ARACHNE’S CRIME/EXILE update (and more art!)

Okay, folks… You may have noticed that I now have preorder links for both Arachne’s Crime and Arachne’s Exile up on my homepage. Both books have now been edited and typeset, and all that’s left is the cover art, which eSpec Books’ Mike McPhail is about to take up. Oh, and hopefully collecting a few promotional blurbs.

So I talked it over with my editor, and we decided that, instead of releasing the two books separately as originally anticipated, we’re going to release the whole duology at once! I figure, hey, we’ve all been waiting long enough, so why create an artificial wait for the second book if there’s no need to?

There’s a definite irony here, though, since I originally wrote this story as a single really long novel. It was when I decided to shop it to small publishers that I decided to split it in two to fit their word count limits, and I realized it worked better that way, as two distinct, more focused stories connecting into a larger sequence. So I rewrote with that in mind, making sure AC had a reasonable degree of closure and completeness while AE opened with sufficient recapping and reintroduction to refresh readers’ memories after a gap of, I presumed, several months. Now it turns out the whole story is coming out all at once after all.

Still, it’s good that it has that flexibility. Readers can buy both books at once if they like (and I hope they do), or they can start with AC and then get around to AE later if they prefer. It really does have a better structure as two consecutive installments, but I guess that’s true regardless of how much or little time separates them in the reader’s experience.

As for when they come out, that depends on how long the covers take. But it should hopefully be fairly soon. Of course, you can preorder right now with the above links.

Meanwhile, given all this, I’ve gone ahead and posted an advance look at four Arachne’s Exile alien designs on my Patreon site, following up the sketches I posted of Arachne’s Crime aliens back in June (when I thought the book might be out in July or so). Both sets of sketches are available to anyone at the $1 subscription level, though they’ll all be included with my novel annotations here on Written Worlds when the time comes. For now, though, they’ll hopefully tide us over until the covers come out.

Oh, and I should have another big announcement about a different project very soon.

Troubleshooter art: Koyama Hikari/Tenshi

(Reposted from my Patreon site, originally posted August 7, 2020)

Koyama Hikari

Click to enlarge

One of my favorite supporting characters in Only Superhuman was Emerald Blair’s best friend “Kari” Koyama Hikari, aka Troubleshooter Tenshi, a young woman who was “deceptively cute, girlish, and innocent” in appearance but was engineered by her yakuza-boss father to be the ultimate martial-artist assassin, and had rebelled against that fate to become a superhero instead. I’ve always wanted to do a sketch of her to accompany my previous sketches of Emerald Blair and Psyche Thorne. Unfortunately, if my mental image of Kari was based on a specific person, I’ve long since forgotten who it was, and I’m not a good enough artist to work without a photo reference.

Since I watch a lot of Japanese TV and movies, I’ve kept an eye out for actresses I could use as models for Kari. But every time I thought a given actress was a good fit for Kari, I changed my mind when I revisited the candidate later on. It took years to find someone I didn’t change my mind about — someones, rather, since I wanted at least two models so I could blend features and create a distinct face.

I finally settled on two tokusatsu actresses who played characters with coincidentally similar names. My primary model was Yuumi Shida, who played the female lead Mai Takatsukasa in Kamen Rider Gaim. I based the nose and mouth more on Mariya Yamada, who played Mai Midorikawa in Ultraman Dyna. I think the final result comes pretty close to what I pictured in my mind. I don’t think my drawing is nearly as gorgeous as either actress, but that’s probably for the best, since Kari is supposed to have a more understated beauty than Emerald’s.

Koyama Hikari (pencil art)

Click to enlarge

I’ve included my original pencil sketch because I like how it turned out, possibly even better than the color version. I didn’t want to risk ruining the original if I goofed with the coloring, so I retraced the whole thing, resulting in some subtle differences. It was a challenge to get her hair dark enough with colored pencils; I lowered the brightness on the scan considerably to get it to look right, as you can tell from the gray background. Still, I think it turned out pretty well, considering that I haven’t done one of these in eight years.

Troubleshooter Tenshi

Click to enlarge

The third image shows Kari in costume as Troubleshooter Tenshi. It’s basically as described in the novel, a stylized judo gi in red with saffron trim over a silver light-armor leotard, but I’ve added a couple of new details. The jacket trim has a traditional Japanese yagasuri (arrow fletching) pattern, suggesting a hagoromo, the feathered kimono of a tenshi/angel from Japanese mythology; the pattern also symbolizes the fight against evil in Buddhism, Kari’s faith. (I considered a more elaborate hagoromo pattern for the jacket, but I couldn’t find anything within my ability to draw. I happened upon the yagasuri pattern and decided it would be appropriate.) The end of the belt has what’s supposed to be a stylized lotus blossom as the Tenshi logo, since I’ve decided that Troubleshooters should have individual logos.

I had wanted to draw Kari holding one or both of her tessen (war fans), but in looking for reference art, I realized the only way to do them justice would be to redraw her from scratch in a tessenjutsu stance, and I didn’t want to throw out the work I’d already done. I thought of drawing them folded on her belt or something, but I decided she’d probably stow them up her sleeves.

The costume sketch is colored with a blend of pencils and computer coloring, not unlike my Psyche portrait from 2012. After creating the pencil art (retracing the body from an old sketch attempt that didn’t get her face right, and tracing the new face on top), I scanned it and color-filled it digitally as a “color study” to guide my colored-pencil version. But I wasn’t satisfied with the pencil version (partly because I seem to have used up my pure red pencil and had to make do with orange-red), so I just translucently superimposed the color study on top of the pencil art. It worked surprisingly well, considering that I again retraced it to preserve the original. Despite that, they line up pretty perfectly except a little around the hands and feet.

More free Patreon samples!

I now have free samples up on Patreon for all three of my main membership tiers. I hope they entice at least a few more people to subscribe to my Patreon page.

At the $5 Reviews tier, up since last Tuesday, is the first of my weekly reviews of the 1988 syndicated Superboy TV series:

https://www.patreon.com/posts/40266250

At the $10 Fiction tier is a reprint of my 2017 Analog short story “Abductive Reasoning”:

https://www.patreon.com/posts/free-fiction-41459524

And at the $12 Behind the Scenes tier, I’m offering a glimpse of my worldbuilding notes for the Arachne-Troubleshooter Universe, an overview of the distribution of life in different parts of the galaxy:

https://www.patreon.com/posts/worldbuilding-in-41460817

These are pretty representative of the kind of content I offer regularly. I post a new review every Tuesday (I’ve got enough written in advance to last about a year at this point), and new (or sometimes reprint) fiction and Behind the Scenes content roughly once a month. Also, at the $1 Tip Jar level, I have a couple of posts’ worth of old cat photos you can check out (no new ones likely to follow, alas) and occasional advance glimpses at character and alien design sketches I’ve done for my fiction (which will eventually be reprinted here on Written Worlds).

