings off the 12th Street Bridge offer several floors of vintage and antique finds. The District is the destination for interior decorators and designers, collectors and consumers seeking stylish décor and gift options that have a history and patina that cannot be duplicated.
http://www.westbottoms.com


So, hey! If you’re out and about next Saturday, bring your bottom to the Bottoms, stop by Good Juju and say “Aloha!”

Dayton-Kevin-ShoreLeave2016

 

Posted in appearances, books, kc, kevin dilmore, writing | 1 Comment

Remembering Challenger.

73 seconds after launch on a particularly cold Florida morning 31 years ago today, the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded, killing astronauts Dick Scobee, Michael Smith, Judith Resnik, Ellison Onizuka, Ron McNair, Greg Jarvis, and Christa McAuliffe.

On March 21st, 1987, a permanent marker paying tribute to the crew was placed at Arlington National Cemetery. The marker’s face features likenesses of the crew and the following dedication:

In Grateful
and Loving Tribute
To the Brave Crew
of the United States
Space Shuttle Challenger
28 January 1986

Inscribed on the back of the marker is this poem:

High Flight

Oh, I have slipped the surly bonds of earth
and danced the skies on laughter silvered wings,
sunward I’ve climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
of sun split clouds – and done a hundred things
you have not dreamed of
wheeled and soared and swung
high in the sunlit silence hov’ring there.
I’ve chased the shouting wind along and flung
my eager craft through footless halls of air.
Up, up the long delirious, burning blue
I’ve topped the windswept heights with easy grace
where never lark or even eagle flew
and while with silent, lifting mind I’ve trod
the high untrespassed sanctity of space
put out my hand, and touched the face of God.

– John Gillepie Magee, Jr.

 L-R: Ellison S. Onizuka, Michael J. Smith, Sharon Christa McAuliffe, Francis R. Scobee, Gregory B. Jarvis, Ronald E. McNair, Judith A. Resnik

Posted in nasa, tributes | Leave a comment

God speed to the crew of Apollo 1.

50 years ago tonight, while conducting a routine test of their spacecraft’s power systems, the crew of Apollo 1–Virgil I. “Gus” Grissom, Edward H. White, and Roger B. Chafee–was killed when a fire broke out inside the capsule.

Grissom had been with NASA almost from the beginning, flying missions for both the Mercury and Gemini programs, and White also was a Gemini veteran. The Apollo 1 flight was to be Chaffee’s first space mission.

Their sacrifice, though tragic, ultimately played a monumental role in NASA’s effort toward bettering the machines which soon would fly to the Moon, and ensuring the safety of the men who would take them there.

(L-R: Astronauts Gus Grissom, Ed White, Roger Chaffee)

 IN MEMORY
OF
THOSE WHO MADE THE ULTIMATE SACRIFICE
SO OTHERS COULD REACH THE STARS

AD ASTRA PER ASPERA
(A ROUGH ROAD LEADS TO THE STARS)

GOD SPEED TO THE CREW
OF
APOLLO 1

Posted in nasa, tributes | Leave a comment

Planet of the Apes: Tales from the Forbidden Zone

Sixteen brand-new adventures
set in the world of the original Planet of the Apes!

POTA-ForbiddenZoneThe 1968 Planet of the Apes film has inspired generations of authors. Now a who’s who of modern writers produces sixteen all-new tales, exclusive to this volume, set in the world of the original films and television series.

Dan Abnett • Kevin J. Anderson • Jim Beard • Nancy Collins • Greg Cox • Andrew E.C. Gaska • Robert Greenberger • Rich Handley • Greg Keyes • Sam Knight • Paul Kupperberg • Jonathan Maberry • Bob Mayer • John Jackson Miller • Ty Templeton • Will Murray • Dayton Ward

Each explores a different drama within the post-apocalyptic world, treating readers to unique visions and nonstop action.


Oh. Yeah.

Planet of the Apes, along with the original Star Trek and The Six Million Dollar Man, is at the top of my childhood TV and movie jam list. I was too young to catch the original films in theaters, but I did watch the initial CBS broadcast of the first couple of movies before they went ahead and greenlit a weekly television series based on the Apes concept. The show was cancelled after a half season, and if we’re being honest then it’s easy to see why that decision was made. On the other hand, that TV show, warts and all, has always been one of my favorite aspects of the Apes franchise. With the series gone from the airwaves, the fates of wayward astronauts Alan Virdon and Peter Burke and their chimpanzee companion, Galen, were left untold.

So, when editors Jim Beard and Rich Handley came calling, asking me if I wanted to write a story for this new anthology and knowing of my love for all things Apes, I knew exactly what I wanted to do: a story featuring wayward Virdon, Burke, and Galen set after the events of the TV series, and perhaps a chance to explore one of the show’s precious few dangling plot threads. Thankfully, Jim and Rich indulged me, and the result is “Message In A Bottle,” just one of 16 brand-new tales set at various points along the entire 2,000-or so year Planet of the Apes storytelling tapestry. Here’s hoping you dig all of them.

pota-TV

Meanwhile, I am absolutely thrilled to be sharing a table of contents with the other writers who’ve contributed stories to this volume, including several scribes I’m proud to call friend. Y’all need to be getting your stinking paws on this new book, yo. If you can’t obtain a copy via your local independent bookseller, there’s always the online merchant option, so let me hit you with some link action:

Trade Paperback and Kindle e-Book from Amazon.com
Trade Paperback and Nook e-Book from Barnes & Noble
Trade Paperback and Various e-Book formats from Books-A-Million

Given the amp’d up attention to all things Apes this year with the forthcoming film War for the Planet of the Apes, and next year marking the 50th anniversary of the original 1968 film, if sales of this first book are strong enough, we may well see a second set of Tales from the Forbidden Zone. Keep those digits crossed!

