Archive for August, 2013

GraphicAudio podcast is now up!

The interview I did for GraphicAudio’s “All in Your Mind” newsletter/podcast is now available. I had a nice chat with directors Richard Rohan and Nanette Savard about Only Superhuman, Spider-Man: Drowned in Thunder, my work in general, and other stuff, running a bit under 40 minutes.

Here’s the direct link:

And if that doesn’t work, there’s also an MP3 link:

Massive website update!

Since I’ve had multiple different things coming out over the last couple of days, I’ve just done probably the biggest single update to my website since I founded it over a decade ago. It includes:

Updated Only Superhuman annotations encompassing the hardcover, paperback, and audiobook editions.

New annotations for Star Trek: Enterprise — Rise of the Federation: A Choice of Futures.

New annotations for “Make Hub, Not War.”

Amendments of my Original Fiction and Marvel fiction pages to feature the new editions of Only Superhuman (MMPB) and Spider-Man: Drowned in Thunder (audiobook).

I had most of this ready to go by yesterday afternoon (luckily I had the foresight to do the “Make Hub” annotations months ago, for a change), but I figured that if I was going to make such a big, all-encompassing update, I should add the RotF:ACoF annotations to the mix as well. So I’ve spent several hours last night and most of the day today doing those annotations, and now I’m exhausted.

So the rest is up to you to explore:

Knock yourselves out. Like I just did.

Categories: Uncategorized

“Make Hub, Not War” is out too!

This is turning out to be a huge couple of days for me. The audiobook of Spider-Man: Drowned in Thunder went on sale this morning. Only Superhuman‘s mass-market paperback release is tomorrow, August 27. And also hitting stands on August 27 is this:

Analog November 2013

Yes, the November 2013 Analog, and thus my third Hub novelette “Make Hub, Not War,” goes on sale at the same time as the Ony Superhuman MMPB. And I made the cover again! That’s the second time! Apparently the issue’s already been received by subscribers, and I’ve found one review so far of “Make Hub, Not War,” which is guardedly positive: “It’s not Great Art or anything, but it’s Good Craftsmanship (which I respect) and I liked it.” I’ll take it.

ONLY SUPERHUMAN paperbacks are here!

Look what just got delivered to my door:

Only Superhuman MMPBs

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:



Barnes & Noble

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.

SPIDER-MAN: DROWNED IN THUNDER audiobook releases at midnight!

Like a streak of light, he arrives just in time! GraphicAudio’s fully dramatized adaptation of my 2008 novel Spider-Man: Drowned in Thunder is releasing at midnight tonight, August 25 (or technically the very start of Monday, August 26).


Just to be clear, this is coming out in Blu-Ray format which will ship in late September, but buyers can download a free digital copy starting at midnight. At least, that’s what it says on the site. I’m a little unclear on what formats it’ll be available in; I’m sure that more information will be available at the link above come midnight.

EDIT: Ahh, now that it’s out, I see it’s available in multiple options, including a 5-CD box set, the Blu-Ray disc, and direct download in various formats, just like Only Superhuman (except that doesn’t have the Blu-Ray option).

Here’s the very exciting trailer for the book:

And here’s a sample from the opening scene:

I’d expected the podcast interview I did with the GraphicAudio folks to be available by now, but nothing yet. I’ll keep you posted.

Here’s to Drowned in Thunder‘s new lease on life!

The Man from UNCLE Season 2 Affair: Eps. 7-12

“The Arabian Affair”: Two parallel plots here that converge at the end. Solo’s plot is kind of interesting; he’s found out that THRUSH “retires” all its 65-year-old agents quite permanently, with exploding gold watches, to make sure they don’t reveal what they know. And so, in order to gain intel on a THRUSH operation in Arabia, he tracks down a THRUSH man who’s a day from retirement, proves to him that he’s marked for death, and convinces him he’s better off taking the UNCLE retirement plan, in exchange for his help getting the info. Oddly, though, the retiring agent, Lewin, is played by a 42-year-old Robert Ellenstein in very unconvincing age makeup. Also, the head of the THRUSH satrap of the week, Mr. Norman (Jerome Thor), is more loud and unpleasant than an interesting adversary.