Feel free to check it out!

eSPEC EXCERPTS – ARACHNE’S CRIME

From the eSpec Books blog, an excerpt from Chapter 1 of ARACHNE’S CRIME.

eSpec Books

We have a lot of exciting new titles coming out over the next six months. Here is a sneak peek of Christopher L. Bennett’s Arachne’s Crime. The first volume in his hardcore science fiction duology.


Arachne’s Crime – Chapter One

Stephen kept his eyes on the lights in the sky, even as he lay in the mud. The more they tried to beat him down, the more he took comfort in the heights humanity could reach.

“Look up there,” he told them once he’d grown strong enough to defend himself and win the chance to be heard. “Look at what we have the potential to achieve if we use our energies together instead of wasting them against each other.”

At first, Benjamin was his only audience, gazing up with him at the points of light that swept across the heavens. Stephen spoke to inspire the boy, to give his…

View original post 1,752 more words

Categories: Uncategorized

Free Patreon review this week!

Today I’m starting a new TV review series on Patreon, of the 1988-92 syndicated Superboy (renamed The Adventures of Superboy for seasons 3-4), which was produced by Alexander and Ilya Salkind of the Christopher Reeve Superman movies and starred John Haymes Newton (season 1) and Gerard Christopher (seasons 2-4) as Superboy and Stacy Haiduk as Lana Lang. It’s a little-remembered series today, as it hasn’t been widely available, but the entire series is on DC Universe. While the first two seasons are inconsistent and often terrible, they do have some noteworthy moments, and are notable for having veteran Superman comics writer-editors such as Cary Bates, Mike Carlin, and Andy Helfer on the writing staff. The retooled seasons 3-4, though are a vast improvement, probably the best live-action DC television prior to Smallville (and I say that as a longtime fan of the 1990 The Flash). Seasons 2-4 also feature Sherman Howard as one of the finest screen versions of Lex Luthor ever.

This will be a long series of reviews, so in hopes of attracting some new subscribers, I’m making this first review available for free to the public. Just click here:

https://www.patreon.com/posts/40266250

Subsequent installments will appear weekly for Patreon subscribers at the $5 level and above. I hope this review will entice at least a few of you to join up — I’d like my reviews to be read by more than 20-ish people.

Categories: Reviews Tags: , , , ,

Updates on various things

While I wait for the cover art to Arachne’s Crime to be finished so the book can be released, I’ve been working on some Arachne art of my own. Back in June, I posted sketches of the three alien species from Arachne’s Crime on Patreon, an advance look for patrons at the $1 subscription level before I eventually post them here on Written Worlds where everyone can see them. Well, I’ve been working on drawings of the four new alien species that debut in Arachne’s Exile, which I’ll do the same with at some point, once I have a better idea of the release schedule.

I’ve done some doodles and design sketches for these four species in the past to get enough of a sense of their anatomy to describe them in the novel, but some were more developed than others. There was one I already had lightly drawn that I just needed to refine and go over with darker pencil lines, which was pretty straightforward. Another was a rethinking of a species I designed and drew decades ago, with the same head and upper body but a redesigned lower body, so that went quite quickly. For the other two, I had thumbnail sketches of the body shapes (and I scanned them so I could enlarge them and trace them straight from the screen to make it easier), but I still had to figure out a lot of the details, like the shape of the limbs and extremities and in one case the entire head design, since I was unhappy with the rough head shape I’d sketched in. The first one of those took a few days, since it had an unusual surface texture that I had to figure out how to draw. The other went pretty quickly once I settled on a head design, though. I guess I’m going faster as I get back into practice at this.

Today I even did some copying and pasting in a drawing program to put together a comparative height chart for all seven species plus a human, using a blank height-chart template I found free online. So now those are all ready to go on Patreon at some point, and eventually on this blog as well.

Progress on other projects is slower going, though. I’m still awaiting the contract for that big new project I mentioned getting a “yes” on two weeks ago, and now that I’ve gotten all the side projects out of the way, there’s another work in progress I really need to rededicate myself to. So there’s nothing else professionally I can say much about yet.

Last week I reported my success in doing my own repair to the fill valve in my toilet tank. But it turned out not to be complete success. I woke up a day or two later to find the tank continuously trying and failing to refill, apparently because the stopper — or the flapper, as I now know it’s called — wasn’t properly closed, so whatever came into the tank was promptly drained into the bowl through the flush valve (as I now know it’s called). Fortunately, fiddling with the flapper a bit seemed to fix it. I figured some gunk got dislodged in my repairs and got stuck under the stopper the night before so it wouldn’t reseal. I hoped that was all it was.

However, over the next few days, I heard the refilling sound briefly every few hours, suggesting that water was still slowly leaking out through the flush valve, triggering a refill when the float sank low enough. (Apparently these are called “ghost flushes.”) I remembered how, when I’d kept the water mostly turned off while waiting for the replacement part to be shipped, the water in the tank drained after a few hours. I realized that the slow leak in the fill valve may have been compensating for a slow leak in the flush valve the whole time! Would I have to buy a replacement flapper too? I once again went to YouTube in search of repair videos (which is how I suddenly know so much terminology) and started looking into replacement options.

When I investigated, though, I found I’d been pretty much right the first time: some flecks of stuff on the flapper were preventing a perfect seal. Maybe some kind of mineral encrustation inside the tank because of the hard water in my area — perhaps I was right about stuff getting dislodged during repairs. I wiped off the flapper and the valve edges, and it seemed to solve the problem for a day or so, but since then I’ve had another instance where the flapper didn’t close, and the ghost flushes have returned, and there still seems to be some loose debris in the tank despite my efforts to wipe it up.

I should probably replace the flapper at some point (the info I found online says you should if it’s more than 5 years old), but it’s not urgent. At least it’s an intermittent, manageable issue rather than the constant leak I had before. So I can live with it as it is.

Especially since I have work I need to stop distracting myself from…

SPIDER-MAN: DROWNED IN THUNDER is being reprinted at last!

August 20, 2020 1 comment

Great news! Titan Books has been doing a series called Marvel Classic Novels, comprising themed omnibus reprints of various past prose novels based on Marvel Comics superheroes. I just learned from Keith R.A. DeCandido that they’re doing one called Marvel Classic Novels – Spider-Man: The Darkest Hours Omnibus, which includes my 2008 novel Spider-Man: Drowned in Thunder along with Jim Butcher’s The Darkest Hours and Keith’s Down These Mean Streets.

No cover yet for the omnibus, but here’s the official description:

Collecting three classic fan-favorite Spider-Man novels together for the first time in a brand-new omnibus edition.

THE DARKEST HOURS by Jim Butcher

When Black Cat foils Spider-Man’s attempts to stop the Rhino rampaging through Times Square, she informs him the Rhino is just a distraction. The real threat comes from a group of Ancients, members of the same race as the being called Morlun, seeking revenge for Spider-Man defeating them years before. Spidey must rely on Black Cat if there’s any hope of stopping them again, before they can steal his life force.