In addition to providing a permanent home for links to find and order the book, this 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 THAT SPOILERS ARE POSSIBLE FROM THIS POINT FORWARD.

Posted in apes, my books, my stories, nerdity, writing | 1 Comment

The Official Dayton & Kevin 2017 Convention Stalking Guide.

It’s still early, but the 2017 convention season is already starting to build out for me and Kevin. I don’t typically do very many cons each year, and Kevin does a few more in his role representing Hallmark. That said, there are a couple we always never to miss, along with a few others we’re always game to attend if schedules and planets align in proper fashion.

As of this writing, this Official Stalking Guide is a work in-progress, but we do have a handful of tentative dates already slotted. Nothing’s been absolutely confirmed, but it’s our sincere intention to lower property values at the following locales during throughout the year:

Starfest 2017 – April 21-23 – Denver, Colorado
One of our very favorite cons, Kevin and I will almost certainly be making our fifteenth consecutive annual trip to Denver to hang with the Starland gang. The trip has truly become something of a “family reunion” as much as it as a convention, as we’ve made so many friends there over the years, and each new con brings with it the chance to make new friends, or put faces to names we encounter over the internet.

Shore Leave 39 – July 7-9 – Hunt Valley, Maryland
Another show we make every effort to attend, mostly because it’s one of the few media cons of this size that also caters to a large list of author guests. Pocket Books and the Star Trek fiction cabal is usually well-represented, but there are also several other writer guests who show up every year and who have loyal followings. It’s three days of jam-packed programming, after which I may have to build in an extra day or so of sight-seeing so I can get down to D.C. and check out the restored U.S.S. Enterprise model at the Smithsonian.

Comic-Con International – July 19-23 – San Diego, California
Does this con really require an introduction? Kevin will be at this one, acting in his capacity as a representative of Hallmark Cards. If the writer gods are kind, he may also participate in a book signing or two, and perhaps even the odd panel.

The Official Star Trek Convention – August 2-6 – Las Vegas, Nevada
Sin City plays host to one of the largest Trek cons going. Boasting a guest list that now routinely hits the 100+ mark, it really is five full days of Star Trek fandom goodness. Though this one is still written in pencil, Kevin looks to be heading that way to man a booth on behalf of Hallmark, and — as of now — there’s a slim chance I may make this one, too. Stay tuned.

New York Comic Con – October 5-8 – New York ‘Effin City
It’s the smaller, feistier version of the San Diego con. As with that one, Kevin will be working his ass off on behalf of Hallmark. Book signings and panels possible, depending on his schedule.

And there you go. The list is, once again, tentative and subject to change, additions, or even deletions.

So, if you plan to be at any of these cons, maybe we’ll see you there!

kevin-dayton-sl2010

Posted in comic-con, cons, fandom, friends, nerdity, shore leave, starfest | 3 Comments

Apes trading card booky goodness…coming at us!

For the past few years, Abrams ComicArts has been producing a truly fun series of books. Working in partnership with Topps, these tomes have revisited popular sets of non-sports trading or “bubble gum” cards or stickers from the days of old.

Each book presents one or more sets of cards from a given property, providing crisp images of each card’s front and back, with all of the pictures accompanied by background info or other anecdotes about the card set or the property in question. There are volumes devoted to fondly remembered sets like the Garbage Pail Kids, Wacky Packages, Bazooka Gum, and my personal favorites: Mars Attacks, Star Wars, and Star Trek. The last one is even cooler because it was written by friends and ace wordsmiths Paula M. Block and Terry J. Erdmann.

topps-collage

Each book is a true slice of nostalgic heaven, made even more interesting because in most cases, they’re developed with the help of someone who was actually involved in the creation of the particular card or sticker set, or at least is familiar with the film or TV property being highlighted that they can provide entertaining background text. The dust jackets are even made from a wax paper similar to the old pack wrappers, and reproduce the original art. They even bundle in extra, all-new “bonus cards” which fit seamlessly with your original set, should you be so lucky to still have them. All that’s missing is a stick of that hideous gum that came in every pack, but even that’s reproduced on the book’s cover.

topps-planetoftheapesWhich brings us to the latest entry in this series: Planet of the Apes: The Original Topps Trading Card Series. This book has a subtitle previously known only to me, and which I’m now sharing with you: Yet Another Book I’m Supremely Jealous I Didn’t Write.

Yeah.

When I was a kid in the 1970s, Planet of the Apes was my jam, ranking right up there with the original Star Trek and The Six Million Dollar Man as the favorite science fiction shows of my childhood. I never saw the original movies in a theater at that point, but I did watch every episode of the short-lived live action television series and its animated successor as broadcast. At the time, Apes had a pretty decent merchandising machine going, with all sorts of toys, comics, games, and other stuff on store shelves. Topps, arguably the king of bubble gum cards back then, seemed to be releasing card sets for every film and TV property it could find, and that included Planet of the Apes not once but twice. The first set was based on the original 1968 film, and which was long gone from stores by the time I was old enough to start collecting. Not so for the second set, which showcased the aforementioned TV show, and I was all over those cards like a dog on an unattended sandwich.

Just my luck! Planet of the Apes: The Original Topps Trading Card Series will be revisiting both sets, providing eager readers with a gloriously priced way to revisit these tasty slices of Apes goodness.

And hey! It releases on June 6th, just before my birthday. Go, me.

The only question left to answer is whether the bonus cards included in the book will fit with the TV set I still have.

Waiting until June is gonna suck.

Posted in apes, books, fandom, nerdity | 3 Comments