Posts Tagged ‘Vanguard’

Talking Trek & Rush on ENGAGE

I talked last week with Jordan Hoffman of Engage: The Official Star Trek Podcast about my work for Star Trek — in particular, the Vanguard saga. We also touch briefly upon my upcoming projects, including my novel based on the new CBS All Access series Star Trek: Discovery.

We also spent a fair amount of time talking about my love for the work of Canadian rock trio RUSH, and the major influence their work has had on my own. And every time you think we might finally be done talking about Rush, we circle back to it. It was a hell of a thing.

If you just can’t get enough of the dulcet tones of my voice, or the brilliant insights of my warped brain, give it a listen. (My segment starts about 10-11 minutes in.)

Write back (not) in anger (#SFWApro)

hugo_rocketTo be a writer is to invite criticism. It can be hard to decide with which critics, if any, one should engage. Polite critics can sometimes be acknowledged with courtesy, but as a general rule it’s best to accept their feedback in silence and not attempt to rebut their points, especially when one is discussing matters of subjective opinion.

Poison-pen critics should in nearly all cases be ignored, except when the author of such a letter offers one the possibility of a “teachable moment.” Even then, unless it’s a subject that seems in dire need of examination, most such impulses to retort to one’s detractors run the risk of leading one to self-immolation. In those rare instances when one elects to respond to a detractor, a measure of restraint still is called for.

Every once in a rare while, however, one must sound the trumpets and let slip the dogs of war.

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WIRED: Binge on DS9, then try Vanguard

The good folks over at WIRED publish a series of binge-watching guides for those interested in trying out classic TV series via streaming media. Today they unveiled the Wired Binge-Watching Guide to Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.

STDS9-1024x683

First let me say that I agree unreservedly with all their editorial recommendations with regard to the small handful of DS9 episodes that one might be able to skip and still enjoy the majesty of the series’ long-form story arcs. I also think they selected some excellent episodes to serve as “must-see” moments from the series.

I’m particularly chuffed to see that one of their “can’t miss” episodes was It’s Only a Paper Moon,” for which I co-wrote the story with John J. Ordover, and which was scripted by Ronald D. Moore.

vanguardThe icing on the cake? At the end of the article, its author, Graeme McMillan, wraps up the concluding section, “If you Liked Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, You’ll Love…,” with this choice paragraph:

“The best suggestion, however, isn’t another TV show at all; for those who fall for the mix of politics, science fiction, and derring-do that Deep Space Nine serves up, the ideal follow-up is actually the Star Trek Vanguard series of novels, which pretty much takes the DS9 approach and applies it to the original series’ era with just a little bit more of a bloodthirsty edge. Highly recommended.”

That’s one of the best plugs Vanguard has ever received. So if you haven’t read it yet, don’t take my word for how good it is — listen to Wired.

That is all.

The First Rule of Star Trek Vanguard

StormingHeaven…is, as so eloquently stated by my brother-from-another-mother Dayton Ward, “You do not talk about Vanguard.”

Why am I bringing this up now? Because in this week’s installment of “Ask Dayton” on the long-running and fucking brilliant podcast The G&T Show, Dayton answered the following listener query:

Dear Dayton,

When you, Kevin, and Dave were writing the Vanguard series, it seemed that it would be the last time we would be seeing many of the characters aboard the Endeavour and the Sagittarius. Many people died throughout Vanguard as a result of it. Now, with Seekers picking up where Vanguard left off, I wonder if there are any characters you could have saved for use in Seekers?

Thanks”

Dayton’s reply, in addition to being entertaining as hell, is also dead-on fucking perfect and accurate to the last detail. So, if you’ve ever wondered whether we’ll be resurrecting any Star Trek Vanguard story elements and characters in the new Star Trek: Seekers series of novels, here is your answer.

You’re welcome.

Why we must strive for diversity in SF/F

I get a handful of emails from fans each week. Most of them are laudatory; a few are critical. I try to limit my responses to either a perfunctory “Thank you,” or a “Sorry that story didn’t work for you,” depending upon which seems most appropriate.

Every now and then, I receive an angry e-mail from some self-righteous, aggrieved fan who simply must let me know why he or she plans to never read my work again. One of those arrived in my e-mail today. Here is the unedited and uncorrected content of the message, with the sender’s personal information redacted to protect the sender’s privacy:

 


Subject: I will not be reading any of your books.

David Mack will probable never read this email but I am writing it anyway.