Meanwhile, Illya is playing Lawrence of Arabia, almost literally. He’s spying on the aforementioned THRUSH operation, which involves a “vaporizer” machine that spews deadly dish-soap foam that disintegrates anyone it engulfs. He’s attacked and captured by a band of Arab stereotypes led by the late, great Michael Ansara, and it all gets rather embarrassing. Seriously, they threw in every Arab stereotype that existed as of 1965 — violent, greedy, gullible tribesmen who needed a white man to show them a better way and unite them behind his rule. (The “Arab terrorist” stereotype was still in the future.) Illya actually claims to be T.E. Lawrence’s son in order to convince the tribe to follow him, although he has to defeat Ansara in an obligatory fight. Oh, and Ansara’s daughter (Phyllis Newman in brownface) has claimed Illya as her “property” and intends to trade him for a camel at Aqaba, except his constant condescension and insults somehow make her fall for him (I think they call it “negging” in some circles). Did I mention this is another Peter Allan Fields script? It’s amazing that someone who wrote such virulently misogynistic stuff on this show could go on to write so many great scripts for Lwaxana Troi and Kira Nerys in Star Trek.

This one has another decent Gerald Fried score, but not much else going for it. Even Michael Ansara can’t save it, though he has a moment or two where his innate dignity shows through the pile of negative stereotypes. Seeing this episode so soon after Ansara’s passing wasn’t the tribute I’d hoped it would be.

“The Tigers Are Coming Affair”: Shouldn’t that be “The The Tigers Are Coming Affair”? Oh, well. It’s another episode set in India, but the stereotypes aren’t quite as awful as last time. Jill Ireland is back playing Suzanne, a French missionary teaching modern farming techniques and pesticide use to the backward natives, but the main villains are Prince Panat (Lee Bergere in brownface) and his compatriot, a cashiered British colonel named Quillon (episode writer Alan Caillou), who are generally very condescending and exploitative toward the natives. So while there are mentions of dacoits (murderous bandits) and a degree of White Man’s Burden condescension, for once it’s the Western or at least Westernized elites who come off as more villainous than the indigenes. Specifically, the prince has stolen Suzanne’s pesticides to defoliate the jungle and drive the peasants from their homes so they’ll have to work in the prince’s dangerous ruby mines to survive — which, as a fringe benefit for him, has driven a bunch of tigers down from the upcountry so he can mount an ongoing safari and shoot a bunch of pretty kitty-cats. Although the episode doesn’t paint this as evil, since Illya himself fells the only tiger killed onscreen (well, the only stock-footage tiger supposedly shot offscreen and then replaced with a fake dead tiger lying on the ground).

This time, Ireland is playing Robert Vaughn’s love interest rather than her husband David McCallum’s, but there were apparently limits to how far she’d take it, since they never kiss on camera (the final freeze-frame just prevents it). She comes off fairly well; her French accent is certainly a lot better than whatever they were trying to pass off as Indian accents here (only one guest character’s accent sounded even slightly Indian), and in the climax, Suzanne gets to save Solo and Kuryakin and hold the bad guys at bay rather effectively — literally with her hands tied behind her back and her mouth gagged.

A highlight of the episode is a really strong score by Robert Drasnin. Parts of it remind me more of Gerald Fried’s future work than Fried’s own scores on this show have done so far, making me wonder if Drasnin was an influence on Fried. But in the last half, Drasnin gives our heroes a really neat, jazzy leitmotif that reminds me of Oliver Nelson’s work on The Six Million Dollar Man, and gives the episode a ’70s sound ahead of its time.

“The Deadly Toys Affair”: I don’t even know how to recap this one. It’s an incoherent jumble of parts. The core story is about Solo & Illya trying to win over a boy supergenius (former Dennis the Menace star Jay North) that THRUSH has in its clutches in a Swiss private school run by THRUSH agents Arnold Moss and John Hoyt. They want to take him to THRUSH central in the Near East and seduce him with a state-of-the-art lab facility including “his own Van Allen Belt” — seriously, they said that. But Dennis has rigged up a means to spy on the headmasters, knows they killed his father, and plans to go with them to mount an extended campaign of revenge from within. Now, that sounds like a plot with potential, but we only get a few slapdash glimpses of it in between a lot of other, mostly irrelevant stuff.  The extended teaser involves a mission to blow up a THRUSH nerve gas silo — contradictorily described as a hypnotic poison gas which would put all of Southern California to sleep forever, a massive euphemism fail — which has no evident connection to the rest of the story beyond the fact that the boy’s father tipped UNCLE off to it. And most of the rest of the episode revolves around two innocents who are mainly a distraction from the core plot — Angela Lansbury basically playing a Gabor sister as the boy’s aunt, and Diane McBain as a spoiled heiress who’s a friend of Lansbury’s character and has no reason to be in the story at all except as a flirtation interest for both Solo and Illya. All these various bits are flung together without any real coherence, and I often found myself confused at the randomness of it all, Or the occasional contradiction — in one scene Moss reflects on the lucky accident that they hired the boy’s father and then discovered the boy’s incredible brilliance, but in a later scene it’s stated that THRUSH hired the father specifically to get to the son.

