The official Shore Leave schedule hasn’t gone up on the site yet, but here’s a list of the panels I expect to be on:
Comedy of Sci-Fi — 8 PM, Hunt Ballroom
I don’t know if I’m officially on this panel, but I’ve requested it as a chance to talk about my Hub series of comedy novelettes in Analog. Also featuring Aaron Rosenberg, Russ Colchamiro, Peter David, and Lorraine Anderson.
Tor Books : The Year Ahead — 9 PM, Hunt Ballroom
I don’t think I’ll actually be on this panel this time, since I don’t have anything new for Tor yet, but I figure I should mention it anyway, since I’ll at least be around for it. Tor editors Marco Palmieri and Greg Cox will give what’s become their regular preview of next year’s SF/fantasy slate from Tor, which I really wish I were on, but I’m not. Well, maybe next year.
Meet the Pros — 10 PM, Hunt/Valley Corridor
The annual 2-hour mass signing event where all the author guests will be available to autograph whatever you bring or buy.
Star Trek Novels: Writing in the Movie Era — 10 AM, Derby Room
Pretty self-explanatory. I’ll be the only one representing the post-TMP era of Ex Machina, The Darkness Drops Again, and Forgotten History, while the other panelists all represent the post-Final Frontier period: Dayton Ward (In the Name of Honor), Peter David (The Rift), and Greg Cox (the upcoming Foul Deeds Will Rise).
Sixty Years of Godzilla — 11 AM, Hunt Ballroom
Also self-explanatory, and also featuring Greg Cox and myself along with Jeffrey Lang, Andrew Gaska, Bob Greenberger, and Richard C. White. Greg, of course, wrote the novelization of the recent Godzilla movie, while Bob wrote a 2005 nonfiction book about the franchise. I’m there just because I’ve seen and reviewed most of the films within the past couple of years, as Written Worlds followers are aware.
Writing Action Scenes — 4 PM, Concierge Lounge
Something I have some experience with, particularly through Only Superhuman. With myself, Keith R.A. DeCandido, Kirsten Beyer, David Mack, Danielle Ackley-McPhail, and Eric Bakutis.
Series in the Sandbox — 5 PM, Derby Room
This one’s a little harder to explain. It’s basically devoted to single-author or single-team ongoing series in Trek and tie-in literature, with myself (representing Rise of the Federation), Kirsten Beyer (Voyager), the Vanguard/Seekers trio of David Mack, Dayton Ward, and Kevin Dilmore, and Stargate: SG-1/Atlantis novelist Jo Graham.
Unfortunately, both the Sunday panels I wanted to be on are too late for me to attend, since I’m flying in and out this year for the first time, and I need to leave in mid-afternoon to get to the airport in time. So I probably won’t be on any panels on Sunday. But I’ll be generally around, and I’ll try to spend an hour in the Author Chimney at the book vendor’s table down below the escalators, so folks can drop by and find me.
And no, I’m not doing a personal Q&A panel this year. I don’t have enough going on this year to justify it, and the couple I did before were not well-attended. But I’ve tried to get on panels that will let me discuss my various works, so those would be the places to ask questions or just generally lavish praise upon me.
If any of this information is changed once the official schedule goes up, I’ll update this article. But there’s not much time to go!
This is my first Shore Leave with a smartphone, and I’m finding it useful for entering my schedule and important notes into. I’ve even entered my panels into the calendar app. It should also help me keep up with e-mail and Internet during the con, and to look up information if I need to (I’ve already got the Shore Leave page and the Baltimore Light Rail schedule bookmarked). And I’m remembering to bring my backup charger pack.
I’ve just been informed (by Keith R.A. DeCandido on Facebook) that Ian Coomber of the site What Culture has posted a list of the top 5 Star Trek tie-in novelists:
Number 1 is Una McCormack, #2 is David Mack, #3 is Keith, and #4 is yours truly! (#5 is a tie for the actors who’ve written or co-written tie-in novels: Armin Shimerman, Andrew Robinson, and J.G. Hertzler.) I made the list specifically for DTI: Watching the Clock, which he describes as “a novel whose ambition is only surpassed in its accomplishments” and “borderline epic.” Not bad for a novel that I only pitched as an afterthought.