DOWN THESE MEAN STREETS by Keith R.A. DeCandido

A mysterious drug known as Triple X has been giving users super-powers as well as rendering them mentally and physically unstable. Only by teaming up with a police force that hates him can Spider-Man find the source behind this lethal drug and protect people from those using it. But one of Spider-Man’s most fearsome enemies may be behind it all as part of a greater scheme to bring down the city.

DROWNED IN THUNDER by Christopher L. Bennett

The ongoing conflict between Spider-Man and his longtime outspoken nemesis, crusading newspaper publisher J. Jonah Jameson, reaches a whole new level when JJJ exploits several mysterious attacks on Manhattan island in his propaganda war against the web-slinger.

 

Drowned in Thunder was my second Marvel novel after the previous year’s X-Men: Watchers on the Walls, and my last one to date. It’s a book I’m very proud of, so I was disappointed when it turned out to be perhaps my weakest-selling novel, due to lack of promotion. I was pleased when it was re-released in audiobook form in 2013, in a full-cast audio drama adaptation by GraphicAudio, which was declared one of the Best Sci-Fi, Fantasy & Audio Theater Audiobooks of 2013 by AudioFile Magazine. But I always hoped the print edition would be republished someday, and now that’s finally happening.

These three novels are a natural fit for an omnibus, too. Not only are they all from Pocket Star’s mid-2000s Marvel line, but by chance, Keith, Jim, and I all chose to set our books at almost the exact same point in the timeline, between Mary Jane Watson starting a stage career and Spidey joining the Avengers — a period in which Peter and MJ were still married, Peter was teaching science at Midtown High, and Aunt May was aware that Peter was Spider-Man and had become his most ardent supporter. Indeed, I referenced both Keith’s and Jim’s novels in my own, explicitly tying them all together. If they appear in the order listed in the blurb, then they’re in the right chronological sequence too; Down These Mean Streets was actually published first, but The Darkest Hours apparently takes place a bit earlier, judging by the state of MJ’s theatrical career, at least. All in all, it’s looking pretty great.

Unfortunately, it won’t be out until May 2021, but you can preorder it starting now. Here are the ordering links:

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

Indiebound

Penguin Random House

 

With the audiobook also back in print from Dreamscape Media, I’m really glad that Drowned in Thunder is getting a new life. Face front, True Believers!

Isolation breeds self-sufficiency (sometimes)

August 19, 2020 1 comment

Remember how last week I was worried about having to let a repairperson into my apartment to fix my phone, only to be relieved when it turned out they could fix it from the building’s equipment room? Well, my relief was short-lived, because another breakdown came to my attention soon thereafter.

For quite a while now, I’ve heard an almost constant sound of water in the pipes in my apartment bathroom, and I assumed it was from somewhere else in the building, until I noticed some water leakage on the floor around the toilet. I checked the tank and saw that there was a small but constant sputter of water out of the top of the fill valve assembly. I was able to adjust the lid of the tank so the water squirting upward didn’t drip out the back, which seemed to be the cause of the water on the floor, but that didn’t solve the problem that my toilet was wasting water through this constant leak, and possibly had been for weeks, even months before I caught on.

In saner times, I would’ve gone to the office and alerted them to the problem so the maintenance guy could come fix it, but the staff of my building seems uniformly unwilling to wear masks, so I didn’t want to let any of them in if I could help it. At first I figured I could just live with the slight leak. But finally I had the thought that maybe I could do something about it myself. I found an instructional video online which showed me that the problem was probably a leaky washer in the cap of the fill valve, and that a replacement could be obtained cheaply and installed quite simply. My assembly matched the one in the video, so I turned off the water and tried detaching the cap to check the washer. I hoped maybe I could just push it more firmly into place or something and make a temporary fix, but when I put it back together, my fiddling apparently made it worse. Now there was more water slowly but uncontrollably leaking into the tank and spilling into the overflow pipe.

So I found a replacement cap and washer assembly on Amazon and ordered it, and I just hoped I’d diagnosed the problem correctly and it wasn’t a leak somewhere else in the fill valve unit, or that I hadn’t broken something else in my fiddling. In the meantime, I realized I could just leave the water supply valve turned off except when needed. That kept the problem in abeyance, and I just had to hope the replacement cap wouldn’t suffer the same delivery delays or cancellations I had with an order last month. Luckily, it didn’t. I ordered it on Saturday night and the part came an hour ago, just under four days later. Apparently it was delivered by an Amazon driver rather than the US mail; there was real-time tracking info on their site as she approached, and she called me on arrival to confirm delivery. (Her phone had a Seattle caller ID; either that was a really long drive, or it was registered as an Amazon number or something like that.)

So I picked up the part from the porch just after she left, read the instructions on the back, rewatched the instructional video, and went about the swap. I hit two snags. One was that the bit that clips the lever onto the rod connected to the float was clipped on pretty tightly, and I was afraid to get too forceful wresting them apart for fear of snapping the rod. I finally managed to pry the prongs of the clip far enough apart to slip them off the rod. Okay, so then I put it down next to the new one — and I promptly lost track of which one was the new one! Not to worry, though — back on Saturday, I’d taken a photo of the cap with my phone so I could check it against the Amazon items and make sure I got the right one. I made sure the photo was close enough to include the serial number (since I wasn’t sure if it was a more generic part number I’d need to know, though luckily it wasn’t), so I was able to tell the two valves apart by their numbers.

With that settled, I snapped the new cap into place and, with anxious anticipation, turned on the water. The tank refilled… the float rose… and the water stopped! The repair worked! Such blessed silence, at long last!

It was such a simple thing to fix, but it brought me such an enormous sense of relief and satisfaction, since I’ve been so worried about it not working. It’s a relief that my repair attempt went so smoothly and easily, that it didn’t require further effort or have any complications. And it’s satisfying to know I can handle something like this on my own (well, with a little help from people on YouTube). Sure, I had to spend money for the part and shipping, whereas the maintenance guy would’ve done it for free, but it’s a tradeoff I’m willing to make these days. (I figure the 13-odd bucks it cost is too low for a renter’s insurance claim.)

Categories: Uncategorized

Thoughts on SHAZAM! (1974)

Thanks to the DC Universe streaming site, I’ve just finished a rewatch of the 1974 Filmation live-action adventure series Shazam!, which I watched in first run on Saturday mornings as a kid. I haven’t seen the show in quite a long time, though I saw its sister show The Secrets of Isis on DVD back in 2009. I was expecting that it would have mostly nostalgia value and that from a mature perspective I’d find it rather silly. But I was actually surprised at how well it held up. Certainly it had plenty of contrivances and limitations and was made with an absurdly low budget, but it managed to be pretty decent in spite of that.

