Posts Tagged ‘Destiny’

Tuckerizing: How Much Is Too Much?

Most writers have done it at some point in their careers. Fan-fic writers do it quite often. Most authors will even admit to doing it if asked and pressed for an honest answer. I’m talking, of course, about Tuckerization, the practice of naming characters in fictional works after real-life persons. The practice is named for early American science-fiction author, fan, and fanzine editor Wilson Tucker, who earned a reputation for basing minor characters in his stories and novels on his friends and colleagues in the literary community.

Write Who You Know

In the majority of instances of Tuckerization, the namesake is someone the author either knows personally or with whom he or she is at least acquainted. This is what differentiates Tuckerization from simple homage. For instance, in the 1968 novel Black Easter by James Blish, the author named his story’s sorcerer Theron Ware as an homage to the titular character of Harold Frederic’s novel The Damnation of Theron Ware, which was published in 1896. Because of the thematic overlap of the two stories, this is a classic example of homage.

By contrast, the second and subsequent seasons of the CW television series iZombie feature an FBI missing-persons investigator named Dale Bozzio. Not only is this a Tuckerization, because Dale Bozzio is a real person, it’s also a wonderful in-joke for fans of early 1980s pop music: the real Dale Bozzio was the lead singer of new-wave band Missing Persons.

Now and then, I name and model a character after someone I know simply to save time: it’s easier to work from memory than to concoct a whole new person from scratch for what might amount to no more than a single appearance.

Honor vs. Revenge

There are as many reasons for Tuckerizations as there are authors who have committed them. I do it sometimes merely as a nod to my friends or peers. At other times it might be an act of subtle revenge, depending upon how the namesake character is defined in the story.

I’ve Tuckerized someone I know in nearly every work of prose fiction I’ve ever written. The one for which I take the most flak was my decision to include the name of my wife (at that time, my girlfriend) on a list of casualties in my first Star Trek novel, Wildfire. Her character was dead before anyone had a chance to meet her. I’ve since protested in my defense that if I had known for certain at the time that I was going to marry her, I might not have killed her off.

I once named an incompetent twit of a character after a work supervisor I despised (with some adjustments to give myself plausible deniability) and I delivered that character to a gruesome, pointless demise. I’ve christened a space station with a name derived from a friend’s nickname, split another friend’s surname into two pieces as a name for an alien, and committed my share of anagrammatical Tuckerization (e.g., veteran Star Trek writer-producer Ronald D. Moore became, in my Star Trek Destiny trilogy, the Caeliar leader Ordemo Nordal).

In my more than two dozen published Star Trek novels, one would find the names of many of the New York publishing community’s more prominent editors, authors, art directors, publishers, and agents. For the most part I do it as a token of affection or respect for my peers, because I’ve noticed that many of them get a kick out of seeing themselves cast into unexpected roles in the Star Trek universe. Who wouldn’t want to wake up to the surprise that he or she is a starship captain? Or a member of Kirk’s crew?

The Dark Side of the Name-Drop

Not everybody likes Tuckerization, though. Some industry professionals think it debases a work by sullying it with an in-joke. Others have voiced the valid concern that many readers have come to recognize the names of industry professionals thanks to interactions on social media, and that seeing those names in a fictional context might serve to jolt them out of a story by confronting them with evidence of its artifice. These are valid concerns, to be certain.

In my new World War II epic fantasy novel The Midnight Front, I tried to strike a balance between outright Tuckerization and semi-Tuckerizing, which is a practice that comes closer to homage. I named a few characters explicitly after people I know, but I limited most of my hat-tips to friends and peers in this book to surnames only. Sharp-eyed readers might wonder about the science-fiction and fantasy pedigrees of such characters as Sergeant Sykes, Corporal Brett, Colonel Abraham Corey, Warrant Officer Gallo, and Sergeant Ward.

The thing to remember about this kind of homage is that the subtler it is, the better. Tuckerization is a strong flavor to mix into your narrative stew. A little goes a long way, so sprinkle in those names that are famous or familiar with care.

 


The Midnight Front is now on sale: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indiebound | Powell’s

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Talkin’ ’bout my Generations Geek (#SFWApro)

My good friend (and fellow author) Scott Pearson interviewed me a few weeks ago for his podcast series, Generations Geek. He usually shares hosting duties with his daughter, Ella, but she has recently started college, so this chat with Scott was mano a mano.

We yakked for so long that Scott had to cut the interview into two parts, only the first of which is ready for public consumption. In this episode, we talk about my work for Star Trek through the years and across many media, including television, comic books, video games, and novels.

We also dig a bit deeper into my work for the Star Trek: S.C.E. (Starfleet Corps of Engineers) monthly eBook novella series, and my bestselling Star Trek Destiny trilogy. And, because this is me and Scott, there are more than a few digressions along the way.

So, if you’re into this, refill your drinks and settle in for a freewheeling gabfest.

#SFWApro

Talkin’ Trek on The Captain’s Table

Because I’ve rarely met a podcast invitation I didn’t like, I spent a couple of hours back in January chatting about writing Star Trek and more with co-hosts Michael and Roz from The Captain’s Table on VisionaryTrek.com.

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We talked about some of my previous work, including the Star Trek Destiny and Star Trek: Cold Equations trilogies; the recently launched Star Trek: Seekers series; and some of my upcoming projects, both for and beyond Star Trek.

I also mention which author I think would be a good fit to step in to take my place on the Star Trek: Seekers books if the editors decide they want more of that series before my schedule allows me to return.

This, of course, is only Part 1 of a two-part show. When the second part goes live, I’ll let you know.

