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Explore ANCIENT CIVILIZATIONS for free with STAR TREK ADVENTURES!

My newest Star Trek Adventures product is out, and it’s free!

Star Trek Adventures Mission Briefs: Ancient Civilizations

The Galaxy is ancient beyond easy comprehension – on the order of a million times older than Human civilization. Uncounted civilizations have risen and fallen before the dawn of recorded history of any Federation world. While most of their remains have long since vanished, many have left ruins or artifacts that endure to the present. Other ancient societies live on, wielding technologies or mental abilities vastly beyond our own, though not always in a form recognizable to us. The discovery of these ancient civilizations, or their remains, offers immense potential for advancing Federation knowledge, but comes with great peril as well.

This packet presents ten detailed mission briefs you can modify for use as adventures in your Star Trek Adventures campaigns set during the original series or any other era of play with minor modifications. Each mission brief is designed to stand alone, though several are presented with a loose connecting story arc that may be used or disregarded at the gamemaster’s discretion. They may be added to an existing campaign with minor modifications.

These Mission Briefs are a different type of campaign, short, one-page summaries that gamemasters can flesh out on their own. If you’ve bought my previous few STA adventures, you’ve seen Mission Briefs appended to them as suggested followups. Ancient Civilizations is a set of ten such briefs.

Even though the briefs are, well, brief, this was one of my most challenging STA assignments, because I had to come up with ten different adventure ideas, and ideas have always been the hardest part for me. I discuss my creative process on the Modiphius Blog:

https://www.modiphius.net/blogs/news/ancient-civilizations

You can download Mission Briefs: Ancient Civilizations for free at:

A fresh start

I’m beginning 2023 in a much better place than I’ve been in for a while, though it’s for a regrettable reason. My late Uncle Clarence, who passed away in early 2021, was surprisingly generous to me in his will, so thanks to him — and to the diligent efforts of my cousins, the executors — I’ve finally been able to pay off the entirety of the crippling credit card debt I’ve been burdened with for more than five years now.

I fell into debt in 2017 when multiple sources of expected writing income were all simultaneously delayed far longer than anticipated. I kept being assured that one or the other would pay off soon, so I didn’t make alternate plans; and I didn’t realize how steep the monthly interest on the debt was getting, so I thought I had more time to spare than I did. Since then, the interest has been so steep that it’s cancelled out any gains I’ve been able to make, so I’ve spent the past five years basically running in place, managing to survive from gig to gig but never making enough at one time to pay down the debt to a significant degree. My GraphicAudio work over the past couple of years helped me gain some ground at last, but that’s on pause at the moment, and Star Trek prose fiction has been reduced to a handful of books a year, so I’m not sure when I might get further work from them. So I was afraid I might backslide again if I didn’t find some new gig to tide me over, and I wasn’t having much luck with that.

So I’m deeply thankful that this inheritance came when it did. I can now afford to wait until things pick up again with contract work — and more importantly, I can use the time to finally focus on some long-delayed original writing. I’m getting ready to begin the manuscript for Arachne’s Legacy, the sequel to Arachne’s Crime and Arachne’s Exile, which I’ve been meaning to get to for more than two years now but never found time for. I’ve already been working on some new Troubleshooter material in recent months, with an eye toward serializing it on my Patreon before compiling it for print, so hopefully I’ll have time to continue that as well. (Just wait, though — now that I want free time to work on my own stuff, I half-expect someone to offer me a contract assignment with a tight deadline any day now.)

It’s also a relief to be able to ease some of the austerity measures I’ve been living under for so long. Already this week, I’ve indulged myself in some better, more varied foods from the grocery store, and it’s been so refreshing to get to do that. (Although one of my current favorite foods is one I discovered while searching for the cheapest foods available: canned refried beans. They’re fantastic on a faux chili dog with chopped onions, dijon mustard, and grated cheddar.) I also have the option now to buy some stuff I need, like new shoes and shirts, a new vacuum cleaner, a new laptop, maybe even a modern TV.

Although my priority at this point is to try to build up some real savings for the future, since after spending five years teetering on the brink, I’d really like to avoid going broke again if I can. With no more interest or late fees, my monthly spending will be considerably less, so hopefully I can finally start making more per year than I spend. (Being broke is really expensive.) If I can save enough, it will give me more of a cushion to tide me over through slow times. And hopefully that will give me more freedom to devote time to expanding my catalog of original work and building a larger audience.

Moreover, being broke has exacerbated my tendency toward depression, and it’s often been a struggle to motivate myself to write. I’m hoping that being in a more comfortable place financially will make it psychologically easier to be more productive. Of course, depression is not that simple or predictable, but removing a major stressor (at least for the time being) certainly can’t hurt, and being able to afford getting some new things and varying my environment more could help. (Though it’d be easier if the pandemic weren’t still around. I’m still not willing to go to the movie theater or any crowded indoor place if I can avoid it.)

Although I want to reiterate how grateful I am to my readers. You’ve provided invaluable assistance in keeping me afloat over the past few years through your donations, autographed book purchases, Patreon subscriptions, and Kickstarter support for my eSpec publications. I’ll do my best to continue repaying your generosity by producing cool stuff for you to read and listen to.

First batch of books mailed!

I apologize for the delay in sending out the first batch of autographed books from my book sale, but they’re now at the post office, beginning their journey to their buyers. I optimistically say “first batch,” since there are still plenty more books available! Find the full list here:

You can buy them for yourself, or ask me to autograph them to a friend or loved one as a holiday gift.

At last, the return of the holiday book sale!

November 23, 2022 4 comments

It’s been three years since my last autographed book sale, since I kind of got out of the habit during the pandemic, and I’ve been pretty busy the past couple of years with writing projects such as the Tangent Knights trilogy. But I’m not too busy right now, since I have very little work lined up at the moment, and I’m still waiting for answers on various feelers I’ve put out. Which means I need to raise funds however I can to help tide me over.

With three years gone by, I now have several books to offer for the first time, including my two most recent Star Trek novels, my Arachne duology, and even my Hub collections, of which I now finally have a handful of print copies to offer. I’m afraid I’m out of nearly all my older mass-market paperback stock. I wish I could offer signed copies of Tangent Knights, but the CD versions are only available as print-on-demand.

Since I hardly have any specific projects lined up, it wouldn’t be feasible to offer a Tuckerization reward like I did the last couple of times, so I’ll just have to hope the signed books themselves are enough of an enticement. But you could always help me out with donations through PayPal, or better yet, by subscribing to my Patreon, where you can read a variety of exclusive short fiction (and a couple of reprints) and behind-the-scenes notes, as well as my ongoing TV and movie reviews, which mostly cover vintage TV, though I’m currently reviewing The Orville. (Indexes: Fiction, Reviews.) I’m also working on something big for the Fiction tier, so now (or soon) would be a good time to subscribe.

You can buy books or donate by clicking on the PayPal “Donate” button on the right-hand side of my blog page. If you’re seeing this on Goodreads, click on the “View more” link below to go to my main blog and you’ll see the button. All book buyers, let me know who to make out the autograph to.

As always, I’ll try to keep this list updated with regard to availability, but if you have doubts (particularly with the single copies), query first. For buyers in the US, add $4.00 postage per book.  For buyers outside the US, pay the book price and I’ll bill you for postage separately once I determine the amount.

