I’ve just gotten the proofreading galleys for my new Hub story “Make Hub, Not War” from Analog, and they indicate that the story will be included in the November 2013 issue. I checked with the folks at Analog and they confirmed it. Now, the current issue is July/August, and apparently came out earlier this month, which would suggest that the November issue will be out in maybe 4 months, around September, give or take. Which happens to be around the same time Only Superhuman comes out in paperback! So that’ll be a big month (give or take) for my original fiction.
In other news, I’ve just updated my website with some preliminary discussion of Star Trek: Enterprise — Rise of the Federation: A Choice of Futures, though there’s little there that I haven’t already said here on the blog.
Empire Magazine‘s site has posted a feature on Pocket’s Star Trek novel line, focusing mainly on the series that expand the universe beyond the aired shows:
This includes some series that I’ve been a part of; Department of Temporal Investigations gets a whole page, and their “if you read only one” recommendation for Titan is my Over a Torrent Sea. Plus there’s an oblique reference to The Buried Age on their page for The Lost Era, though they don’t mention it by name. I do wish they’d spelled my last name correctly, but otherwise I appreciate the attention, both on my behalf and that of my colleagues.
This is interesting… a fan called Nikk Roy has put together book trailers for the segments of Star Trek: Myriad Universes — Infinity’s Prism, including my own Voyager-centric tale Places of Exile. How do you make a video trailer for an alternate-timeline book featuring events that never happened onscreen? Here’s how:
Pretty clever. There are also trailers for Bill Leisner’s A Less Perfect Union (thanks to Bill for bringing this to my attention) and James Swallow’s Seeds of Dissent. I think those were a little harder to find appropriate footage for, though.
Simon & Schuster has now posted the cover image and blurb for Star Trek: Enterprise — Rise of the Federation: A Choice of Futures.
A new nation has arisen from the ashes of the Romulan War: the United Federation of Planets, an unprecedented union of diverse species cooperating for the good of all. Admiral Jonathan Archer—the former captain of the Earth starship Enterprise, whose efforts made this union possible—envisions a vibrant Federation promoting galactic peace and a multispecies Starfleet dedicated to exploring strange new worlds. Archer’s former crewmates, including Captain T’Pol of the U.S.S. Endeavour and Captain Malcolm Reed of the U.S.S. Pioneer, work with him to secure that bright future. Yet others within the Federation see its purpose as chiefly military, a united defense against a dangerous galaxy, while some of its neighbors view that military might with suspicion and fear. And getting the member nations, their space fleets, and even their technologies to work together as a unified whole is an ongoing challenge.
When a new threat emerges from a force so alien and hostile that negotiation seems impossible, a group of unaligned worlds asks Starfleet to come to its defense, and the Federation’s leaders seize the opportunity to build their reputation as an interstellar power. But Archer fears the conflict is building toward an unnecessary war, potentially taking the young nation down a path it was never meant to follow. Archer and his allies strive to find a better solution…but old foes are working secretly to sabotage their efforts and ensure that the great experiment called the Federation comes to a quick and bloody end.
Admittedly, the cover image is a little inaccurate. Archer’s in the Earth Starfleet dress uniform he wore as a captain in the series finale “These Are the Voyages,” rather than the Federation Starfleet admiral’s uniform he wears in the novel. But this is as close as Pocket’s art department could come with the available and approved photo references, apparently.
Anyway, I returned the final galley corrections to my editor yesterday morning, so the text of the novel is now pretty much locked, and it’s scheduled to go out to the printers on Tuesday. Hopefully we caught all the mistakes. The book will go on sale in about two months now. In the meantime, I’ll be getting back to work on Book 2.
It’s been a long time coming, but I’m pleased to announce that Analog Science Fiction and Fact will be publishing the third installment of my “Hub” series of novelettes, following “The Hub of the Matter” from the March 2010 issue and “Home is Where the Hub Is” from the December 2010 issue. The story is titled “Make Hub, Not War”, and will examine the question of how the existence of the Hub — the only known means of faster-than-light transportation and thus the one point that all interstellar travel must pass through — affects the nature and opportunities for warfare. It will also feature the first look at Earth in the Hub era and flesh out the background of the series’ human leads. All in all, it’s my most ambitious story yet in the series.
