My semi-obligatory awards-eligibility post

As we come to the end of a calendar year, it’s that magical time of year when authors remind folks which of their books published in the last 11 months are eligible to be nominated for various industry literary awards.

I had two novels published this year, and while I think both are extreme long-shots to win any awards, I’m enough of a glutton for punishment to put them out there for your collective consideration.

The first book is THE SHADOW COMMISSION.

Book three of my Dark Arts series from Tor Books, it was published by Tor on August 11, 2020.

Its subgenre is “secret history,” but for awards categories it can fit into “alternate history” or “urban fantasy.”

The Shadow Commission is technically eligible to be nominated for the following awards, in these respective categories:

The Dragon Awards, in Best Alternate History Novel (it’s free to sign up to nominate and vote for this award)
The World Fantasy Award, Best Novel (nomination and voting open only to World Fantasy convention members)
The Nebula Award, Best Novel (nomination and voting open only to SFWA Members)
The Hugo Award, Best Novel (nomination and voting open only to WorldCon members)
The Sidewise Award, Best Long-form Alternate History (I think my publisher has to submit my book for this)



It’s a story based on the version of the Star Trek universe and characters as depicted in the three feature films produced by J.J. Abrams.

My novel was published by Gallery Books (an imprint of Simon & Schuster) on August 11, 2020.

Its genre is science fiction, and its subcategory would be “media tie-in.”

Star Trek: More Beautiful Than Death is eligible to be nominated for the following awards, in these respective categories:

The Dragon Awards, in Best Media Tie-In Novel (it’s free to sign up to nominate and vote for this award)
The Nebula Award, Best Novel (nomination and voting open only to SFWA Members)
The Hugo Award, Best Novel (nomination and voting open only to WorldCon members)
The Scribe Award, Best Long-form Alternate History (My publisher has already submitted my book.)


And that’s it. That’s what I have for your consideration this year. Do with this information what you will.



Story Teaser: “Fiasco” from Thrilling Adventure Yarns 2021

giant snake in fire pit threatens man and woman
Art by Gary Carbon

Now that the Kickstarter campaign for Thrilling Adventure Yarns 2021 has passed $5,000 (on its way to its first goal of $6,000), I am making good on my promise to share the first scene of my new crime-noir short story, “Fiasco,” which I wrote for this new anthology of short fiction written in the classic pulp style.

As I explain in my segment of the campaign’s promo video, my story was inspired by the role-playing game FIASCO. I used one of its Los Angeles-themed playsets to randomly generate story elements until my imagination took over.

Two of the eBook add-on packages will contain reprints of my original short stories Midnight Rider and Our Possible Pasts,” so if you’ve not had a chance to read those yet, this would be a good time to remedy that.

Because I’d really love to have art on my story’s title page, we need to get this campaign past its baseline goal and into stretch-goal territory.

So, if you enjoy this little taste of “Fiasco,” please consider helping us by spreading the word about the campaign or, even better, adding your own pledge (if you’ve not already done so).

‘Nuff sales pitch. Enjoy the preview!


David Mack

MARCH 1956

I’m six whiskeys into a Friday night at The Blue Moon, basking in the club’s nicotine fog and grooving to a jazz sax that sounds like a rusty hinge, when two apes with crew cuts and cheap suits step in front of my table and block my view of the band.

One of them shows me his badge. “Detective Jack Halligan?”

I take a drag off my Lucky. “Y’askin’ me? Or tellin’ me?”

His pal brushes open his suit coat, casually, and rests his hand on the grip of his holstered revolver. The one doing the talking leans down and fills my face with his sour-milk breath. “I’m Walker. He’s Morris. Internal Affairs. You need to come with us.”

I hoist my drink and my half-finished coffin nail. “I’m busy.”

Walker snatches my Lucky, snuffs it in my rye. “You’re done. Get up.”

So much for professional courtesy. I drop a sawbuck on the table and nod at my waiter as I follow the rat squad dicks outside.

It’s a cool night, dry as a bone. Somewhere above downtown Los Angeles the stars are shining, but good luck seeing them through this ceiling of pink smog. Walker and Morris march me back to my car, which is guarded by a pair of patrolmen. The passenger-side window has been smashed in, and the glove compartment is open. Lying on the passenger seat is a brick of heroin that I’ve never seen before in my life.

Morris points at the kilo and looks at me. “Care to explain that?

“If you’re too dumb to know a frame-up when you see it, I can’t help you.”

