Archive for the ‘News’ Category

On Being Named a Grandmaster…

IAMTW Logo on Blue Background

Over the weekend, the International Association of Media Tie-in Writers (IAMTW) issued press releases announcing the nominees for its 2022 Scribe Awards (a list that includes my novel Star Trek: Coda, Book III: Oblivion’s Gate in the Best Novel-Speculative category) and its 2022 Faust Award, which recognizes outstanding career achievement in the writing of media tie-in works by naming the recipient a Grandmaster.Star Trek Coda, Book 3, Oblivion's Gate, by David Mack

Much to my surprise, I was told late on Saturday night after a long day of driving home from vacation with my wife that I had been named as the IAMTW’s 2022 Grandmaster.

Part of me thinks, “How can I be getting this award?” and “Might this have been a clerical error?”

Then the other part of my brain shushes the insecure half and whispers, “Relax, it’s not a mistake.”

It feels strange to receive an award honoring my “career achievement” when I still consider my career as a work-in-progress. But I imagine that’s also how past recipients of the award have felt. Most of them — including my friends and fellow Star Trek scribblers Greg Cox, Keith R. A. DeCandido, Kevin J. Anderson, and Peter David — went right on working after winning the Faust Award. Which is exactly as it should be.

As writers we all learn not to rest on our laurels. Experience teaches us not to dwell on the work we’ve done, much of which takes months or sometimes years to be published after our share of the work is done. By necessity we are always looking ahead, beyond the project we’re writing now, and asking, “What am I doing next? And after that?”

No award changes that, but I have to admit it feels good to be recognized among such luminous company as the previous recipients of the Faust Award. Who wouldn’t want to share such an honor with Timothy Zahn, Alan Dean Foster, Diane Duane, Ann C. Crispin, Donald Bain, Nancy Holder, Terrance Dicks, William Johnston, Jean Rabe, and the venerable Max Allan Collins?

It would be the height of hubris to claim I earned this honor all by myself. I have come as far as I have only thanks to the support and encouragement of my wife, Kara; the wise business counsel of my agent of 20 years, Lucienne Diver; the camaraderie of my many peers and fellow travelers, including (but certainly not limited to) Dayton Ward, Kevin Dilmore, Glenn Hauman, Aaron Rosenberg, James Swallow, Scott Pearson, Kirsten Beyer, and John Jackson Miller; the abiding faith of editors Ed Schlesinger, Margaret Clark, and Marco Palmieri; and those wonderful folks out there who have been buying and enjoying my stories for the past twenty-odd years. My love and respect goes out to you all.

What else is there to say, really?

Time to get back to work.

 

Enterprising Individuals – Star Trek III : The Search for Spock

I join host Ka1iban (aka Aaron Coker) on a new episode of his podcast series Enterprising Individuals, this time to discuss our thoughts about the feature film Star Trek III : The Search for Spock.

Ka1iban and I covered a lot of ground about the film (after a brief catching-up chat about the toll the pandemic years have taken on us and the world around us). In spite of its flaws, this is one of my favorite Star Trek movies, and one that I think is unfairly maligned and better than most fans remember.

Listen to our conversation here:
http://enterprisingindividuals.com/blog/2022/03/30/season-7-episode-3-star-trek-iii-the-search-for-spock-with-david-a-mack/

Nominate Oblivion’s Gate for a Dragon Award

Star Trek Coda, Book 3, Oblivion's Gate, by David MackHello, everyone. This post is just a quick note to let y’all know that nominations are open for the 2022 =DRAGON AWARDS=.

It’s free to sign up and nominate works for the Dragon Awards. All you need is a valid email address!

I’d feel truly honored if you’d nominate my novel Star Trek: Coda, Book III:Oblivion’s Gate for BEST MEDIA TIE-IN NOVEL.

The URL for nominations is here: https://application.dragoncon.net/dc_fan_awards_nominations.php

The nomination period ends July 19, 2022 at 11:59pm EDT.

I’ve canceled my appearance at MidSouthCon

I’ve waited until the convention was able to update its site and break the news to share this:

It is with deep regret that I have canceled my appearance as the Author Guest of Honor for this year’s MidSouthCon, because of the impossibility of verifying the vaccination/negative test status of attendees, staff, guests, and volunteers as a condition of attendance.

This would have been my very first time as an Author Guest of Honor at any con, and this invitation meant a great deal to me. However, protecting my health and that of my family against unnecessary risks during a pandemic, especially in the face of an extremely contagious COVID variant such as omicron, must take a higher priority.