Thanks to Ian for the recognition!
Look what just got delivered to my door:
It looks good. I’m a bit surprised that the spine is still green, since I’ve gotten used to the brown background of the front cover.
The books officially go on sale tomorrow (8/27), so there may be some on bookstore shelves even now.
And now that I have my copies of the MMPB, I’ll be able to double-check the page numbering and go live with my expanded annotations, which will encompass the hardcover, paperback, and audiobook editions of OS. There are a few minor textual adjustments, meaning that the paperback is now slightly more final and authoritative than the hardcover (although we’re talking, like, three single-word factual errors corrected, a missing number in the appendix restored, and a couple of typos fixed).
Here are some ordering links:
And here’s the link for the audiobook:
I do hope the book performs well in MMPB. I always felt it was more a paperback sort of tale anyway.
Okay, first the good news: I turned in the manuscript for Rise of the Federation: Tower of Babel on time yesterday. Honestly, it was a close one. Even though I gave myself plenty of time, I had difficulty getting a handle on this one. I was sick when I put the outline together and it was very rough, so it was hard to get a grip on the story. I also made the story rather complicated, covering a lot of different places and events, which slowed me down because I had to create a lot of separate worlds and situations, and beginnings are the slowest parts because I have to take time to figure everything out first. Kind of like in film/TV — every new set needs to be designed and constructed, so the more sets you have, the more time and effort you have to expend. Anyway, I finally got a handle on it, refined and fleshed out the story, and made the deadline, but there may still be some polishing to do. And I drove myself so hard toward the end there that the stress and heavy typing have left me with a very sore and inflamed shoulder, so as soon as I turned in the MS I went to see the doctor and got a prescription for the pain. But last night I got the best, most relaxing night’s sleep I’ve had in months. (I even had a dream about my beloved old cat Tasha! Awwww.)
So hopefully my shoulder will be better in time to drive to Shore Leave in a couple of days. To that end, I should go easy on the typing and get on to the schedule that’s just been posted. Not sure if this is completely final, but here are the panels/appearances I’m scheduled for at the moment:
Tor Books: New and Upcoming — 9 PM, Hunt Ballroom
This will mostly be Tor editors Marco Palmieri and Greg Cox talking about the new books they have coming out over the next year, but I’ll be there to shill the upcoming mass-market paperback of Only Superhuman.
Meet the Pros — 10 PM, Hunt/Valley Corridor
The annual 2-hour mass signing event where all the author guests will be available to autograph whatever you bring or buy.
The Future History of Star Trek’s Past in Prose — 1 PM, Chase Ballroom
A panel about explorations of the Trek universe’s history in prose. Mainly an excuse for me to talk about Rise of the Federation, but it’ll also feature Michael Jan Friedman (author of Starfleet: Year One, the previous attempt to cover the beginnings of the Federation, which was overwritten by Enterprise) and David Mack (who dealt with the ENT era memorably in Destiny). I was hoping we could also get Greg Cox, who’s done so much with Gary Seven, Khan, and the like in his books, but he’s got a Superheroes on Film panel at the same time.
From Tie-in to Original — 2 PM, Chase Ballroom
The third annual panel letting us tie-in authors shill our original work, this time with me, Ann C. Crispin, Peter David, Keith R.A. DeCandido, and Jo Wymick.
Did Man of Steel Tarnish Superman? — 3 PM, Chase Ballroom
My third consecutive hour in Chase, and I was hesitant to sign up for this one, but yeah, I have some unusually strong opinions about Man of Steel and I guess this’ll be me and Dave Mack and the audience talking about it for an hour.
