Posts Tagged ‘Star Trek’

I’m writing for the STAR TREK ADVENTURES role-playing game!

February 17, 2018 1 comment

I’m now able to announce another one of the writing projects I’ve been working on over the past few months. I’m writing campaigns/game scenarios for the Star Trek Adventures role-playing game from Modiphius Entertainment. This is a new tabletop RPG that debuted last year, with a lot of the writing being done by fellow Trek prose authors that I know from the Shore Leave convention, including Jim Johnson (who’s the line editor in charge of the writers), Dayton Ward, and Scott Pearson. So last year at Shore Leave, I asked Dayton and Scott if I could get on board, they put me in touch with Jim, and here I am.

Star Trek Adventures has several different game threads. There’s the Living Campaign, which you can sign up to join at the site, and which has ongoing storylines in the Original Series and Next Generation/Deep Space Nine/Voyager time frames, written largely by Dayton Ward and Scott Pearson. (EDIT: Rather, I’m told that Dayton & Scott created the basic outline of the Living Campaign, but other writers are doing the regular installments.) There are also a bunch of standalone adventures, which are being written by various different authors, including me, and will be available online as PDF downloads. These are self-contained “episodes” that gaming groups can play in one or two sessions, usable for just about any set of characters. They’re usually set in a specific time frame, but most can be adapted for play in different Trek eras if the players desire.  And of course, Gamemasters can buy the Core Rulebook and use it to create their own campaigns as well. Indeed, we’re encouraged to conclude our standalone campaigns with hooks for possible sequels/continuations that GMs can develop themselves.

I’ve never really gotten into any Star Trek or other role playing games in the past. There was that time a while back when a college friend worked with me on a two-person e-mail game we called Dragon Trek, where I played a Starfleet character who got transported into a Dungeons & Dragons world that she ran as the Dungeon Master. It was her attempt to ease me into gaming by combining our different interests into something we could share, and it was fun for a while, but unfortunately she got too busy with family and parenting, so we never really got past the preliminaries. But the character I created for that game was the basis for the T’Ryssa Chen character I debuted in Star Trek: The Next Generation — Greater Than the Sum about 7 years later.

Aside from that, though, I never really got into gaming, particularly Trek games, since it seemed to me that they often tended to focus far too much on combat and war scenarios, which are not my preferred thing for Star Trek to be about. What drew me to the Star Trek Adventures game is that its focus is less on fighting and more on plot and character development, emulating the structure of Trek TV episodes. Character creation is focused less on physical skills and training (since all Starfleet officers are presumed to be experts to begin with) and more on personal attributes like Control, Insight, Daring, Presence, and Reason, as well as personal values and life experience. For instance, the character creation process even includes a step where you choose a couple of important “Career Events” that give your character backstory and inform their behavior in the here and now. I found that so intriguing that I made a point of developing a campaign that would bring the characters’ backstories into play in the main story. (No, it’s not a time travel campaign.)

The goal of gameplay in STA is not merely to gather loot or gain combat experience points, but to advance character development by challenging the character’s values and achieving personal milestones depending on how those challenges are resolved. There are combat mechanics, but they’re a subset of the larger set of Conflict mechanics that focuses more heavily on Social Conflict, i.e. persuasion, reasoning, deception, negotiation, intimidation, etc. Action is presented more in terms of Tasks and Challenges to overcome, which can be anything from winning a fight to upgrading a ship’s system to making a scientific discovery to convincing a hostile alien to make peace. I think the game’s system does a very neat job of converting Star Trek‘s values and style of storytelling into game mechanics. Just in general, it seems like a pretty versatile system.

For those who are curious about such things, you can read more on the website link in the first paragraph, but the game is based on a 2d20 system, which means that it uses two 20-sided (icosahedral) dice, a staple of tabletop RPGs. It also uses a variable number of 6-sided dice (the more the better) as “Challenge Dice” for determining success in Tasks, Challenges, and Conflicts; Modiphius sells specialized dice with Starfleet delta emblems on them, but you can substitute regular 6-sided dice. I actually have a set of gaming dice including 2 d20s and a bunch of 6-sided dice, among others — it’s actually my sister’s old gaming dice pouch from high school, which she left behind when she went to college and I eventually claimed for myself. (I don’t remember whether I had her permission or not, so I might have technically swiped them, but then, my sister got most of her 6-sided dice by swiping them from the family’s board games, so it evens out.) I used them for the Dragon Trek game, but I haven’t used them since. (I even made a dice roller out of a paper towel roll, but these days it’s a pencil holder on my desk.) I thought it might be necessary to use those dice in the course of creating campaigns for the game, but as it’s turned out, I haven’t needed to. Creating a game is more a matter of following the Core Rulebook to determine what the mechanics and success parameters are for a given Task, so I just need to say what you need to roll to succeed; I don’t need to roll any dice myself. I suppose I could use the dice if I wanted to create a character by random means, but since I’m creating characters to fill specific story functions, it’s better to customize their attributes.