Which is part of why it took me so long to finish, I suppose. Once I realized the story I was telling would take me to Earth, that made things more complex, since I had to figure out both the state of things on Earth and the backgrounds of David and Nashira, and figure out how to balance those things with the rest of the story. It took a while to work out the best way to proceed. Plus I’ve been kept busy the past couple of years with Only Superhuman and my Star Trek work, so “Make Hub, Not War” often had to take a back seat.
I’m relieved this story sold, to be honest, because during the gap between stories, Analog‘s editor Stanley Schmidt, who gave me my start in this business, retired, and I wasn’t sure his successor Trevor Quachri would have tastes compatible with the Hub stories. Since it’s the third in a series, I wasn’t sure what my options would’ve been if Analog hadn’t bought it. Although Trevor tells me he thinks the story stands well on its own. Anyway, I’m glad the run of the Hub stories in Analog is continuing, and I hope it won’t be for the last time. (So many Hub-related title puns left to make…)
There’s no scheduled publication date yet, but I’d expect it to be sometime around the start of 2014 or, with luck, the end of this year. I’ll announce the date once it’s settled.
The contracts are signed, the outline approved, and the writing underway, so I’ve been cleared to announce that my next Star Trek novel, following this July’s Rise of the Federation: A Choice of Futures, will be a sequel entitled Star Trek: Enterprise — Rise of the Federation: Tower of Babel. That’s right — the buzz for Book 1 has apparently been so strong that I’ve already been asked for Book 2 (indeed, I got the invitation about a week before I even turned in the manuscript for ACoF!). It’s always been my hope that ACoF would be the first of a series, but for the past few months I’ve had to tiptoe around confirming that it now will be.
Tower of Babel will move the story of the Federation’s early years forward into 2164, and the title offers a hint about its subject matter. I can’t tease much about it yet, since there’s a lot about Book 1 that hasn’t even been publicized yet. But it will continue to develop the main story and character threads of Book 1 and will add some new ones, both following up on Enterprise and laying the groundwork for the world of The Original Series, and featuring more exploration of new worlds (at least, new to the characters, and not well-explored in canon or literature to date) than I managed to fit into Book 1. I don’t yet know what its publication date will be, but considering that the manuscript due date is about seven and a half months after the previous one, I daresay it’ll probably be sometime in early 2014.
As for A Choice of Futures, I was hoping the cover would be available sometime around now, but apparently there’s been some delay in the process, so nothing yet, alas.
Well, I finally got my author copies of the Only Superhuman audiobook adaptation from GraphicAudio. It’s been getting uniformly 5-star reviews at their site, which is nice to see. Here’s what it looks like:
(There are seven discs, in four two-pocket sleeves. No liner notes or anything, just a GraphicAudio catalog and a promotional postcard for a couple of their other products.)
So what does it sound like? Pretty good. Naturally my experience of it is going to be different from most people’s, since I’ve had my own idea about what the major characters sound like for years, and can’t help comparing the voice cast and their performances against the soundtrack in my head. And naturally, a number of the voices and performance choices are different from what I imagined. But considering that I had no input into the production, it’s actually gratifying how close it comes to what I had in mind.
GraphicAudio is apparently based in the DC area, since (as far as I can Google) many of their actors seem to be stage performers from that area. Unfortunately, the end credits only list the five lead performers by role, so I can’t identify who played the rest of the characters.
The director and narrator is Nanette Savard (who also plays Lois Lane for the company’s DC Comics adaptations), who has a voice quality a bit like how I imagine Emerald’s voice — not much, but enough to make her an appropriate choice to narrate a book told mostly from Emry’s POV. (And enough to spark the idle thought that maybe the narrator is an older Emry, or maybe a descendant, telling the story in retrospect.) She does a solid job, striking a good balance between detachment and emotional expressiveness.