Also, the boy’s brilliance is more discussed than shown. In the few scenes North actually gets, he’s given little opportunity to convey any particular intelligence — and UNCLE’s plan bizarrely involves sending Solo in as a maker of novelty gags like chattering teeth and sneezing powder, as though these would somehow excite the intellect of the greatest boy genius of the age. (There’s a scene where Waverly plays Q and tells Solo about all the spy tricks built into the novelty items — yet Solo never uses any of those tricks!!)

The episode’s only asset is a lively Gerald Fried score, but I think it’s mostly stock.

“The Cherry Blossom Affair”: A defecting scientist from THRUSH Eastern in Japan brings UNCLE a film proving that his employers have invented a “volcano activator” with which they can blackmail the world. THRUSH assassinates him at the airport in New York before Solo can meet him, but in an unlikely coincidence, his film gets mixed up with one belonging to Cricket Okasada (France Nuyen), who dubs English films into Japanese. UNCLE gets the real film and THRUSH’s Japan branch, led by Harada (Jerry Fujikawa), gets Cricket’s film, embarrassing him in front of visiting THRUSH representative Kutuzov (Woodrow Parfrey), who comes from that well-known ’60s-TV nation known as “My/Your Country.” Solo and Illya must track down THRUSH’s HQ and protect the determined Cricket as she tries to get her film back at all costs — although they keep ending up in worse danger than she does, and Solo even needs her to rescue him at one point.

The prospect of another TMFU episode set in Asia filled me with dread, but this one was a pleasant surprise. Oh, by today’s standards it wallows in Orientalism, with lots of thick accents and “Oh, look how Japanese we are” moments — THRUSH’s front is a karate dojo, Harada is obsessed with baseball and life-size kabuki marionettes (which are obviously stuntmen in costumes), and a policeman mentions to Illya that they could make his UNCLE radio for half the price — but by the standards of the series to date, its portrayal of Japan is surprisingly authentic and respectful, with genuine Asian actors, real Japanese being spoken, and characters like Cricket and Harada coming off as rather respectable and non-stereotyped. There’s a bit of business where Kutuzov makes some condescending remarks about how the Japanese can’t get the air conditioning to work, only to be smugly informed by Harada that the broken A/C unit was built in Kutuzov’s own anonymous country — a nice subversion of Western condescension.

In addition to being refreshingly non-awful in its portrayal of Asia, “Cherry Blossom” is a pretty solidly written episode overall, with a fairly strong story and some effective wit, and Joseph Sargent does a good job directing it. There are a number of very clever scene transitions in the episode, and I’m not sure how much of that is due to Sargent and the editor and how much is from scripter Mark Weingart (from a story by Sherman Yellen). Fried gets to do Japanese music this week, and again, it’s a somewhat interesting score but not up to his later standards. Nuyen (who’s actually French-Vietnamese, but speaks decent Japanese in the episode) is excellent as Cricket and has a good rapport with the leads. (By the way, about two years after this episode, Nuyen would marry I Spy star Robert Culp, who was so memorable in the first season’s “The Shark Affair.”)

