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STAR TREK ADVENTURES: New campaign now out, two more on the way!

UPDATE 10/18: By an unfortunate coincidence, my STA campaign Hard Rock Catastrophe came out just days after a fatal collapse at a Hard Rock Hotel under construction in New Orleans. It’s been decided that we should change the title for the sake of sensitivity, and I apologize that we didn’t catch this sooner. Hopefully we’ll have the new title sorted out within the next few days.

I’m pleased to announce that today is the release date for my third Star Trek Adventures RPG standalone campaign: Hard Rock Catastrophe, my first STA campaign set during the Original Series era. Here’s the official description:

STA Hard Rock CatastropheUnlock the Mystery of the Rock Creatures!

“Captain’s Log, Stardate 8054.1. We have received a distress call from Rikyu, an independent Saurian colony beyond the Federation border. Planetary governor T’Rimushei is requesting assistance with a natural disaster endangering the planet’s cities, although she was vague on the specifics of the threat. The Saurians are famously self-reliant, so it could be that the governor was embarrassed to ask for help – but I got the impression that she didn’t think we would believe her if she told us more.”

This standalone 22-page PDF adventure by Christopher L. Bennett is for the Star Trek Adventures Roleplaying Game and is set during the Original Series era. This adventure also contains advice for adaptation for use in campaigns based in other Star Trek eras.

Can your crew solve the mystery behind the apparent invasion of giant monsters and stop them before the colony is destroyed?

Hard Rock Catastrophe is available as a downloadable PDF at the following links:

Yes, that’s right — I found a way to tell a kaiju story in Star Trek. You could say it was a… “Passion” project. After the psychological thriller of Call Back Yesterday and the murder mystery of The Gravity of the Crime, Hard Rock Catastrophe is a full-bore action blockbuster which I hope will be great fun for STA players. After my first few pitches were approved, I actually tried to write this one first because I had so much fun with the idea; but the action and logistics proved too big and difficult for me to tackle first time out, so I needed to do a couple of other campaigns first to get the hang of the game mechanics.

Note that there’s a typo in the early release, though a fix is on the way and will be pushed through to all buyers once it’s made. It’s entirely my own fault; I accidentally duplicated Governor T’Rimushei’s Values in the stats for Doctor K’Manehai. If anyone wants to play the campaign before the fix comes through, substitute the following Values for K’Manehai:

  • Science Is My Passion
  • All Creatures Have a Right to Exist

STA Strange New Worlds Mission CompendiumWe also have confirmed release dates at last for my remaining two STA campaigns. Star Trek Adventures: Strange New Worlds: Mission Compendium Vol. 2, containing nine missions including one by me, will be released a week from now, on October 24. And my fourth standalone PDF campaign, “Stolen Liberty,” will be released on November 14.

So every STA game campaign I’ve written so far will be out by a month from now. But don’t worry — I’ve already done a bit more writing for STA and submitted a few more game pitches just yesterday. This is starting to look like a steady gig…

I need a job!

October 14, 2019 2 comments

Remember how I recently vagueblogged about getting some bad news in the mail that I assumed was a mistake? Turns out it wasn’t a mistake — or rather, it was my mistake. Because I tried to save money by doing my own taxes this year, I missed a pretty huge step, and it turns out that I owe much more in taxes than I actually paid. And any prior notifications of my tax debt were apparently lost in the mail, so the first I heard of it was a final warning. This was not a scam; I consulted with the people who usually do my taxes, hoping they could confirm it was a mistake of some kind, but they determined that the mistake was mine and the debt is real.

Which is awful timing, since I don’t currently have a book contract or any steady work. Even if a new contract comes my way very soon, which I hope it does, I can’t be sure how long it’ll be before my next advance. I have picked up some new work with Star Trek Adventures, which will help over time, but it’s probably not enough for my short-term needs, especially with this added tax debt.

So I need to find some kind of part-time work that will help tide me over for now. It’s something I should’ve done well before now, but unfortunately I’m very bad at job-hunting, since I’ve been managing as a full-time freelancer for so long. Plus I’ve been going through bouts of depression as a result of my money problems, which just make it harder for me to get up the courage to look for new work and thus worsen my money problems and my depression. It got really bad last week, since I got sick and was stuck inside and didn’t get much sunlight or exercise. Luckily I went for a good long walk yesterday and I’m feeling better now. Still, I need to break out of this rut I’ve been in. I’m really grateful to my fans who’ve helped keep me afloat with donations over the past year or two, but I can’t keep depending on your generosity. (Although of course my book sale is still going on.)

So I’m putting this out to my colleagues and friends in the industry — if anyone has any work for me, something that can earn me a decent amount of money in the short term rather than months from now, please contact me. Or if any of my friends in the Cincinnati area can offer me or point me toward some part-time or seasonal work, let me know. I’m good at writing or copyediting, I have a lot of experience as a reviewer here on my blog, I’d be open to transcription or data entry work (especially if it’s from home), and I have library and bookstore experience. My resume is here.