If you have a PayPal account of your own, please pay through that instead of a credit card.  PayPal charges a fee for credit card use, so if you do use a credit card, I have to ask for an additional $0.50 per book.

This sale will continue as long as I have books in stock, and the call for donations is always open. I hope we can help each other out.

Here’s the list of books:

Arachne’s Crime — $15.00: 8 available

Arachne's Crime cover

Is this a dream… or a nightmare? 

The crew of the interstellar colony vessel Arachne is roused from artificial hibernation to face a horrific reality, as an alien boarding party takes them into custody to answer for the deaths of tens of thousands of sentient beings.

But there is more to their trial than meets the eye, and the threads of intrigue weave a tight web as crewmates and friends are divided between those who feel they owe restitution for the actions of the ship’s AI in their defense, and those who refuse to bow down to a judgment they see as persecution.

What future can they hope to build among aliens who see them as mass murderers… presuming they have a future at all?

Arachne’s Exile — $15.00: 8 available

Featured Image -- 6633

What a tangled web…

When the colony starship Arachne unwttingly destroyed a deep-space habitat of the Chirrn, her crew committed themselves to a lifetime of penance to repay their debt. But a brutal act of vengeance has now forced them into exile in a distant part of the galaxy.

Drawn into a cosmic conspiracy spanning millennia, the colonists learn that the Chirrn’s ancient choices have exacted a terrible toll on human history. Now, their only way to win true freedom may be to carry out a perilous theft aboard an extraordinary megastructure orbiting a neutron star.

Will Arachne and her crew pull off the heist of the millennium? Or are they being manipulated into committing a far more awful crime… one for which all humanity could pay the price?

The Arachne Omnibus trade paperback — $30.00 ($2 off current list price): 9 available

Deluxe trade paperback volume containing:

  • “Comfort Zones” prequel story (first time in print)
  • Arachne’s Crime
  • Arachne’s Exile
  • “The Weight of Silence” (connected story)
  • “Among the Wild Cybers of Cybele” (connected story)

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Only Superhuman — $20.00 (20% off!): 14 13 available

Only Superhuman by Christopher L. Bennett

In the future, genetically engineered superhumans, inspired by classic Earth comic book heroes, fight to keep the peace in the wild and wooly space habitats of the Asteroid Belt

2107 AD: Generations ago, Earth and the cislunar colonies banned genetic and cybernetic modifications. But out in the Asteroid Belt, anything goes. Dozens of flourishing space habitats are spawning exotic new societies and strange new varieties of humans. It’s a volatile situation that threatens the peace and stability of the entire solar system.

Emerald Blair is a Troubleshooter. Inspired by the classic superhero comics of the twentieth century, she’s joined with other mods to try to police the unruly Asteroid Belt. But her loyalties are tested when she finds herself torn between rival factions of superhumans with very different agendas. Emerald wants to put her special abilities to good use and atone for her scandalous past, but what do you do when you can’t tell the heroes from the villains?

Only Superhuman is a rollicking hard-sf adventure set in a complex and fascinating future.

Library Journal‘s SF/Fantasy Debut of the Month for October 2012!

Among the Wild Cybers: Tales Beyond the Superhuman — $12.00 (20% off!): 2 available

(Robot and Cover Design by Mike McPhail, McP Digital Graphics)

When the line between life and technology blurs, humanity must adjust its understanding of the universe. From bestselling author Christopher L. Bennett comes Among the Wild Cybers, eight tales portraying a future of challenge and conflict, but also of hope born from the courage and idealism of those heroes willing to stand up for what is right.

  • An intrepid naturalist risks her future to save a new form of life that few consider worth saving.
  • An apprentice superhero must stand alone against an insane superintelligence to earn her name.
  • A cybernetic slave fights to save her kind from a liberation not of their choosing.
  • A seasoned diplomat and mother must out-negotiate fearsome alien traders to save a colony’s children.
  • A homicide detective serves in a world where curing death has only made murder more baffling.

These and other heroes strive to make their corners of the universe better—no matter how much the odds are stacked against them.

Includes the brand-new tale, Aspiring to Be Angels, prequel to the novel Only Superhuman.

Footprints in the Stars — $12.00 (20% off!): 3 available

Footprints in the Stars

To follow in the footsteps of those who have gone before, first we must find them.

Dreaded hope settles over mankind as we stare into the heavens, looking for a sign we are not alone. Fearing we will find it, puzzled when we don’t.

Among the stars or in our own backyard, lose yourself in the wonder of these tales as we humbly posit mankind’s reaction to the awesome certainty that ‘they’ are out there…or at least, they were…

Footprints in the Stars

With stories by Gordon Linzner, Ian Randal Strock, Robert Greenberger, Dayton Ward, Aaron Rosenberg, Danielle Ackley-McPhail, Jody Lynn Nye, Christopher L. Bennett, James Chambers, Keith R.A. DeCandido, Russ Colchamiro, Judi Fleming, and Bryan J.L. Glass

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Hub Space: Tales from the Greater Galaxy — $8.50 (15% off!): 4 available

Hub Space cover

The Hub is the most important place in the galaxy — the single point through which all interstellar travel must pass. Yet no one in the galaxy understands how it works. David LaMacchia, an unimportant man from an unimportant planet called Earth, is determined to change that. He’s got no qualifications and no skills. His only friends are a cynical, sharp-tongued space pilot named Nashira Wing and a smugly philanthropic alien named Rynyan, and they both think he’s crazy. On top of that, the powers that profit from the Hub might just be trying to kill him. Still, that won’t stop David from trying to prove that humanity can make a difference to the greater galaxy.

Now the tales of the Hub from the pages of Analog are collected for the first time in one volume, newly revised and expanded! Includes “The Hub of the Matter,” “Home is Where the Hub Is,” and “Make Hub, Not War,” plus exclusive bonus material!

(Note: Print edition has blank spine, as it’s just a bit too thin for spine text to fit)

Crimes of the Hub $11.00 (~15% off!): 4 available

Crimes of the Hub cover

The hapless heroes of Hub Space return with new jobs, new allies, and new adventures at the heart of the galaxy, in a novel expanded and revised from stories originally appearing in Analog.

Just when cynical space pilot Nashira Wing has finally started to enjoy helping David LaMacchia with his clueless quest to crack the secrets of the Hub Network, he’s hijacked by a crew of kittenish thieves and trapped in the treasure vault of a far older civilization. What he finds there gives Nashira a shot at the score of a lifetime—but changes David’s life in ways that threaten their friendship. To keep the devious masters of the Hub from getting their tentacles on Nashira’s prize, she and David must mend frayed relationships and navigate new ones, all while facing adventures in larceny, sex, bureaucracy, hyperspatial geometry, and radical body modification. Can they come through it all with their hearts, their identities, and their dignity intact?


Star Trek: The Original Series — The Higher Frontier — $16.00: 8 available

ST Higher Frontier cover

An all-new Star Trek movie-era adventure featuring James T. Kirk!

Investigating the massacre of a telepathic minority, Captain James T. Kirk and the crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise confront a terrifying new threat: faceless, armored hunters whose extradimensional technology makes them seemingly unstoppable. Kirk must team with the powerful telepath Miranda Jones and the enigmatic Medusans to take on these merciless killers in an epic battle that will reveal the true faces of both enemy and ally!

