Happy 30th Anniversary, Lethal Weapon!

“Have you ever met anybody you didn’t kill?”

“Well, I haven’t killed you yet.”

LethalWeaponSpring, 1987: Some friends and I head out from the base to the movie theater, ready to check out what looks to be a pretty fun action movie. Ah, such innocent times. Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger were riding high, but Bruce Willis, Steven Seagal and Jean-Claude Van Damme were still waiting in the wings. What did we have? Mad Max as a “cop on the edge” partnering with…Albert from The Color Purple (or Mal from Silverado, if you prefer)?

Okay, then.

Our admittedly minor concerns were baseless of course, as Mel Gibson and Danny Glover bring us the first team-up of Martin Riggs and Roger Murtaugh, and proceed to lay down the smacketh upon all manner of criminal folk. Drug dealers, mercenaries, and other miscreants stand no chance against the “Lethal Weapon” and his partner, who may or may not be too old for this shit.

As unlikely partners, Riggs and Murtaugh soon find themselves hip deep in a murder mystery involving the daughter of an old war buddy friend of Murtaugh’s. Soon, the detectives uncover a drug trafficking scheme that stretches back to the Vietnam War, of which both cops are veterans harboring memories they’d rather not revisit. They dig too deeply, of course, and run afoul of the drug runners, who retaliate by taking Murtaugh’s daughter hostage. It quickly becomes apparent that the only way to deal with the problem is to let Riggs loose to do the one thing he does with uncanny skill…..

These days Mr. Gibson is perhaps better known for his directorial efforts (including the recently released and very well-regarded Hacksaw Ridge), and for some unfortunate personal issues that he’s battled, but back in 1987? He was The Man. Coming off his third turn as Max Rockatansky in Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome, Gibson gives us an all-new take on the tried and true “loner cop on the ragged edge” trope, with Glover serving as his older, more experienced, and ever-suffering compadre. The action, quips, and typical 80s tough-guy humor all come fast and furious as Gibson’s Martin Riggs shoots, punches, kicks, and otherwise pummels his way through a seemingly unending wave of bad guys. Gary Busey provides a worthy foil for Riggs, in the form of “Mr. Joshua,” loyal lieutenant to the movie’s main bad guy, General Peter McAllister.

Oh, and Eric Clapton is on hand to provide some kick-ass music, too.

Directed by Richard Donner (The Omen, Superman: The Movie, and The Goonies) from a script written by Shane Black, Lethal Weapon premiered on March 6th, 1987. It was the hot action ticket at the time, and of course spawned three sequels over the next eleven years (along with a sorta kinda cameo nod-type thing in 1994’s Maverick). There was talk for a long time about a fifth installment, but such discussions and gossip seemed to fade as the years went by. Whether that was due to Gibson’s off-screen troubles, a lack of involvement from director Donner – who directed the previous four films…oh, and Maverick with its aforementioned cameo nod-type thing – or the simple fact that he and Glover had aged out of the roles is fodder for the gossip mill. There also were rumors about a reboot of the property for the silver screen, with Gibson to be replaced with another, younger actor (Chris Hemsworth’s name was batted around for a time), but nothing ever materialized on the movie front.

Television is another story, however, with the franchise being reimagined in weekly series form beginning last fall on Fox. The show stars Clayne Crawford as Riggs and Damon Wayans as Murtaugh, and while the basic premise that drove the original film is honored in the broad strokes, the series has taken the characters and setup in their own direction. It didn’t hurt that writer/director Shane Black, who wrote the screenplay for the original Lethal Weapon film, helped series creator Matt Miller write the story and lay the series groundwork with the show’s first episode. Despite a few quibbles, I’m enjoying the new take on things and eager to see where the series goes.

As for the original film? I place it and its sequel alongside Die Hard as my favorite 80s-spawned action fests. (Don’t worry….Commando still gets in there, too.)

I’m not too old for this shit. Are you?