Rough week, but some good news

Well, this has not been a great couple of weeks for me. Let’s see… I was feeling sick last week and not up to much of anything. I therefore put off getting groceries for a while, and when I finally felt well enough to drive to the store… I found my car battery had died. So I had to walk to the store instead. I think I waited another day, but I don’t quite recall — it’s a bit of a blur. Also, I somehow lost my receipt on the way home. I had to check my bank account online to find out how much I’d spent.

I’ve glimpsed three roaches or similar large bugs crawling around my bathroom and kitchen over the last week, the first time I’ve had any in quite a while. It gave me an incentive to finally put down a new set of plastic roach bait traps. On the upside, somehow I find my phobia about insects seems to have gotten a little milder, so I reacted to the bugs merely as an annoyance to be dealt with aggressively than as the catalyst of a borderline panic attack. (When I saw the second one, I happened to be carrying a heavy hardcover book. Fortunately the dust jacket proved easy to wash off afterward.)

Anyway, while moving the range and butcher block cabinet (I think that’s what it’s called) around to place the traps, I failed to notice that a glass pot lid was precariously placed. It’s the second piece of kitchen glassware I’ve accidentally shattered in the past month, and the third in the past six months or so. (The first was a Pyrex measuring cup that I’ve since replaced. The second was my last remaining tumbler of a set of four, the main one I used every day since it was the best one I had.) Now I no longer have a lid that fits my large saucepan. And I really wish the engineers would hurry up with developing shatterproof consumer glassware. Or softer kitchen floors.

There’s one more worrisome thing I’d rather not go into detail on since it’s finance-related, but it involves getting something in the mail yesterday that was very alarming to read until I figured out that it had to be a computer error or mixup of some sort, something sent to me by mistake or through a miscalculation, since it’s evidently not a scam but there’s no possible way it could genuinely apply to me. I just hope I can convince the relevant parties of that. I’ve reached out to someone that I hope can provide help or guidance, but I’m still waiting for a reply, and they might not be available right away.

Anyway, I put off dealing with the car because I was just too overwhelmed by all this stuff piling on at once, and I decided to focus on getting some work done on a thing I’m doing for Star Trek Adventures, one of the few bits of good news going on right now. Today, though, I managed both to make significant progress on that STA project and to take my car in to the garage, thanks to a helpful neighbor who gave me a jump start. Apparently the previous battery was kinda cheap and defective, but the guy had the right kind in stock and was able to replace it in a matter of minutes. I wish I hadn’t had to spend so much on it, but it could’ve been worse, and at least I got that off my list of worries, as well as returning some library videos that were due today. So I’m feeling somewhat better today than yesterday.

STA Strange New Worlds Mission CompendiumThe main bit of good news I have to report is that we finally have a firm release date for Star Trek Adventures: Strange New Worlds: Mission Compendium Vol. 2, for which I wrote one of the adventure scenarios. It’s been pushed back several times from its originally expected release date in August, but it’s now solidly on track for a November release, and it’ll be available for order on Modiphius.net as of October 24. There will be a formal press release coming soon, and I’ll post when it’s available.

In the meantime, I’ll be finishing up that other STA thing, and then finishing up a story I’m planning to submit to an open-call anthology. Then I’ll have to see about finding some other work to tide me over until my next Trek novel contract. Maybe I can get some seasonal work in a bookstore or something.

Interview with STAR TREK ADVENTURES manager Jim Johnson

September 10, 2019 1 comment

Morning, folks. Here’s a new interview with Jim Johnson, the editor — and now line manager, congratulations, Jim — who brought me in to write for Star Trek Adventures. If you haven’t tried the game, Jim explains the basics of how it works and how to get into it, and talks a bit about how he’s recruited authors like me.

Interview: STAR TREK ADVENTURES Manager Jim Johnson

 

In other news, the Strange New Worlds mission compendium, for which I contributed one of the adventures, is still running behind the expected release date, but it and my remaining two PDF campaigns should be arriving sometime this fall, possibly October. Stay tuned. And don’t worry, I have a standing invitation to pitch more games, though I have to think of some first.

Autographed book sale update — new discount prices!

Once more, it’s time for me to try to raise a bit of money to tide me over until my next advance check comes. I was planning to do this anyway, but yesterday I discovered I’d somehow gotten a flat tire in the parking lot, so I had to get that fixed today.

Anyway, I haven’t had much luck moving my trade paperbacks, even the brand-new Star Trek: The Captain’s Oath, so I thought I’d try discounting the prices. As usual, of course, I’m open to straight-up donations, but I’ve got all these books to sell too.

As before, anyone who donates $20 or more or spends that much on books (not counting postage) will, if they so desire, be Tuckerized (i.e. have a minor character named after them, or possibly a spacecraft, institution, or the like) in a future novel. Here’s the current list:

Mass-market paperbacks: $8

  • ST: Enterprise — Rise of the Federation: Tower of Babel (2 copies 1 copy)
  • ST: ENT — Rise of the Federation: Uncertain Logic (3 2 copies)
  • ST: ENT — Rise of the Federation: Live by the Code (1 copy) SOLD OUT
  • ST: ENT — Rise of the Federation: Patterns of Interference (6 5 copies)

Hardcovers: $20 (20% off!)

