The way-late March writing wrap-up.

And once again, I have to apologize for it being pretty uneventful in this space over the last month, but I promise it’s for good reasons. Honest!

It’s been busy on the work front, as you’ll hopefully see down below. My wife and I celebrated 32 years of marriage last month, and the kids are now on a headlong flight (no, not that one) toward the end of yet another school year.

In the meantime, while I wasn’t typing gibberish into this space, I was busy elsewhere. Here’s a peek into what some of that entailed, otherwise known as the March rundown….

Continue reading “The way-late March writing wrap-up.”

Happy 55th Anniversary, 2001: A Space Odyssey!

Eighteen months ago, the first evidence of intelligent life off the Earth was discovered. It was buried forty feet below the lunar surface, near the crater Tycho. Except for a single, very powerful radio emission aimed at Jupiter, the four million-year-old black monolith has remained completely inert, its origin and purpose still a total mystery.

Hey! It’s time to salute 1968’s other enduring classic science fiction movie. You know…the one without the talking apes. It’s perhaps one of the most discussed, debated, analyzed, respected, reviled, misunderstood and even frustrating films ever committed to celluloid, made all the more fascinating by the fact its director — at least at the time — basically told all of us, “Have fun with this shit, kids. I’m out.”

Following its world premiere in Washington, D.C., the night before, 2001: A Space Odyssey opened in wide release in the U.S. on April 3rd, 1968. Is there really anybody who’s not at least familiar with the film’s basic plot? In a nutshell, there’s some mysterious uber-peeps way out on Jupiter, who may well have muddled about here on Earth millions of years ago and thereby influenced the development of early humanity. These same peeps bury a benign booby trap of sorts on the Moon, and our finding and digging it up trips a switch that fires off a message back to Jupiter that–more or less–says, “The children are out of their crib and are snooping around.” We send a spaceship and some astronauts out to Jupiter to see what’s what, and…well…let’s just say things get weird from there, and that’s before the ship’s computer, HAL, loses its shit.

The film has been the subject and target of much scrutiny pretty much since the moment of its release. Countless theories abound as to its message(s) and meaning(s), and opinions are about as wide-ranging as the selections of beef jerky at a truck stop. Your mileage, as they say, may vary.

Directed by the late, great Stanley Kubrick, 2001 has its genesis in a couple of short stories written by Arthur C. Clarke, most notably “The Sentinel.” Clarke and Kubrick developed the story behind the film, and Clarke also penned a novel which was released later in 1968. The novel does much to fill in some of the blanks Kubrick deliberately left in the movie, though it diverges from its onscreen sibling on one major point: in the book, the spaceship Discovery is sent to Saturn, rather than Jupiter. Saturn was the movie’s original destination, as well, but was changed when it became evident that special effects footage of the ringed planet would not measure up to the rest of the film’s opticals. The practical and visual effects–many of them employing techniques developed for 2001–still stand toe to toe with more recent and lavishly-budgeted FX-heavy films.

Speaking of the production side of things, there are numerous books, magazine articles and essays, and documentaries devoted to that effort. If you can find them, I recommend these:

The Lost Worlds of 2001, by Arthur C. Clarke
The Making of Kubrick’s 2001, by Jerome Agel
2001: Filming the Future, by Piers Bizony

And if you can find it, the German publisher Taschen released a lavish, oversized book, The Making of Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, in 2015. Formatted so the book resembles the Monolith, it is stuffed with gorgeous photographs, drawings, and notes from the film’s production. Good luck getting your hands on a copy, though, as it’s been sold out for years.

Clarke would revisit the setting he created with Kubrick with three more novels: 2010: Odyssey Two (1982), 2061: Odyssey Three (1987), and 3001: The Final Odyssey (1997). The first sequel, of course, was the basis for the 1984 film 2010, which actually works better on its own when/if you can set aside the fact it’s supposed to be a follow-up to “the greatest science fiction film ever made.”


To this day, 2001 continues to inspire, befuddle, and annoy viewers and critics, which is pretty much the most you ever can ask of any story. If you’ve not seen it, then you owe it to yourself to give it a spin. Same goes for Clarke’s novel; it’s definitely worth the read.

“Open the pod bay doors, HAL.”

Announcing Iron Man: Tony Stark Declassified!

So, yeah. Here’s a thing that’s happening.