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Star Trek: The Original Series — Living Memory — $16.00: 8 6 available

Star Trek Living Memory cover

An all-new Star Trek movie-era adventure!

While attempting to settle in as commandant of Starfleet Academy, Admiral James T. Kirk must suddenly contend with the controversial, turbulent integration of an alien warrior caste into the student body—and quickly becomes embroiled in conflict when the Academy controversy escalates to murder. Meanwhile, Captain Spock of the USS Enterprise and Commander Pavel Chekov of the USS Reliant are investigating a series of powerful cosmic storms seemingly targeting Federation worlds—unstoppable outbursts emitting from the very fabric of space. Endeavoring to predict where the lethal storms will strike next, Spock and Chekov make the shocking discovery that the answer lies in Commander Nyota Uhura’s past—one that she no longer remembers….

Star Trek: The Original Series — The Captain’s Oath — $16.00: 5 4 available

Star Trek The Captain's Oath cover

The saga of James T. Kirk’s historic command of the U.S.S. Enterprise is known throughout the galaxy. But one part of the legend has barely been touched upon until now: the story of Kirk’s first starship command and the remarkable achievements by which Starfleet’s youngest captain earned the right to succeed Christopher Pike as the commander of the famous Enterprise.

From his early battles with the Klingons to the rescue of endangered civilizations, Kirk grapples with difficult questions: Is he a warrior or a peacemaker? Should he obey regulations or trust his instincts? This thrilling novel illustrates the events and choices that would shape James T. Kirk into one of the most renowned captains in Starfleet history.

Star Trek: Mirror Universe — Shards and Shadows — $12.00 (25% off!): 3 available

Mirror Universe Shards and Shadows

Fractured history. Broken lives. Splintered souls. Since the alternate universe was first glimpsed in the classic episode “Mirror, Mirror,” something about Star Trek’s dark side has beckoned us, called to us, tempted us — like forbidden fruit on the Tree of Knowledge. To taste it is to lose oneself in a world of startling familiarity and terrifying contradictions, where everything and everyone we knew is somehow disturbingly different, and where shocking secrets await their revelation.

What began in 2007 with Glass Empires and Obsidian Alliances — the first truly in-depth foray into the turbulent history of this other continuum — now continues in twelve new short tales that revisit and expand upon that so-called “Mirror Universe,” spanning all five of the core incarnations of Star Trek, as well as their literary offshoots, across more than two hundred years of divergent history, as chronicled by…

Christopher L. Bennett – Margaret Wander Bonanno – Peter David – Keith R.A. DeCandido – Michael Jan Friedman – Jim Johnson – Rudy Josephs – David Mack – Dave Stern – James Swallow – Dayton Ward & Kevin Dilmore – Susan Wright

Star Trek: Titan — Přes dravé moře (Czech translation of Over a Torrent Sea) — $12.50 (~20% off): 4 available

Star Trek Titan Pres Drave More

As the Federation recovers from the devastating events of Star Trek: Destiny, Captain William Riker and the crew of the U.S.S. Titan are ordered to resume their deep-space assignment, reaffirming Starfleet’s core principles of peaceful exploration.  But even far from home on a mission of hope, the scars of the recent cataclysm remain with them as they slowly rebuild their lives.

The planet Droplet is a world made mostly of water without a speck of solid ground.  Life should not exist here, yet it thrives.  Aili Lavena, Titan‘s aquatic navigator, spearheads the exploration of this mysterious world, facing the dangers of the vast, wild ocean.  When one native species proves to be sentient, Lavena finds herself immersed in a delicate contact situation, and Riker is called away from Deanna Troi at a critical moment in their marriage.

But when good intentions bring calamity, Lavena and Riker are cut off from the crew and feared lost.  Troi must face a life-changing event without her husband, while the crew must brave the crushing pressures of the deep to undo the global chaos they have triggered.  Stranded with her injured captain, Lavena must win the trust of the beings who control their fate — but the price for Riker’s survival may be the loss of everything he holds dear.

(Federace se pozvolna zotavuje z ničivých událostí popsaných v trilogii Volání osudu. U.S.S. Titan a jeho kapitán, William T. Riker, přebírají nové rozkazy – mají pokračovat v průzkumu hlubokého vesmíru, aby tak stvrdili, že mírové bádání je stále tím hlavním posláním Hvězdné flotily. Avšak utržené rány se nechtějí zhojit ani tak daleko od domova. Planeta třídy O, přezdívaná Kapka, je zcela pokryta vodní plochou – jediným velkým oceánem. Život by tu vůbec neměl existovat, přesto se mu až neobyčejně daří. Navigátorka Aili Lavena, sama vodního druhu, je ideální kandidátkou na průzkum tohoto ohromného a divokého moře. Když náhodou objeví jeden vnímavý druh, ocitá se na delikátní stezce k prvnímu kontaktu. Jak to tak často bývá, dobré úmysly však přivodí situaci, ze které se Lavena a Riker nemusejí vrátit. Posádka bez kapitána mezitím čelí drtivým tlakům temných hlubin, ve snaze odčinit globální chaos, který nedopatřením sami rozpoutali.)

ST: ENT — Rise of the Federation: Patterns of Interference (Book 5) — $8.00: 3 2 available

The time has come to act. Following the destructive consequences of the Ware crisis, Admiral Jonathan Archer and Section 31 agent Trip Tucker both attempt to change their institutions to prevent further such tragedies. Archer pushes for a Starfleet directive of non-interference, but he faces opposition from allies within the fleet and unwelcome support from adversaries who wish to drive the Federation into complete isolationism. Meanwhile, Tucker plays a dangerous game against the corrupt leaders of Section 31, hoping to bring down their conspiracy once and for all. But is he willing to jeopardize Archer’s efforts—and perhaps the fate of an entire world—in order to win?

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STAR TREK ADVENTURES digs into “Native Soil”

October 19, 2022 2 comments

Less than two months after my previous Star Trek Adventures standalone campaign, Better Days, Modiphius has just released my latest campaign:

Star Trek Adventures: Native Soil

Assisting an archeological team on the planet Avalon leads to a shocking discovery and entangles the crew in a momentous cultural dilemma.

Your orders are to assist an archaeological team being led by an old friend of one of the ship’s command personnel. The planet’s original civilization was wiped out thousands of years ago by a radiation burst. Thankfully, the planet is no longer in danger and a new civilization has since flourished there.

The away team provides support at the digsite and are present when survivors of the original civilization are unearthed, held in stasis. This discovery will help answer a great archaeological puzzle, but poses an even greater challenge when the revived ancients make claims to the planet now inhabited by a new civilization.  

Avalon is an independent colony and the Federation cannot dictate a solution, but the crew are invited to mediate in an attempt to relieve the impasse of ideals and demands. The away team’s advocates face difficult choices and protests from both sides–can they calm the situation and find a solution agreeable to all parties?

Although this is a standalone adventure, a one-page mission brief provides inspiration for continuing the mission.

This 22-page PDF adventure for the Star Trek Adventures roleplaying game is written by Christopher L. Bennett, and is set during The Next Generation era with the player characters being the crew of a Starfleet vessel. This adventure also contains advice on adaptation for use in campaigns based in other Star Trek eras.