Emerald herself is played by Alyssa Wilmoth Keegan (billed here as Alyssa Wilmoth). She’s not exactly what I had in mind (she’s mezzo rather than full soprano), and she’s not the screamer Emry’s described as in the text (which might’ve been too hard on the actress’s voice, granted), but she’s actually quite a good choice for the role vocally, with the right kind of rough edge and attitude, and she does a good job of capturing Emry’s blend of street-hardened toughness and youthful vulnerability. I’m really quite pleased with her performance, especially in some of Emry’s big emotional speeches in the final chapter or two. Wilmoth’s husband Thomas Keegan plays Zephyr, and he’s almost exactly what I was going for — a mellow baritone with a very human, laid-back, amiable delivery, rather than something more robotic as I feared we might get. Having a married couple play Emry and her devoted ship is a good choice chemistry-wise.
Eliot Thorne is played, coincidentally, by Elliot Dash, who’s very effective in the role. Dash’s voice took me a bit of getting used to, since I’ve always imagined Thorne as sounding like Avery Brooks or Keith David’s Goliath from Gargoyles, a smooth, controlled basso, while Dash’s voice reminds me more of Paul Winfield’s, and he imparts the role with more passion and less reserve than I imagined. Still, he gives the role the gravitas, intensity, and oratorical splendor it deserves.
I’m afraid I wasn’t quite as impressed by Colleen Delany (also GraphicAudio’s Wonder Woman) as Psyche. She has broadly the right type of voice and does an okay job, but her performance is a bit too polished and announcer-like to be entirely convincing for me. Perhaps the problem is that the bar in my mind is set so very high. Psyche’s supposed to have an incredibly beautiful, warmly seductive voice, a smooth and mellow alto — my ideal voice-casting choice would be Gina Torres. It would’ve been difficult to find anyone who really lived up to my hopes.
As for the rest of the cast, there are more hits than misses, and I wish I could match the actors to the roles. The performers playing Greg Tai and Sally Knox are ideal. The portrayers of Emry’s parents splendidly capture their personalities; Lyra’s pitch is lower than what I had in mind, but that was probably a better choice in terms of casting a maternal voice. Arkady Nazarbayev turned out very well; I didn’t have a clear voice for him in my head, but they cast an actor who sounds uncannily like Clancy Brown, which is just the sort of voice-casting choice I might’ve made myself had it occurred to me. Javon Moremba is very close to what I wanted, and in fact the way their actor delivered the line “But I loved this car!” was almost exactly what I hear in my head. And while there was no hope of getting Hanuman Kwan to sound like he does in my head (because I wrote him with Roddy McDowall’s inimitably wonderful voice in mind, despite claiming he was Australian), their actor, while more of a Tony Randall-ish baritone, captured the delivery and personality I had in mind quite well. Plus, though it’s a tiny role, Blitz is handled better than I ever imagined, sounding almost like a Mark Hamill villain voice. Other supporting characters like Rachel, Lodestar, and Hijab are solidly handled.
There are a few choices that don’t work as well for me. I feel their Koyama Hikari was miscast; the actress’s voice and delivery would’ve worked well for Ruki Shimoda but just aren’t right for Kari. I’m not crazy about their Cowboy, whose accent is too goofy; granted, it’s supposed to be a corny affectation that Emry finds ludicrous, but they took it too far and I feel it undermines the character’s menace. And their Sensei Villareal is just completely wrong. Sensei is supposed to be a wise, charming mentor figure, a respected hero renowned for his integrity, an aging swashbuckler and Latin lover. (My mental model for the character was Henry Darrow, who played Zorro in two early ’80s shows and Zorro’s father in a ’90s show.) The actor here doesn’t come close to conveying any of that, and has a stilted and unconvincing delivery. It’s the one performance that works against, not only my own intentions and expectations, but what’s actually there in the spoken text.
Still, given how many voices they had to cast, and given my total lack of input beyond what’s on the page, it’s impressive that there were so few misses.
(Other “voices in my head” that guided me as I wrote: For Emry, Lenore Zann, the voice of Rogue from the ’90s X-Men animated series — though I often thought Bernadette Peters would be a good alternative, and lately I’ve felt that Amy Jo Johnson’s voice would be a great fit. For Tai, Daniel Dae Kim. For Javon, Khary Payton. For Bast, Julie Newmar or Eartha Kitt. For Zephyr, I’ve always tended to imagine Kevin Conroy doing a deeper version of his Bruce Wayne voice, but I’ve never been sure that was the best choice; Zephyr’s supposed to have a voice women find really sexy, and that’s not something I’m particularly qualified to assess. Thomas Keegan actually sounds a lot like Conroy, though with a bit of David Hyde-Pierce mixed in.)