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Your Moment of TrekZen.*

Ever have one of those days?

trekzone

Created by prolific artist Francesco Francavilla. Check out more of his wonderful work at his Tumblr page, Francavillarts.

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

Posted in trek, TrekZen | 1 Comment

February writing wrap-up.

all-the-wordsFebruary come. February go.

It was a month of maneuvering pieces around the game board in preparation for the next big long bout of writing. The next month or three promises to be very busy on a couple of fronts, but I’m ready to get on with it.

While I’m getting set to dive into my next novel project, and there are plans afoot for two other books as well as a couple of short stories, I’m always on the lookout for something new to do. With that in mind, I made contact with an editor at another publishing house, and while we’re not discussing a particular project, there’s definite interest in putting me to work. I’m hoping to continue that dialogue in the weeks ahead, and see where things go.

(Note to editors: Have words, will write, yo. 😀 )

What have I been up to in the meantime? Well, let’s have a look at the February rundown:

Continue reading

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“Ten for Ward” #18 at StarTrek.com: 10 Star Trek Books I Wish I’d Written.

And so the good, innocent folk over at StarTrek.com asked me yet again to provide a new column, having obviously failed to heed the lessons of articles past. Because of that error in judgment, I was once again afforded the opportunity to pollute their virtual space with yet another installment of my irregularly recurring series for them, “Ten for Ward.”

For those of you new to this phenomenon, the premise is pretty simple: Every so often, I’m invited to provide a list of ten favorite (and hopefully interesting) Trek-related whatevers based on…well…whatever I can come up with at the time my editor tosses a treat into my cage and asks for a new column.

This time, I let juuuuuuuuuuust a teeny bit of jealousy peek out from behind the curtain, and compiled a list of Star Trek books of various flavors where I thought the premise and/or finished product was so cool that I honestly wish I’d written it myself. There have been many such books, Trek and otherwise, over the years, but I had to keep this list to ten (Hence the name. See what I did there?), otherwise we’d be here all day. For example:

trek-or-treat

Trek or Treat, by Terry Flanagan & Eleanor Ehrhardt – Decades before the internet would make memes and other funny pictures a bedrock component of our everyday online lives, there was this tome from 1977. Photos taken from TOS episodes get humorous captions, most of which are admittedly silly, but I DON’T CARE. This is an idea that demands revisiting and updating, by golly, and I’m your guy. So far as I’m concerned, this is the ONLY canon Star Trek book.

Check out the rest of the list — which includes shout-outs friends Paula Block, Terry Erdmann, David Mack, Greg Cox, Dean Wesley Smith, Paul Ruditis, and Rick Sternbach over at StarTrek.com:

Ten for Ward #18: 10 Star Trek Books I Wish I’d Written

You can also check out all of my “Ten for Ward” columns just by clicking on this logo-ish looking thing right here:

So, what do you think? Some other book(s) I should’ve listed, but didn’t? Or, maybe there’s a Star Trek book you wish you’d written? Let me know in the comments, here or over at the article itself.

Posted in books, lists, startrek.com, ten for ward, trek, writing | Leave a comment

30 years of Star Trek: The Next Generation novels. Wait….really?

Yeah, really.

(Warning: Completely self-serving post ahead!)

Thanks to an unrelated post I happened across on Facebook, I was reminded that 2017, in addition to marking the 30th anniversary of Star Trek: The Next Generation, means that novels based on the show are also sharing in that milestone.

Unlike those based on the original Star Trek series, TNG novels published by Pocket Books were hitting shelves even while the show itself was still very minty fresh. The first novel, Encounter at Farpoint written by David Gerrold, is a novelization of the show’s 2-part premiere episode. The first original TNG tie-in novel, Ghost Ship by Diane Carey, wouldn’t hit shelves until the following summer, but hey! Farpoint totally counts, as it definitely started the clock so far as books tying into this new era of Star Trek.

trek-tng-30yearsnovels

(This copy of Encounter at Farpoint is the very book I bought at a Waldenbooks in late September 1987, as I along with fellow Trekkies eagerly awaited the series premiere. This was also right around the time Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home was showing up on VHS that was cheap enough to buy rather than just rent, and the tape included a trailer for the new show. Those were the days, amirite?)