The Legend of Korra: Let’s Review — 4 PM, Salon F
Yayy, I finally get out of Chase! And I get to chat with Marco Palmieri and the audience about the glory that is Korra. (Good thing I just DVRed the whole series. I can spend the day catching up on the show and resting my shoulder.) Although I expect a very small audience since William Shatner will be in the big ballroom at the same time.
Writing Alien Aliens! — 5 PM, Belmont Room
My Saturday marathon wraps up as Rigel Ailur, Mary Louise Davie, and I talk about the science of creating interestingly exotic alien species and characters.
Science Fiction of Asteroids — 1 PM, Belmont Room
A rare crossover of the SF and science guests. I wrote a book set in the asteroid belt, and science guest Paul Abell is an asteroid expert, so I thought, let’s get together and talk ‘stroids! We’re joined by author Melissa Scott as well.
Christopher Bennett — 4 PM, Salon A
Yup, just me for an hour. I’ll be there to talk and answer fan questions about Rise of the Federation, Only Superhuman, the upcoming audiobook of Spider-Man: Drowned in Thunder, my upcoming “Make Hub, Not War” in Analog, and anything else I’ve done.
FYI — there will be a replica of the ’66 Batmobile — aka the only true Batmobile — at the con. I will definitely be there at some point and will probably want to be photographed in it. (I hope someone gets a photo of Shatner sitting in the Batmobile. That might cause a critical mass of geek nostalgia and tear a hole in the space-time continuum, but it will be worth it.)
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.
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.
Back from Comic-Con. It was kind of a mixed day for me, but one that turned out mostly positive. First, my Tor publicist and I found that the Barnes & Noble booth that was supposed to have copies of Only Superhuman on sale for the autograph table didn’t have them, 15-20 minutes before the session was to begin. Turned out they were still en route from the store, so an arrangement was made for the Tor folks to bring down some of the copies meant for my later signing at their booth, with an appropriate trade to be made later.
But it turned out we needn’t have bothered. Anyone who’d been interested in my book must’ve already gotten in the autograph line before the books actually got there, so all I got were a few people asking where the book was. At least I was able to sign my homemade flyer for them and let them know about the later signing. The signing was linked with the panel I was on yesterday, with the same group of writers, and most of the people in line were there for the more famous authors in the group, including Jacqueline Carey and former Buffy the Vampire Slayer cast member Amber Benson, who’s got her own series of fantasy novels. So aside from those three or so people, I had a very quiet hour.
I was feeling pretty bummed when the session broke off, but then I got a chance to talk to Amber Benson, who was really nice and approachable and had some complimentary things to say about my comments on yesterday’s panel. So we had a nice little chat, and then she actually tagged along with the publicists and me when we left. We walked past other people who were signing, including Lou Ferrigno and Adam West, and when I mentioned how I would’ve liked the chance to say hello, Amber encouraged me to just stop by for a moment and give them signed copies of my book as gifts. Unfortunately I couldn’t get past Adam West’s handlers even with my publicist’s help, but his people did accept the book. And then Amber led me over to Lou Ferrigno’s table and I got to thank him for his work as the Hulk and shake his hand. So I just felt great after that. I’d expected that Amber would be the busy celebrity and get swept away by her staff or whoever as soon as she was done with the signing, but she was really friendly and just one of the guys, and I was touched that she would go out of her way to help me with my little problem. So that was a definite high point. Wow.
I had a while before the Tor signing so I wandered the floor and talked to some folks I knew, mainly Keith DeCandido, who as usual was selling his books at the table for the Chronic Rift podcast (which will probably be interviewing me tomorrow). I also ended up giving a spur-of-the-moment video interview to another podcaster who dropped by, although I don’t currently have specifics about where to find it, if it’s even up yet.
The Tor signing went much better than the earlier event. That was a con-exclusive giveaway, a good way to drum up interest, so I’m told, and there was a nice-sized line already there when I arrived. We gave away all the books pretty quickly and that was very gratifying.