I do wish they’d consulted me on a couple of pronunciations, though, as well as some of the casting choices. They use Americanized pronunciations for “Villareal” and “Lydie Clement” (they rhyme “Lydie” with “Heidi”) when I intended them to have, respectively, Spanish and French pronunciations. On the other hand, I realize that I’ve been Americanizing the pronunciation of “Arkady” all these years, saying it like “arcade-y” when the Russian A is pretty much always pronounced “ah.” So the audiobook has set me straight on that one.
So what about the adaptation of the text? At nearly 8 hours, it’s fairly thorough, but not comprehensive; a significant amount of stuff is trimmed out. In particular, Kari’s scenes are heavily cut down, making her a considerably more minor character here than in the original. (Ironic, since I’ve grown very fond of Kari and intend to feature her heavily if there are sequels.) In general, supporting characters’ backstories are glossed over, so a lot of the personal detail — as well as some of the technical detail and exposition — is absent. Action scenes are streamlined, which makes sense from a pacing standpoint; and most of the sex is trimmed down or omitted, though a lot of the nudity remains (and there’s even one point where the streamlining of the text results in more nudity than there was originally). A few of the cuts are a bit awkward, though, deleting a scene but leaving in a later reference to something from that scene. (In particular, Kari’s battle peace and personal guilt are mentioned even though the explanations for both are deleted.) There are a couple of points where lines are assigned to the wrong character, but they’re ambiguous enough that they kind of still work that way. Also, it’s not based on the final copyedited draft of the manuscript; there are some details and word choices that I remember altering in the final version, and my last-minute addition of Kari using high-tech tessen fans as weapons is missing.
There are a couple of sound-editing choices that surprised me, but I realize it’s because of the lack of stage directions I gave. One is the scene in chapter 3 where someone notifies Lyra Blair of an incident young Emerald was involved in, which I wrote as dialogue-only for effect; I always assumed it was someone coming to Lyra’s front door, but here it was interpreted as a phone call. That probably makes more sense, come to think of it. And the brunch scene with Emry and Grandma Rachel (here called lunch instead) was supposed to be a very private, personal conversation in Rachel’s home, but they did it with restaurant ambience in the background. I guess I needed to make the setting clearer than I did. It’s a common failing of mine, writing a scene with too little description of the setting. Or maybe they chose to change it for acoustical variety. I suppose their interpretation could work if the characters were in a private booth or balcony of some sort, isolated enough that they wouldn’t be overheard by other diners.
But while there are some details that could’ve been improved if I’d been consulted (something I should try to negotiate for in future contracts), overall it’s an impressive work. The majority of the actors are appropriately cast and give good, convincing performances, and the sound effects and Foley work are good (although I’m not crazy about the use of sound effects for things happening in vacuum, particularly when they were being described in narration anyway). The music seems to be drawn from a stock library spanning a variety of styles, but it mostly fits fairly well and is used in appropriate places. All told, this is certainly the most lavish audiobook production I’ve ever heard.
In sum, this is a good supplement to the novel, but not an exact, unabridged equivalent to the prose version. Rather, it’s an adaptation, an alternative take on the story. To those who’ve only bought the audiobook, I’d recommend getting the novel for the complete, canonical story; if you don’t want to spring for the hardcover or e-book, the paperback’s only 6 months away, or at least you could look for it at the library. As for those who’ve bought the novel, I’d say the audiobook is still worth getting, a good interpretation of the novel, capturing the essentials of what I created (mostly) but putting a different spin on it, thus adding another dimension to the experience. Besides, I don’t know if there will ever be a movie adaptation (Hollywood doesn’t seem interested in female-led superhero films these days), so this may be the only dramatization the story ever gets.