I have to be honest…I quit counting the number of Star Trek novels a long time ago, so I can’t tell you how many TNG books there’ve been. However, I can list some of my all-time favorites:

Survivors – Jean Lorrah – January 1989
Strike Zone – Peter David – March 1989
Metamorphosis – Jean Lorrah – March 1990
Vendetta – Peter David – May 1991
Q-In-Law – Peter David – October 1991
Requiem – Michael Jan Friedman & Kevin Ryan – October 1994
The Romulan Strategem – Robert Greenberger – May 1995
Crossover – Michael Jan Friedman – December 1995
Intellivore – Diane Duane – September 2000
Diplomatic Implausibility – Keith R.A. DeCandido – February 2001

I’ll cut it off at ten, but that’s just a sampling. Because of their ties to the original series, I also am a fan of books like Federation by Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens, as well the episode novelizations for “Unification” and “Relics,” both penned by Mike Friedman. I’m also not forgetting about more recent entries, such as David Mack’s A Time to Kill and A Time to Heal or his Destiny trilogy, or Bill Leisner’s Losing the Peace, or…………

(All right, I’ll stop, now….otherwise, we’ll be here all day. Feel free to offer your favorites in the comments.)

And now here we are, almost 30 years later, and TNG novels are still going strong. It’s been a lot of fun tinkering with Captain Picard and his merry Enterprise band. I just hope they keep letting me do it for a while. 🙂

Okay, then. Shameless nostalgia and whoring mode disengaged. We return you to your lives, already in progress.

Posted in books, fandom, nerdity, ramblings, trek, writing | 5 Comments

It’s a new interview! Because, that’s why.

dayton-speaknoevilOh, hell. What did I say this time?

Author/interviewer Michael Prelee put some questions to me a short while back, in the weeks leading up to the releases of Planet of the Apes: Tales from the Forbidden Zone and Headlong Flight.

Unlike other Q&A sessions I’ve done in recent weeks that focused on those two new publications, my virtual sit-down with Mike was more general in nature, with the questions covering a variety of writing related topics. Everything from my secret origin story to how I balance(d) writing with the demand of a full-time job, my brief forays into editing, and why the short story format can be just so gosh-darned fun.

The result?

MichaelPrelee.com: An Interview with Author Dayton Ward

Hope you dig it, and many thanks to Mike for reaching out.

 

Posted in interviews, q&a, writing, writing advice | Leave a comment

In today’s email: “How do I support my favorite authors?”

Spock-ReadingI get asked a variation of this question on a fairly regular basis, and so it was in today’s eMail:

Besides the obvious, which is buying the book, how else can readers support their favorite authors?

First, I sincerely appreciate the support that comes from people buying my books, because hey! I like to eat, and as it happens, so do my wife and kids. Getting paid to write is a privilege, and it’s one I take seriously. A big part of that is respecting the people who put time and money into my books – editors, publishers, and readers – by doing my best to make them feel that such investments aren’t wasted. I’m fully aware that I don’t always hit that mark, but I can promise that it’ll never be due to a lack of effort or caring.

How else can one show their support? Reviews are a rather easy way to share your feelings on a particular book. Post them to sites like Goodreads.com, and – yes – online booksellers like Amazon, B&N, etc. I don’t typically solicit reviews for my own books, so this is offered as a general, “Yes, post reviews of a book you’ve read if you really feel the need to say something.”

As for me, I don’t personally begrudge those who choose not to do this, or if they decide a book didn’t work for them and opt to review it accordingly. You bought and/or took the time to read it (and hopefully not through shady means like a pirated eBook or something), and are therefore entitled to review it or not as you see fit, and to have your say, good or bad.

On that previous point: If you’re not able to buy a book, don’t support pirate sites that offer illegal copies of eBooks. People who provide or support content in this manner are parasites, and I wish nothing but clouds of mosquitoes to infest their genital regions for all eternity.