Last year, I was approached by friend and fellow word pusher Robb Pearlman, who at the time was working as an editor for BenBella Books, about coming aboard there to work on a new project, which was to be the first in a series of tomes, highlighting various popular characters from Marvel Comics. Robb thought the deep dive which would be required and the need to write with a strong “in-world voice” was something for which I was well-suited, as apparently evidenced by my work on (among other things), the Star Trek travel guides for Vulcan and the Klingon Empire.

Hey. What can I say? It’s nice to be loved.

After convincing Robb (it didn’t really take much convincing) that my collaborating with my hetero life mate, Kevin, would be a wise move on part for the project being described, we signed contracts, had our first meetings with representatives from Marvel, developed an outline, and then we were off to the races. The result?


Cover for Iron Man: Tony Stark Declassified
(Click to enlarge)

The challenge of boiling down 70 years of comics* and related information into something approaching 75,000 words was no easy feat. Even Marvel’s famous “sliding timescale” with its inherent streamlining, revising, and updating of major events across the character’s entire publication history to fit within a supposed 13-year timespan still left us with a lot of information to summarize and organize.

* That’s right! This is all comics continuity, rather than the Marvel Cinematic Universe films.

Sure, this presented a challenge, but what made it fun was the idea this isn’t and never was intended to be a simple distillation, recitation, or adaptation of events from the comics. Instead, our task was to climb into Tony Stark’s head and try to find out what makes him tick, how he’s navigated the twists and turns of his rather remarkable and just plain weird life, and perhaps gain a bit of insight into Tony Stark, the man who would be Iron Man.

From the back cover:

Millions of comic book fans know Tony Stark as Iron Man. But few, if any, truly know the man inside the armor.

This fully authorized book tells the story of one of Marvel Comics’ most heroic, heralded, and complex characters—in his own words as well as notes, interviews, and files assembled from the Avengers’ archives.

An unprecedented, comprehensive firsthand chronicle, Iron Man: Tony Stark Declassified draws on more than a half century of classic tales to present an insightful, personal take about—and by—one of the most talked-about heroes of all time.

Featuring Tony’s perspective on his most important friends, allies, and enemies including  Captain America, Pepper Potts, Happy Hogan, James Rhodes, Ironheart, Bruce Banner, Hellcat, and Arno Stark, and his thoughts on the Marvel Universe’s most memorable moments, this first-of-its-kind archival collection is a must for fans of all ages.

Pretty cool, amirite? Want a sneak peek at some prototype pages? Note these are early samples and don’t reflect anything final. They were created before the manuscript was reviewed by Marvel or even copyedited, so just relax and breathe regular, all right?

Sample pages 2-3. Click to enlarge
Sample Pages 1
Sample pages 4-5. Click to enlarge

Iron Man: Tony Stark Declassified is currently scheduled for publication on November 14th in trade paperback and eBook formats. Pre-order links are already available for Amazon and Barnes & Noble, but if you have an independent bookstore near you I’d highly encourage you to patronize their shop and let them take care of you.

Also, remember when I mentioned this would be the first of a series? Well, the second book, Black Panther: T’Challa Declassified is currently gestating under the mighty fingers of noted author Maurice Broaddus and is currently slated for release on January 30, 2024. As I write this, I know of two additional books in development, with announcements to come at the appropriate time.

Meanwhile, be sure to check out the official announcement of these first to titles over at

We’ll be sharing more info as this moves ever closer to publication, so stay tuned!

Happy Birthday, William Shatner!

Today we’re celebrating the 92nd 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 over a span of eight decades. Seriously, go look at his IMDB entry. I get tired just reading it, and that’s not even counting writing, producing, and directing credits. It’s even money you can find him somewhere on your TV right now. He’s working on three or four new projects even as I type this, and he shows no signs of slowing down. The dude even went to space, for crying out loud.

The one and only William Shatner: 92 years old, and still running circles around people half his age. I’ll have what he’s having.

Happy Birthday, sir. May you enjoy many more.

Happy 50th Birthday to The Six Million Dollar Man!

That’s right! Fifty years ago today, television audiences got their first look at Steve Austin: a man barely alive, and got to watch as he was made better, stronger, and faster for the tidy sum of just six million dollars.

Title card from the original The Six Million Dollar Man TV film.