“The Virtue Affair”: A namesake descendant of the Reign of Terror’s Robespierre (Ronald Long), trying to follow in his ancestor’s footsteps in the pursuit of “virtue” by whatever violent means are necessary, has abducted prominent scientists to build him a nuclear missile with which he’ll contaminate the French vineyards, basically his own aggressive form of Prohibition. One scientist he goes after is female physicist Albert Dubois (Mala Powers), named for Einstein, and Solo tries to protect her (futilely — seriously, he should just give up trying to go undercover, since the bad guys always know who he is the moment he shows up). Illya, meanwhile, goes after Robespierre’s main assistant Volger (Frank Marth), an avid bow hunter, challenging him to a target-shooting contest where Illya upstages him with a fancy kind of “bow” that’s more a high-tech slingshot that shoots arrows. I think there’s supposed to be some kind of electronic trickery with the arrows homing in on a ring or something, but that isn’t explained, just implied, and wouldn’t explain most of Illya’s trick shots. But Volger catches him out as an UNCLE agent (he asks Illya if he got the bow from “Uncle,” and Illya makes the mistake of asking “What’s that” instead of “Who’s that”), and makes him the target in The Most Dangerous Game (literally, with a target painted on the back of his shirt). It seems the show has abandoned the early idea that the general public had heard of “the U.N.C.L.E.” — in the past couple of episodes it’s been treated as a secret that only spies know about. Anyway, Illya eventually ends up slated for the guillotine, and Solo finds a rather clever way to trick his guard (Lawrence Montaigne) and escape his cell. (Montaigne strongly reminded me of Leonard Nimoy here, a resemblance I never noticed before even though I’ve seen him in Star Trek‘s “Balance of Terror” and “Amok Time” countless times. I suppose it explains why they cast him as a Romulan and a Vulcan.)

The episode is by accomplished mystery/thriller/SF writer Henry Slesar, but I can’t say I found it very impressive. It’s decent, which is above average for the episodes in this post, but unremarkable. We’ve seen the conceit of the villain trying to replicate a historical ancestor’s gimmicks before, and it’s all pretty much by the numbers. The episode makes a point of establishing that Robespierre is as fanatical about not harming women as he is about everything else, so it’s obvious that his unwillingness to hurt Albert will be his downfall. So really, not a lot of surprises — except early on, when Albert’s father (Marcel Hillaire) escapes from Robespierre by taking Solo and Illya hostage at gunpoint, and later when Robey’s henchmen assassinate Dubois père in a rather brazen and startling way. The rest of the episode is something of an anticlimax. It isn’t helped by the inconsistent French accents of the actors. Robert Drasnin scores again, but it’s mostly stuff we’ve heard before.

“The Children’s Day Affair”: Doing security for an upcoming conference of UNCLE heads, Solo and Illya are ambushed while driving along a back road in Geneva (which looks exactly like the back road in France where they were ambushed last week). The attackers turn out to be a bunch of teenage boys in the uniforms of a local boys’ school with the THRUSH logo in its insignia. (Seriously, why does a super-secret organization even have a distinctive logo?) They and Waverly are surprised and wonder what THRUSH would want with a boys’ school in Switzerland — even though they just broke up a THRUSH-run boys’ school in Switzerland three episodes earlier! The school is run by Mother Fear (Jeanne Cooper), who’s got this weird Mommie-Dearest dominatrix thing going on and has headmaster Jenks (Warren Stevens) and her other adult henchmen acting in a perpetually childlike and obedient state around her. They’re planning to assassinate the UNCLE heads, but the boys’ impetuous attack on our heroes has led UNCLE to move the conference, and now they have to try to find the new site, first by capturing and torturing Illya, then by capturing Solo, letting him escape with Illya, and following them to the conference site. For some reason, even though our heroes figure out they’re being trailed, they still let the villains find out where the conference is, when they could’ve easily led them astray and thus avoided the climactic danger altogether. And for a secret conference of UNCLE’s top men, they have absolutely awful security, letting the student assassins smuggle in a bunch of high-powered rifles under their choir-boy robes. So there are at least two reasons why the climax shouldn’t have happened at all.

Oh, the innocent is Anna, an Italian woman who claims to hate children but has ended up in social services anyway and likes kids more than she lets on. She’s escorting a brat who turns out to be one of the THRUSH recruits, and she gets involved with our boys when trying to track him down. She’s played by Susan Silo, who’s been a prominent animation voice artist for decades, but at the time was doing mainly live-action work and looked and sounded a bit like a real live Betty Boop. She’s fun to watch and listen to, one of the few highlights of the episode, though she’s underutilized and rather tacked on.

All in all, a pretty mediocre episode by Dean Hargrove, completely falling apart in the last act. The music is stock, credited to Fried and Drasnin.