Walker steps toward me. Jabs my chest with his meaty index finger. “Wise up, Halligan. That brick’s just one of three that went missing from Hollywood Station’s evidence lockup two days ago. Where are the other two?”

“With whoever’s framing me would be my guess . . . you fuckin’ mook.”

I never see the punch that sends a sickening jolt through my right kidney. All I know is one second I’m standing, the next I’m on my knees in the gutter, seeing purple and tasting sour bile. I take a few deep breaths and fight to keep my shit together as I get back on my feet.

Walker tells the patrolmen, “Bag and tag the brick, have the car towed.”

Morris pushes me back against my car. “Jack Halligan, you’re under arrest for theft of evidence and possession of narcotics. We’ll need your badge and your weapon.”

As I reach inside my jacket, Walker adds, “Slowly.”

I hand Morris my badge. Then I use two fingers to remove my Smith & Wesson .38 from its holster. As I hand the pistol to Walker, I do a sleight-of-hand trick a skel once taught me, and with a flick of my wrist I open the revolver’s cylinder.

All six bullets fall out. The bright sound of brass on pavement is like music.

Walker bends down to retrieve my bullets. I knee him in the face.

Blood pours from Walker’s broken nose as he sprawls on the sidewalk.

Morris reaches for his weapon. I still have my empty .38, so I clock the bastard in the temple with it. He hits the street like a 230-pound sack of flour.

On the other side of my car, one of the uniforms clumsily starts to draw his sidearm. I throw my empty roscoe at him. It smacks him in the forehead as his steel clears leather, and he fires a wild shot—into his partner’s foot.

I run like my ass is on fire. I’m half a block away when the stunned rookie opens fire. He hits a store window and a random citizen on the sidewalk before he puts a slug through the bulge of fat beneath my ribs. I press my hand over the bleeding exit wound and lunge onward.

Distracted by the burning pain on my right side, I dart down Skid Row side streets. Weave through a dark trash-strewn alley where scabby hookers blow their johns against brick walls, hidden behind garbage bins that reek of rotten fish and a hundred things far worse. At the far end of this urban slice of hell, I pay a bum twenty bucks for his tattered gray overcoat, which smells like he’s been using it to wipe his ass for a year, and I snatch a grease-stained beige trilby from a pile of trash behind a Chinese restaurant.

Wrapped in my disguise of filth, I stagger onto San Pedro as a fleet of LAPD radio cars races past, lights flashing and sirens screaming. None of the cops in those cars spares me even half a look. I’ve rendered myself invisible to their eyes. To them, I’m just one more bum in the night, another ghost in the City of Angels.

Time’s against me now. Doing my best not to look like a man on the run, I keep my head down and my hand over my wound as I turn my steps toward a place I used to call home.

© 2020 David Mack

That’s scene one; to find out where the story goes from there, you’ll need to make a minimum $10 pledge to the Thrilling Adventure Yarns 2021 Kickstarter (though I strongly recommend upgrading to the trade paperback or cloth hardcover editions).

Thanks for reading, and remember to spread the word!

— David Mack

Kickstarter for Thrilling Adventure Yarns 2021

Art by Gary Carbon

Editor extraordinaire Bob Greenberger, who brought you last year’s pulp-homage sensation Thrilling Adventure Yarns, presents the sequel: THRILLING ADVENTURE YARNS 2021.

This collection of new original short fiction written in the classic pulp-magazine style will knock your socks off. It’ll have a bit of everything: noir, swords & sorcery, romance, crime, science fiction, fantasy—you name it!

Topping the table of contents: a new, previously unpublished detective tale by none other than Lester Dent, the creator of Doc Savage! This is a milestone in the history of the pulp magazines, available only to the backers of this campaign.

Also on the bill: a brand-new crime noir short story by yours truly, a little piece about betrayal titled “Fiasco” (which was inspired by the role-playing game of the same name).

Plus, these stretch goals! Get a character or something else named in your honor (aka “Tuckerized”)! Score great deals on special add-on eBook packages (two of which each include a reprint of one of my original short stories — Midnight Rider and Our Possible Pasts). Upgrade to a hardcover edition!

It’s all up to you—customize your deal to fit your desires.

We have 29 days to raise $6,000 to make this project happen. Last time, Bob soared way past his goal. Let’s make this time an even greater success! Pledge your support now.

Feliz quinceañera, Star Trek Vanguard

Fifteen years ago saw the premiere of Harbinger, the first book in the Star Trek Vanguard series, which I co-created with Pocket Books senior editor Marco Palmieri.

