My 2016 World Fantasy Con Schedule – #SFWApro

If you’ll be attending World Fantasy Convention 2016 this coming week in Columbus, OH, and are interested in catching up with me, here are my two scheduled turns on programming:

Thursday, 27 October

“When to Stop”
5pm – Union AB
Some series seem to go on forever. At what point must there really be an ending? Trilogies seem to be a default, but urban fantasy series (e.g., Laurell K. Hamilton’s Anita Blake novels) seem to just go on and on. Is the long series simply a factor of market forces or is there a storytelling imperative behind it? With declining shelf space and ever more demands for the attention of readers, are the long-form series becoming less desirable?
— Sarah Avery, J.L. Doty, Summer Hanford, Mark Van Name (m), David Mack

Saturday, 29 October

Author Reading: David Mack
4pm – Union C
My current plan is to read a brief excerpt from The Midnight Front, my upcoming original contemporary fantasy/secret history novel being published by Tor Books in early 2018.

Beyond these two bits of business, I can be counted on toe haunt the hotel bar, and I suspect I’ll make the rounds of the industry parties on Friday and Saturday nights.

If you’re at the con and I’m in a public space (and not using my earbuds), feel free to come say “hello”!


Cover Reveal! Star Trek: Section 31 – Control

Section 31 - ControlI’m thrilled to be able to share the approved cover art for my upcoming Star Trek: Section 31 novel, Control.

I love the color of it, which speaks to the blood-soaked action in the story, and the overall look and feel, which were conceived to visually link it to my previous Section 31 novel, Disavowed. Though my input was considered by the editors and production department, this work of fierce beauty is the creation of Gallery Books art director Alan Dingman.

For the curious, the story of Control is a direct sequel to Disavowed, which was part of my ongoing chronicle of Julian Bashir’s shadow war against the illegal covert operations group known as Section 31. If you’re keen to know more about this long-running story arc, see the list of “Related Novels” in the sidebar of the page for Control.

Here is the back-cover copy from the book:



Amoral, shrouded in secrecy, and answerable to no one, Section 31 is the mysterious covert operations division of Starfleet, a rogue shadow group pledged to defend the Federation at any cost.

The discovery of a 200-year-old secret gives Doctor Julian Bashir his best chance yet to expose and destroy the illegal spy organization. But his foes won’t go down without a fight, and his mission to protect the Federation might end up triggering its destruction.

Only one thing is for certain: this time, the price of victory will be paid with Bashir’s dearest blood.


Control will be published at the end of March 2017 by Simon & Schuster. Pre-order your copy now from the retailer of your choice!

Pros: I Seek Your Convention Advice

This is a request for advice from my fellow authors and other publishing industry professionals, particularly those who attend a fair number of conventions.

I am pondering my convention schedule for 2017. There are some shows I attend every year — Farpoint (February, Baltimore); Shore Leave (July, Baltimore); New York Comic Con (October) — but I am looking to reach new communities of potential readers and to expand my professional network.

Part of the challenge I face in planning my 2017 con schedule is that my budget is limited, and most of the events that interest me are costly to attend. Committing to expenses such as these requires me to plan far in advance in order to keep costs under control.

Another factor that complicates my decision-making process is that, as of this writing, I still don’t know if my original novel The Midnight Front will be published next year or not. If it is coming out next year, expanding my schedule to cons I’ve not visited before could be useful. If it’s not coming out in 2017, I might be spending a lot of time and money for no reason.

Some of the shows I am considering adding to my schedule are:

ConFusion (Detroit, January) — I’ve applied for Professional Guest status, but I don’t know yet if I’ll be accepted, or what considerations they’ll offer me if they do.

SFWA Nebula Conference (Pittsburgh, May) — I know this draws a lot of high-profile fellow authors and other industry pros, but if I’m not nominated for a Nebula, is it really worth the cost of attending?

Phoenix Comic Con (Memorial Day Weekend) — This event seems to draw a fair number of high-profile SF/F author guests.

ReaderCon — I know I won’t be considered for programming at this event; I’d go to this just to attend panels and socialize. But some peers have told me that I’d most likely be snubbed by the majority of attendees because of my extensive work for Star Trek.

Comic-Con Int’l. (San Diego, July) — A big show, tons of noise, hard as hell to get noticed even for a moment. But if I knew I would have a new book out in the fall, and possibly ARCs to promote at the show, this could be worth the trouble.

GenCon Writers Symposium (Indianapolis, August) — I *really* want to be part of this, but the hotel situation is kind of a nightmare. As in, San Diego Comic-Con bad. But again, if I knew I’d have ARCs to peddle…

DragonCon 2017 (Atlanta, Labor Day Weekend) — I’ve applied for Pro Guest status, but I don’t know yet if I’ll be accepted, or what considerations will be offered by the con.

World Fantasy Con 2017 (San Antonio, November) — After all the brouhaha surrounding this year’s WFC, I wonder if I should even bother signing up for next year’s show. I know it’ll be run by different people than this year’s show, but I worry that WFC’s problems are instutional at this point.

So, what say you, fellow pros? Which, if any, of these shows would you recommend I consider spending my very limited time and money to attend?

For Nebula Consideration: “Our Possible Pasts”

Dear Fellow SFWA Members:


2113_largeFor your consideration, I present my short story “Our Possible Pasts.” It was published in April 2016 as part of the anthology 2113: Stories Inspired by the Music of Rush.

The story is now available for free to SFWA Members on the Nebula Awards Fiction forum, in the Short Story 2016 section, by gracious permission of its editor. (You must be a registered member of SFWA and logged into the Forums to access the story.)

If you are a member of SFWA and plan to recommend works for the upcoming Nebula Awards, I would be grateful if you would read my story and consider giving it your support.

Thank you, and please feel free to share the word with other SFWA members.

// David Mack


My Life in Star Trek

star-trek-store-367Today 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.

star-trek-the-motion-picture-poster-artIn 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.

August 1995, outside Paramount Pictures. I was there with John Ordover for the break session on our first script assignment, 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.

destiny_omni_2015_largeIn 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.

Star Trek Mission: NY Wrap-up

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.

Photo by John Van Citters, CBS Television Consumer Licensing

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), IMG_8247and 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.

Photo by John Van Citters, CBS Television Consumer Licensing

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.

Talking about BEST DEFENSE

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.

Give it a listen!