Categories: Reviews Tags: ,

A really nice STAR TREK: EX MACHINA review!

August 19, 2013 1 comment

This is going back quite a ways, but I just came across this really detailed and thoughtful review of Ex Machina on “The m0vie blog”:

It’s hard to pick just one pull quote, so I’ll go with the wrap-up paragraph:

Ex Machina is a worthy and joyful celebration of an esoteric and oft-overlooked period of Star Trek history, at once an ode to a by-gone age and yet a clever modernisation of some of the franchise’s core qualities. It’s a clever and fun debut from Christopher L. Bennett, and one well worth checking out for anybody who likes a bit of social commentary in their Star Trek or even just occasionally wonders what an expanded version of The Motion Picture might look like.

I’m really impressed — the blogger, “Darren,” makes a lot of extrapolations about the motives and reasoning behind my creative choices, which can be a risky thing to do and runs the risk of projecting the reviewer’s own interpretations onto the writer; but in this case the reviewer is largely on the mark (although maybe that’s because I’ve written so much about my thinking in my annotations and such). Although he perceives a stronger connection to The Wrath of Khan than I’d intended.

My visit to GraphicAudio

Here I am visiting GraphicAudio’s studio in Bethesda, Maryland on Monday, August 5th:

My visit to GraphicAudio

Me with director/narrator Nanette Savard, sound designer Patrick Stratton, and producer/actor Richard Rohan. (Link)

As I’ve mentioned, I was able to arrange this visit because I was staying with cousins half an hour’s drive from the GA studio. Based on their recommendations, I decided to take the Beltway route out there and the more direct East-West Highway back — but cousin Barb loaned me their GPS, and it kept trying to direct me to East-West on the way out and the Beltway on the way back! So I relied more on Google Maps printouts.

When I arrived, I also got a bit lost, since I went in by the stairs and the signs there only directed me to the upper floor where the processing and packaging is done. I needed to find someone to escort me down to the studios the floor below. There I was met by producer Richard Rohan, who turned out to have played Hanuman Kwan in Only Superhuman. He was aware I’d imagined Roddy MacDowall when writing the character, but said he didn’t have that voice in his repertoire. When I mentioned his performance reminded me of Tony Randall (which worked almost as well), he said he’d have to think about developing a Randall impression. I also met Nanette Savard, the audiobook’s director and narrator, and when I mentioned that I’d felt Greg Tai and Sally Knox had been perfectly cast, Nanette revealed that she had played Sally! I also briefly met Colleen Delany, who played Psyche Thorne, and who turns out to have a rather Psyche-like smile, very wide and bright. But I just missed a chance to meet Zephyr’s portrayer Thomas Keegan, with whom Nanette had just been finishing up a session when I arrived.

I was shown into the editing room where the above photo was taken, and I got to hear the opening scene of the Spider-Man: Drowned in Thunder audiobook, plus a couple of other scenes later on. It was pretty well-done. The actor they’ve got playing Spider-Man (I don’t know his name yet) sounds not unlike Christopher Daniel Barnes, who played the role in the ’90s series that made me a Spidey fan, and whose voice I imagined when writing the book. Their version of J. Jonah Jameson isn’t anything like what I imagined (which was Ed Asner from the ’90s show), since they based their version on the fact that Stan Lee always wanted to play the role himself. No, they didn’t hire Stan, but their actor gives JJJ a very Stan-like quality. I also learned that Mary Jane Watson-Parker will be played by Alyssa Wilmoth, the same actress who played Emerald Blair — appropriate, since they’re both redheads.

I learned a lot of this from the trailer they played during the podcast interview, which made the story sound really exciting. I was listening in awe and thinking, “I wrote that?!” Anyway, Richard and Nanette interviewed me inside a cozy recording booth and we had a nice talk about both books. The podcast should be out within the week, and I’ll link to it when it’s available. They even let me go back in and do a retake when I belatedly remembered I’d forgotten to plug the upcoming Only Superhuman paperback. After the interview, they showed me the rest of their facility — mostly one big room where the directors and engineers work at a bunch of computers around the walls, but with some private offices for the producers and a couple of secondary recording booths. They had me sign a couple of copies of the audiobook as well as the OS poster in their lobby, and they gave me a green coffee mug with the company logo on it (though more lime green than emerald green).