Even with all the help from the Rulebook, it’s been a challenge for me to adjust to a new style of writing. I’m used to coming at a story from the perspective of its main characters, to build plots that are driven by characters’ distinct personalities and objectives and values. Now, though, I have to figure out ways to tell stories in which I don’t even know who the main characters are — stories that can be adapted to any main characters and still work regardless of their personalities and choices. That’s not easy to do. One way is to focus on plot and the problems the characters have to solve, while creating room within the plot for individual character development, or alternative paths the plot can take depending on what the characters choose to do or whether they succeed or fail at a task. Another way is to focus on the personalities of the “guest stars,” the non-player characters I create, and how their values and agendas drive events and compel the Player Characters to respond. That’s kind of the way the original Star Trek and most 1960s-70s television approached things — keeping the lead characters constant from week to week and having most of the character development and growth be driven by the featured guest stars. But that’s less satisfying for me. What I’ve tried to do is to design situations that will challenge the PCs to make difficult moral choices, confront their personal issues, or try to win someone over with arguments based on their own core values, then leave them a lot of room to role-play and debate and work through it all, with their success or failure affecting what happens next in the story. It’s been quite a challenge, figuring out ways to do character-driven storytelling in the absence of specific characters. I hope I’ve managed to pull it off.

However, I have done one campaign so far that’s much more of a big action-adventure epic. I actually tried to do that one first, but it was too complex in its game mechanics, so I got stuck. I ended up writing a couple of others first, getting a handle on how the mechanics worked, and then tackled the big one. That one hasn’t gotten final approval yet, but hopefully it will soon. It should be a pretty fun one.

I’m not yet sure when my first campaigns will go on sale, but I’m told it should be within the next couple of months. I’ll let you know when they become available.


BUCK ROGERS IN THE 25TH CENTURY Season 2: “Time of the Hawk” (spoilers)

January 25, 2018 5 comments

With an unhappy cast and sagging ratings, it’s no surprise that Buck Rogers in the 25th Century was retooled for its second season. If anything, it’s a surprise that it was renewed at all. In addition to the show’s other woes, the second season was delayed by a 1980 actor’s strike. All the first season’s producers moved on, save for line producer David O’Connell, who returned only for the first two double-length episodes. Even co-developer Glen Larson was no longer an executive producer. Bruce Lansbury’s replacement as showrunner was, symmetrically, his predecessor as producer on The Wild Wild West, writer/actor/producer John Mantley – better known for showrunning Gunsmoke and How the West Was Won. It may seem odd that a Western producer was put in charge of Buck Rogers, but then, Gene Roddenberry had been largely a Western writer/producer before Star Trek. Westerns were ubiquitous in 1960s TV, and were the primary period and frontier narratives in the medium at the time, so they had a degree of overlap with science fiction. But Mantley did have a little SF experience: he wrote the novel The 27th Day and the Outer Limits episode “Behold Eck!,” and in 1978 he attempted to produce a film adaptation of Isaac Asimov’s I, Robot with Harlan Ellison writing the screenplay. Apparently he was unjustly shut out of that film after bringing it to Warner Bros. and won a fraud case against their executives eleven years later, well after the movie project collapsed. (Ellison’s screenplay was later published in book form.) Perhaps this history was part of the reason he was pegged to take over Buck Rogers.

As Mantley told Starlog in an October 1980 article where they consistently misspelled his name, he had the same desire as Lansbury to get “back to basics” for the sake of audience identifiability, but he had a totally different, less condescending view of what that meant. Lansbury had taken it to mean avoiding science fiction “concept stories” that might scare off viewers, preferring to do routine action/adventure plots without any real speculative or thematic substance to strain the audience’s feeble little brains. But Mantley saw it more as a matter of making the characters human and relatable, something he didn’t think the first season had achieved. He wanted to embrace science fiction plots in a way the first season had aggressively avoided, but to give the characters more texture and vulnerability. He also wanted to get away from the intelligence/military focus of the first season and open up the storytelling more. Meanwhile, he and Erin Gray both felt that the first season’s Wilma – whom I saw as a natural, effective leader who conveyed relaxed authority and engendered an easy sense of trust in her ability and kindness – was “overbearing,” apparently because that was how people c. 1980 saw a woman who wasn’t soft and submissive all the time. They chose to tone down her leadership qualities and make her a more conventional female supporting player, unfortunately.

The result of these changes was an almost completely new Buck Rogers. Mantley wanted to do a transitional episode explaining the changes, but the network insisted on starting cold with the new format in place. As a result, Tim O’Connor (Dr. Huer) and Eric Server (voice of Dr. Theopolis) were dropped from the show without fanfare. Mel Blanc was replaced as Twiki’s voice by Bob Elyea, who gave the ambuquad a more high-pitched, boyish voice fitting his appearance. Since Elyea was uncredited, I mistakenly assumed at the time that it was the natural voice of Felix Silla, who returned as the body of Twiki. Gil Gerard, Erin Gray, and Silla were the only returning cast members at first, though Blanc would return midway through the season. Even main-title narrator William Conrad was replaced by Hank Simms, with a slightly different version of the narration.

The season 2 premiere, “Time of the Hawk,” was written by veteran TV scribe Norman Hudis. It opens on a hawk-shaped fighter craft flown by Hawk (Thom Christopher), who’s returning home with his mate Koori (BarBara Luna). They are birdlike humanoids with caps of white feathers in place of hair. They arrive home to find their tribe slaughtered by humans, and Hawk swears vengeance on all humans. There’s a strong vibe of a noble, stoic Indian warrior swearing to punish the white man for slaughtering his village. Right off the bat, the former Gunsmoke producer is giving us an overt space Western.

After the main titles, we’re introduced to the starship Searcher, which, as I mentioned before, is a rebuild of the titular “Cruise Ship to the Stars” from season 1, given proportionally larger windows to make it look like a somewhat smaller ship, and emblazoned on the side with the ship’s name and motto “Per Ardua ad Astra” – the motto of Britain’s Royal Air Force, meaning “Through Adversity to the Stars.” The Searcher is shaped kind of like the Discovery from 2001 if you fattened out its middle, a long, boxy cylindrical ship with a spherical bow section and a pair of large rocketlike engine bells at the rear. It’s not a design that really looks that great from multiple angles or cuts an iconic profile the way something like the Enterprise or Galactica does. Its interior sets are kludged together from season 1 set pieces and props – even its bridge, which you’d think they would’ve put more effort into designing. There’s a mess-hall set with faux-wooden walls, a more naturalistic environment than anything we saw in season 1’s sterile, technological cityscapes, but it’s never seen again after the first act of this episode. The Searcher’s crew members are very unattractively costumed, wearing what are essentially sailor suits in white and pale blue, with the skirted female versions looking like Sailor Moon cosplay. Even though they’re from Al Lehman, the same costume designer who did such great work in season 1, they look ridiculous by contrast to the season 1 Directorate uniforms.

Buck is part of the crew and is addressed as Captain Rogers, but he still wears civilian outfits. His specific role in the ship’s hierarchy is never defined, aside from being the guy who heads all the away missions. Wilma now seems to have an ongoing Hepburn-Tracy romantic tension with Buck, and also appears to be second-in-command to the Searcher’s commanding officer Admiral Efram Asimov (Jay Garner), supposedly a descendant of the Good Doctor himself (an homage Mantley made with Isaac Asimov’s permission, since they knew each other from the failed I, Robot film project, if not earlier – though as a kid, unaware of this, I was offended that a cheesy sci-fi TV show dared to invoke the name of one of the greats of science fiction literature). How a colonel is second-in-command to an admiral is left unexplained, as is how the woman who was the leader of Earth’s entire planetary defense force is now a junior officer on a single ship.