The show had legendary DC artist Carmine Infantino on board as a creative consultant from the company that was still billed as National Comics Publications at the time — and I’m rather surprised that I saw his name prominently displayed in the credits of this show every week in my childhood (at least in the first season), yet failed to recognize it when I saw it on comic book pages nearly a decade later. Anyway, it was a weird mix of fidelity to and departure from the source. Captain Marvel’s costume was an exact recreation of the comics version, his powers worked basically the same way, and there were a few passing references to Billy Batson working for a TV station, as he did in the comics (though nobody ever recognized him in the show, so either he worked for a local station or he wasn’t an on-air personality). But we never saw him at work. Instead, the implicitly teenaged Billy (Michael Gray, who was in his early 20s at the time) spent the whole 3-season, 28-episode series on an incredibly long vacation, tooling around Los Angeles and the surrounding countryside in an RV driven by his elderly mentor named Mentor (War of the Worlds‘ Les Tremayne), a new character created for the show. In place of the Wizard Shazam, the mythical figures who empowered him and provided the initials of the magic word that transformed Bily into Captain Marvel — Solomon, Hercules, Atlas, Zeus, Achilles, and Mercury — appeared onscreen as “the Elders” in barely-animated cartoon sequences (static paintings with animated eyes and mouths) with a live-action Billy matted in, showing up once per episode to give Billy vague warnings about the problems he would face and the moral principles he’d need to apply in solving them. (All six Elders were voiced by Filmation producer Lou Scheimer. Some sources credit Solomon as his partner Norm Prescott, but I grew up hearing all of Scheimer’s voices — there weren’t very many of them — and I know them when I hear them.) As a kid, I saw the whole series in black & white, and I’m startled by how vivid the Elder sequences are in the remastered HD episodes on DCU.

Mentor is a mysterious figure. He seems like just a friendly grandfather tootling around in an RV with Billy, and Gray and Tremayne have a fun comic rapport as they tease each other, joke around, and occasionally get on each other’s nerves. But Mentor seems to have a connection to the Elders, sometimes repeating their words as if he were some Earthbound facet or agent of theirs, and in one early episode he shows up out of nowhere on a tree branch to give advice, as if he just materialized there off camera. Still, if the original implication was that he had some kind of supernatural connection to the Elders, that was abandoned by the second season. (Also, it was originally clear that he “heard” the Elders’ words when Billy visited them, but in seasons 2-3 he needed Billy to repeat them to him.)

(EDIT: Filmation historian Andy Mangels informs me that the series bible explained Mentor as a former host of Captain Marvel. Which makes perfect sense.)

Another change, incidentally, is that the Elders seemed more stern and proactive in season 1, sometimes sending out threatening thunderclaps when Billy and Mentor were tempted to use Captain Marvel’s powers for personal or frivolous reasons. By season 2, they seemed more indulgent, and there was one closing gag scene where Billy changed to Marvel inside the RV to win a petty argument with Mentor (the one and only time he was shown transforming inside the vehicle, although he did once change while tied up in a warehouse). I guess magic lightning isn’t affected by Faraday cages. Well, nobody ever seemed to notice the thunder or lightning when he changed, so I guess it’s pretty unusual.

Captain Marvel was played by two actors. In the 15 episodes of the first season and two episodes in the second, he was played by Jackson Bostwick, a bright-eyed, square-jawed muscleman who looked the part pretty convincingly aside from needing a haircut. But Bostwick abruptly walked out early in season 2 as a ploy to get a raise, and got fired instead, with the producers hastily casting a new actor, John Davey, to take his place for the remaining 11 episodes and three guest appearances on Isis. Davey was a less visually convincing Marvel, an older, rougher-featured, slightly flabbier man (though he was more toned up by season 3) who looked and sounded more like a blue-collar dad than a superhero. I gather that most people prefer Bostwick in the role, but at least in my current rewatch, I liked Davey much better. Bostwick had the look down, and he was amiable enough, but he was a limited performer who never felt natural in the role, affecting a constant grin that seemed forced and almost creepily ingratiating. Davey was a considerably more experienced actor who gave a much more unaffected, matter-of-fact performance. It might not have been as easy to believe he was the World’s Mightiest Mortal, but it was far easier to believe that he was actually a person involved in the story, rather than a performer mugging for the camera and reciting from a script. Certainly he was better than you’d expect from someone hastily cast in a single day after the first guy walked out.

(EDIT: Apparently the claim that Bostwick walked out over money was disproven; it was actually due to an on-set injury, and Bostwick won a Screen Actors Guild arbitration hearing over his firing and got compensated for it: http://www.angelfire.com/tv2/shazam/bostwick2.html )

The change in CM’s appearance was never explained on the show, and indeed, for some reason Davey’s first episode was aired the week before Bostwick’s last, perhaps to soften the transition. Now, since Billy/Marvel is essentially a shapeshifter, it seems there’s a built-in explanation for the change — except in Davey’s second episode, a criminal impersonates Marvel wearing a mask of Davey’s face and the public instantly recognizes him as the hero.

It’s worth noting that Captain Marvel’s screen time increased significantly once Davey replaced Bostwick. In season 1, he mostly just showed up for a minute or two at a time for one or two rescue sequences per episode, but in seasons 2-3, he sometimes had extended roles whose screen time occasionally surpassed Bily’s. (For instance, in the aforementioned episode, when Billy learns there’s a warrant for CM’s arrest, he Shazams and turns himself in as CM, spending most of the rest of the episode in that form.) Now, this happened soon enough that it probably wasn’t cause and effect — my guess is that the network asked for more screen time for the superhero even before the cast change. But I doubt that Bostwick could’ve handled the enlarged role and more extensive character interplay as well as Davey did.

While rewatching the show from my adult, more comics-savvy perspective, I found myself wondering what Billy/Marvel and Mentor did when they weren’t on the world’s longest vacation. Did this Earth’s Captain Marvel ever fight supervillains like Dr. Sivana and Mr. Mind, or did he just deal with bank robbers, catch runaway cars, and save kids from falling off cliffs due to their poor life choices? For what it’s worth, the first Isis crossover episode had the Elders tell Mentor (the one time we ever saw him in the Elders’ cartoon space) that Isis was the only person on Earth who could help Captain Marvel put out a forest fire. So that tells us that their universe had no other superheroes, at least none on a comparable level of power. Of course, the existence of Isis (JoAnna Cameron) invalidates the Shazam! opening narration’s claim that Captain Marvel is “the mightiest of mortals.” He can just fly around and punch through rock and lift cars over his head. She has godlike power over the forces of nature and can reverse time itself.