I purchased and started reading your book, Harbinger and stopped when I got to the part where the Vulcan was having a homosexual affair with the Klingon spy. I deleted the book from my E-reader and will never purchase another volume authored by David Mack. You can call me a homophobe or use any other excuse you choose to write me off but the truth is homosexually is not universally accepted and I get to decided what I read and I choose not to read any more of your work. And on top of that no Vulcan would consider the situation “logical”. You can’t just remold the Vulcan persona to suit yourself.

I am just letting you know that you have lost at least one reader I am not looking for a reply.

[Name Withheld]

 

 

Well, the author of that e-mail might not have been looking for a reply, but he’s going to get one.

If he thinks the fear of alienating a few closed-minded readers is going to stop me from writing stories that feature and promote characters of diverse backgrounds—including LGBTQ characters, persons of color, and people who belong to ideological or philosophical minorities—he must be out of his mind. vanguardI’m a fucking Star Trek writer. Hasn’t he ever heard of IDIC—“Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations”?

Most of my writing work to date has been for Star Trek. Although the various television series could have done more in their respective times to portray ethnic and gender diversity, those of us who write the licensed Trek fiction continue to do our best to depict a more progressive, enlightened, open, and harmonious future, not just for humanity but for all sentient beings. One in which love, equality, and compassion are the touchstones of civilized society.

To that end, we’ve tried to make our literary dramatis personae more closely resemble the people of Earth. We’ve tried to include more people of African, Asian, and Southeast Asian ancestry than were seen in the televised and feature-film stories. We’ve tried to incorporate characters who hail from many cultures and viewpoints. We’ve tried to imagine a future in which people of all faiths have learned to live in harmony with people of other creeds as well as those who prefer to lead purely secular lives. We’ve tried to depict a future in which people’s gender identities are no longer limited to some arbitrary binary social construct, but rather reflect a more fluid sense of personal identity.

I will never be made to feel shame for doing this. I am proud that we’ve been able to do this. I know we’ve still got more work to do, and we can do better at integrating more diverse viewpoints and characters into the ever-expanding universe of Star Trek.

The author of the quoted e-mail tries to justify his screed by declaring that “homosexually (sic) is not universally accepted”. So what? Neither are human rights of a fundamental nature. In fact, I can’t think of any notion of justice or equality that is universally accepted. Why should that limit our vision of a more open, egalitarian, meritocratic future? I reject this aspect of the author’s rant as fundamentally illogical.

As for the author’s subsequent assertion that “no Vulcan would consider the situation ‘logical’,” I would rebut that Spock himself told Valeris in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, “Logic is the beginning of wisdom, not the end.” What Spock had learned that the author of this morning’s e-mail apparently has not is that there are many ingredients to wisdom — including, but not limited to, compassion and empathy.

Another reason today’s e-mail strikes me as ironic is that I consider the doomed romance between the characters he cited — T’Prynn and Lurqal — to be one of the best story and character arcs I’ve written to date. Writing T’Prynn’s tale of agony, conflict, and heartbreak, followed by her forlorn journey toward self-forgiveness and quest for redemption, was one of the most creatively rewarding efforts of my career so far. And this guy thinks I’m going to feel bad because his world view is too small to see the truth in it? All I can say, to paraphrase Neil de Grasse Tyson, is: I prefer my universe big.

Whenever someone asks, Why do we need to keep talking about embracing diversity in stories, and seeking out diversity in the authors and creators and portrayers of speculative fiction?, I will say it’s because too many authors and artists and filmmakers still get letters like this one. We need to work toward a better future in which no one would even *think* of writing an e-mail like this.

I’m not so starry-eyed as to think that day will ever come, at least not in my lifetime. I suspect that humanity will always have to contend with prejudice in one form or another. But that doesn’t give us license to stop struggling against it. It is exactly the reason we must press on and continue to do better, to demand better, to show that it’s possible.

The effort is its own reward.

 

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!

Announcing … Star Trek: Seekers

SEEKERS_1_PREVIEWFor a while now, on various social media platforms and in Star Trek literature-related discussion forums, I’ve been dropping hints about a new Star Trek book project I have in the works. Having just unveiled the project to the audience at Shore Leave 35 in Hunt Valley, Md., I can now post the news here for the rest of the world to enjoy.

Coming next summer, Star Trek: Seekers will be an all-new sequel series to the Star Trek Vanguard saga. I will alternate writing privileges on this new series with my Vanguard creative partners, writing duo Dayton Ward & Kevin Dilmore.

Seekers will feature ships, characters, settings, and situations from the Vanguard saga, but it will also chart a very different course from its predecessor. Whereas Vanguard was described by many as “Star Trek meets the new Battlestar Galactica,” Seekers represents a return to the more classic style of Star Trek adventure: “strange new worlds, and new life-forms.”

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