This may be my newest release, but it’s one of my oldest story ideas, which I’ve reworked for various series over the years. I discuss its origins in my latest article for the Modiphius blog:

https://www.modiphius.net/blogs/news/native-soil

Native Soil is available as a downloadable PDF at:

I’ve got two more STA projects written and waiting their turn, one approved and one still pending approval. They’re both interestingly different, and I look forward to announcing them.

STAR TREK ADVENTURES looks to “Better Days”

August 24, 2022 1 comment

It’s been a year and a half since my last Star Trek Adventures standalone campaign came out, but my latest one has finally been released! Here’s the official description:

Star Trek Adventures: Better Days

Complications suffered while traveling through the Bajoran Wormhole lead to a historically significant mission to Bajor itself.

Starfleet has directed your vessel to carry out a survey mission to the Gamma Quadrant. It should be a relatively simple exploratory mission but, having left Deep Space 9 behind, your passage through the Bajoran Wormhole causes some damage to the ship which forces you to return to the Alpha Quadrant. Further complications mean that you cannot seek help from Deep Space 9, so you must head to Bajor. But it is a very different Bajor than the one you were expecting to find.

The away team must locate the means to repair their ship, while delicately navigating the unexpected cultural situation on the planet. Difficult decisions need to be made regarding Starfleet directives and the future of the Bajor you find yourself upon. Will the crew be able to successfully infiltrate Bajoran society and find their way home without impacting the timeline?

Although this is a standalone adventure, a one-page mission brief provides inspiration for continuing the mission.

This 22-page PDF adventure for the Star Trek Adventures roleplaying game is written by Christopher L. Bennett, and is set during The Next Generation era with the player characters being the crew of a Starfleet vessel. This adventure also contains advice on adaptation for use in campaigns based in other Star Trek eras.

The summary is a bit circumspect about what’s going on in the game, but you can probably guess. I talk about it more openly in the behind-the-scenes blog article I wrote for Modiphius, which is here:

https://www.modiphius.net/en-us/blogs/news/creating-better-days

Better Days is available as a downloadable PDF at www.modiphius.net (UK), www.modiphius.us (USA), or DrivethruRPG.

Hopefully it won’t be long before my next STA campaign is released, since it got approved and invoiced simultaneously with this one. Stay tuned!

Get the whole DTI series in this month’s STAR TREK eBook Deals!

This month, Simon & Schuster’s Star Trek eBook Deals include my entire Star Trek: Department of Temporal Investigations series — both novels and all three e-novellas — for just 99 cents each, through September 4.

https://www.simonandschuster.com/p/star-trek-ebook-deals

This means you can get the entire series for only about 5 dollars! Sounds like quite a deal.

Also on sale this month are Diane Carey’s classic George Kirk/Robert April novel Final Frontier, Christie Golden’s second post-finale Voyager novel The Farther Shore, Dayton Ward’s recent Original Series novel Agents of Influence, and Una McCormack’s Deep Space Nine: Hollow Men, a sequel to the episode “In the Pale Moonlight.”

Stranded after Shore Leave

Remember how ten years ago, on the way home from Shore Leave, I took too wide a turn into a driveway and gave myself two flat tires, so I had to stop for the night only a few hours into my trip home?

This time, at least it wasn’t my fault.

I was just over a hundred miles out from the convention, on I-70 just a few miles short of taking the exit to I-68, when I noticed something a bit wonky with my steering. I figured it was probably just the vagaries of the roadway, but then I started to hear an increasingly loud groaning sound. I vainly hoped it might just be the engine of the semi behind me, but the truck wasn’t that close. From the car’s performance, I realized I must have a flat. I kept going slowly forward in hopes of reaching the next exit, but I realized it was on the left and I couldn’t get over there. Plus I was starting to smell burning rubber (or maybe I just noticed that after I stopped and am rewriting the narrative in my head). I had no choice but to pull over to the shoulder, which seemed alarmingly narrow. I didn’t feel safe getting out to try to fix a flat on the driver side of the car, with other vehicles racing past behind me at 70 MPH or more. (It was a 70 MPH limit on that road, but of course, many freeway drivers interpret speed limits as lower limits.)

Feeling stuck in the car, I tried phoning my insurance agent, but it was after 5 PM on a Sunday, and their voice menu advised calling 911 in an emergency. I wasn’t sure mine was enough of an emergency to warrant 911, but I didn’t know what other options I had. The 911 operator directed me to the state police, who called a tow service for me.

As it happened, while I was waiting for the tow, a good samaritan (and a former Saturn owner, so I guess he felt a connection) pulled over and offered to help me put on the spare. He didn’t get too far before the tow service guy came along, and basically the latter guy just contributed his superior jack to make it go faster, and the good samaritan kept working on the tire until the small spare tire was in place. I guess that’s why the tow guy didn’t charge me. He was on his way before I even got to ask the question.

But I did ask how long the spare would last me, and he advised it was no good for more than 30 miles. It was also raining, another good reason to stop early. The tow guy told me of a motel a few miles away, which I then confirmed on GPS.

I’m typing this from my room there, which looks nice and clean even though the motel seems unimpressive on the outside. Still, I opened the window to let it air out before taking my mask off.

I was hoping the motel might be in the book of coupons I picked up from a rest area on the way out, something I always do in case of emergencies like this. But I couldn’t find it in the book. Still, the price isn’t bad, considering. I just hope the nearby garage doesn’t charge me too much tomorrow for a new tire.

The thing is, I asked the garage back home to check my tires before the trip, and they said they looked good. Still, the last entry I have in my computer for a new tire purchase is seven years ago. I was a bit concerned about their age before I left, and I guess it was warranted.

Still, all things considered, I got lucky. I had a tire blowout at 70 MPH on the freeway, and the car and I are otherwise whole and unhurt. I guess I’m lucky it was a rear tire on a front-wheel drive car. Otherwise, who knows? In any case, I’m grateful to the gentleman who stopped to help a stranded motorist. Thank you, sir, whoever you are.

So anyway, the last day of Shore Leave went about as I expected. I got a pretty good night’s sleep, thanks to remembering to sleep on the folded-over comforter. Being stuffed from Andy Nelson’s BBQ and a slice of chocolate cake the evening before probably helped. Still, I hung out in my room all morning, getting in a bit of writing and getting ready to go, and I got my leftover BBQ sandwich and carrot sticks out of the room fridge for lunch. Then I went and got some ice to preserve the second half of the chicken sandwich I bought yesterday, which I was saving for dinner. I checked out before my noon stint in the “writer’s chimney,” but hit a bit of a snag when they disabled my room key early and I still had two bags in my room, since I was taking two trips to the car. So I had to go to the desk and ask them to reauthorize a key for me for the few minutes it took to get my bags out.

Things were slow at the author chimney, and I only sold one book. I only sold three in total this year, all Star Trek, even though I brought a bunch of my original books to sell. Still, I got to finish off with a nice panel talking about Sherlock Holmes. And I got to have some informative conversations with other writer guests, a couple of which might lead to new work opportunities. Here’s hoping.

And then I hit the road and drove for a while, and stopped at a rest area to have the chicken sandwich and some trail mix as an early dinner. Then I hit the road again with the goal of trying to make it at least halfway home before stopping. So much for that idea.

I guess now I should rest, recover, and count my blessings. Hopefully I’ll get a new tire pretty quickly in the morning and get home without further incident.