On the classic “Is Captain Marvel a transformed Billy or another person who swaps places with him?” question, I’d say the show more or less came down on the former side. Marvel sometimes followed through on Billy’s conversations with Mentor or on his goals (e.g. getting a delayed lunch or winning a friendly bet), and Billy once used “I” to refer to something Marvel did. Marvel’s personality didn’t seem quite the same as Billy’s, but this version of Billy wasn’t as boyish as he’s usually portrayed and Marvel’s appearances were usually fairly brief. And we can assume that he’s putting on a more heroic persona for the benefit of the public, though he lets his guard down more with Mentor. To some extent, it depends on the actor. Bostwick’s screen time and talent were both too limited to convey any sense that Billy’s personality was in there. Davey wasn’t doing an impression of Michael Gray or anything, but his manner was similar enough that I can buy that they’re the same person.

The show occasionally had some notable guest stars, either established names from the era or earlier, including Lance Kerwin, Pamelyn Ferdin (who would later star in Filmation’s Space Academy), William Sargent, Ron Soble, Butch Patrick, Hilly Hicks, Dabbs Greer, Kung Fu‘s Radames Pera, Danny Bonaduce, William Campbell, and Linden Chiles, or young actors who would become prominent later on, including Patrick Labyorteaux, Andrew Stevens, and actor-director Eric Laneuville. Laneuville’s episode also featured baseball star Maury Wills in a cameo as himself, which dodged a bullet — I was afraid the episode would get white-saviorish with Billy/Marvel and Mentor showing the light to a couple of black kids, but the producers wisely brought in the African-American Wills to provide the lesson — even making him the only non-regular ever to appear in one of the closing tags restating the moral of the week for the kids at home.  Perhaps the biggest star who appeared in Shazam! was a young Jackie Earle Haley, better known for his work in another DC production, playing Rorschach in Zack Snyder’s Watchmen. Quite a difference.

As for the main cast, Michael Gray had about five years of prior TV acting experience, but did very little acting after the show — surprisingly, as I thought he was pretty good. Les Tremayne had decades of experience as a radio actor, announcer, and narrator as well as a screen actor, known for The War of the Worlds and North by Northwest, but after this, he worked almost exclusively in animation through the early ’90s. Jackson Bostwick did a handful of roles in various later films, notably as “Head Guard” in TRON. John Davey went on working as a character actor for the next decade or so, appearing in six different roles in The Rockford Files and five in Barnaby Jones, with his final two credited roles in 1987, as a state trooper in MacGyver and a “Metrocop with Stunner” in the American pilot of Max Headroom.

Shazam!‘s production values were nothing to write home about, of course. The endless vacation was an excuse to avoid standing sets and shoot entirely on location (including several episodes shot at the familiar Vasquez Rocks cliff where Kirk fought the Gorn, and several uses of the Bronson Canyon cave area used as the exterior of Adam West’s Batcave). The visual effects were pretty basic, with flying shots for Captain Marvel not dissimilar to those from George Reeves’s Superman a couple of decades earlier. But they did some interesting flying gags where they tied Bostwick or Davey to a board and drove him around with a camera shooting his torso so it looked like he was flying close to ground level. They did a cool stunt with him dragging down a chopper in one episode, but in the episode where he caught a small plane and guided it to a safe landing, I realized after a moment that they just tied a dummy to the back of the plane. The most notable optical effect was the transformation shot created by the Westheimer Company, with Gray’s image fading into Bostwick’s and then Davey’s surrounded by animated flames and superimposed on live-action light and cloud tank effects. It’s mildly impressive that they actually went to the trouble of recompositing it for Davey rather than just cutting it short or replacing it with a simpler transition. But then, much like the stock henshin sequences in Japanese tokusatsu shows today, the “Shazam!” shot was a highlight of each episode, a ritualized moment the audience came to expect, so it makes sense that they’d put the most care into it.

Despite all this adult perspective, though, it was still a nostalgic treat to revisit Shazam! Filmation’s shows were my jam as a kid in the ’70s, and their music composed by Ray Ellis and supervised by Norm Prescott (under the pseudonyms Yvette Blais & Jeff Michael) was the soundtrack I used in my head to score my own life. I feel their wholesome, liberal, educational focus helped shape my moral compass, along with Star Trek. And early Shazam! fits particularly into my comfort zone, a reminder of that last year or so before I lost my mother, the one time I seem to recall feeling most contented and complete and untroubled, though it probably didn’t seem that way at the time. Maybe that’s why I found it so satisfying to revisit. I felt it was written and (mostly) acted better than I expected, but I could certainly be seeing it through rose-colored glasses. Still, that’s fine. I watch other shows with a more critical eye, but this revisit was purely for nostalgia, and I’m glad it held up for me.

Categories: Reviews Tags: , , , ,

My phone anxiety roller coaster

August 13, 2020 1 comment

I woke up Tuesday to find that my telephone landline was completely dead. Once, this would’ve been alarming, but these days, it’s of little concern, since I have my cell phone, and the lack of landline service mainly just meant a blissful lack of robocallers. Still, I’m paying for the service, and the building’s front-door intercom is hooked up to my landline number, and some people like family and doctors’ offices have that as my contact number, so I let the phone company know online and they scheduled a technician visit for today. I was worried at the prospect of letting someone into my apartment during the pandemic, and wondered if it was really worth the trouble.

But then my internet connection started to drop out intermittently, getting worse into the afternoon, then better again, then worse again. I updated the phone company about the new problem and resigned myself to the service call. I figured if I and the technician both wore masks and I kept the windows wide open and the ventilation fans on, the risk would be manageable, though I was still very nervous about it.

The next morning, the phone line seemed to work again, dial tone and everything, and my internet connection was solid. Maybe phone elves had come along in the night and fixed the problem. I was elated at dodging a bullet and finally able to relax. So I was about to contact the phone company and cancel the service call, but I figured I should make extra-sure and tried calling my landline from my cell. I only got a busy signal. Somehow, I could call out, but not in. And a couple of times, the phone briefly rang when someone tried to call, but then it cut off. So I resigned myself once more to the need to let someone into my apartment today. Even with the internet connection stable, I couldn’t be certain it would last.

So today, when the tech called to let me know he was approaching, I let him know about all the precautions I’d set up for our mutual safety — only to be told that he didn’t need to get into my apartment, just to the room in the building where the phone equipment was! Whew! All I had to do was go into the hall and prop the building’s front door open before he got there, and then sit around reading for a bit (since my internet went down too while he worked) until he finished, and then he called me from the hallway to confirm it was fixed. (I was actually trying to call my landline from my cell, and was confused when the caller ID was from a “CINBELL TECH” number and the tech’s voice came over the line. Had he somehow shunted my phone line through his phone? I eventually figured out it was just that he called my landline at the same time I was trying to call it, and his call got through first. Duh.)

So now my phone and internet work again, and I’m very relieved I didn’t have to break quarantine, as it were. Although I still wonder why I could call out but not in. If I’d been able to interact more directly with the tech, I would’ve asked him what the problem was. Now I may never know. Does anyone reading this know enough about phone systems to have an idea?