  • Only Superhuman (19 18 copies)

Trade paperbacks: $12 (20-25% off!)

  • Star Trek: The Original Series — The Captain’s Oath (12 copies)
  • Star Trek: Mirror Universe — Shards and Shadows (5 copies)
  • ST: The Next Generation — The Sky’s the Limit (1 copy)
  • Among the Wild Cybers: Tales Beyond the Superhuman (5 4 copies)
  • Footprints in the Stars (3 copies)

You can donate or buy books 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.

Please include a message through the PayPal form specifying whether you want to be Tuckerized, and any particulars as to how (e.g. if you don’t want to be evil or be killed off, or if you do). Everyone who donates will be thanked in the acknowledgments (unless they ask to be anonymous), but I’m only Tuckerizing those who specifically ask for it, just to be on the safe side.

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 $2.50 postage per book for MMPBs, or $4.00 postage for trades/hardcovers.  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 $0.25 per mass-market paperback or an additional $0.50 per trade paperback or hardcover.

STAR TREK: THE HIGHER FRONTIER description is out!

August 11, 2019 1 comment

It’s a week later than expected, but Amazon has posted the early promotional blurb for Star Trek: TOS: The Higher Frontier (though no cover art yet):

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!

That’s right — after quite a few years, I’m finally returning to the post-Star Trek: The Motion Picture setting featured in Ex Machina, Mere Anarchy: The Darkness Drops Again, and the latter half of DTI: Forgotten History. I’m really glad to have gotten the chance to revisit that period in a full novel once more.

And the blurb says “epic” for a reason. One advantage of the big, empty period between ST:TMP and The Wrath of Khan is that there’s plenty of room to tell a really big, sweeping story.

STAR TREK 2020 book line-up announced!

Today at the Star Trek Las Vegas convention, there was a panel announcing the upcoming novel line-up for most of 2020. TrekCore covered it live on their Twitter feed:

https://mobile.twitter.com/TrekCore/status/1156992574671867904

The big news for me is my next novel: Star Trek: The Original Series — The Higher Frontier, scheduled for a March 2020 release. (How the heck is it almost 2020 already??) This is the novel I was busy finishing up during Shore Leave last month, and as it happens, I’m in the midst of manuscript revisions for my editor right now. Apparently the description is slated to go out to book sites with the “metadata” this weekend, so I guess I’ll wait until then to post it — stay tuned. But it’s a book I’m rather excited about, because it lets me do something TOS-wise that I didn’t think I’d get the chance to do again.

Another very surprising bit of news is that the lineup for next year includes two Kelvin Timeline novels, The Order of Peace by Alan Dean Foster and More Beautiful than Death by David Mack. These are two of the four Kelvin novels (before it was called that) which Alan, David, Greg Cox, and I wrote a decade ago for a 2010 release, and which were cancelled for arcane reasons at the start of 2010 — although Alan’s was originally called Refugees. Now, I incorporated much of my cancelled novel Seek a Newer World into TOS: The Face of the Unknown once I became convinced these novels would never be published, and Greg cannibalized parts of his The Hazard of Concealing for TOS: No Time Like the Past, which presumably is why they aren’t being released with the other two. But that’s fine. We all got paid in full for our books back then, and I feel that TFotU is a far better, richer novel than SaNW would’ve been. And maybe this opens the door for doing another Kelvin novel sometime, one written with knowledge of the later films, so that it can be more substantive. Anyway, I’m glad Alan’s and Dave’s books will finally see the light of day.

Other interesting bits of news: Gene Roddenberry’s Star Trek: The Motion Picture novelization (which I drew on in Ex Machina) is getting a 40th-anniversary re-release in trade paperback form in October of this year, along with its first-ever audiobook edition. It’s also commemorating the 40th anniversary of Pocket/Simon & Schuster’s ST publishing program, which began with the TMP novelization. October will also see David Mack’s Collateral Damage, culminating a storyline that’s been developing in the novels since the A Time to… miniseries 16 years ago. In November, IDW Comics will begin publishing a Star Trek: Picard — Countdown miniseries by Kirsten Beyer and Mike Johnson, and in February 2020, Uma McCormack delivers the first Picard prequel novel, The Last Best Hope. Dayton Ward’s TOS novel Agents of Influence arrives in April. We’ll also see a Discovery novel from John Jackson Miller, and Kirsten Beyer’s Voyager: To Lose the Earth (which has been delayed due to Kirsten’s work on the writing staffs of Discovery and Picard) will reportedly be out at last in 2020.

I’ve been so immersed in the TOS era for the past couple of years that I haven’t really sought out information about what my fellow authors were doing in the larger Trek narrative, so all these announcements come as something of a surprise to me. It’ll be interesting to see what develops going further, and what my part in it will be. But 2020 is going to be a remarkably diverse year for Trek literature.