Instead, check with your local library, many of which are constantly expanding their inter-library loan programs and digital lending services in order to offer ever-greater selections of titles for checkout. Libraries pay publishers for the books they offer, and writers eventually get a piece of that action. Plus, you’re supporting your local library while also giving some love to your favorite authors. Everybody wins, right?

If you are a book buyer, I strongly encourage you to patronize your local/independent bookseller, if you have one, when seeking books by your favorite authors. I’m a big fan of such stores, and I’ve been stepping up my own efforts to show that love as I’m able, in the ongoing battle to keep Amazon from eating everything. If it’s in print, chances are the bookseller can order you a copy at no additional cost, and they’ll usually order one or two more for the shelf if they decide it’s something that might appeal to some of their other customers.

My bookstore of choice is Readers World in Lee’s Summit, MO. They have a great staff, and they’re very, very supportive of local writers. If you don’t know whether you have such a store in your neck of the woods, you can search for one near you through sites like IndieBound: http://www.indiebound.org/.

Most authors have some kind of social media platform, these days – a website or blog, a Facebook page, a Twitter account, an Instagram page, and so on. If you’re into any or all of that, follow your favorite authors in those venues. If the author is doing the social media thing correctly, then you won’t be subjected to an endless barrage of sales pitches and “BUY MY BOOK!”-type posts. Instead, they’ll be…you know…social, but with the occasional sly marketing/shameless whoring post thrown in for flavor. Also, authors tend to follow other authors, so connecting with one may well introduce you to a whole slew of awesome word pushers you may not know, and then BAM! More cool shit for you to read.

It’s kind of contagious, that way.

These are just a few quick and easy tips, and I offer my thanks to the reader who posed the question in this morning’s eMail, simultaneously giving me food for thought while also providing fodder today’s blog post. 🙂

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It’s time for an “Ask Dayton Anything” thing. 

Why? Because I’m wrestling with updates to a novel outline and it’s making my brain and teeth hurt. I also have another outline that wants attention, and another one after that. 

Because outlines, I guess. 

Okay, 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 can’t conjure such a reply, you’ll instead receive a wise-assed comment, created just for you! It’s sort of like an “AMA” over on reddit, but without the requirement of me needing to shower afterward to get the reddit off of me.

Also, this little exercise shouldn’t be confused with the “Ask Dayton” bits that I do every so often over at the G&T Show. The guy who answers those queries is a rather surly dick who likes to growl and snap his way through whatever oddball questions the show’s listeners throw his way. While that guy looks like me, sounds like me, and has the same name as me, we’re two totally different people. Really.

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, the tragedy of a show like Full House getting a Netflix renewal while Firefly fans are left sleeping in the wet spot, 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?

Posted in ask dayton, friends, q&a | 10 Comments

Talking Headlong Flight with Literary Treks!

headlongflight-coverSo, I’m babbling again. Hey, it happens. What’s weird is that people insist on recording these nonsensical streams of yammering, for later presentation.

This time, it’s hosts Dan Gunther and Bruce Gibson, with an assist from former host Matthew Rushing, from Literary Treks, the Trek.fm podcast that focuses on the realm of Star Trek novels and comics. The topic of our little gabfest? My recently released Star Trek: The Next Generation novel Headlong Flight.

Naturally, we cover the story’s setup, which I confess can be a bit confusing at the beginning, and having to juggle multiple sets of characters while attempting to explore the potential those characters hint at. We also talk a bit about the book’s ending, and how now that I’ve seen some reader reactions, that maybe I might have done some things differently if given the chance. Not to say I’m unhappy with the book’s ending, but that I do take notice when people give me some delicious food for thought.

NOTE: For those who might be thinking of listening to this podcast before finishing the novel, please be aware that spoiler discussion is all over the place here.