#SFWApro

 

Read my Q&A with KULT Magazine

A writer named Dominik Hug just interviewed me for the Swiss F/SF publication KULT Magazine. We discussed a wide range of topics, including how I work, how I got started, my past projects and my upcoming work.

A brief sample of our erudite exchange:

destiny_omniKULT: What does a normal David Mack working day look like?

David Mack: Something of a train wreck, honestly. I usually sleep until early afternoon, then slouch into my day. My first priority is usually a shower, followed by coffee and something to eat. Next, I deal with errands and other personal business, such as bills, cleaning up after the cats, taking out the trash. I waste a fair amount of time reading news on the Internet, poring over Facebook and Twitter, and trying to think of something amusing to post on social media.
I’ve usually done nothing useful by the time my wife gets home from work. We make dinner, eat, and clean up. Afterward, I pour a stiff drink and settle down to try to write. This usually results in more procrastination. I tend to get working for real around 9pm or 10pm, and I work in a panicked frenzy until around 1am. Then I watch TV until around 3am, when I go to bed.
Frankly, it’s a miracle I get anything done at all.

For the benefit of my fans who are fluent in English but not in German, Dominik has posted the original English version of the interview on his blog. A German-translated version will be posted online soon, and I will also put up links to that for my German-speaking friends and fans.

Give it a read!

Star Trek Destiny to Be a Kindle Daily Deal!

If you’ve been curious about my Star Trek Destiny trilogy but haven’t yet bought it, or if you know someone who fits that description, this news is for you.

On Wednesday, October 23, 2013, the eBook versions of all three books in the Star Trek Destiny trilogy — Gods of Night, Mere Mortals, and Lost Souls — will be on sale for $1.99 each as featured titles of the Amazon Kindle Daily Deal.

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That’s right — the entire original version of this epic trilogy, which chronicles the Federation’s long-dreaded final showdown with the Borg, can be obtained in eBook format for the low price of just $5.97. Sweet, eh?

This one-day-only promotion will, I’m told, be promoted as a sort of “mini-Gold Box” feature. I don’t really know what that means, but here’s what I do know: This is a great way to lure the Star Trek fans among your friends and family into reading the Star Trek novels. So spread the word far and wide:

Your Star Trek Destiny awaits!

 

Get the Destiny trilogy for just $3

destiny_omniIf you’ve been waiting for an awesome deal before buying my Star Trek Destiny trilogy, here it is:

Buy the trade paperback omnibus edition (i.e., all three books in one volume) of my Star Trek Destiny trilogy for just $3 each at BookCloseouts.com.

My friend and fellow author Allyn Gibson alerted me to this great deal, because he figured I’d want to stock up on copies for conventions and the like.

However, these are “scratches and dents” copies, which means they’re in slightly less than perfect condition, and I wouldn’t feel good about charging a fan full price for one of these, with or without an autograph.

Instead, I just want to share the opportunity so that someone who’d been on the fence about reading the trilogy can now grab a copy dirt-cheap. So spread the word and snap up those copies — as of this posting, only 28 remain available, and I suspect they’ll go fast….

 

New reviews of my work

destiny_omniThough it has been several months since the publication of my Star Trek: The Next Generation trilogy Cold Equations (September–December 2012) and will be months until my next novel hits shelves (Star Trek: The Fall, Book III — A Ceremony of Losses, in November 2013), a spate of new reviews of my work have hit the Internet this week.

Over at the United Federation of Charles on blogspot.com, reviewer Charles Phipps shares his in-depth reactions to all three volumes of the Star Trek Destiny trilogy. I’ve been pleased to see how thoroughly he enjoyed the trilogy, and that many of his favorite parts as a reader were my favorites as the author.

A couple of great excerpts. First, from his review of Gods of Night:

“David Mack does a wonderful job with twists in this plot. When there’s conflict with Erika Hernandez and her crew about the new aliens, I was sympathetic to both sides. However, I squarely came down on the side of those who wanted to escape the Caeliar’s planet at all costs–and against those who disagreed. Seeing how this situation turned out was one of the few times I was genuinely stunned as a reader.”

And this snippet is from his review of Mere Mortals:

“Erika Hernandez is a complicated character as she’s able to bond with the Caeliar in a way her crew can’t and this occasionally makes her an unsympathetic character. Erika Hernandez might have decided to stay with the Caeliar of her own free will but the others hate them for holding them indefinitely, despite there being no malice. Erika, herself, starts to comprehend this only after her crew begins dying off. Watching her rediscover her humanity at the end was genuinely heartwarming.”

Read Charles’ full reviews on his blog:

Star Trek Destiny, Book I: Gods of Night

Star Trek Destiny, Book II: Mere Mortals

Star Trek Destiny, Book III: Lost Souls

persistenceOn the audio podcast front, my friends Michael and Sina at The Ten Forward Book Club on trekmate.org.uk —ably abetted by fellow podcaster Melissa— dig into a detailed discussion of Star Trek: Cold Equations, Book I: The Persistence of Memory. It’s a spirited discussion, with Melissa coming to the book cold, not having read any of my previous work, nor any of the recent Star Trek fiction. It’s interesting to see how she reacts to a Star Trek universe and characters who are very different than what she remembers and expects, and noting which make sense to her and which don’t.

As always, Sina, Michael, and their guest Melissa are incisive and insightful commentators, and their discussion of the book’s story, themes, philosophies, and characters is lively and spot-on. They present some superb literary review and criticism, and I encourage everyone to settle in and listen to this podcast, because it is ABSOLUTELY BRILLIANT.

You can find The Ten Forward Book Club’s podcast review of The Persistence of Memory here.

#SFWApro