But wow, two post-Shore Leave flat tire events ten years apart. I’d better be careful after Shore Leave in 2032…

Preparing for Shore Leave

We’re only five days from Shore Leave now, so only four days before I head out. I’ve been taking a few steps to get ready.

For one thing, I decided it was finally time to buy one of those things that lets you mount your smartphone in your car. For years now, I’ve just kept the phone in the cup holder between seats when I used GPS, which meant I had to look pretty far down to see the screen, which is less than ideal. Since I’m concerned with safety after being out of practice with long drives, I figured a phone mount would be a real help.

I couldn’t afford one of those elaborate stem-and-base ones that mount atop the dashboard, but I went looking at local stores for one of those little clips that you stick onto the air vent slats, which generally sell for only a few dollars. I didn’t find anything suitable at the stores I checked, but I did pick up some iced coffee and trail mix for the trip.

I got really gung-ho about this problem the other day for some reason, and after taking two separate walking trips to local stores with no result, I got caught up in trying to figure out some way to rig up a homemade phone mount. There are internet videos for such a thing, but I didn’t seem to have the appropriate parts. I realized, after experimenting a bit in the car, that the phone (in “widescreen” orientation) would fit neatly into the depression at the base of the ashtray/lighter compartment, which of course I never use anyway. (It’s a 2001 car, so it still had an ashtray/lighter.) That was only a little bit forward from the cup holder, but it might have given a somewhat better angle. It only fit in loosely, though, and might fall out from car vibrations. So I had the thought of creating some kind of lip around the depression to hold it in. I noticed I had some rope caulk lying around, and thought that might be worth a try.

I never got around to the attempt, though. Yesterday, it occurred to me belatedly that I should really get hold of some N95 masks. I picked up my allotted three free masks when the government handed them out months ago, and haven’t actually used any of them yet, but three isn’t enough, and the masks provided don’t seal well around my nose, so I don’t trust them not to fog my glasses. (Plus an imperfect seal defeats the purpose anyway.) So I did some research into what some of the best masks were, and ordered a set of 10 NIOSH-compliant masks from Amazon yesterday. While I was at it, I went ahead and bought a 6-dollar phone mount clip. However, since my previous Amazon order was delayed by a few days due to a delivery mixup, I didn’t want to take any chances, so I paid extra for one-day delivery.

As it happens, the Amazon driver was timely, but it’s fortunate that I was tracking the van on the site and was watching out from my balcony, since the driver left my delivery on the wrong doorstep, two doors down in my apartment complex, even though the building numbers are quite prominently displayed on the front windows. I didn’t have a chance to get out the front door and call to him before he was gone, but it was easy enough to pick up my items just after he left.

I promptly took the phone clip down to my car to see how it worked, and it took a little trial and error to determine that it needs to be mounted low on the vent grille, otherwise its weight tilts the vent downward. It also doesn’t clip the phone quite as firmly as I’d like, but I think I just need to make sure it’s fully inserted and completely flat against the back of the clip, since if it’s at an angle, the spring pressure pushes it out. I also have to clip the phone a bit below center to make sure the clip isn’t depressing the on/off button on the side. (Maybe I should put the clip around the phone first and then attach it to the vent.) Still, it looks like it should work adequately, and should be at least a somewhat better placement for the phone/GPS than the cup holder was, or the ashtray depression would’ve been.

As for the N95 masks, they’re still sealed in a bag, but they clearly have some pretty heavy, robust metal nose clips built in, so hopefully that means no fogged glasses.

Usually on my trips, I bring along a metal flask of filtered ice water, plus I put my 2-quart plastic jug of filtered water in the freezer overnight beforehand so I have replacement ice water all day. Now, in the past few years, I’ve started buying iced tea bags, the result of a grocery substitution mixup that turned out to my advantage. So it occurred to me that I could make a batch of iced tea, pour it into a washed-out empty 2-quart juice bottle, and freeze it overnight as well. That way I get a bit of extra caffeination on my drive.

The biggest thing I have yet to do is to take my car in for maintenance, which will be tomorrow morning. As I mentioned last time, I hope they can get it fixed promptly, since I’m cutting it kind of close.

In short, I’m spending a fair amount for this trip. Gas prices seem to be on the way down at last, but it seems unlikely that I’ll sell enough books at the con to turn a profit for the whole thing. As I mentioned before, though, readers can help me out through PayPal donations or Patreon subscriptions.

Shore Leave is back

Well, it’s been a few years, but the Shore Leave convention in Baltimore is finally being held physically again, from July 15-17 at what’s now known as the Delta Hotels Baltimore Hunt Valley. I plan to attend.

https://www.shore-leave.com/

I’m actually rather nervous about it, because the pandemic is still raging. But the convention’s COVID policy requires all attendees to be vaccinated, and I just got my second booster last week. I’m concerned that masks are encouraged but not required, but I’ll certainly be staying masked.

Honestly, I’ve been sorely tempted to cancel and just stay home. I’ve become quite a hermit since the pandemic started, and I have a strong urge just to remain here in my cocoon and not take any avoidable risks. It’s not just COVID; this will be my first long drive in three years, and not only are gas prices high due to the fuel companies’ price gouging, but I gather the rate of traffic accidents has risen sharply since the pandemic.

But I think the strength of the fear I’m feeling is exactly why I need to resist it and do this anyway. I can’t let myself be paralyzed by fear for the rest of my life. These are scary times, but life has to go on even in such times. I do miss seeing my writer friends, and Shore Leave can be an opportunity for networking, which is important as I seek to line up new work for the latter part of the year and beyond. Plus it’s my first chance to promote the Arachne duology and Tangent Knights in public, and sell signed copies of Arachne and my last couple of Star Trek books, which will hopefully let me turn a small profit from the trip (assuming gas and car maintenance don’t eat it all up). And with my vaccination freshly updated, I’m probably about as protected as I can be. Besides, if so many of my fellow writers feel it’s reasonably safe to do this, I guess I’m at no more risk than they are, and the only difference is whether I let my fear control me. Fear has held me back too often in my life, and I’ve regretted it too many times.

Indeed, these past few years have been a rough patch for me and I’ve been dealing with depression. If I backed out and missed the chance to see my friends and my readers for the first time in three years, I’d regret it and maybe sink deeper into depression. And that’s a health risk as much as COVID is. I need to take a chance on living my life again.

Anyway, I just did some browsing, and it looks like the traffic accident rate is in proportion to the number of miles driven, so maybe it’s not a real increase in danger, just a statistical artifact of people driving more (perhaps because they’re flying less?). It also seems to be linked largely to speeding and not wearing seatbelts, and I’m a pretty safe driver as a rule. I’ve been driving since 2008, and I’ve only been in one accident, on the way home from Shore Leave a decade ago, which only resulted in two flat tires and a cracked side mirror.

Still, my car is way overdue for maintenance and a significant electrical repair I’ve been putting off. I’m trying to schedule an appointment with the garage recommended for that repair by my usual garage, but apparently they can’t see me until next week, and I hope I haven’t put it off too long. I always procrastinate and cut things too close.

Anyway, hopefully I’ll get the car sorted and I won’t chicken out, and will see some of you (or at least the top halves of your faces) at Shore Leave a bit over a week from now.

And just a reminder, if anyone would like to help out with my transportation expenses, you can use the PayPal “Donate” button here on Written Worlds, or subscribe to my Patreon.