After that, I had a nice talk with fellow Trek author Kevin Dilmore over at the Hallmark booth (his day job is for them), and then I made my way back to where I’m staying, which was a long walk to and from the subway. But I’m back now, and the day is over, and on the whole it was a pretty great day.
I’ve just been updated on what’s hopefully my finalized schedule for New York Comic-Con this week. It’s pretty light, actually:
Thursday Oct. 11, 5:00-6:00 PM: “Justice is Served” panel, Room 1A14
Cops, P.I.’s, government agents and regular Joe’s fight for all that is good and just in these Science-Fiction and Fantasy tales, even if the villains are vampires, telepaths and the magically gifted. These protagonists solve crimes, kick-ass and don’t let anyone–supernatural or otherwise–stand in the way of justice. Featuring Myke Cole (CONTROL POINT), Thomas E. Sniegoski (Remy Chandler Novels), Jacqueline Carey (Dark Currents), Christopher Bennet (Only Superhuman), G.T. Almasi (Blades of Winter), Amber Benson (Calliope-Reaper Jones Novels) and Kim Harrison (Into the Woods). Moderated by Michael P. Spradlin (Blood Riders).
Friday Oct. 12, 1:15-2:15 PM: “Justice is Served” signing event, Autographing tables 2, 3, 4
Friday Oct. 12, 5:00-6:00 PM: Only Superhuman signing, Tor booth (#920)
Holy cow, I’m going to be on a panel and a signing with Amber Benson! I didn’t even know that.
Other than that, my schedule’s open, though I’ll probably be hanging around the Tor booth a fair amount. And though there aren’t any specific Star Trek-related events that I’m involved with, I’ll probably spend some time around the Simon & Schuster booth as well. That’s booth #829, and it’s just one aisle back and one aisle over from the Tor booth.
General info is here: http://www.newyorkcomiccon.com/
I’ve decided it was high time to create a fan page in Facebook to promote my work. My personal page wasn’t doing the job very well, I think, since I’ve been picky about whom I added as a “friend,” so my posts there only got limited attention. It makes more sense to use a fan page for promotion so I can focus the personal page more on just friends and family. So fans and generally interested parties are now encouraged to “Like” my fan page, which is at:
I’m finally able to announce that GraphicAudio, a company that produces fully dramatized audiobook adaptations of novels, is doing an audio edition of Only Superhuman. As announced on their site, it’s scheduled for release in February 2013. As I understand it, this will be a full-cast audio drama complete with music and sound effects, more like old-time radio dramas than your typical audiobook. I’ve listened to some of the samples they have at their site, and they sound good. They appear to have their own repertory company of performers to handle the voices.
To be honest, having somewhat inherited the voice — and the hamminess — of my radio-announcer father, I’ve always kind of hoped I’d get to narrate my own audiobook. I’ve quite enjoyed it when I’ve gotten to do dramatic readings from my work at the Shore Leave convention. But it’s worth passing that up to get to hear the story fully realized in this way.
Next month is shaping up to be busy for me, as we close in on the release date for Only Superhuman. On October 20, the weekend after New York Comic-Con, I’ll be a guest at the Books by the Banks festival back here in Cincinnati, at the Duke Energy Convention Center downtown. It runs from 10 AM to 4 PM. I’ll be there to promote and sell Only Superhuman, of course, but I’m hoping I’ll have some of my Star Trek books available for sale too. Click the link above for details on the festival.
The authors have just been sent the (hopefully) final schedule of panels for the Shore Leave convention this coming weekend. In addition to the usual Meet the Pros signing event, I’m scheduled for five panels, four of which will let me talk about Only Superhuman, one of which will let me talk about DTI: Forgotten History. Here’s the list of my appearances:
Superheroes In Between: In Media Other than Films or Comic Books – 7 PM, Derby Room
Christopher Bennett, Kelly Meding, Peter J. Wacks, Keith R. A. DeCandido, Alan Kistler. No doubt this will mainly be about the superhero novels that folks like myself, Kelly, and Keith have written (which could include my Spider-Man: Drowned in Thunder and X-Men: Watchers on the Walls as well as Only Superhuman), but judging from the title, maybe there could be discussion of video games, toys, whatever.