What was Star Trek Vanguard? Dayton Ward sums it up thusly:

Vanguard as created by editor Marco Palmieri and author David Mack is a series of books that served as a “literary spin-off” of the original Star Trek television series. Running in parallel with the original show, Vanguard was set aboard a space station in a hotly contested area of space called “the Taurus Reach.”

In the years that followed, I wound up alternating writing privileges on the series with Dayton and his hetero life-mate and frequent writing partner Kevin Dilmore. This, among other things, led to them becoming two of my closest friends, with whom I shared the most artistically satisfying creative endeavor of my career to date.

Photo of Dayton Ward, Marco Palmieri, Kevin Dilmore, and David Mack
The Vanguardians of the Galaxy: from left, Dayton Ward, Marco Palmieri, Kevin Dilmore, David Mack. Taken at Shore Leave Convention, July 2011.

Marco, who left Simon & Schuster after editing the fourth Vanguard novel, subsequently returned to the saga as an author, contributing the novella “The Ruins of Noble Men” to the Vanguard anthology volume Declassified. And acclaimed international best-selling thriller author James Swallow took Vanguard into the Mirror Universe with his short story “The Black Flag,” in the anthology Shards and Shadows.

Furthermore, we had the amazing good fortune that all of our series’ cover art was created by the brilliantly talented Doug Drexler. Every single one of his covers is worthy of being enlarged to billboard size and plastered onto the side of a skyscraper.

Dayton has done an amazing write-up about Vanguard — what it is, how it came to be, and what it has meant to all of us who were fortunate enough to work on it. I doubt I could improve upon it; I would only end up paraphrasing it. So I’ll just say, go read his excellent tribute to this series we built with love, sweat, and imagination.

If you’ve never read the Star Trek Vanguard saga, here is your guide:

Star Trek Vanguard Bibliography

Harbinger – David Mack
Summon the Thunder – Dayton Ward & Kevin Dilmore
Reap the Whirlwind – David Mack
Open Secrets – Dayton Ward (story by Dayton Ward & Kevin Dilmore)
Precipice – David Mack
Declassified – four novellas by: Dayton Ward; Kevin Dilmore; Marco Palmieri; and David Mack
What Judgments Come – Dayton Ward & Kevin Dilmore (story by Dayton Ward & Kevin Dilmore and David Mack)
Storming Heaven – David Mack (story by Dayton Ward & Kevin Dilmore and David Mack)

There also are a few additional stories that, while not essential to enjoying the main “saga,” might be of interest:

Distant Early Warning – Dayton Ward & Kevin Dilmore (a Star Trek: Starfleet Corps of Engineers story and Vanguard prequel)

In Tempest’s Wake – Dayton Ward (sort of a coda to the Vanguard series)

The Black Flag” – James Swallow
(Included in the anthology Star Trek: Mirror Universe – Shards & Shadows)

You can also load up on SPOILER-FILLED, behind-the-scenes goodness with my Vanguard Finale page.

Dayton, Kevin, and I have agreed that we have no intention of ever re-opening the toy box that was Star Trek Vanguard. From the outset, the saga had been planned with a clear beginning, middle, and ending, and ultimately we hewed fairly closely to that original plan. What’s more, we ended the saga on our own terms, by design rather than by necessity, a privilege one is rarely afforded in the world of media tie-in writing.

Sometimes I daydream of seeing Vanguard as a new Star Trek TV series. But then I remember that it likely would never be as good on the screen as it is in the theater of my imagination, and I’m content to leave it where it is.

As Pennington wrote at the saga’s end, “Let the world forget; I’ll remember.”

See me on Russ’s Rockin’ Rollercoaster

A week from tonight, I’ll be the guest on the next Zoom-powered episode of Russ’s Rockin’ Rollercoaster, an Internet-based half-hour interview/talk show run by my pal Russ Colchamiro.

We’ll talk generally about my writing for science fiction and fantasy, and specifically about my work for Star Trek and my original fantasy series Dark Arts.

If you want to watch the show LIVE and take part in its Q&A portion, you need to register in advance here. You’ll get the viewing link after you sign up. But be chill—the tickets are FREE!

If you miss the live show don’t sweat it; Russ will post it a few days later to YouTube.

I hope to catch some of your crazy cats live on THURSDAY, JULY 30, from 8:00pm – 8:30pm EDT.

Collateral Damage wins a Scribe Award

I’m pleased to share that my Star Trek: The Next Generation novel Collateral Damage has won a Scribe Award in the category of Best Original Novel – Speculative Fiction. It shares the win in a tie vote with the Batman novel The Court of Owls, written by my good friend Greg Cox.