I will be reimbursing MidSouthCon for any and all out-of-pocket costs they have incurred on my behalf.

At the time MidSouthCon and I made our plans, we had no idea the pandemic was coming. We certainly could not have known in 2019 that the Tennessee state government would pass a law that actually makes it harder to keep people safe from infection.

That fact is the key difference between this cancellation and the one I announced last week regarding my planned appearance at Farpoint Convention. The state of Maryland has no law at this time that prevents events and venues from requiring proof of vaccination as a condition of entry and/or service. The state of Tennessee, unfortunately, does. Whereas Farpoint could have chosen to apply a stronger standard for the protection of its guests, et al., but chose not to, the concom of MidSouthCon had no such option.

I have already done so privately, but I would like to publicly thank the entire team at MidSouthCon for being so understanding about this matter. They have been wonderful hosts through this entire long process, which began when my original appearance in 2020 had to be postponed because of the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. With regard to this latest decision, they invited me to air my concerns, they took my input very seriously, and did their best to find a solution. Unfortunately, their hands were tied by Tennessee state law.

If blame is to lie anywhere in this unfortunate mess, I will lay it at the feet of the Tennessee state legislature and governor, who wrote and enacted this law that only makes it harder to keep people safe from infection.

Again, I offer my apology for this late cancellation to all the fans who were hoping to meet me at MidSouthCon for conversation, panels, and/or autographs, but under the current circumstances I must put my health and that of my family above all other concerns. Autographed book plates will be available at the convention, and copies of my books will be sold at the table of fellow Star Trek author John Jackson Miller, in the vendors’ area.

At this time, the only upcoming convention appearance on my schedule is Shore Leave, scheduled for July 15–17, 2022. As of this writing, Shore Leave has a posted COVID-19 policy that will require proof of vaccination as a condition of entry/service to the convention’s designated areas and functions. As long as that policy remains in effect, I will look forward to attending Shore Leave this summer.

To preempt further confusion, I have updated my website’s Contact page with a statement making clear that I will not participate in person at any event held in a state (which currently includes Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Oklahoma, Arizona, Texas, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, Alaska, Iowa, Missouri, Arkansas, Indiana, Ohio, Tennessee, Alabama, and Utah) that legally bars venues and events from requesting proof of vaccination as a condition of entry and service.

On that note, I send my best wishes to one and all: stay warm this winter, and stay healthy.

Why I’ve withdrawn from Farpoint Con 2022

This is an open message to my friends and colleagues who plan on attending Farpoint Convention in Hunt Valley, Md., next month (Feb. 25-27).

Though I have been looking forward for some time to seeing you all there, I regret that it currently appears I will not be attending the con.

I was recently made aware that Farpoint’s concom has decided not to require guests, staff, volunteers, or attendees to provide proof of vaccination or a recent (< 72 hours) negative result on a reliable COVID-19 test, per its online statement:

Farpoint 2022 COVID-19 Guidance

On Tuesday, January 11, I emailed Farpoint via the programming chair, Cindy Woods, to express my concerns and reservations concerning this lax approach to health and safety. My message read, in part:

“Per item 2, I am seriously troubled by the concom’s decision to not require proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test for attendees, guests, and staff.

“The proffered explanation that this decision was made out of concern about the privacy of attendees’ private health information rings hollow. Many other small, fan-run and volunteer-supported conventions are managing to check vaccination and test status for their attendees without it being an undue burden on them or an imposition on their attendees and guests.

“I would strongly urge the Farpoint team to reconsider this section of its COVID policy immediately, and to plan for verification of attendees’ vaccination statuses and/or recent negative test results.”

Cindy replied that the Farpoint committee intended to discuss the matter again during its next meeting, scheduled for the weekend of January 15-16, and that she would share with them my concerns and inform me of their conclusions.

Their response and final decision was, to be blunt, disappointing. On behalf of the Farpoint concom, Cindy wrote back to me this past Monday, January 17, 2022, with this reply:

“We value your opinion on this issue, and appreciate your candor. Unfortunately, it’s a tough decision to make. With breakthrough infections increasing even among vaccinated persons in the wake of the Delta and Omicron variants, we do not want to send the message to attendees that an all-vaccinated con will be free of Covid. Because the reality is that cannot be guaranteed, especially in a facility that is not requiring vaccinations for guests not attending the convention. Marriott’s policy makes it impossible to establish a safe bubble.