And heck, it’s just impressive that a bunch of actors and other folks got together to put on a performance of something I wrote, to bring it to life. And that most of them really seemed to get it, just from what was on the page. Both of those are quite heartening, and I’m grateful for the hard work and care the creators and performers put into this adaptation.
I’ve been sent the galleys of Rise of the Federation: A Choice of Futures (the text formatted as it will appear in the final book) for my perusal, and I’ve been going over them. They were sent to me as a PDF file, and I’ve been checking the text against the last revised and copyedited draft of the manuscript, looking at them in side-by-side windows on my monitor to compare them line by line. And in looking over my Adobe Reader’s menu options, I discovered that it comes with a function called “Read Out Loud,” which will recite a highlighted paragraph or selected page in a synthesized voice. I thought I’d give it a try — maybe listening to the PDF while reading along in the manuscript would be an easier way to compare than darting my gaze back and forth between them every few words. It’s not a perfect system, since I still need to keep an eye on punctuation here and there (though it’s pretty consistent at rendering periods and commas with intonation and pause duration). I think it’s slower going than my own reading would be, even with reading two texts at once; it’s not really worth doing with short paragraphs.
But it’s been worth it just for the entertainment value. The synthesized voice it uses is like a cross between Ben Stein and Eeyore — this slow, deep voice that usually just drones but sometimes puts a really hilarious, depressed-sounding intonation on the end of a line, kind of like Tim Conway’s old-man character from The Carol Burnett Show. Which can be a lot of fun when it’s reading a line like “I can’t maintain more than warp three-point-two” (or as it reads it, “warp three-point-twoooo,” descending a perfect fifth on the final syllable). It also does weird things with pronunciation — it renders “navigational” as “nah-vih-gah-tee-on-al” despite having no problems with other “-tion” words, and “redesignated” with a short a. Surprisingly, an ordinary word like “important” comes out as “imper-tahnt.” It thinks T’Pol is named Paul (well, no, there’s a barely audible T sound at the start), except “T’Pol’s” becomes “tee-single-quote-paul-single-quote-ess.” Hoshi Sato is “hawshee suhtoe.” And “NX-class” becomes “N-X-C-L-A-S-S.” On the other hand, it’s done surprisingly well with the alien and technical words I’ve tossed at it so far. In particular, there’s an alien outpost that I named Qhembembem (because I was in a silly mood), and it handled it fairly nicely, having no problem with the “Qh,” though it gave it the interesting pronunciation of “Kem-bem-eem.”
Still, I’m not sure I’ll keep using it. It could wear out its welcome after a while, and I’m concerned its quirks may be more a distraction than an aid. Maybe I’ll use it intermittently depending on the scene and my mood. But it’s helped add some fun to the tedious proofreading process.
UPDATE: One particularly weird glitch of this voice-synth program — it pronounces the word “point,” and only that word, as though it were French. “Phlox pointed out” becomes “Phlox pwaahn-ed out.”
I just checked Amazon’s page for the Only Superhuman audiobook, and it says they’ve nearly sold out – only 3 left in stock — and have had to order more copies. That’s a nice thing to see. Of course I don’t know how many copies they ordered to begin with, but demand exceeding supply has got to count as good performance in any case.
And if Amazon does sell out, the audiobook can always be ordered (in CD or download form) from GraphicAudio itself.
Unfortunately I still haven’t managed to get a copy of the audiobook myself. Hopefully that can be arranged soon.
I was checking my sales rank for Only Superhuman on the online bookstore sites just now, and I noticed they’ve now got the cover image for this September’s mass-market paperback edition of the novel. Here it is:
Note that they’ve rotated the artwork 90 degrees clockwise from how it appears on the hardcover. One thing I noticed about the cover art from the start is that it works pretty well in either orientation, so it’s kinda nice that it’s being used both ways. I also quite like the italicized and color-graded version of the title text. Oh, and I like it that my name is printed bigger.
In other news, the audiobook edition of OS has intermittently been making it onto Amazon’s top 100 sellers list for SF and Fantasy books on CD. It hasn’t been staying there consistently, and I don’t think it’s made it above #50 yet, but it’s nice to see.