Based on Martin Caidin’s 1972 novel Cyborg, The Six Million Dollar Man was the first of what would be three television “movies of the week.” Adapting the original book in rather broad fashion , this initial outing gives us the story of Steve Austin, a test pilot tasked with flying a new experimental “lifting body” craft which at the time was a prototype for what eventually became the Space Shuttle. As in the book, Austin suffers horrific injuries when the aircraft crashes, including the loss of both legs, one arm and one eye.

Along comes the government, in the form of Oliver Spencer (substituting for Oscar Goldman in the novel and played by the always delightful Darren McGavin, showing up between his own first two appearances as Carl Kolchak in The Night Stalker and The Night Strangler TV films), who proposes taking Austin’s mangled body and marrying it to a revolutionary form of prosthetics known as “bionics.” Once fitted with new cybernetic limbs and other necessary components, Austin will be far stronger and faster than any normal human, making him the ideal candidate for special missions in which his new abilities will be well-suited. Spencer’s cold, even callous outlook on the plan and its need for a human test subject (“Accidents happen all the time. We’ll just start with scrap.”) will be echoed years later in a film with a similar origin story for its central character, RoboCop.

Steve Austin running to test his new bionics, as first seen in the original TV film and later in the opening credits sequence of the weekly series.

After all the surgeries along with the accompanying rehabilitation and physical and emotional therapy, Austin is sent to the Middle East on a top-secret mission (very much watered down from the assignment he’s given in the book), where his special nature helps see him through to the end. What’s next? Well, I guess we’ll see.

It’s worth noting that the Steve Austin we meet in Caidin’s novel really isn’t all that likeable a guy. To be honest? He’s kind of a dick, though you can understand and even sympathize with his attitude given the situation into which he’s been thrust. For TV, Austin is definitely someone you want to root for, owing in large part to an understated performance from Lee Majors. Yes, Majors has always taken heat for appearing to lack a lot of acting range at this point in his career, but it actually works here as he navigates the bizarre circumstances visited upon his character.

The original telefilm was popular enough to warrant a pair of follow-ups — Wine, Women and War and The Solid-Gold Kidnapping — later in 1973, which of course begat the weekly television series which premiered in January 1974. This first movie doesn’t have many of the things people remember about The Six Million Dollar Man: No iconic opening credits sequence, no Oscar Goldman, no bionic sound effects, no bionic eye reticle, none of that awesome music by Oliver Nelson which would become such a vital part of the weekly episodes. Even the slow-motion running effect is used very sparingly here, and even then not in the same way which soon would come to personify the whole “bionic action” sight gag.

What? You said you want to see what still ranks as one of the absolute best opening credits bits ever? Well, BAM!

Following the original Cyborg novel, Caidin would pen three sequels, which would be published while the television series was in production. Several novelizations of TV episodes also would be published, and the authors of these books would–more often than not–model their characterizations of Steve Austin more on Caidin’s version than the show itself.

As for the television series, it would last five seasons, the last three alongside its spin-off, The Bionic Woman starring Lindsay Wagner. These were followed by three reunion movies, 1987’s Return of the Six Million Dollar Man and the Bionic Woman, 1989’s Bionic Showdown and 1994’s Bionic Ever After?

Bionic Woman was a 2007 attempt to remake Lindsay Wagner’s series, though it lasted only one season. There are also on-again/off-again rumors of a big-budget cinematic remake of one or both of the series.


In the meantime, here’s to you Steve Austin: You’re the man! The Six Million Dollar Man!

February writing wrap-up.

Previously, on The Fog of Ward:

Wow. February really is a short month, isn’t it?

Yeah, it’s been very, very quiet around these parts these past several weeks. A good bit of that can be explained by work, and a bit less by my own writing as well as other activities and obligations. If I’m being honest, there was also a dash of “I really just don’t feel like it” happeing, too. I think I’m going through a period of evaluation when it comes to how and where I focus time and energy. This blog has never been a place where I reflect deeply on current events, politics, or other topics of general interest. There are other, more talented individuals out there who can and do perform those duties in a manner far superior than I ever could.

The same goes for writing advice or instruction. I’ve never viewed myself as a particularly gifted or “wise” writer, able to channel my knowledge and experience toward those seeking to learn from me. I try, of course, because I still feel a desire to help someone when I’m asked. Still, I’m well aware there are those much better suited to offering that sort of advice and who do so every day with consummate poise and skill.

Then there’s me.