Unfortunately they didn’t have any copies of DiT ready to give me, since Marvel hasn’t given final approval yet and they haven’t even printed any CDs. The box I’m holding in the above photo is a mockup they finished just moments before. But it sounds like it’ll be really cool, and I hope it’s a big seller. As I’ve mentioned before, I won’t get any more money from this, but I’m proud of the story and I want it to get more exposure. Plus it could attract more interest for Only Superhuman, and that could benefit me financially.

Speaking of which, I asked if I could have a fuller cast list than the one given on the audiobook, crediting who played what for more than just the lead roles. Nanette provided a list for me, so now I can give a fuller cast list for Only Superhuman, the audio:

  • Nanette Savard: Narrator, Sally Knox
  • Alyssa Wilmoth: Emerald Blair/Green Blaze
  • Colleen Delany: Psyche Thorne
  • Thomas Keegan: Zephyr, Taurean
  • Elliot Dash: Eliot Thorne
  • Ken Jackson: Javon Moremba
  • Evan Casey: Gregor Tai
  • Yasmin Tuazon: Koyama Hikari/Tenshi
  • Tracy Lynn Olivera: Bast, Lydia Muchangi/Lodestar, Detective Barbour
  • Barbara Pinolini: Rachel Kincaid-Shannon
  • Richard Rohan: Jahnu Kwan/Hanuman, Erich Krieger/Wulf
  • Christopher Scheeren: Yukio Villareal/Sensei
  • Michael Glenn: Richard Shannon
  • Kimberly Gilbert: Bimala Sarkar, Elise Pasteris/Tin Lizzy, Ruki Shimoda/Hikkaku
  • David Coyne: Sanjay Bhattacharyya/Cowboy
  • Eric Messner: Vijay Pandalai/Arjun
  • James Konicek: Arkady Nazarbayev/Medvyed
  • Elizabeth Jernigan: Lyra Blair, “Banshee” Starlet
  • Nora Achrati: Maryam Khalid/Hijab, Dr. Monica Railey
  • Joe Brack: Juan Lopez/Jackknife, Aaron Donner/Blitz, Daniel Weiss/Overload
  • Nick Depinto: Marut Pandalai/Bhima
  • Terence Aselford: Ken Auster/Paladin, Jorge Santiago
  • Additional voices by Thomas Penny, Michael John Casey, James Lewis, Joel David Santner, and Steven Carpenter

Hopefully I’ll have a cast list for Drowned in Thunder as well once that comes out.

By the way, here’s the list of GA’s DC Comics cast members. Turns out Richard Rohan plays Batman — and the Joker! (That must make for some interesting recording sessions.) Nanette Savard is Lois Lane, Colleen Delany is Wonder Woman, and James Konicek, who played Arkady, is their Superman.

Before I left, they let me know that they had plans to attend the New York Comic-Con in October. I plan to be there to promote the OS paperback, so I’ll be sure to visit their booth and maybe do some promotion of their adaptations. I’ll be sure to post information about my appearance schedule once it’s arranged.

Shore Leave report

Well, it’s been an eventful few days, with little time to post anything. The drive to Baltimore was agreeably uneventful, except for the night I spent in a very cheap motel with no amenities and spiders in the tub and corners. (Could’ve been worse. Spiders are basically harmless and keep other pests at bay.) And except for the sore shoulder I’m dealing with in the wake of my marathon writing session to finish Tower of Babel.

I got into the hotel around noon on Friday and promptly ran into Greg Cox, who, like me, was waiting for his room to be ready. We spent a while catching up, having a good long chat. Later that afternoon, he and I went to dinner with Marco Palmieri, Klingon language expert Lawrence M. Schoen (who just signed a book contract with Tor), and fellow Tor novelist (and one-time Star Trek: Strange New Worlds contributor) Rod Belcher, and we talked Tor for a while. I had a really nice hummus-and-pita appetizer followed by a pretty good spaghetti with tomato-and-basil sauce. Then we went to my first panel, announcing Tor’s recent and upcoming schedule — basically the same thing Marco and his fellow editor Margaret Clark used to do for Star Trek books, but now for Tor’s much broader line of books, including the upcoming mass-market paperback of Only Superhuman. David Mack helped run the slide show, and in return he was granted the opportunity to announce the exciting new Trek project reuniting him with his Vanguard collaborators Dayton Ward and Kevin Dilmore, Star Trek: Seekers, which you can read about here.