Assorted thoughts on STAR TREK: TMP: The Director’s Edition HD update

I just finished watching the new high-definition update to the 2001 Director’s Edition of Star Trek: The Motion Picture, which David C. Fein and Michael Matessino oversaw under the guidance of the late Robert Wise, attempting to complete the film as Wise would have intended to do in 1979 if he hadn’t been forced to release an unfinished rough cut prematurely. Readers of my first ST novel, Ex Machina, probably know how fond I am of the Director’s Edition, considering it greatly superior to the theatrical cut in terms of pacing, visuals, sound design, and so forth.

However, the big limitation of the DE was that it was only made in standard definition, including its new CGI effects that were only rendered at that resolution. Fein & Matessino always hoped to redo it in HD, but it took about as long for them to achieve that as it took for Wise to get the DE made in the first place. (For some reason, the credits on the 2022 HD edition refer to the original DE as the 2000 edition instead of 2001, so let’s just say it’s been roughly the same amount of time.) In addition, they completely redid the film’s color grading to improve the look, and made a few new tweaks to the visuals, as discussed here. The film is now streaming on Paramount+, and will be out on Blu-Ray later on.

I’ve been busy writing and haven’t found the time to watch until now, so here are some assorted thoughts, nothing too detailed.

  • The clarity of the film is definitely much greater. I noticed things I don’t think I ever caught before. I even almost recognized Mark Lenard’s face under the makeup of the Klingon Commander in the opening.
  • The color grading is definitely better. The uniforms are less drab; the colors are still very understated, but you can tell the senior officers’ uniforms are pale blue rather than gray. And the bridge scenes look much brighter than before. The bridge was lit relatively dimly so the film loops behind the monitors would be visible, so the colors were drab in the original DE’s bridge scenes even though they were brighter in other scenes. Now, that’s been fixed, though there’s still a quality to the light and shading in the bridge scenes that lets you tell it wasn’t intrinsically as bright as elsewhere.
  • More than the sets or VFX, what I noticed most were the nuances in the actors’ performances. TMP has a reputation as a dry, passionless film, but the actors seemed more expressive this time around.
  • They finally fixed the officer’s lounge windows!! The private conversation between Kirk, McCoy, and the Kolinahr-cold Spock was meant to take place in the lounge seen in miniature when Spock’s shuttle docks, but they didn’t have the budget to build it full-scale, so they built a makeshift lounge out of leftover pieces of the rec deck set, which didn’t make much structural sense. The original DE at least put a CGI nacelle in the windows, matching how it would look from the rec deck, but the set doesn’t fit within the rec deck. TMP designer Andrew Probert did a sketch reconciling the two lounges, but the “windows” in the lounge scene had to be handwaved as viewscreens, which is how I referred to them in Ex Machina. (More here.) But the new DE finally, finally replaces those damn square windows with the correct lounge background! Kirk’s and McCoy’s profiles get a little blurry when they move in front of it, but I don’t care, since it’s so great that they finally fixed this problem after 43 years. And nobody seems to have remarked on it so far as I’ve seen, so it was a delightful surprise.
  • I’m not sure it really sank in before how much Robert Wise tells a non-verbal love story between Decker and the Ilia probe in the climactic sequence in the Voyager 6 chamber, just by focusing the camera on them as they stare meaningfully at each other while the expository dialogue goes on in the background. The directing has to do all the work to set up why Decker chooses to join with V’Ger/Ilia, since the originally scripted exposition about Decker’s interest in spirituality and higher planes of being was cut out. The way it’s staged, it’s as if Decker is communing with V’Ger through the Ilia probe, the two/three of them coming to a wordless understanding that leads to his climactic act.
  • When I realized that, I realized something else: The Borg Queen is to the Borg as the Ilia probe is to V’Ger. I mean, in-story they’re opposites; the probe is more like a drone, subordinate to V’Ger rather than dominant like the Queen. But in narrative terms, as roles and storytelling devices, they serve the same purpose, to provide the audience with an anthropomorphic spokesbeing for an impersonal superintelligence.
  • There oughtta be a law against streaming services automatically shrinking the end credits by default. They should all do what Netflix does and give us a choice whether we want that or not.

Categories: Reviews Tags: , ,

So what are the “written worlds?” redux

Happy anniversary! The Written Worlds blog debuted a dozen years ago today, on November 29, 2009. I was pretty prolific at the beginning, writing a half-dozen posts including introductory comments, an announcement of my 2009 Star Trek movie tie-in novel (which was later cancelled), some slice-of-life observations, and a book series review. I also wrote an introductory post summarizing the different fictional universes I’d written professionally up to that point, by way of explaining the blog title:

So what are the “written worlds?”

I always hoped that, in time, I’d be able to make a new, longer list of universes I’d gotten into print. I figure this is as good a time as any, though as it turns out, the list of universes is only slightly longer than it was a dozen years ago. Instead, it’s gotten deeper, and evolved in other ways.

Starting again with the licensed universes, which are the same ones as before:

  • Star Trek. This is the world that still constitutes the majority of my published prose work, though not quite as large a majority anymore. In the past dozen years, I’ve added 11 more novels and four e-novellas, nearly all of them in just three series: Department of Temporal Investigations, Enterprise: Rise of the Federation, and Original Series books set outside the TV series time frame (one before TOS, one between TOS & the Animated Series, two in the movie era). These still include two alternate timelines, the Mirror Universe and the timeline of Myriad Universes: Places of Exile, though the “Abramsverse”/Kelvin Timeline novel I wrote in 2009 ended up not getting published. I guess my post-Nemesis novels and e-novellas are now in an alternate timeline as well, for the novel continuity they were set in has now been contradicted by Star Trek: Picard, and the current Coda trilogy has reconciled the “Novelverse” as an alternate history. I’ve also contributed a number of game campaigns to Star Trek Adventures, whose continuity is distinct from that of the novels while borrowing some elements from them. Arguably those campaigns constitute an open-ended number of alternate worlds, a new one for each gaming group that plays them.
  • Marvel Comics. Still only two entries here, X-Men: Watchers on the Walls and Spider-Man: Drowned in Thunder.  The only change is that both now have audiobook adaptations, a single-narrator edition for WotW and a full-cast dramatized adaptation for DiT.

The list of my original universes is somewhat different, though:

  • Arachne/Troubleshooter Universe. The primary universe I’ve been developing for most of my life, an optimistic hard-SF future history spanning centuries. This was what I simply called my “Default” universe back in ’09, even though I only had two published novelettes in it at the time. By now, it encompasses the novels Only Superhuman, Arachne’s Crime, and Arachne’s Exile, plus about a dozen short stories. Its published entries to date basically break down into subgroups focused around two stages of the universe’s history: the Troubleshooter period, when genetically and bionically modified superheroes keep the peace in the Main Asteroid Belt, and the interstellar era centered around the Arachne duology or growing out of its events. I’d hoped this would be a significantly longer entry by now, but I’m glad to have made the progress I have. And hey, at least I finally have a name for the darn thing, albeit a bit of a cumbersome one.
  • The Hub. A hard-SF comedy universe revolving around the Hub, the one and only means of FTL travel and thus the nexus of all interstellar civilization, with humanity as a minor, backwards culture struggling to make a name for itself. This was just one story back in my original list; now it’s a series of six stories, basically two trilogies, collected in the volumes Hub Space: Tales from the Greater Galaxy and Crimes of the Hub, the latter of which has the length and structure to qualify as a short novel. I’m still hoping for more stories to follow.
  • Tangent Knights. This is the most significant addition to the list, an original series of dramatized full-cast audio novels from GraphicAudio, a hard-SF superhero narrative inspired by Japanese tokusatsu adventure series and built around unused comic-book premises and characters I created back in the 1990s. Only the first book, Caprice of Fate, is out as of this writing, but a whole trilogy has been written, and there’s a good chance there will be more. This could soon be my largest original written world. Or worlds, as it encompasses numerous parallel quantum realities.
  • Thayara. My first published stab at a fantasy universe, set in the early industrial era of an alternate Earth whose evolution and culture were shaped differently by the presence of the Wyrd, a magical force that resonates with sentient minds. It includes two stories so far, “The Science of Sacrifice” and “The Melody Lingers,” both of which are available on my Patreon page, though only “Melody” was previously published professionally.
  • Miscellaneous standalones. I now have a fair number of individual stories in their own distinct continuities, including the professionally published “No Dominion” (the “To Be Announced” entry in my 2009 post) and “Abductive Reasoning,” and seven of my self-published Patreon stories as of this writing. It’s conceivable that some of these standalones could share a universe with one another, but I’ve established no links between them as of yet. Some are pure one-shots, such as the comedies “Abductive Reasoning” and “Growth Industry,” but there are some set in universes that have potential for continuation in further stories:
    • “No Dominion”: A world where medical science has made death largely curable, creating new challenges.
    • The Moving Finger Writes“: An interstellar future featuring an ancient network of time-travel wormholes.
    • The Monsters We Make“: A hard-SF take on kaiju/giant monsters invading the Earth.
    • What Slender Threads“: A multiverse premise of a different sort grounded in brane theory, an alternate approach to some of the ideas of Tangent Knights.

So in the past dozen years, I’ve gone from four original short stories set in three universes to at least six novels and over two dozen stories set in multiple different universes, at least four of which encompass multiple stories. That’s fairly significant progress, though still less than I’d hoped for.

Going forward, I think I’m likely to focus largely on expanding the universes I have. As you can see, my recent attempts at starting new short-fiction universes have largely gone unsold and had to end up on Patreon. Starting a new universe, at least the kind of worldbuilding-heavy universes I favor, is more suited to novels than short fiction. And I’m always interested in fleshing out my existing universes in more depth. But you never know. A new story idea might strike me that doesn’t fit any of my existing universes. Or, as with Tangent Knights, I might be offered an opportunity that requires creating something new.

So I wonder how this list will change over the next dozen years. Will the written worlds have increased more in number or in size and depth? Will I add more licensed universes? Will I finally have reached the point where my original fiction output surpasses my licensed output? Will I even have to wait another dozen years before this list deserves another update? Only time will tell.

New interview at Bad Girls, Good Guys blog

A blog named Bad Girls, Good Guys, and Two-Fisted Action, the Writing Blog of Sean Taylor, is running a series of interviews with eSpec Books authors, and mine was posted today:

https://seanhtaylor.blogspot.com/2021/08/especs-books-focus-2-christopher-l.html

I talk about Star Trek: Living Memory and the Arachne duology, and also drop some hints about “the new project I can’t talk about,” which was actually Tangent Knights, since the interview was conducted before that project got announced. So it’s not as thorough an interview as I would’ve liked it to be, but it’s got some good stuff in it. So feel free to take a look!

Watch my Shore Leave 41.6 panels!

Well, the second (and hopefully last) virtual Shore Leave weekend is over, and all the panels are viewable on Shore Leave’s YouTube channel. Here are the three I was part of:

Star Trek Adventures RPG Update

eSpec Books Presents

(Man, the screencap caught me at a bad moment there…)

What’s New in Star Trek Literature

I’m harder to see in the first panel because I hadn’t yet figured out how to frontlight myself decently at my desk. For the Sunday panels, I used the emergency flashlight in my portable car battery jumpstarter pack, resting on one of the shelves of my computer-desk hutch, with a sheet of tracing paper in front of it as a diffuser to soften the light and protect my eyes.

It was nice to see and hear from my writer friends and colleagues again, to talk about my own work and to hear what’s going on with my publishers’ upcoming projects. Hopefully some of what we talked about will lead to new projects for me in the future.

My schedule for (virtual) Shore Leave 41.6 (Updated)

UPDATE: The Trek Literature panel has been moved from 10 AM Sunday to 3 PM Sunday (Eastern Time), for the convenience of our panelists who live further west. I’ve edited accordingly.

I should’ve begun hyping this sooner, but the second virtual Shore Leave convention is being held online this weekend, July 10-11. (Hey, it’s not like you need to make travel plans.) The schedule has just gone online, and it looks like they’re organizing the Zoom panels into “rooms” corresponding to the usual panel rooms at the convention hotel, though I’m not quite sure how that will work. You can find the schedule here:

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

I’m only going to be on three panels, to talk about my various works. They include (all times Eastern):

Saturday July 10, 7 PM

Star Trek Adventures RPG Update: Salon D

Jim Johnson, Kelli Fitzpatrick, Dayton Ward, Derek Tyler Attico, Scott Pearson, Christopher L. Bennett

[ Register ]

Modiphius Entertainment’s Star Trek Adventures RPG heads into its fifth year. Check in for the latest news on current and upcoming releases and Q&A with the STA project manager and several STA writers.

Sunday July 11, 11 AM

eSpec Books Presents: Tack

Danielle Ackley-McPhail, Jenifer P. Rosenberg, Aaron Rosenberg, Hildy Silverman, Mary Fan, Keith R.A. DeCandido, Robert Greenberger, Russ Colchamiro, Christopher L. Bennett

[ Register ]

eSpec Books shows off a wealth of new titles, including the brand-new Systema Paradoxa novella series featuring a whole host of cryptid creatures rarely seen before.

Sunday July 11, 3 PM

What’s new in Star Trek Literature: Salon D

Scott Pearson, Dayton Ward, John Jackson Miller, David Mack, Kirsten Beyer, Christopher L. Bennett

[ Register ]

Authors of current and upcoming Star Trek titles discuss their work.

As for the wider convention experience, you can learn more about the options here:

See you there! (Figuratively.)

A good week, but I can’t talk about it

Some good things have been happening with writing projects these past few days, although I can’t go into specifics. I got a comfortably large check from the publisher of the big project that I hope will be announced soon, and there’s still one more installment to follow in another 2-3 months, so I should now be financially set through early next year at least. I’m happy with how promptly this publisher pays.

Meanwhile, a feeler I put out a while back to a different publisher unexpectedly bore fruit this week, when their editor reached out to ask about my interest in some upcoming projects they’re developing. As it happens, they have one thing in the works that’s a good fit for me, and they’ve asked me to work up a couple of pitch ideas for them. It means I’ll have to split my focus from my current project over the next few weeks, which should slow me down a bit, but I have enough of a cushion before my deadline that I should be able to pull it off. If they accept one of my pitches, that will be the next thing I tackle once the current project is done, and should keep me busy for the rest of the year. If not, I may get another chance with them in the future. It could be a pretty interesting project, and quite a change of pace from my current one. About the only thing they have in common is that I can’t say what they are.