 

Anyway, my anxiety lately hasn’t just been about that, because I’m a bit swamped with work right now, getting sent revisions on stuff (including Arachne’s Exile and a new Star Trek Adventures campaign) at a time when I really need to be getting caught up on another big project I can’t talk about yet. I’m trying to reassure myself that I can make up my delays later when I get into the right groove, so I don’t get too anxious about my lack of progress and make it even harder on myself.

However, part of why my phone/internet problems Tuesday were so worrisome was because that same day, I also got a piece of really great news that I’ve been hoping to hear, about a new project that I’ll hopefully be able to say more about quite soon. So it was frustrating to get this great news and not be able to enjoy it because of my connection problems and COVID fears. Luckily, that’s all out of the way now. Stay tuned for more!

Tea at last, tea at last

My tea tribulations have finally cleared up. First, the store finally got back to me about the tea that they charged me $3.79 for but was omitted from my pickup order. They say they’ve given me a $4 credit on my next order. I can’t find any mention of it on their website yet, but hopefully it’ll show up when I place my next order.

Anyway, that still left me close to running out of tea bags, so I figured I might as well try to buy a big box of tea bags from Amazon again, hopefully from a different vendor. This time, it went through without a hitch, and it just arrived minutes ago. It’s a relief to know the US Postal Service is still at least somewhat functional. It turns out it’s not one big box so much as three boxes of 104 tea bags each, shrink-wrapped together. Unlike the boxes of 100 bags I usually get from the store, the bags are individually wrapped instead of in four trays of 25 bags each, which I guess is why there are a few more. It’ll create more waste, but I guess if I were really concerned about minimizing waste, I’d get loose leaf tea instead (and I probably should). Anyway, I even found room for all three boxes in my cabinet, with a little shoving around of things. At the rate I go through tea, I figure this should last me for several months, maybe half a year or more. So I’m set for a while. (Amazon actually lets you subscribe and get a new shipment every X number of months, which is worth considering.)

On the downside, the pitcher I tried to buy for iced tea was still running late, so I contacted the vendor directly through Amazon, and they said they were out of stock and cancelled my order, which I hadn’t been charged for yet. I’ll just have to buy a different pitcher, but I like to buy enough stuff at once to get free shipping, and I already made an exception for the tea, so I’m a bit reluctant to place another single order so soon. And the iced tea is less necessary now that I have my regular tea bags back in stock.

As for the iced tea, I’ve made two batches now, using my orange juice pitcher while it was empty and then storing the iced tea in an empty, washed-out juice bottle. It’s okay, but it’s pretty strong. I guess it’s meant to be diluted by a lot of ice in the chilling stage; I’m probably not adding enough. I’m working out how much sweetener and lemon juice to add through trial and error.

So anyway, now that I’ve replenished my caffeine sources, I should really get back to work.

Categories: Uncategorized Tags:

Update on ARACHNE’S EXILE, Patreon, and other projects

We’re still waiting for the Arachne’s Crime cover art to be completed and the book to be released, but in the meantime, I recently got the copyedits for the second half of the duology, Arachne’s Exile. I had to wrap up an assignment for Star Trek Adventures first, but I got that done last week and then applied myself to the copyedits. My editor Danielle correctly pointed out that the opening scene I’d written to recap the first book was unengaging, so I found a way to work the necessary exposition into the subsequent scenes more gradually and organically, and I got a nice new moment of character interaction out of it by turning an internal monologue into a dialogue scene. (To make sure I covered all the relevant exposition, I copied the cut recap scene into another file, bolded the text, and then unbolded each part I worked in elsewhere or decided was unnecessary, so I could be sure I didn’t miss anything.)

Along the way, I also realized that I could improve the pacing of the first few chapters enormously by moving forward a couple of scenes, so the intercutting between the two main groups of characters flows better. The new arrangement lets me re-establish more of the main characters and their emotional arcs and conflicts before getting into the heavy plot and science exposition, and it lets me postpone a crucial revelation so that it comes at the end of a chapter rather than one scene before the end.

After turning in the copyedits yesterday, I took a look at a recently rejected short story to see if I wanted to revise it one more time before resubmitting it elsewhere. I decided it was okay as it was, which is good, because I have another, major project that I really need to get on with, though it’s not something I can talk about yet. It’ll be keeping me busy for the next few months, though.

Also, I had occasion today to reread a story I wrote a while back and decided to abandon because it didn’t turn out the way I wanted. I had what I envisioned as a comedy idea, but the story I wrote didn’t turn out to be all that comedic. I just glanced at it to see if there were character names I wanted to cannibalize, but in reading it again, I realized it might be okay the way it is. Too bad I don’t have time right now to revise it for submission, but I’ll keep it in mind for later.

Meanwhile, I’m told that I’m close to getting an answer about another project I was invited to pitch a few months ago, and the prospects look pretty good. I’m trying not to get overconfident, but if I get it, it will be a great help to me financially and should be pretty fun to write — though it’s likely to make me even busier over the months ahead.

 

On Patreon this month, my fiction post will be a reprint of the Troubleshooter story “Conventional Powers,” originally published in the Sept/Oct 2019 Analog. It’s the first time my Patreon story has been a reprint rather than new/unpublished content, but hopefully it’ll be new for some of my patrons, at least, and I thought it was a good idea to have the story archived for people who didn’t manage to read it in Analog. It goes live on Saturday, August 8, a date I chose because it’s the anniversary of the day I conceived the character of Emerald Blair and the earliest form of the Troubleshooter premise (I remember it because it was 8/8/88). The following day, my Behind-the-Scenes Patreon post will be a glimpse at my Sol System geography notes for the Emerald Blair/Troubleshooter series, including some locations from as-yet-unpublished works. I’m also working on a couple of new pieces of Troubleshooter character artwork to accompany this month’s releases at the $1 level, debuting as a Patreon exclusive, though I’ll eventually repost them here.

Starting next Tuesday, my Patreon reviews return to DC Comics TV shows with a look at the short-lived 1992 Human Target series from the producers of the 1990 The Flash. That’ll be my shortest rewatch/review series yet, covering the unaired pilot and the seven aired episodes in four posts, after which I’ll begin my longest one yet, covering all four seasons of the 1988-92 syndicated Superboy series. That should take the better part of a year to get through, so I’ll probably intersperse some other reviews along the way for variety.

The universe doesn’t want me to have tea, it seems

I’m having the hardest time restocking on tea bags lately. Last time I ordered groceries online, the store was out of the black tea bags I ordered, and instead of letting me search through available options for a substitute, their software picked a substitute arbitrarily and required me to either accept or reject it. The substitute they offered was a box of “iced tea blend” bags from the same maker, and I figured, okay, one tea bag is much like another aside from taste, so I’ll try it.

Turns out, however, that iced tea bags are really big and meant to make one quart per bag, impossible to use to make a single cup (unless it’s really strong, I guess). I needed a pitcher to make it in, and I only have one pitcher, which I use for orange juice so it isn’t available. So I didn’t have any way to make the tea. So I decided, what the hey, last time I needed stuff I couldn’t get from the store, I just bought it on Amazon. So I went to Amazon and bought a big box of tea bags, and while I was at it, I bought a pitcher so I could make the iced tea after all.

But I didn’t count on the US Postal Service becoming a victim of all the political awfulness going on and being actively sabotaged and delayed by the administration lackey currently in charge of it. My big box of tea bags got lost in the mail and Amazon wrote it off, giving me a refund, though they said it’s still conceivable it might show up someday. And my pitcher was supposed to arrive by yesterday, but Amazon now says it’s “Delayed, not yet shipped.”

Anyway, sometime last week, I finished a bottle of apple juice and realized that once I used up the current batch of orange juice, I could make iced tea in the empty pitcher, then use a funnel to pour it into the (washed) juice bottle, the only suitable-sized beverage container I have that isn’t in use. So I set out to do just that… but reading the instructions on the iced tea bags reminded me that I’d have to sweeten the tea. The only sweetener I keep in the apartment is honey, and that only works in hot tea. So I had to abandon that plan.

So, okay. I counted my tea bags again and figured that if I kept my intake to 2, at most 3 cups a day, I could stretch it out until my next grocery trip. So I put tea bags on my grocery shopping list, and while I was at it, I ordered a box of sweetener packets, so I could make the iced tea in my impending pitcher once all the ingredients came together (this was before I was informed of the pitcher’s delay).

To digress a bit for setup: I woke up yesterday morning to find the power was out. Not a nice thing to wake up to. All I could do was go back to bed, and the power came back on a bit over an hour later. Okay, good, but I didn’t know how long the power had been out. Would I have to throw stuff out from the fridge? I didn’t think it had been that long, since with my ceiling fan off, I would’ve been hotter under the sheets if it had been a long time. But I wasn’t sure. So I looked for outage info on the power company’s website, but they only seemed to list current outages, not resolved ones. I finally went to their Facebook page and messaged them, and they told me the outage had started no more than two and a half hours before the power returned. Which meant my food in the fridge should be okay, since it was under the recommended four hours and I never opened the door in that time. Though I only found this out after I’d had a breakfast without milk (frozen waffles and vegetarian sausage) to be on the safe side. Later in the day, I had other perishables from the fridge and they were fine.

So this morning, I confidently poured a bowl of cereal and dried fruit and took out the milk. With an excess of caution, I took a whiff… and it smelled badly spoiled! I guess it had been open longer than the other items, closer to the brink of spoilage already. Still, there was a fair amount I had to pour out, and I had to make do with coffee creamer diluted with water on my cereal — not great, but necessary because of the dried banana chips. (The cereal itself, a store-brand Cheerios equivalent, is actually quite palatable without milk. But dried banana chips are really hard and crunchy.) Anyway, this moved up my planned grocery trip to today, so yay, I’d finally get my tea bags.

And my car wouldn’t start.

Yup, once again, letting it sit idle for a couple of weeks (just 12 days, actually, which doesn’t seem like it should be enough) drained the battery. But this time, I had that portable storage battery/jumpstarter I bought back in June. (Whose built-in emergency flashlight was useful to me the previous morning when the power was out.) I went back up to my apartment and grabbed it, and after a few false starts figuring out how to hook it up properly and turn on all the switches, I got my car to start. Yay! I drove a circuitous route to the store to give the car battery time to recharge, and then I picked up my order, leaving the engine running while I waited just in case. And came home and unpacked my groceries.

Only to find the tea wasn’t there.

I was charged for it, it was on my receipt, but it wasn’t in any of the bags. I went out in the rain to double-check the trunk — no tea. (Which I guess makes it a runk.) Nor had I absently placed it in the wrong cabinet, nor was it on the ground anywhere between my car and my apartment. The grocery clerk (whose nose was sticking out of her mask) probably missed it while loading the trunk. Or the runk.

The one thing, other than milk, that it was most important to me to get on my trip today — and it’s the one thing that was missing. And it’s the same thing I’ve been trying to get unsuccessfully for nearly two weeks now! What the hell, universe?

I let them know through their website that the tea had been omitted and asked for a refund, or a delivery if possible. But as things stand, I’m down to my last half-dozen teabags, which I typically use twice each to stretch them out.

At least I have the sweetener now, so I finally have the option to make iced tea and keep it in the empty juice bottle (which I washed already), or in my pitcher when and if it arrives. And I suppose if I wanted hot tea, I could just heat up some iced tea in the microwave or something — couldn’t I? (Advice welcome.)

Plus I restocked on Folger’s Coffee Singles, which are like tea bags, but bigger and with coffee. I don’t have a coffee maker and these are better than instant; indeed, I’ve read that the flavor is considered pretty good compared to ground coffee. I’ve been avoiding coffee for a while, only having tea in the morning, since I thought the higher caffeine levels (or maybe the sugar in the creamer, or both) might be causing me anxiety. So I let my coffee bags run out and only had some instant (which I keep on hand because I like to add a bit of it to hot chocolate for flavor). But a day or two ago, I was sleep-deprived and decided to have a cup of instant coffee at midmorning. And it actually made me feel better, more alert rather than irritable. So I figured I should get more coffee as an alternative to tea, though I’d still prefer not to have more than one cup per day.

Still… I want my dang tea bags. This is getting ridiculous.

Categories: Uncategorized Tags:

Star Trek eBook deals this month include A CHOICE OF FUTURES

Every month, Simon & Schuster offers an assortment of Star Trek novels in e-book format for $0.99 apiece. Here’s this month’s set:

https://www.simonandschuster.com/c/ebookpromoaugust2020

Since August 12 is Federation Day according to the novels, the deals include three books with “Federation” in the title: Judith & Garfield Reeves-Stevens’s classic Original Series/Next Generation crossover novel Federation (an alternative take on Zefram Cochrane and World War III predating First Contact), Keith R.A. DeCandido’s equally classic Articles of the Federation (a year in the life of Federation President Nan Bacco), and my own Star Trek: Enterprise — Rise of the Federation: A Choice of Futures, the first installment in my ROTF series.

Since August 19 is Jonathan Frakes’s birthday, there are also three Will Riker-centric novels available: the TNG novels A Rock and a Hard Place by Peter David (set during the series) and Takedown by John Jackson Miller (set in the post-Nemesis novel continuity with Riker as an admiral), and the first Titan novel, Taking Wing by Michael A. Martin and Andy Mangels.

And since… well, I don’t know if there’s a thematic reason, but they’re also offering three Star Trek: Voyager novels, including two of the numbered novels released during the series, The Garden by Melissa Scott and Chrysalis by David Niall Wilson (now the editor and publisher of my Hub collections), and Full Circle, the beginning of the acclaimed post-finale series by my friend Kirsten Beyer, who’s now on the writer-producer teams of Star Trek: Discovery and Picard.

Watch my Shore Leave 41.5 panels!