I babble about what I’m working on, or whatever nugget of nonsense tickles my fancy on any given day. The internet is littered with places such as this, and I’m usually asking myself some version of, “Do I really want to add to that?” Well, it seems to be all I’ve got, and I at least have the class and decency not to charge you for putting up with me. So, we have that going for us, which is nice.

Eh. I’ll figure it out. Or, I won’t. LET’S SEE WHAT HAPPENS NEXT.

In the meantime, while I wasn’t typing gibberish into this space, I was busy elsewhere. Here’s a peek into what some of that entailed, otherwise known as the February rundown….

Continue reading “February writing wrap-up.”

High Noon on Proxima B

It’s always high noon on Proxima B. All original stories about the final frontier.


Adventure! Danger! Revenge! And a mail-order robot gunslinger in a wedding dress? Only in the wildest parts of space could this happen. It’s time again to get in your ramshackle rocket ship and journey to the universe’s western territories with this follow-up to Gunfight on Europa Station.

Meet the employees of a space bordello as they’re drawn together to pull a con on a con. Or the crew filming a Western on a colony ship only to fight gravity and each other. Or a soldier on a backwater planet hiding from her past when it—and the military—finally tracks her down. Each voyage invokes the type of western yarns you’ve loved before, but with a science fiction upgrade you’ll get to enjoy anew.

Taking you on this ride are another set of astounding space opera authors such as Walter Jon Williams (Hardwired), Susan R. Matthews (Under Jurisdiction), Dayton Ward and Kevin Dilmore (Star Trek), Brenda Cooper (Project Earth), Milton Davis (Changa’s Safari), John E. Stith (Naught for Hire), and Peter J. Wacks (Caller of Lightning).

High Noon on Proxima B. Ten tales of the West . . . not as it was, but as it might be!

When friend and editor David Boop invited to Kevin and me to participate in this anthology, it was one of several opportunities over the last couple of years that have allowed us to experiment with some new ideas, including setting up characters and premises we’re keen to revisit in future stories as time and circumstances allow. The story we wrote for this anthology, “Past Sins,” is hopefully just the first tale of Myla Dynion, a woman who learns she can’t outrun her former life. It’s a little bit Spaghetti Western and a little bit Firefly with a dollop of cyberpunk tossed into the mix. We managed to entertain ourselves fairly well with this one, so hopefully that translates to readers enjoying our efforts, as well.

High Noon on Proxima B is now officially on sale from Baen Books and Simon & Schuster. If you can’t find or order it from your local/independent bookseller, there are also the usual online book haunts:
Barnes & Noble

Meanwhile, Kevin and I have already had some fun conversations about where we might take Myla and everything else we left on the table at the end of this story. I guess we’ll see what we see!

January writing wrap-up.

Didn’t we just do this…like…a month ago?

I didn’t head into 2023 at full throttle, as the year ended with Kevin and I working to finish revisions to the big project that’s dominated our collaborative efforts of late. More on that down below.

Wait. I don’t have any really good reason to keep from just moving on to the January rundown, so let’s get after it:

Continue reading “January writing wrap-up.”

Star Trek: Discovery – Somewhere to Belong has a cover!

Look at that, right? The big news, laid out right there in the headline. No enticing you to click through to a crappy “independent” news or gossip site. No leading you on in a wild goose chase as you desperately attempt to decipher whatever encrypted message to which I might be alluding before making you suffer through a poorly written if not A.I.-generated and badly edited piece which offers information of little to no consequence.

That’s right, people. I respect you all enough to make sure that when I offer you information of little or no consequence, it’s locally sourced directly from my own keyboard.

“Hey, Dayton,” I can hear comeone calling from the stands. “Get on with it.”


You’re here because you probably saw a tease of the pic included wherever the link to this post pops up, so here’s the whole thing. As created by artist Cliff Nielsen, the cover to my upcoming Star Trek: Discovery novel Somewhere to Belong:

Continue reading “Star Trek: Discovery – Somewhere to Belong has a cover!”

20 years ago today: Columbia

On the morning of February 1, 2003, the Space Shuttle Columbia was returning to Earth after a successful 16-day mission when it 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 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 crewed space flight, and nothing about it is “simple” or “routine.” I did and still believe our exploration of space is a worthy and necessary endeavor, and I hope the sacrifices made by men and women such as Columbia‘s crew will always 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