Meet the Pros — 10 PM, Hunt/Valley Corridor
The annual mass signing event where all the author guests will be available to autograph whatever you bring or buy. Of course Only Superhuman won’t be out yet, but I’m hoping there will be something OS-related for me to sign, even if it’s just promotional flyers.
Time Travel: Writing it and Reading it – 10 AM, Concierge Suite
Peter J. Wacks, Christopher Bennett, Greg Cox. We’ll be discussing our various time-travel books, including my DTI novels and Greg’s The Rings of Time and Assignment: Eternity. Judging from the title, maybe we’ll be talking about other time-travel books we’ve read.
I have no other panels Saturday, but I’ll still be around the con.
Media Tie-Ins vs. Original Fiction – 10 AM, Chase Ballroom
Keith R. A. DeCandido, Aaron Rosenberg, Kathleen David, Peter David, Michael Jan Friedman, Christopher Bennett, Ann C. Crispin. Another round of a panel topic we had last year comparing our experiences in tie-in work versus original writing.
Tor Books: New and Upcoming – 11 AM, Salon A
Marco Palmieri, Christopher Bennett, Greg Cox. Of course we’ll be talking about Only Superhuman, but no doubt Greg and Marco will be talking about other books they’re editing for Tor.
Female Action Heroes – 1 PM, Chase Ballroom
Greg Cox, Rigel Ailur, Christopher Bennett, Ann C. Crispin. Yes, it’s a chance to tout OS some more, but it’s a timely topic in the year of The Legend of Korra, ScarJo’s Black Widow, and Anne Hathaway’s Catwoman. Let’s get together and talk about all the awesome female heroes we have these days!
Thanks to Marco Palmieri for tipping me off on this: Apparently Publishers Weekly magazine has just begun publishing a bestseller list, and look what’s in the debut edition (yellow highlighting added by me):
In case the small print is hard to read, it says that Star Trek: DTI: Forgotten History is #10 on the Top 10 Science Fiction list for the week of May 21-27 (sorry, I cut off the heading saying what week this was for). But look at those numbers on the left: last week it was #4, and this is its 6th week on the list! Apparently they’ve been tracking these results internally but this is the first time they’ve published the list. So I’ve been a bestseller for weeks without knowing it! Neat!
StarTrek.com asked me to contribute a piece about Forgotten History for their site, so I used a little imaginary time travel to interview my past self about the book:
Well, it turns out I will be having a Star Trek book-signing event at the New York Comic-Con this year. I’ve just been informed that David Mack, James Swallow, and I will have a joint signing at 4 PM next Friday, October 14. Apparently it will be at the Premiere Collectibles booth (#2617), which is just across the aisle from the Simon & Schuster booth (#2612), which, according to the map, is in the “3A” area of the convention center’s third floor (which I think is the north end, if I’ve got my bearings right). I’ll be signing copies of DTI: Watching the Clock.
Luckily I’m arranging to come in a day early, and by plane rather than bus, so there shouldn’t be a risk of missing the signing.
Just like the title says, Josh Edgeglass of the site MotionPicturesComics.com has posted a lengthy and mostly very flattering review of Watching the Clock:
The money quote, as Keith DeCandido would call it:
Mr. Bennet has always demonstrated, in his novels, an impressive attention to detail — both to Star Trek continuity and to scientific plausibility. This serves him incredibly well here. Over the course of the novel, Mr. Bennet attempts to construct a unifying theory of how time-travel works in the Star Trek universe. This is quite an undertaking, as there have been a plethora of time travel stories over the years, in all of the Star Trek movies and TV shows, and they have often been wildly inconsistent from one another in terms of how they depict time travel working. (If you go back in time and change something, does that destroy the present/future from which you came? Or does that create an alternate timeline, which exists side-by-side with the “original” timeline? We’ve seen it both ways, and that is just one example of the inconsistencies I’m talking about.) But, somehow, over the course of the novel, Mr. Bennett is able to reference pretty much every single Star Trek time-travel story ever put on film, and he’s able to offer wonderfully fascinating explanations as to how they all fit together. It’s quite a hoot.