After that came the annual Meet the Pros book-signing event, which was pretty well attended this year, since William Shatner was at the con and thus it drew a larger crowd. I got to catch up with several of my fellow authors/friends. I only managed to sell one copy of OS that night, though, but I also managed to sell one of the copies of Spider-Man: Drowned in Thunder that I brought with me.

Saturday, after having breakfast in my room and finally figuring out how to get onto the Internet from the hotel, the first thing I did publicly was to visit the book dealers’ table, where I did the traditional one-hour shift in what Marco Palmieri (IIRC) has now dubbed the Author Chimney — a narrow space between two brick pillars, just wide enough for one person to sit and sign books for passersby. It’s right near the concession stand where they sell burgers and hot dogs (the only relatively inexpensive place to eat in the hotel now, since the cafe closed when the hotel changed owners recently), so I had my lunch there. I think I moved two copies of OS and convinced a couple of others to check out the e-book.

Then I had my marathon of panels, the topics of which I covered in my previous post. That’s all kind of a blur, but it went pretty well. As a bonus, for the panel “Did Man of Steel Tarnish Superman?”, Dave Mack and I had the privilege of being joined by a surprise guest, Paul Kupperberg, who’s written and edited many Superman comics and was more qualified than either of us to discuss the topic. The consensus: No, Superman’s untarnished since he still exists in many media, but the movie rather screwed up his depiction. I was glad to move from there to the Legend of Korra panel, which was a lot of fun. But by the time the final panel rolled around, I was feeling pretty worn out and punchy. Before it, I’d tried to get a granola bar from the vending machine in what was left of the cafe, but I misread “E5” as “F5” and got animal crackers instead, which I didn’t want. Then, after the panel, I got a microwave entree out of the carousel vending machine, but the microwaves in the cafe were too low-power to heat it adequately, as I found out when I got it back to my room. After another couple of tries, I just gave up on it and threw it away, and went out to try to find some other place to eat. A fellow guest, Steve Wilson (writer of a couple of my favorite DC Trek comic issues) reminded me that the grocery store across the road had a good deli, so I drove over, got a pasta salad, and finally, finally got to retire to my room for the evening.

Sunday began with the traditional authors’ brunch, and then I attended a talk that NASA scientist Paul Abell — husband of Trek author Amy Sisson — held about the Chelyabinsk meteor explosion last year. Turns out he’s one of the team members involved with detecting potential Earth-threatening asteroids, a division called “planetary defense.” But he tells me their offices do not particularly resemble the Hall of Justice.

Speaking of which…

0804130950-00I got my wish to get photographed with the (replica) Batmobile. This is a shot from my crummy cell phone — I’ve got a better one that I’ll need to scan once I get home.

EDIT: Here’s that scan:


Oh, here’s a funny sign I saw at the con and had to photograph:

0804131121-00(Who ever heard of an evil dolphin? Although technically it only says the eyebrows are evil.)

After getting a hot dog and chatting with Greg and Keith DeCandido during the latter’s stint in the Author Chimney, I joined Paul for a panel on the science and fiction of asteroids, comparing what I did in OS with his real-life knowledge of the field — although, since this is me, there was nearly as much science on my side as his. The next panel in the same room, which mistakenly got left off the schedule grid, was on writing Star Trek: TOS and the challenge of finding something new to say. I ended up joining the panelists for that one and talking about my post-TMP work. Finally came my solo Q&A panel, which was rather poorly attended, since people were going home by that point. But the few people who were there got to be the first to whom I showed the cover for the upcoming Drowned in Thunder audiobook (which I’d downloaded onto my laptop just minutes before):

DrownedAudioCvrWhich I think is a panel from the same comics scene that Marco wanted the novel’s cover artist to use for inspiration. (It’s not the exact same page, but it’s clearly by the same artist (John Romita, Jr.) and looks like an earlier panel in the same sequence.) I also got to talk for a while about my upcoming Analog novella “Make Hub, Not War,” which should be out in a month or so.

After that, I left the con and drove to the DC suburbs to stay with cousins Barb and Mark, and I’m typing from their guest room. I’ve just gotten back from my visit to GraphicAudio’s studio, which was very cool and which I think deserves its own post. To be continued…

%d bloggers like this: