Today marks 50 years since Star Trek‘s first public airing on American broadcast television, with the episode “The Man Trap,” written by George Clayton Johnson. The series has had a long and sometimes tumultuous history, but along the way it has inspired countless lives with its vision of a future in which humanity learned to overcome its differences to build a civilization dedicated to peace and scientific curiosity.
I grew up watching the original series in syndicated reruns. By the time I was 7 or 8 years old, I think I had seen every episode at least twice.
In 1977, along with the rest of my generation, I was swept up in the marvels of Star Wars, but after I experienced the wonder of Star Trek: The Motion Picture, with its vision of humanity’s thirst for knowledge and self-improvement first coming home to haunt them, then proving to be their salvation, I knew that I would be a Star Trek fan for life. Star Wars had better glitz, but Star Trek had intelligence and soul. It had compassion.
In 1987, when I was leaving home to enroll at NYU Film School, Star Trek: The Next Generation debuted. My parents taped it for me while I was away at college, and I binge-watched it when I came home on holiday and summer breaks. I don’t know how I first heard about the show’s “open door spec script” program, which started during its second season. What I recall is spending a summer between semesters laboring away on my first attempt at a Star Trek spec script.
I never did break out of the slush pile at TNG. And for a few years after I graduated from NYU, I fared no better at Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.
That all changed in 1994, when my friend Glenn Hauman introduced me to John J. Ordover, who was then an editor acquiring Star Trek fiction for Simon & Schuster.
I had requested the meeting because I thought that selling a Star Trek novel might be easier than selling a Star Trek script (it wasn’t; and it was harder work, to boot). But after I discovered my “brilliant” novel idea violated every single one of the S&S writers’ guidelines for Star Trek fiction, I threw my manuscript away. I might also have burned it. This led to me and John becoming friends (because I had chosen not to waste his time).
John had an open line to pitch stories to DS9 and Star Trek: Voyager, but he had little to no experience in scriptwriting — a format in which I had a degree. So we teamed up.
In March of 1995 we made our first pitches to the producers at DS9 and Voyager. Jeri Taylor bought a Voyager story from us on our first meeting, and a week later we made another sale to Ira Steven Behr at DS9.
It was never that easy again.
We pitched dozens, perhaps hundreds, of story ideas to both shows over the next few years, but we never replicated that early success. Frozen out of the television side of Star Trek, I got serious about my work for the print tie-ins. I started out reading slush manuscripts for the editors. Then I graduated to writing reference materials for other authors. Or writing emergency filler copy on manuscripts that came in short and late.
In early 200o I was offered my first book contract by S&S, for The Starfleet Survival Guide. That led to further invitations, to write for the S.C.E. eBooks, and later for the paperback novels. Now, 16 years later, I’ve written more than two dozen Star Trek novels, and three of them have reached the New York Times bestsellers list. I’ve had the pleasure of writing for Star Trek comics, computer games, nonfiction, prose, and television.
Star Trek has been a part of my life for as long as I’ve been able to remember. Its vision of a future has helped to shape my view of the world and my respect for the maligned, the misunderstood, and the marginalized. I feel very honored to have been able to contribute, even if just in a small way, to this hopeful vision which has meant so much to me through the years. I hope Star Trek continues to live on and prosper for another 50 years and beyond, so that future generations can continue to boldly go toward a brighter, better, more accepting future for all thinking beings.
I had a heck of a great weekend at Star Trek Mission: NY.
On Thursday evening, the night before the show opened, I got to show my old NYC neighborhood to my friend Kirsten Beyer. We had dinner at the same Italian restaurant where my wife and I went on our first “official” date over 14 years ago, then we grabbed drinks at the Hourglass Tavern.
On Friday, I took part in the convention’s first scheduled panel, “The History and Future of Star Trek Novels,” with Kirsten, Michael Jan Friedman, Glenn Hauman, and editors Marco Palmieri, Margaret Clark, and Ed Schlesinger.
That night I had dinner with the generous and generally awesome John Van Citters, Kevin Dilmore, Sarah Gaydos of IDW Comics, comics writer Mike Johnson, Risa Kessler of CBS, and author Robb Pearlman at Glass House Tavern in NYC. Then I met up with Kirsten, and we followed Sarah and Mike to drinks with artist Declan Shalvey and a few of his fellow illustrators.
Saturday, I took part in the “Writing for Star Trek” panel with Glenn Hauman, Michael Jan Friedman, David Gerrold, Mike Johnson (scribe extraordinaire of the Star Trek comics), and Al Rivera, lead developer and story architect of Star Trek Online.
After that, Mike and I sat front row at the Star Trek: Discovery panel, where Kirsten announced that Mike would be spearheading the comics tie-in for DSC, and that for Simon & Schuster I would be writing the lead-off novel based on the series.
After the Discovery panel, I got to snag a photo backstage with Kirsten and Nicholas Meyer, the writer-director behind my two all-time favorite Star Trek films (among many other fine works), and I got the opportunity to tell him how much I’ve admired and respected his work.
Wrapping up my convention weekend, I brought Kirsten out to Queens for dinner with me and Kara at SugarFreak, a New Orleans-inspired restaurant that has been one of our favorite places since it first opened.
All in all, I would say I had a total blast at Star Trek Mission: NY, and I hope to do it again someday.
Now live for your listening enjoyment is Literary Treks episode #159, “The Twilight Zone,” in which I discuss the inspirations and ideas behind my latest Star Trek novel Legacies, Book 2: Best Defense.
With hosts Matthew Rushing, Dan Gunther, and Bruce Gibson I discussed what it was like for me to finally write a novel based on and featuring the original series characters and Enterprise; the creative process behind the inception of the Transfer Key and how it connects to Star Trek‘s canon; the trilogy’s story-development process; its characters’ arcs; the thinking behind the trilogy’s alternate dimension and new alien antagonists; plus a peek at the work I have coming in 2017.
Rejoice, Star Trek fans! Your interminable wait is finally at an end: Star Trek Legacies, Book 2: Best Defense is now officially on sale from fine retailers everywhere!
About the Trilogy
In case you haven’t heard, Star Trek Legacies a trilogy celebrating the 50th anniversary of Star Trek: The Original Series.
Legacies centers upon a perilous secret passed down from one commanding officer of the Enterprise to the next, from Captain Robert April to Captain Christopher Pike, to Captain James T. Kirk.
Book 1, Captain to Captain, by New York Times bestselling author Greg Cox, was published last month; Book 3, Purgatory’s Key, by New York Times bestselling author Dayton Ward and his hetero life partner Kevin Dilmore, will be released next month, just in time for Star Trek: Mission New York!
If you want to dig deeper into the creation of the Star Trek Legacies trilogy, check out these interviews with us ink-stained wretches:
Some Kind of Star Trek — “Mack Prepares Best Defense”
Some Kind of Star Trek — “The Fog Clears: Dayton Ward on Legacies, Vulcans, and Time Travel”
Dayton Ward & Kevin Dilmore
The G&T Show (Audio) — “Supplemental Log: Ward-Dilmore Update” (April 2, 2016)
Signed copies of Best Defense are available through my online Store, and I will also be signing copies at the Writers Digest Conference on August 13; the Simon & Schuster table during Star Trek: Mission New York on Labor Day weekend; and New York Comic Con in October!
He just accepted an award on my behalf, for Best Original Novel, General Fiction, which was bestowed upon my novel 24: Rogue by the judges of the International Association of Media Tie-in Writers’ 10th Annual Scribe Awards.
The press release with information about all the winners is included below. Let me extend my thanks to the IAMTW, the Scribe judges, my editor Melissa Frain at Tor Books, and my good friends James Swallow and Dayton Ward — the latter of whom also takes home a Scribe tonight! Woo-hoo!
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
The Tenth Annual Scribe Awards Winners
BEST ORIGINAL NOVEL – SPECULATIVE
ADAPTED NOVEL – GENERAL AND SPECULATIVE
For those of you attending the Shore Leave Convention this weekend in Hunt Valley, Md., here is a quick run-down of where and when to catch up with me at the show.
UPDATE: The “Upcoming Star Trek Books” panel has been rescheduled for Saturday at 5PM.
UPDATE 2: Room assignments have changed all around, and I’ve got one more panel on Sunday.
UPDATE 3: This one is big news! A limited number of copies of my new Star Trek 50th Anniversary novel Legacies, Book 2: Best Defense will be available at Shore Leave this weekend, ahead of the official July 26 publication date!
Friday — July 15, 2016
“Where Do Writers Start?”
7PM–8PM, Derby Room
You’re finally ready to start writing. You sit down at your computer, open a blank document—and freeze. You have absolutely no idea what to do next. We’re here to help! We’ll offer tips on how to start your story and how to prepare before you even type the first word.
Panelists: Howard Weinstein (M), David Mack, Stephen Kozeniewski, Aaron Rosenberg, Jeff Lang, John Coffren, Melissa Scott
Meet the Pros
10PM–Midnight, Hunt Valley Corridor
Come down to the lower level of the hotel, buy books from retailer Novel Spaces, then get them autographed. I’ll be there to sign books, chat, and chew bubble gum, and I expect to be all out of bubble gum.
Saturday – July 16, 2016
4PM–5PM, Belmont Room
Are you a sci-fi writer aiming to cross into fantasy? An adult fiction writer hoping to cross into YA or children’s lit? Are you looking to write a noir/sci-fi mash-up? We’ll discuss genre switch-ups, whether you’re aiming to try something new or writing a story that doesn’t fit into a traditional category.
Panelists: Glenn Hauman (M), Roberta Rogow, David Harten Watson, Greg Cox, David Mack, Peter David, Melissa Scott
“Upcoming Star Trek Books”
5PM–6PM, Salon A
There are a lot of novels and other Star Trek books coming out for the original series’ 50th anniversary and in 2017. Our author guests give you a look at what’s coming down the pike.
Panelists: Greg Cox (M), Dayton Ward, David Mack, Christopher L. Bennett, Scott Pearson
Sunday – July 17, 2016
“The Dos and Don’ts of Research”
11AM–Noon, Salon E
Learn how to conduct effective research for fiction projects, how to organize your information, and how to know when to stop researching and start writing.
Panelists: Howard Weinstein (M), David Mack, Roberta Rogow, Jenifer Rosenberg, Jeff Lang, T.A. Chafin, Melissa Scott
“Collaboration: Writing as a Team Project”
1PM–2PM, Salon E
Our panel of professional authors discuss the rewards, drawbacks, methods, and challenges of writing in collaboration on projects large and small.
Panelists: Greg Cox (M), Dayton Ward, David Mack, Paula M. Block, Terry J. Erdmann, Danielle Ackley-McPhail, T.A. Chafin