“If people are going to choose to accept the risk of attending a public event—and it is a risk—we want them to understand that risk, and we want them to follow the safety protocols recommended by Maryland and the CDC that stand the best chance of keeping them infection-free: increased sanitation, social distancing and masking. We are implementing these recommendations.”

To say I found this reply discouraging would be an understatement.

In reply to their assertion about what message such a policy would send, I shared my opinion that the message conveyed by a strong vaccination/test policy is “We are doing everything reasonably possible to provide the lowest-risk environment we can for our guests and attendees, as well as the general public.”

Regarding their excuse that because the hotel is not enforcing such a policy on non-convention guests at the hotel that weekend, it is not possible to create a “safe bubble,” I responded,

“You’ve applied the wrong standard. You’ve let the perfect become the enemy of the good.

“For starters, hotel guests who are not con attendees are not likely to have any significant prolonged contact with con attendees. The most likely places of overlap between these two groups, based on historical patterns, is the front lobby and the lounge area. Both of those spaces are relatively open and well ventilated; the former has a high ceiling, and the latter has good spacing on its seating options.

“Those are not high-risk areas, and the con should not be concerned about them.

“The highest-risk areas are those that, for the weekend, WILL be under the con’s exclusive control: the Tack rooms, the Salons, and the Hunt-Valley Ballroom. The Tack rooms and Salons are small enclosed spaces that, if attended by an individual who happens to be contagious, could turn into petri dishes.

“Likewise, because of the sheer crowd density in the Hunt-Valley Ballroom for headliner events, even a single contagious person in that space risks turning it into a superspreader venue.

“Allowing access by unvaccinated and untested individuals sharply increases those risks.”

I offered, as a further criticism of their policy, my observation that it places “all responsibility on the guests and attendees, which is not only unfair, it’s irresponsible, especially considering the number of children who attend the con.

“It is appropriate to ask all attendees to observe those practices for communal safety while in the convention and public areas of the hotel,” I continued, “but the con has a responsibility to do what the attendees cannot, either individually or collectively: screen out the highest-risk persons for the good of the community as a whole.”

The concom’s decision not to revise its policy for a safer one, regardless of their rationale, is one that I consider to be medically unsound. I think it creates an unnecessary degree of risk by omission of action.

Consequently, I have informed Farpoint that, barring an official revision of its COVID-19 safety protocols to include a requirement for all staff, volunteers, guests, and attendees to be either fully vaccinated (2x + booster) or to present a negative COVID test processed in the 72 hours preceding the start of the convention, I will not be attending Farpoint 2022.

I offer this information not to sway anyone else’s decision, but to make sure that my friends and colleagues who choose to be part of this year’s Farpoint Convention clearly understand all of the risks that will be involved. Each of us needs to make our own informed decision whether the increased level of risk that will be present at Farpoint Convention is merited and acceptable.

For those who choose to attend in spite of this lax admission screening, I wish you a happy and healthy convention weekend — but if you choose to attend Farpoint (or any other large event that features gatherings in small windowless rooms, and isn’t verifying vaccination or negative-test results), please take all possible precautions.

STAR TREK: CODA – The End Is Nigh

Star Trek Coda - Moments AsunderThree weeks from today, STAR TREK: CODA, Book I – MOMENTS ASUNDER by Dayton Ward will be published, marking the beginning of the end of more than 20 years of shared, serialized continuity in the Star Trek novels.

The beginning of the “post-finale” continuity in the Star Trek novels generally is considered to have begun in 2001, with the Deep Space Nine novels Avatar, Book I, and Avatar, Book II, by S.D. Perry. Once the shared-continuity books began to grow in popularity, a number of pre-2001 Star Trek novels were retroactively incorporated into it, including the TNG novel Death in Winter by Michael Jan Friedman.

Before long, the shared literary continuity expanded to encompass nearly all new Star Trek book titles, except for those based on The Original Series. It also helped fuel the creation of several literary-original Trek series, including Stargazer (about Picard’s first command); The Lost Era (stories set between the TOS and TNG eras); S.C.E. (aka Starfleet Corps of Engineers, a monthly eBook novella series); Titan (Riker and Troi’s post-TNG careers); Section 31; Department of Temporal Investigations; and Vanguard (a gritty 23rd-century series set parallel to The Original Series).