It’s here! GraphicAudio’s page for their Only Superhuman audiobook now has purchasing links active:
It’s available in two formats: A set of 7 CDs available for a new-release price of $13.99 USD (regular $19.99) and an MP3 download for $12.99. Note that the run time has been revised to approximately 8 hours.
They also have credits available, though they don’t specify who’s playing whom:
Directed by: Nanette Savard
Starring: Nanette Savard, Alyssa Wilmoth, Colleen Delany, Thomas Keegan, Elliot Dash, Ken Jackson, Evan Casey, Yasmin Tuazon, Tracy Lynn Olivera, Barbara Pinolini, Richard Rohan, Christopher Scheeren, Michael Glenn, Kimberly Gilbert, David Coyne, Eric Messner, James Konicek, Elizabeth Jernigan, Nora Achrati, Thomas Penny, Michael John Casey, Joe Brack, Nick Depinto, James Lewis, Joel David Santner, Terence Aselford and Steven Carpenter
Book Adapted for GraphicAudio by: Johann Dettweiler
Dialogue Editor: Nathanial Perry
Sound Designer: Nathanial Perry
Additional Original Music by: Thomas Hogan and Dan Sondak
Producers: Richard Rohan and Duane Beeman
Executive Producer: Anji Cornette
There’s a sample clip from the audiobook now available at GraphicAudio’s site:
The clip doesn’t feature much dialogue, but the actress they’ve cast as Emerald Blair (not sure if it’s the same woman doing the narration, and the credits aren’t up yet) is reasonably close to what I had in mind. She actually sounds kind of like Tara Strong, one of my favorite voice actresses, who doesn’t sound quite like I imagine Emerald but who’s enough in the ballpark that I’d actually considered her as a candidate for Emerald’s voice if there was ever an audiobook. (Although I think my ideal choice would be Amy Jo Johnson. The voice I originally heard in my head for Emry was Lenore Zann, who played Rogue on the ’90s X-Men animated series, but Johnson’s work on Flashpoint has won me over.) As it turned out, I had no input into casting on the audiobook, so I was a little nervous about whether they’d cast Emerald appropriately. I’m much more reassured now.
I read along in the book as the clip played, and it’s not a complete, word-for-word rendition of the text, but most of it is there. Honestly, there were some bits of description that maybe they could’ve trimmed more. My rather verbose style actually sounded a little odd to me spoken aloud.
Well, this comes sooner than I expected — I happened to notice the other day that some of the major book-buying sites online are already offering pre-order links for the mass-market paperback edition of Only Superhuman, which according to them is due to be released on August 27, just about seven months from now. (Give or take, of course, since there’s no fixed release date for most books, just whenever the stores get them on the shelves.) The listed retail price for the MMPB is $7.99, pretty much standard for the format — in other words, the same amount that my Star Trek novels sell for. So fans of my Trek work who’ve found the hardcover of Only Superhuman too pricey, yet prefer to have a physical book rather than buying the $11.99 eBook edition, can now order your copies at last, though you’ll have to wait a few more months to read it.
And Amazon has a preorder link for the audiobook adaptation from GraphicAudio as well, which is due out in February (though I’m not sure when in February) and is apparently 7 hours long and will retail for $19.99 on CD. Here are the links:
Well, the Joseph-Beth book signing on Wednesday went off reasonably well, despite the fact that I’ve been dealing with a cold and a sore throat for most of the week and have been kept up nights coughing. On the wee hours of Wednesday morning, desperate for sleep, I drove to the pharmacy to look for something I could take for the cough, but I wasn’t sure I trusted any of the options, since I had a bad reaction to a cold medicine a few years ago and I didn’t quite remember which medicine it had been. And I was too tired to think clearly anyway, so I just gave up, went home, and suffered through another sleepless night. But Wed. morning I looked online for sore throat remedies, and treated myself with tea and honey, cough drops, and pseudoephedrine from the drugstore. (The stuff that gave me the bad reaction was the stuff that’s replaced pseudoephedrine in over-the-counter meds since it was discovered that the substance could be used to make methamphetamines. Now you can still get it but have to show your ID at the pharmacy counter.)