I just heard from my editor that the publication date for Only Superhuman has been decided on. The novel will be released in October 2012. That’s a few months later than I was hoping for, but it’s good to know the date anyway. It’ll be too late to be available for next year’s Shore Leave convention, alas, but it should be out just in time for the 2012 New York Comic-Con.
UPDATE: Turns out this publication date is not yet set in stone. It could change.
The author guests for next week’s Shore Leave convention in Hunt Valley, MD (near Baltimore) have now been issued their schedules for the con, so I can announce what panels and events I’ll be attending. This is tentative, of course.
Friday, July 8:
10PM-midnight: Meet the Pros (corridor outside Hunt & Valley ballrooms): The annual mass autograph event by the authors in attendance.
Saturday, July 9:
4 PM: Christopher L. Bennett Q&A (Salon A): An hourlong panel devoted entirely to me, because I’ve got a lot to talk about this year. Star Trek Magazine editor Paul Simpson (a first-time Shore Leave guest) will join me as moderator/interviewer, since this is the first one of these I’ve done and I could use the helping hand. Topics will likely include discussion of DTI: Watching the Clock and other former works, plus new information about my upcoming Trek projects Typhon Pact: The Struggle Within and Forgotten History, and of course my original novel Only Superhuman, coming next year from Tor Books.
Sunday, July 10:
11 AM: Writing Superhero Novels (Salon E): Another opportunity to talk about Only Superhuman, alongside Greg Cox (my editor for OS, and the author of multiple Marvel & DC superhero novels), Keith R.A. DeCandido, Michael Jan Friedman, Alan Kistler, David Mack, and Kelly Meding. Between us, we’ll no doubt cover both original superhero prose fiction and adaptations of comics heroes.
12 noon: Time Travel in Trek (Salon F): I’ll be joining Greg Cox, A. C. Crispin, Alan Kistler, and Paul Simpson. Naturally I expect to be discussing Watching the Clock and Forgotten History.
2 PM: From Tie-In to Original (Salon F): One more chance to tout Only Superhuman, and to compare stories with other authors who’ve made the transition from tie-in fiction to original fiction: David Mack, Aaron Rosenberg, and Dayton Ward.
I’ve decided to drive to Shore Leave this year — cheaper than flying, more comfortable than taking the bus — so I took my car in for a checkup today. They found the drive belt was falling apart and put in a new one. And I noticed the difference, I think. The car seemed to accelerate substantially more easily. It felt like it wanted to go faster. I’m hoping that’ll improve my fuel efficiency. I assume a new drive belt (with “grooves,” I’m told, that had worn away on the old one) would have better traction on the shafts or gears or whatever, so there’d be less wasted energy. They also did some kind of cleaning or purging of the fuel induction system which they said would help the mileage a bit. We’ll see when I hit the road next week.
At last, the contracts are signed, the wait is over, and I can finally make the biggest announcement of my career to date. My first original novel, Only Superhuman, has been purchased by Tor Books! Not only that, but it will be my first hardcover novel as well! It hasn’t been scheduled yet, but it will probably come out sometime in mid- to late 2012.