The Searcher is apparently just starting out on its mission, but we’re not yet told what it’s meant to be searching for. But we do meet its doddering, avuncular chief scientist Dr. Goodfellow (the utterly charming Wilfrid Hyde-White), whose personality is also based on Isaac Asimov – a genial old man defined by his bottomless enthusiasm for scientific discovery and his irrepressible fondness for bad puns (though fortunately not emulating Asimov’s inveterate womanizing). Even though Goodfellow is the Searcher’s medical doctor, he’s also its science officer and apparently a cutting-edge roboticist, since he’s recently constructed the third new character – the robot Crichton (voice of Jeff David), who’s amazingly brilliant but so arrogant that he refuses to believe an entity of his perfection could’ve been built by a mere human such as Goodfellow, though he hasn’t yet determined who else could’ve done it. This attitude infuriates Admiral Asimov, basically a spaceborne Perry White who’s driven to temper tantrums by Crichton’s arrogance. There’s a continuity error here, since Huer told Buck in the pilot that robotics had long since reached the point where robots and computers designed each other better than humans could. Crichton himself is nonhumanoid and has a fun design built around his personality, including a telescoping neck so he can literally look down on people and arms designed specifically to go akimbo in irritation. (There’s probably no connection to the mechanoid Kryten from Red Dwarf, introduced in 1988. Their names are homophones and they’re both fonts of information for their crewmates, but Kryten is as humble and self-effacing as Crichton is arrogant and egotistical.)

All these character introductions clutter up the first act, but are set aside once the main story gets underway, with Crichton and Twiki absent from most of the 2-hour premiere. The Searcher comes across a derelict spaceship (pointed out by communications officer Dennis Haysbert, his second role on the series and one that will recur) and is alerted to attacks on human shipping by a man or creature called Hawk, an unstoppable ghost bent on destruction. Buck is given authority by the “Galactic Council” to track him down, and Crichton’s sole role in the story is to deduce that he comes from the planet Throm in the Argus system. Buck goes there alone and arrives in the city/bazaar of Neutralia, whose tall-hatted natives maintain a policy of strict neutrality and aid to all ships, bad guys included. (What makes a man turn neutral? Lust for gold? Power? Or were they just born with hearts full of neutrality?) They know of Hawk (who Buck has somehow figured out is a man instead of a creature), but won’t turn him over, for they have no strong feelings one way or the other. The same can’t be said for Flagg (Lance LeGault), a space ruffian who tries to steal Buck’s ship and gets outsmarted because a man from 500 years in the past understands spaceship airlocks better than he does. It’s nice to see Buck fighting with his wits instead of his fists and feet. Buck shakes Flagg down for information on Hawk by threatening to parade him through town in a hula skirt and a dog collar, though how he actually found those in an interstellar bazaar is anyone’s guess. Once set free, Flagg promises a reckoning.

Goodfellow convinces Wilma to take him along to search for Hawk’s nest, spinning a rather nonsensical ancient-astronauts tale about winged bird people who used to live on Easter Island and worshipped Makemake until they left for the stars 10,000 years ago. They find the “nest” in a cave, where they’re felled by a “giant” alien tarantula’s sleep-inducing web and need Buck to rescue them. They then pretty much vanish from the story while Buck finds Koori and takes her with him to lure out Hawk, once she convinces Buck he’ll be too hard to find any other way.

Indeed, Hawk’s Hawk Fighter (okay, he’s a hawk, we get it) soon intercepts Buck’s Starfighter and attempts to force him down. The fighter is not only shaped like a hawk, but has a truly ridiculous-looking control stick shaped like a hawk’s head facing the pilot. Hawk tries to snag Buck’s fighter in his ship’s talons just as Koori has risen from her seat to grab Buck’s blaster, so she gets impaled in the shoulder. Buck surrenders control of his fighter to let Hawk steer them to a controlled crash in the jungle, then convinces a grudging Hawk that they have to work together to get Koori to a doctor in Neutralia. (“If I don’t make it, tell my wife, ‘Hello.’”) Hawk agrees, but refuses to let Buck carry Koori. Once finally convinced to rest, in a fine bit of acting from Thom Christopher, Hawk bitterly tells Buck how his people lived in peace until they were hounded from Earth by humans and their love of killing anything with wings, and how his people then gave up the power of flight out of fear of history repeating itself, leading them to degenerate into their current, more humanoid form. Buck has little luck convincing him that humans have changed.

On reaching Neutralia, a healer waves her hands over Koori and tells them that she can’t save her but can point them to the Lamajuna, a supposed Hindu mystic in the mountains whose powers might be able to help. (“All I know is, my gut says ‘maybe.’”) Rather than asking for, like, an ambulance or a litter or something, they just pick Koori up and start walking again. En route, they’re ambushed by Flagg and his men, who draw on them with swords rather than blasters. Okay, it’s a Western with shades of Kurosawa. Buck tells Hawk to go on with Koori while he faces the circle of men alone, but Hawk decides to stand and fight with Buck, until the Lamajuna (David Opatoshu) uses his Vishnu-given powers to paralyze the thugs temporarily and let Buck and Hawk get away.

The Lamajunadingdong turns out to be pretty useless otherwise, since all he has for Koori are platitudes about how there is no death, only change. He can only keep her spirit tethered long enough to say goodbye to Hawk. Though Hawk is grateful for Buck’s help, he still refuses to surrender and Buck refuses to walk away from his duty, so they have a lengthy, brutal (by 1980 TV standards) hand-to-hand fight to the point of mutual exhaustion, and finally the Lamajuna zaps them both unconscious to be found by Wilma.

Weeks later on the Searcher, Hawk faces the Galactic Court, which he doesn’t recognize and has refused to defend himself to, as they prepare to deliver their death sentence. Buck angrily speaks up and gives a startlingly poignant speech about how the court will be confirming everything Hawk believes about humans if they execute the last member of a species for waging a rightful war against enemies of his people. It’s a revelatory, powerful piece of acting from Gil Gerard. Ultimately, Buck’s argument convinces the court that Hawk’s sentence should be in the hands of the people who know him best, the crew of the Searcher. Buck realizes that Hawk could serve his penance by joining the crew, since they have the same mission. Buck finally explains that the Searcher is on a quest to track down the lost tribes of humanity who fled Earth after the holocaust (shades of Battlestar Galactica’s premise, surprisingly, given that Glen Larson is no longer involved). He and Wilma propose that some of Hawk’s ancient bird people could still be out there as well. Hawk agrees, and the Searcher heads off on its mission without any tacked-on comedy tag scene.

Well. This started out sketchy and had some pretty silly ideas, but despite my wisecracks, it turned out to be a genuinely good episode of television. It was very much a Western, but it was also trying very hard to be Star Trek, and doing a surprisingly good job of it, aside from the weak set and costume designs aboard the Searcher. While it has its silly bits, it’s a quantum leap above anything season 1 achieved or even aspired toward. It’s a smart, dramatic story with intense character conflict and hard-hitting social commentary, and Buck is now much less Han Solo and much more James T. Kirk. Gil Gerard gets to act on a whole other level than he ever got the chance to do in season 1, and he rises to the occasion. Thom Christopher is superb as Hawk – it’s a pretty stock stoic warrior/noble savage role, but he brings a lot of dignity, poise, and weight to it, as well as a strong, resonant voice and a dancer-like physicality. I’m pretty sure that Hawk was my favorite part of season 2 when I watched it in first run. My second-favorite part was Wilfrid Hyde-White being his usual dodderingly adorable self as Dr. Goodfellow. Most of the rest of the cast gets little to do, but that’s a blessing where Twiki is concerned. Bruce Broughton takes over the music and works in a fairly traditional orchestral vein reminiscent of Star Trek or Westerns, rather than the funkier ‘70s sound of the first season’s scores.

Unfortunately, “Time of the Hawk” would turn out to be the exception rather than the rule for season 2. However ambitious Mantley may have been to make a smarter, richer show, he was still working for a network regime that expected very little from science fiction and its audience.

One further note: I realized a while back, even before this rewatch, that Buck Rogers season 2 was the closest thing in real life to the series within the movie Galaxy Quest. Indeed, part of what prompted this rewatch was my desire to verify my perception of the parallels, and if anything, it’s proven them to be even stronger than I’d remembered. Within the film’s reality, the Galaxy Quest series ran from 1979-82, while Buck Rogers ran from 1979-81. Both GQ and BR S2 were Star Trek-like starship adventure series with a macho male lead whose actor tended to hog the spotlight (Taggart/Buck), his stoic alien warrior best friend who’s the last survivor of a slaughtered people (Dr. Lazarus/Hawk), and a somewhat marginalized token female lead/love interest with a vaguely defined shipboard role (Tawny/Wilma). Meanwhile, Laredo, the child prodigy navigator of the Protector, has always strongly reminded me of Gary Coleman’s Hieronymous Fox from Buck season 1. Everyone assumes that Galaxy Quest is just a Star Trek parody, and to a large extent it obviously is; but if it isn’t deliberately based on Buck Rogers as well, then it’s a staggering coincidence, given the sheer number of strong parallels.

Locus bestseller again!

Blowing my own horn department: Star Trek: Enterprise — Rise of the Federation: Patterns of Interference has made the Locus Bestsellers list in the Media & Gaming Related category for the third month in a row! After two months at first place in the category, it’s now fallen to #4, but I’m still on there!

Thanks to David Mack for the heads-up!

Looking back on a slow year

December 30, 2017 1 comment

With 2017 coming to a close, I realize that I haven’t announced a single new writing project all year. I’ve had only three projects come out in 2017 — Star Trek: Department of Temporal Investigations — Shield of the Gods in June and Star Trek: Enterprise — Rise of the Federation: Patterns of Interference and “Abductive Reasoning” in August. (Also, Star Trek: The Face of the Unknown and “Twilight’s Captives” were nominally January 2017 publications, but they both came out in December 2016.) The last announcement I made of a new project was for “Abductive Reasoning” in November 2016, more than a year ago.

So what gives? Don’t worry, I haven’t retired from writing. But between one thing and another, it’s been a very slow year for me. The main problem is that Simon & Schuster has been renegotiating its license for Star Trek tie-in fiction, and for some reason, it’s taking an astonishingly long time to get resolved. I would imagine that the arrival of Star Trek: Discovery has created complications and/or distractions that delayed the process, but beyond that, I really have no idea why it’s been taking so long. I heard a month or so back that the deal was close to being finalized, and I’m hopeful I’ll be able to get back into Star Trek soon, but even so, it will still be quite some time before anything new gets announced to the public.

In the meantime, I’ve been pursuing a number of other options, mostly original fiction but one tie-in project as well. There are a few things I’ve actually made progress on, but this year has been a perfect storm of delays. There are two or three exciting new projects I’d expected to be able to announce — and to get paid for — by now, but they’ve all taken months longer than expected to reach a point where I could talk about them, a bizarre coincidence. On the plus side, those projects look like they’re finally coming together now, and I should have some interesting announcements to make in January. Meanwhile, I’ve got an upcoming opening to submit my long-simmering spec novel to a prospective publisher, but I’ve got to make some changes to it to fit the parameters, and I’m working on those now.

As far as this blog goes, I expect it to get a little more active in January, since I’ve been working on a new set of reviews of a vintage SFTV series. That should be ready to go very soon. In the meantime, my autographed book sale is still going on. I called it a holiday sale to get attention, but really, it’s open all year round, as long as anyone is willing to buy.

By the way, though it’s been a slow year for me in terms of selling (or at least announcing) new work, the same doesn’t necessarily go for my recent work. In particular, it seems that Patterns of Interference has been #1 on the Locus Media & Gaming Related Bestseller list for two months running, in November and December. I’ve even beat out the Star Wars novels, though apparently it was a close call in December. Thanks to David Mack for pointing these out to me. And thanks to my readers for buying my books. I hope you’ll be as generous with the new stuff I have coming next year.

Welcome to my Amazon Author Page!

I decided this afternoon to do something I should’ve probably done a long time ago — signing on to Amazon’s Author Central so I could edit my personal author page. I’ve updated my author bio there and added a couple of books it didn’t have listed, and I’ve also linked my blog RSS feed to it, so this and future posts should show up there. There are one or two things coming up that I hope to be able to announce soon, and it would be nice to have a bigger audience for them.

To Amazon readers who come upon this blog for the first time, welcome! Please feel free to look around my blog and the associated author site, including pages for my Original Fiction, Star Trek Fiction, assorted TV and movie reviews, etc. And feel free to check out my autographed book sale!

Holiday book sale! Now with new items in stock!

December 3, 2017 2 comments

Okay, guys — it’s holiday shopping season, and I really need to make some money, so hopefully we can help each other. So I’m offering autographed copies of my books for sale once again. I recently acquired new copies of some of my back titles for my signing events last month, but I didn’t sell enough to break even. But that does allow me to offer some titles here that I didn’t have before. Plus I can now offer my most recent book, Patterns of Interference, and I’m marking down Only Superhuman for the sale. And I’m offering some stray single copies that I’ve been holding onto for a rainy day. Everything must go!

You can buy these books from me through PayPal (via the “Send Money” tag with payments to, or simply use the PayPal button to the right of this post) for the prices listed below.  Please use the PayPal “instructions to merchant” option (or e-mail me) to let me know which book(s) you’re ordering, provide your shipping address, and let me know if you want the book(s) inscribed to anyone in particular (or not autographed at all, as the case may be).

Even if you don’t want a book, you can still make a donation to me through PayPal. Every little bit would be a big help to me right now.

Here are the books I have available, their quantities, and the price per copy (in US dollars):

Mass-market paperbacks: $8

  • Star Trek: TOS — The Face of the Unknown (5 copies)
  • ST: Enterprise — Rise of the Federation: Tower of Babel (4 copies)
  • ST: ENT — Rise of the Federation: Uncertain Logic (5 copies)
  • ST: ENT — Rise of the Federation: Live by the Code (5 copies)
  • ST: ENT — Rise of the Federation: Patterns of Interference (9 copies)
  • ST: Department of Temporal Investigations — Forgotten History (5 copies)
  • ST: DTI — Watching the Clock (1 copy)
  • ST: Ex Machina (1 copy)
  • ST: TNG: The Buried Age (1 copy)
  • ST:TNG: Greater Than the Sum (1 copy)
  • ST: Titan: Over a Torrent Sea (1 copy)
  • X-Men: Watchers on the Walls (1 copy)

Hardcovers: $20 (20% off!)

  • Only Superhuman (25 24 copies)

Trade paperbacks: $16

  • Star Trek: Mirror Universe — Shards and Shadows (6 copies)
  • ST: Myriad Universes — Infinity’s Prism (2 copies)
  • ST: Mere Anarchy (2 copies)
  • ST: The Next Generation — The Sky’s the Limit (2 copies)

Trade paperbacks: $14

  • ST: Deep Space Nine — Prophecy and Change (1 copy)
  • ST: Voyager — Distant Shores (2 copies)

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.

Thanks in advance for your patronage!

And finally, Erlanger LibraryCon followup

November 12, 2017 1 comment

Yep, the Kenton County Public Library’s Erlanger branch held its LibraryCon yesterday. Unfortunately, it wasn’t very well-attended, at least not by people interested in my books. Maybe I should’ve remembered to remind people of the event a couple of days ago. But the cold weather was probably the reason not many people came out. Or maybe this is just a lean year — the current economic uncertainties may make people more reluctant to engage in recreational spending. This is my second signing in a row to have a disappointing turnout.

Still, I got some things out of it. I got to meet a few local creators and publishers, and I got to meet the “other” David Mack — the comics artist/writer known for his work on Kabuki, Daredevil, and the comics adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s American Gods, as opposed to my friend David (Alan) Mack who writes Star Trek novels for Pocket and the upcoming Dark Arts: The Midnight Front for Tor. I hadn’t known that the comics’ David Mack was originally from the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky area. He’s a lot more down-to-earth than I would’ve expected from his rather ethereal art. Anyway, it was nice to meet him at last.

I also got a free meal out of it, at least. I actually brought my own lunch, since I didn’t know they’d be providing one, and since my metabolism’s still on Daylight Time, I ate it early, just before the convention formally started at 11. Not long thereafter, they passed around the catering order sheet from Chipotle — d’oh! Although lunch didn’t arrive until after 2, so I would’ve been starving by that point if I hadn’t eaten something earlier. And the burrito I ordered was so big and filling that I didn’t even need to have dinner later on, just an evening snack.

Anyway, the Erlanger branch was a pretty nice library, and it’s too bad I didn’t get a chance to take more of a look around. It’s a bit too far from home to drop into casually. But even with the underwhelming turnout, I’m grateful to the Erlanger staff for having me, and maybe they’ll have me back next year. The library’s apparently having an extension built, so it should be an even bigger space by then and hopefully able to host a larger convention, or so they told me. Maybe I’ll be able to sell more books next year. I should have at least one new thing to offer by then, which I’ll hopefully be able to announce pretty soon.