So by the time I got to the signing, I was still below my peak, but at least my voice was reasonably functional. And the folks at J-B were very helpful and got me a hot tea with lemon for my throat. My scene reading from Only Superhuman didn’t go as smoothly as it ideally would’ve, but I got through it okay. The event wasn’t as well-attended as it could’ve been, but better than some Shore Leave panels I’ve been on. And another local genre author I recently met, Laura Resnick, was kind enough to attend the event and participate in the Q&A/audience discussion after my reading. The audience had a good range of questions about both OS and my Trek/tie-in work, and one of them bought a copy of Forgotten History. And overall, the folks there, both store employees and attendees, had very positive and heartening things to say about the book and its prospects for success. (And they let me keep the banner they printed up for the signing!) We didn’t sell that many autographed copies of the book then and there, but they had me sign the rest of their stock, and the store’s publicity guy sounded confident that the book would continue to have legs, especially once it comes out in paperback this fall. I hope he’s right.
Anyway, though the pseudoephedrine helped me have a borderline-functional voice for the signing, I paid for it that night, since apparently one of its possible side effects is sleeplessness, and I didn’t get a wink of sleep despite not having as bad a cough. (Which is odd, because it didn’t have that effect on me in the past — that’s why I thought I should use it instead of the substitute, which I think had similar but stronger effects on me.) That’s at least three nights in the past week, two of them consecutive, that were completely sleepless for me. Yesterday I was getting worried about how long I could go without REM sleep before it impaired me. I stopped taking the decongestant once I realized it was probably keeping me awake, but the tradeoff was that my cough kept me awake again, plus my attempt at a late-afternoon nap yesterday probably threw off my sleep cycle. The cough drops helped, but after sucking on a few of them, they start to taste really foul to me. Still, I apparently managed to get a few hours’ sleep last night, and my throat feels better today. I think I’m finally coming out of it, which is good, because it’s been very hard to concentrate on my writing or other responsibilities the past few days. Which is why this post is a day late.
The interview I did for the Cincinnati Edition radio show is now online. Here’s the link:
And a reminder — my book signing is tomorrow, Tuesday January 15 at 7 PM at the Joseph-Beth Booksellers in Rookwood Pavilion, Cincinnati.
Today I went down to the building where my father used to work and recorded a radio interview which will be airing this weekend on Cincinnati Edition, a newsmagazine program that airs locally at 7 AM Saturdays and Sundays on NPR affiliates WVXU in Cincy and WMUB in Oxford, OH — just in time to tout my book signing next Tuesday. I had a nice talk with the show’s host Mark Perzel, who had very nice things to say about Only Superhuman, and who even knew my father before his retirement, something I either never knew or had forgotten. Anyway, the interview, which covers my Star Trek work as well as OS, should be up on their website as a podcast by Monday, I’m told, and I’ll post the link when it’s available.
They’re a couple of months late, but I’ve finally completed and posted the annotations for Only Superhuman on my website. The page-by-page annotations and other background notes, artwork, and interviews can be accessed from the main page for the novel.
Last year, I posted the design sketches I’d done for Emerald Blair, the lead character in Only Superhuman. These were illustrations I did years earlier, mostly 2002-3, before I wrote the book. Well, I also did sketches of Psyche Thorne, the other leading lady in the book, but I never got around to coloring them and I didn’t want to post them until I did. Which is something I only managed to do recently.
I hesitate to post these at all, since Psyche is supposed to be a woman of staggering beauty and allure, and maybe that’s something best left to the individual reader’s imagination. Also it’s questionable that my limited artistic abilities can come close to capturing that beauty, even with the excellent real-life exemplars I used as references. But Psyche’s looks are also somewhat unusual, an amalgam of ethnicities, so it may be hard for some readers to imagine what I had in mind. (I’m reminded of how many readers of The Hunger Games were surprised that Rue was black in the film, even though she was specifically described as dark-skinned the first three or four times she appeared in the book. Sometimes readers overlook elements of a physical description.) Besides, I went to all the trouble of finishing the drawings, so I might as well share them.
So here are my illustrations of Psyche Thorne, which, while far from perfect, give a reasonable indication of what I envisioned.