Only Superhuman is a hard science fiction take on superhero adventure, set in the early 22nd century in an Asteroid Belt civilization where transhuman enhancements are commonplace, and a small corps of superhumans called Troubleshooters strives to keep the peace in a high frontier where law and order are often hard to find. It’s the story of Emerald Blair, a brash, sexy, action-loving young Troubleshooter who joined the corps to make amends for past sins. When her estranged father’s people, a once-heroic group whose ambitions tarnished their legacy, re-emerge seeking to bring their own brand of order to the Belt, Emerald finds herself caught between them and the Troubleshooters’ new backers, whose own pursuit of order may conceal a hidden agenda. Torn between loyalties, Emerald must make peace with her own power and its past abuses before she can distinguish the true heroes from those who crave power for their own ends.
In many ways, this is an atypical tale for me. It’s more action-oriented than most of my published work (except for my two Marvel Comics-based novels), it doesn’t feature aliens (though there are AIs and multiple varieties of transhuman), and it’s got more sexual content and language than my Star Trek fiction. But the fact is, I’ve been working on this concept for literally more than half my life, and it’s closer to me than anything else I’ve ever written.
I created Emerald Blair in the summer of 1988, and made my first try at a spec novel about her, called simply Troubleshooter, in 1993. I spent the rest of the ’90s rewriting and revising it, as well as coming up with ideas for multiple sequels and even a comic-book series. In the process, I devised new characters, worldbuilding, and backstory that helped me flesh out the universe. But around 2000, I realized that my basic concepts weren’t strong enough and I couldn’t fix them by rewriting the book I had. So I abandoned Troubleshooter, rethought everything from the ground up, and crafted a new novel outline that distilled the best elements from all those sequel and comic-book ideas as well as the best of my new thinking. Initially, in pursuit of plausibility, I’d downplayed the superhero aspects of the concept, but when I realized that I needed something to make this stand out from the crowd of transhumanist adventure novels, I decided to play up those superhero tropes, to justify and explore them as plausibly as I could while still embracing the fun and grandiose charm of superhero comics.
I started Only Superhuman in 2003, but then my Star Trek writing career began in earnest, so I didn’t finish the first draft until ’05. After a fair amount of rewriting and refining, I began shopping it to agents in ’07, and though I had no success, one agent offered some constructive criticisms that let me tighten and improve it considerably. After that, I still had no luck, so I decided that maybe it was too idiosyncratic a project to serve as my introduction to agents. I submitted it for consideration by Marco Palmieri, my Star Trek editor at Pocket, and began work on a different spec novel for my agent hunt. But then Marco got laid off from Pocket before I got his answer, and I got stalled on my other spec novel. I switched gears to short fiction for a while, thinking it might be a better way to make a name for myself in original SF. But then, last year at New York Comic-Con, I learned that my fellow Trek novelist Greg Cox was acquiring books for Tor, and he said he’d be willing to take a look at what I had. I still haven’t finished the other spec novel, so I sent him Only Superhuman, and the rest is history. After all the obstacles and delays I faced before, it was a delightful surprise how smoothly it went from submission to acceptance. (Shortly thereafter, as it happened, Marco Palmieri began working at Tor, so he’ll probably be involved with editing this book to some extent after all. Nice how that worked out.)
Anyway, bottom line, this is the best news of my life. Over the past few months waiting for the contract, all I’ve had to do was think, “I sold Only Superhuman!” and I’d be filled with euphoric glee. That’s faded somewhat in recent weeks, but I’m feeling it again as I write this, now that I can finally share the news with everyone. I can’t remember the last time I was so happy about anything. This is the culmination of more than half a lifetime’s work, the fulfillment of one of my primary goals in life. What’s more, I finally get to share Emerald Blair, a character who’s been close to my heart for most of my adult life, with the rest of the world. And hopefully, it’s just the beginning of my original novel-writing career. I’ve definitely got ideas for sequels, and for other novels in the same broader universe (which is also the universe of my previously published stories “Aggravated Vehicular Genocide,” “Among the Wild Cybers of Cybele,” and “The Weight of Silence,” though none of them have any direct links to Only Superhuman). But that will depend on how well this novel sells. I’ve been moderately successful as a Star Trek novelist, but this is a whole new start, and I can only hope it does well.