Otherwise? I hope you enjoy the conversation, as the Literary Treks gang gives good interview.

lit-treks180.jpg

Literary Treks #180: “Seeing Geordis In My Sleep”

Many thanks as always to Dan, Bruce, and Matt for inviting me on the show. I look forward to our paths crossing again somewhere down the line.

Posted in books, interviews, podcasts, trek, writing | Leave a comment

Announcing Maximum Velocity: The Best of Full-Throttle Space Tales!

Back in 2008 at the Starfest Convention, I was approached by editor David Rozansky of Flying Pen Press and writer/editor David Boop about editing a collection of short stories for the publisher’s series of pulp-style science fiction stories, Full-Throttle Space Tales. After soliciting stories from friends and other recommended authors, sifting through a veritable gushing fountain of awesome entries, I was able to whittle down the 100+ submissions I received into an offering of 18 stories. The results of my freshman editing effort became Space Grunts, the third installment of the FTST series, which was published in March of 2009.

spacegrunts-coverThere ultimately were six FTST anthologies, each with a different theme and a broad selection of stories to go with their respective book’s central premise:

Space Pirates – edited by David Lee Summers
Space Sirens – edited by Carol Hightshoe
Space Grunts – edited by moi
Space Horrors – edited by David Lee Summers
Space Tramps – edited by Jennifer Brozek
Space Battles – edited by Bryan Thomas Schmidt

Flying Pen has since stopped publishing fiction. All of the original anthologies are out of print (and a couple are listed on sites like Amazon with some truly bizarre secondary market prices), and the rights to the individual stories have reverted back to their original authors.

Skip ahead to early 2014, when David Lee Summers first broached the idea of finding a way to reprint the original FTST anthologies, perhaps with an eye toward one day reviving the series. Though all of the editors were intrigued by the idea, it lay dormant for a while as we all tended to other things on our respective plates. Then, in the summer of 2015, I was at a convention with David and Jennifer Brozek, and revisit the notion. Finding a home for six collections of short stories seemed to be a rather daunting task, so the idea of creating a “Best of” anthology was hatched, while retaining the hope of this perhaps kick-starting a FTST revival.

David, with the help of the aforementioned David Boop, then took our idea to best-selling and award-winning author/editor Kevin J. Anderson, who happens to have his own independent publishing company, WordFire Press. Kevin was enthusiastic about hosting our little anthology, so with that in our pocket, we five editors got to work figuring out what would go in it.

The idea was simple: Each editor selected three to five stories from one of the anthologies for consideration by the other editors. To keep things as impartial as possible, we decided to reread the anthology that came before ours in the sequence (with David pulling double duty since he’d edited two). For example, I went through the stories collected in the second anthology, Space Sirens, and made my recommendations.

The result of our various email conversations, teeth gnashing, sword fighting, thumb wrestling, and so on?

maximum-velocity-front-cover

(Click to Biggie Size)

FULL SPEED AHEAD!

The Full-Throttle Space Tales series collected action-packed, high-octane, science fiction stories across the full potential of the genre. Here, the original editors have teamed up to pick the very best of Full-Throttle Space Tales, eighteen stories collected here for the first time.

Stories by David Boop • C.J. Henderson • W.A. Hoffman • Julia Phillips
David Lee Summers • Carol Hightshoe • Irene Radford • Bob Brown
Scott Pearson • Alan L. Lickiss • Danielle Ackley-McPhail • Dayton Ward
Anna Paradox • Ivan Ewert • Erik Scott de Bie • Shannon Page • Mark J. Ferrari
Gene Mederos • Jean Johnson • Mike Resnick •  Brad R. Torgersen

Buckle up, because we’re accelerating to
MAXIMUM VELOCITY!


Pretty cool, eh?

Maximum Velocity: The Best of Full-Throttle Space Tales, is currently set for publication in June. More details as they firm up, but it’s very possible I’ll have copies with me for the upcoming Shore Leave Convention. Stay tuned, folks, because we’re about to go Full-Throttle!

Posted in books, friends, space grunts, writing | 3 Comments