While it’s too bad that current circumstances prohibit gathering for the Shore Leave Convention this year, the good news is that the virtual panels we’re holding in its place can be watched online by anyone! Just go to the Shore Leave website’s Past Events – Shore Leave 41.5 page and click on “Watch the Panel” below any one you’re interested in, and you’ll be taken to the YouTube page for the video.

For my panels in particular, I’ll post them right here. First up is the panel I participated in two weeks ago to talk about the upcoming Star Trek: Strange New Worlds TV series focusing on Captain Pike, Spock, and Number One (which, if you think about it, is arguably the first Trek series that isn’t a spinoff, since it’s finally taking the original pilot to series after 57 years).

Second is the panel I was on earlier today, the Shore Leave Authors’ Summer Book Release Party! (exclamation point included). This is the closest thing we could manage to the Friday Night Meet the Pros event, gathering as many authors as we could (13 in all) to talk about our respective upcoming projects, Arachne’s Crime in my case. This one was recorded in Zoom’s Speaker Mode rather than Gallery Mode, so you’ll see us one at a time rather than Brady Bunch/Hollywood Squares style. I show up about 31 minutes in.

Apologies for the poor image quality; as I mentioned in the first video, I have a pretty old webcam on my desktop computer. Although I did manage to improve my lighting situation this time around by using my bicycle’s detachable headlamp as a frontlight (with a tissue wrapped around the front as a diffuser).

Keep an eye on the Shore Leave 41.5 Schedule page for more panels, which are planned to come out every other Saturday into October at least. Hopefully I (and my hat) will be in a few more.

Shore Leave Summer Book Release panel this weekend!

The cool thing about Shore Leave 41.5 being online is that it doesn’t have to be limited to one weekend! Since we could only do so many Zoom panels per day, the organizers are continuing to put further events together, with the plan evidently being to do panels every second Saturday:

https://www.shore-leave.com/programming/schedule.htm?

First up, this Saturday, July 25 at 1:00 PM Eastern, it’s:

STAR TREK Authors’ Summer Book Release Party!

Many of our talented authors have new books about to be released and they can’t wait to tell you about them! Join us for this preview party to celebrate all the great new stories you’ve been waiting for!

I’ll be there to talk about Arachne’s Crime, which should be on sale as soon as the cover’s done.

Boldly Going Into Star Trek Adventures

A post from one of my fellow contributors to the STA Klingon Core Rulebook:

ENEMY LINES: Dispatches from a Cranky Writer

I’ve been working on the Star Trek Adventures role-playing game with the fine folks at Modiphius for some four years now, after being “drafted” by Jim Johnson. My role has primarily been as the canon editor, meaning I review the narrative text to ensure the details are consistent with the filmed canon across the multiple TV shows and movies covered by their license (basically everything prior to Star Trek: Discovery). In the very beginning, I also worked with Dayton Ward to develop the Shackleton Expanse, an unexplored region of the Beta Quadrant that served as a setting for a series of adventures in an early promotional campaign run by Modiphius. That was the last time I’d done any writing for the game . . . until now!

Star-Trek-The-Klingon-Empire-Cover-Promo-No-LogosFor the recently announced Klingon Empire Core Rulebook(available for preorder at the time of this post, or right now as…

View original post 316 more words

Categories: Uncategorized

Remember, the Shore Leave STRANGE NEW WORLDS panel is tonight!

One last notice — I’m on the virtual Shore Leave panel discussing Star Trek: Strange New Worlds at 7 PM EDT tonight! You can register for a “seat” in the audience here, with no Zoom account required:

https://www.shore-leave.com/programming/schedule.htm

 

Categories: Star Trek Tags: ,

New story on Patreon: “Growth Industry”

My newest Patreon story, “Growth Industry,” is now up for subscribers at the $10 Original Fiction level and above. It’s an affectionate parody of Super Sentai/Power Rangers and a particular trope of the franchise that’s always bugged me. I didn’t have any luck selling it to magazines, probably because it’s too much of an inside joke, but I hope my subscribers find it entertaining whether they get the references or not. Annotations will be up for $12 subscribers tomorrow.

Incidentally, Written Worlds readers may notice I’ve made a couple of visual changes to my blog. Something happened to my page theme that replaced whatever background it had previously had (I forget what it was) with blank white, so I went looking for a way to add some kind of header image or something to add visual interest, and I found a set of background pattern options. I chose one with an emerald theme, for what should be obvious reasons. I also discovered it was possible to insert a “gallery” widget along the side to display the covers of my recent releases, making it easier to promote them beyond the main page (basically I copied this from Dayton Ward’s blog, once I realized it was also WordPress). I still haven’t figured out how to add a header image, though. Maybe I’d need a different theme for that.

Announcing STAR TREK ADVENTURES: THE KLINGON EMPIRE Core Rulebook

I have a bit of a surprise announcement for a Star Trek project I contributed a little bit to and have only just been cleared to talk about. Star Trek Adventures is releasing an alternative version of its Core Rulebook, told from the perspective of (and entitled) The Klingon Empire rather than Starfleet.

STA Klingon Empire Core Rulebook

 

According to the StarTrek.com press release:

This core rulebook contains the same rules presented in the Starfleet-focused core rulebook released in 2017. The award-winning design team, including 2d20 developer Nathan Dowdell, took the opportunity to edit and streamline the rules chapters based on fan feedback since the game’s launch, and introduce new rules for reputation, honor, glory, and house management. Now, for the first time, you and your fellow players can create your own noble Klingon House and seek out glory. Everything you need to create brave Klingon warriors and fearsome Klingon warships are available for you to use.

In addition to the revised rules, the book contains extensive chapters on Klingon history, culture, politics, military, and planets. Players have more than a dozen Klingon starships to choose from and make their own, creating their own ship to crew and take into battle. Players will be able to play Klingons from most any Star Trek era, including pure-bred Klingon warriors as well as those afflicted with the Augment Virus, the QuchHa’. Fans of Star Trek: Enterprise, The Original Series, and The Next Generation era will all find materials to use in their games and play in any time they choose.

 

The STA creative team headed up by Jim Johnson called on a bunch of Trek Lit writers to contribute various material to the book, with Klingon authority Keith R.A. DeCandido contributing a considerable amount of content. Other contributors familiar to Trek Lit fans include Derek Tyler Attico, Kelli Fitzpatrick, Scott Pearson, Dr. Lawrence M. Schoen of the Klingon Language Institute, and Dayton Ward. My own contributions are relatively minor (several of the Non-Player Character descriptions, just a few pages’ worth), but I’m in there somewhere.

The new rulebook is available for preorder here:

Star Trek Adventures: Klingon Core Rulebook

Buyers will immediately get a free PDF preview version of the book, with the physical book shipping in the fall or whenever it becomes feasible given the current state of the world.

So remember, a Qapla’ a day keeps the Fek’lhr away. Or something like that.