For more than 20 years, the editors wrangled over 25 authors, most working alone, some in partnerships, to weave a complex web of Star Trek narratives that explored consistent storylines across two centuries of story time. One reason our publisher and licensor (aka Star Trek Licensing at CBSViacom) let us do this was that, at the time, it seemed unlikely that there would be new Star Trek films or TV series set in the 24th century anytime soon.

We pushed the limits of the Star Trek literary universe. Shattered the status quo again and again. Moved characters’ lives forward. Brought others to an end. Returned others from the grave. We threw out Trek‘s “reset button.” It made for an exciting era in which to be a Star Trek novel author or reader.

Alas, as TNG warned us long ago, “All good things must end.” The harbinger of our experiment’s ending was the announcement of Star Trek: Picard.

We knew that once a show featuring Jean-Luc Picard went into development, it would almost inevitably establish events and character actions that would be irreconciable with our literary continuity. Which put us in a tough spot. Star Trek tie-in fiction, like that of most other licensed properties, is required to be consistent with the canon version of the property, as it exists at the time the tie-in material is written. The more we learned about the back story of Picard, the more we realized there was no way to reconcile or retcon our 20 years of narrative with what was coming. One way or another, our communal literary project was soon to end.

I and others behind the scenes knew we had to make a choice. Either let the story be abandoned in medias res — or steer into the wave and craft an ending worthy of two decades of work.

We chose the second option.

Star Trek Coda - The Ashes of TomorrowI began scheming and daydreaming about the story that would become the spine of the STAR TREK: CODA trilogy at about the same time that my friend and frequent partner in literary mischief Dayton Ward was doing the same thing. During the July 4th weekend of 2019, I persuaded the initially reluctant James Swallow to team up with me in pitching the idea. We hashed out the story in broad strokes over BBQ with Trek-author pals Keith R. A. DeCandido and Glenn Hauman.

When I shared our pitch with Dayton the following week at Shore Leave Convention, his idea and ours were eerily similar. Except, because of his new job with CBS Licensing, he was privy to details about Picard that James and I were not. After hearing me out, Dayton summed up the challenges we faced because of Picard with a chilling caution: “Dude. It’s so much worse than you think.”

As it turned out … he was right.

Star Trek Coda, Book 3, Oblivion's Gate, by David MackDayton, James, and I hammered out a story that we felt was a worthy swan song to two decades of work, an encomium to our fellow authors, and an act of gratitude to the readers who had stuck with us all these years.

Coda proved to be the hardest writing experience of my life. While working on it in 2020, I was shaken by three deaths: the first, in January, was that of my longtime idol Neil Peart of RUSH; the second, in April, was the loss of my mother; and in December, the death of my friend and fellow Trek writer Dave Galanter.

This trilogy was a difficult and emotional project for all three of us writing it, each of us for our own reasons. But just as the application of pressure over time can turn coal to diamonds, I think our hardships have made Coda shine.

All three books of the STAR TREK: CODA trilogy are available for pre-order in trade paperback, eBook, and digital audiobook formats, from most book retailers. Trust me, Trek fans, this is an epic story you won’t want to miss.

STAR TREK: CODA, Book II – THE ASHES OF TOMORROW by James Swallow is scheduled for publication on Tuesday, October 26, 2021.

STAR TREK: CODA, Book III – OBLIVION’S GATE by yours truly will be published on Tuesday, November 30, 2021.

#TheEndHasBegun

My Shore Leave 2021 schedule

Where to see me this weekend during the Shore Leave 41.6 virtual convention!


SATURDAY

11AM ET — “The New Age of Star Trek
I’ll be talking about Discovery, Picard, Short Treks, Lower Decks, and Prodigy alongside Dayton Ward, Keith DeCandido, Kelli Fitzpatrick, Derek Tyler Attico, and Kirsten Beyer.

5PM ET — “Star Trek: The Motion Picture … 40+ Years Later”
Does the first Star Trek feature film still hold up? Did it ever? I’ll debate this with Howard Weinstein, Dayton Ward, Derek Tyler Attico, Alan Chafin, and Kevin Dilmore.


SUNDAY

3PM ET — “What’s New in Star Trek Literature”
Come, see your favorite Treklit authors tell you what new works they have coming out in the next several months. This spoiler-ific panel will feature me, Scott Pearson (moderator), John Jackson Miller, Christopher Bennett, Kirsten Beyer, James Swallow, and maybe a late cameo appearance by Dayton Ward himself!
— NOTE: This panel was originally listed at 10AM; it has been moved to 3PM ET.

 

The full Shore Leave 41.6 schedule is here: https://www.shore-leave.com/schedule/