Well, except that they aren’t Star Trek. I’ve been thinking for a long time that I needed to diversify my publishing connections beyond Trek and Gallery (formerly Pocket) Books, so I wouldn’t be in such a fix at the times the Trek work slows down for whatever reason. I’m glad that I’m finally managing to do that, with my Arachne duology from eSpec, my current secret project, and this new opportunity that’s just come along.

I guess the one good thing writing-wise that I can talk about in specific terms is that Star Trek: The Original Series — Living Memory has now been out for ten days and is getting mostly very good reviews so far, from what I’ve seen. Oh, and Analog‘s book reviewer, the late Don Sakers, covered Arachne’s Exile in his final review column and called it “a fun, exciting read.” So that’s bittersweet. (Here’s the link, but it’s a “current issue” link, so it should only work until the next issue comes out.)

One other good thing is that the Brood X cicadas seem to be gone already, a week or two ahead of predictions. So I should be able to resume normal outdoor activities at last, which means I can start taking more walks and get back into shape.

All in all, then, a fairly good week. Let’s hope it lasts…

Braving the store

I’m just back from another post-vaccination venture. I was out of a few grocery items, including sliced bread, since on my last pickup order, they substituted a smaller size than I wanted. I didn’t need enough to justify a whole pickup trip, and I was getting a little tired of not being in control of substitution choices, so I decided I’d make a quick in-person trip inside the store, for the first time in over a year.

It wasn’t as quick as I would’ve liked, though, since they’ve rearranged some things, and I’ve gotten rusty anyway. I had a hard time finding where they kept the mayonnaise now. Otherwise, though, it went pretty smoothly, aside from being fairly crowded. Most people were masked, at least; the one unmasked person I noticed was a guy who stood in the middle of the aisle and didn’t make way for me when I said “Excuse me.” Go figure.

I see that they’re phasing out disposable plastic bags in favor of reusable bags, due to a recent law banning the former. I guess that explains why I’ve stopped seeing those ubiquitous plastic bags in my pickup orders; now I get a more robust, theoretically reusable kind of plastic bag, though they’ve been piling up in my closet until my last grocery trip before this one, where I unloaded a bunch of them into the recycling bin inside the store foyer. The self-checkout thingy offered me the option to buy several reusable bags, but I was in too much of a hurry to figure out how that worked.

Honestly, I prefer the convenience of pickup — not having to negotiate crowds and search for items I don’t know where to find is a plus. The ideal would be to use that as my default and only make occasional side trips for things I didn’t get on pickup. But sooner or later, they’re going to reinstate the extra pickup fee that they’ve waived due to the pandemic, and at that point, I’ll probably have to go back to shopping the old-fashioned way.

Another thing I meant to do on this trip was something very, very long overdue: mailing the last two autographed Star Trek novels that I sold last year but never got around to sending out, due to my reluctance to go into the post office and my lack of a working printer to print out postage labels for home pickup. Those aren’t issues anymore, so I’m finally ready to mail those books out at last. However, when I got to the post office, the parking lot was full, which meant it would’ve been quite busy inside, and I wasn’t comfortable doing both that and a grocery trip on the same day. Even with vaccines and masks, it’s best to avoid spending too much time in crowded indoor places. So I had to give the post office a miss today. I’ll try again tomorrow, hopefully at a less busy time. I’m really sorry to my buyers for the absurdly long wait, but it’s almost over now. (Andrew S., if you read this, please confirm you still have the same address as last year.)

Categories: My Fiction, Star Trek Tags: ,

STAR TREK: LIVING MEMORY cover art!

I saw that the cover art for Star Trek: The Original Series — Living Memory started to show up on the Trek news sites the other day, but it wasn’t up on Amazon yet, and I wasn’t sure if the version that was posted was the final draft, so I held off posting it here until I was sure. I forgot to check regularly, but I confirmed today that the final version is out, so here it is:

Star Trek Living Memory cover

I was hoping that Uhura would be featured on the cover, since part of the reason I wrote this book was because I felt I was overdue to give her a focus story. It also makes sense to feature Captain Spock, since this is my first book where he’s in that role throughout. Plus we’ve got Reliant photobombing the cover en passant, as it’s making a return appearance after The Higher Frontier (gotta get Chekov in there somehow, plus I like writing Captain Terrell).

Here’s the description again:

An all-new Star Trek movie-era adventure!

While attempting to settle in as commandant of Starfleet Academy, Admiral James T. Kirk must suddenly contend with the controversial, turbulent integration of an alien warrior caste into the student body—and quickly becomes embroiled in conflict when the Academy controversy escalates to murder. Meanwhile, Captain Spock of the USS Enterprise and Commander Pavel Chekov of the USS Reliant are investigating a series of powerful cosmic storms seemingly targeting Federation worlds—unstoppable outbursts emitting from the very fabric of space. Endeavoring to predict where the lethal storms will strike next, Spock and Chekov make the shocking discovery that the answer lies in Commander Nyota Uhura’s past—one that she no longer remembers….

™, ®, & © 2021 CBS Studios, Inc. STAR TREK and related marks and logos are trademarks of CBS Studios, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Preorder links are here:

Living Memory will be released on June 15, less than three months from now. Getting closer!

2021 STAR TREK novel overview on TrekCore

I posted the news recently about Star Trek: The Original Series — Living Memory, my upcoming novel for this June. Now we have descriptions and information for most of the Trek novels being published this year, and TrekCore has done an overview of them, including a bit of entirely plausible speculation about Living Memory.

For some reason, there’s a gap of three months after January’s Picard: The Dark Veil by James Swallow, but we’re going back to monthly releases from May onward, and you can read more about them at the link.

Announcing STAR TREK: LIVING MEMORY

February 9, 2021 4 comments

Simon & Schuster has now posted the title and blurb for my new Star Trek novel, and the data has started to go out to the major book vendors, though some of the links only have tentative listings so far. So here it is:

Star Trek: The Original Series — Living Memory

An all-new Star Trek movie-era adventure!

While attempting to settle in as commandant of Starfleet Academy, Admiral James T. Kirk must suddenly contend with the controversial, turbulent integration of an alien warrior caste into the student body—and quickly becomes embroiled in conflict when the Academy controversy escalates to murder. Meanwhile, Captain Spock of the USS Enterprise and Commander Pavel Chekov of the USS Reliant are investigating a series of powerful cosmic storms seemingly targeting Federation worlds—unstoppable outbursts emitting from the very fabric of space. Endeavoring to predict where the lethal storms will strike next, Spock and Chekov make the shocking discovery that the answer lies in Commander Nyota Uhura’s past—one that she no longer remembers….

™, ®, & © 2021 CBS Studios, Inc. STAR TREK and related marks and logos are trademarks of CBS Studios, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Preorder links are here:

As you can tell, this is another installment in my post-Star Trek: The Motion Picture novel continuity, which was revived last year with The Higher Frontier (and which at this point has become more of a pre-Wrath of Khan continuity). Living Memory takes place during the gap between The Higher Frontier and Part Two of Mere Anarchy: The Darkness Drops Again.

Living Memory is scheduled for release on June 15, 2021, just over four months away. I’m surprised it took this long to announce it, but that means you guys don’t have to anticipate it for too long. And it probably means it won’t be too long before there’s a cover reveal. Stay tuned!

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