(click to enlarge)
I based Psyche’s face on several women of different ethnicities that I found to be otherwise similar in appearance and exceptionally beautiful. Mostly she’s a blend of two friends of mine from college, one a strawberry-blond Caucasian, the other African-American, but otherwise strikingly similar in appearance. I also used a photo of Kristin Kreuk to get some Asian influence in there, mainly in the eyes and nose, though I don’t think it comes across as well as I’d hoped. And she’s maybe a bit more chubby-faced than what I had in mind, though I think that’s mainly a shading issue with the cheeks. I am happy with the expression, though; it captures the blend of warmth and naughtiness I was going for.
I wasn’t very happy with the colored-pencil work I did. It was hard to get smooth texture, something that was more of a problem with Psyche’s rich complexion than with Emry’s pale one, and the colors I had available didn’t match the skin and hair tones I was going for very well. So I did a lot of work in the computer to fix it — superimposing translucent layers of solid color that better matched what I wanted, and softening and blurring the pencil lines as much as I could without losing the shading detail. It’s not perfect, but I think it came out reasonably well, considering.
So for the second, full-length drawing, I decided to do the coloring entirely in the computer, something I have very little experience with. I had a few false starts, but I finally got a handle on it, I think. This depicts Psyche in the outfit she wore for her big introductory scene in Chapter 7.
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The shading isn’t as nuanced as I could achieve in pencil, but I think it gets the idea across reasonably well. And I like the translucent effect the paint program let me achieve with the outer dress layer. Easier than trying to create that effect in colored pencil would’ve been.
If her pose and proportions look a little exaggerated, rest assured I based it all on photo reference. I chose a slinky, provocative pose to fit the character and the outfit. She’s angled a little to the viewer’s left, which makes her waist look narrower than it is. Also, she’s a full 6 feet tall, which makes her seem skinnier in proportion. I wanted her to be tall, slim and leggy in contrast to Emerald Blair’s mesomorphic physique. Emry’s build is inspired by tennis star Serena Williams, while Psyche’s owes more to Maria Sharapova.
I don’t know if I’ll do any more character art for Only Superhuman. Again, these are sketches I did years ago, when I had more free time for drawing, and I’m rather out of practice. But I wouldn’t be averse to seeing fan art, if anyone were interested.
It’s been announced by Macmillan that I’ll be appearing at the Joseph-Beth Booksellers in Cincinnati to do a reading from Only Superhuman along with signing that and, presumably, whatever other books of mine they have around. It’s scheduled for Tuesday, January 15, 2013 at 7 PM, and the address is 2692 Madison Road, Cincinnati, OH 45208.
This isn’t actually up on the J-B site yet, though, so it’s possible the specifics aren’t entirely firmed up yet. If any of this information turns out to need correction, I’ll be sure to post it as soon as I can.
Simon & Schuster/Pocket is about to put out several e-book omnibuses (yes, that is the correct plural) each combining three related Star Trek novels into one volume. One of them, Star Trek: The Original Series: The Continuing Missions, Volume 1, includes my own DTI novel Forgotten History along with Greg Cox’s The Rings of Time and Dayton Ward’s That Which Divides. In this case, the books aren’t really related, more just a trio of recent standalone TOS adventures, although Rings and FH both involve time travel and there’s a slight bit of cross-reference between them. (Maybe TWD also fits with the general theme of space-time phenomena because it involves a pocket universe, though that’s reaching.) But what the hey, it’s a new edition of one of my books. And the FH cover is being used as the cover for the whole volume:
I admit, FH is kind of an odd choice for inclusion here, since it’s not entirely a self-contained TOS novel but ties into DTI: Watching the Clock as well. Still, I wrote it so that it could work as a TOS novel guest-starring some guys from the future. And who knows? Maybe this omnibus will help bring the story to at least some TOS readers who didn’t take note of it when it was published under the DTI banner. Again, though, this is only being released in e-book form as far as I know.
And yeah, it looks as if all TOS prose tales from now on are going to be subtitled The Original Series, presumably to distinguish them from the new movies.
UPDATE: Oops, sorry, forgot to mention — the publication date is on or around January 29, 2013.