The Scribe Awards are bestowed annually by the International Association of Media Tie-in Writers (IAMTW) to recognize excellence in the field of media tie-in publishing.

It’s an honor to share this award with my longtime friend Greg. I want to thank my editor on Collateral Damage, Margaret Clark, for her help in shaping the book; my agent Lucienne Diver for shepherding the business side of my work; the judges and organizers of the Scribe Awards; and my readers most of all.

Collateral Damage is my sixth work to be nominated for a Scribe Award, and my second title to win an award (my novel 24: ROGUE won the award for Best Original Novel – General Fiction in 2016). Here’s hoping it won’t be the last.


The Shadow Commission Spotify Playlist

In the past couple of years, I’ve brought you Spotify playlist guides for my first Dark Arts novel, The Midnight Front (see its Playlist Guide), and its sequel, The Iron Codex (see its Playlist Guide). To complete the trifecta, I bring you the series’ third playlist, for book three, The Shadow Commission. (Visit its Spotify playlist now.)

Music is invaluable to me as a storyteller. It inspires me with new ideas, and when I’m working, movie soundtracks often help me maintain a consistent frame of mind and emotional state that’s suited to whatever I’m working on.

Once again, to give you a look into my brain’s creative relationship with music, and how it connects to the stories that I write, I have assembled this guide to The Shadow Commission’s playlist. Not all chapters or scenes have specific tracks associated with them, but those that do, I’ve done my best to annotate accordingly.

A review of the playlist reveals that the biggest musical influences this time, as with book two, were spy-movie soundtracks. Specifically, Skyfall and Spectre by Thomas Newman. Also making numerous appearances are tracks from the various Avengers movies’ soundtracks, as well as from some sci-fi classics and cult films, such as Children of Dune by Brian Tyler, Donnie Darko by Michael Andrews, and Stargate by David Arnold, among others.

The Shadow Commission will be published on Tuesday, August 11, 2020, by Tor Books.

Nota Bene: Not all of the listed tracks are available for playback on Spotify, due to ever-changing licensing permissions, etc. Those of you who collect movie soundtracks might own one or more of these discs already. If you can compile your own local playlist based on this, all the better.

Also note that the playlist guide contains spoilers, especially for the end of the book. This is meant as a companion piece to be enjoyed after reading the novel.


Murder in the Morning
“Even for You”
Avengers: Infinity War (Alan Silvestri)


Cade and Anja Get Bad News
“Wish You Were Here”
Avengers: Age of Ultron (Brian Tyler)


The Kennedy Assassination
“War Begins”
Children of Dune (Brian Tyler)

A Cardinal Demands Answers
“Child Emperor”
Children of Dune (Brian Tyler)


Cade’s Fears Made Manifest
“Sins of the Mother”
Children of Dune (Brian Tyler)

Dallas Ambush by Hammers
“Exit Mr. Hat”
The Matrix (Don Davis)


The Dark Circle Begins
“Je Suis de Sole”
Mission: Impossible – Fallout (Lorne Balfe)


Exploding Mirrors
“Quartz Shipment”
Stargate: The Deluxe Edition (David Arnold)


The Siege of Naxos
“Fighting Back” / “Uprising” / “Outlook”
Avengers: Age of Ultron (Brian Tyler)


Talking to Oswald
“Keys to the Past”
Avengers: Age of Ultron (Brian Tyler)


Stealing from the FBI
“Springing Erik”
X-Men: Days of Future Past (John Ottman)


Briet vs. the Golem
“Man vs. Beast”
Kong: Skull Island (Henry Jackman)


Zona Rosa
“Welcome to Cuba”
Die Another Day (David Arnold)

Searching Rocha’s Pad
“Unauthorised Access”
Casino Royale (David Arnold)


Luis’s Vision
“Living an Illusion”
Dark City (Trevor Jones)


Silo Under Siege / Frank’s Death
“A Lot to Figure Out”
Avengers: Infinity War (Alan Silvestri)

Miles Is Summoned / He Says Good-bye
Avengers: Infinity War (Alan Silvestri)


Miles Underground
“What Did It Cost?”
Avengers: Infinity War (Alan Silvestri)

Demonic Delivery
Blade Runner 2049 (Hans Zimmer & Benjamin Wallfisch)


Razing Monte Paterno
“I Am the Storm”
Mission: Impossible – Fallout (Lorne Balfe)

Plotting Cade’s End
“Carpathian Ridge”
Donnie Darko (Michael Andrews)


Ammo Factory Showdown
Thor: The Dark World (Brian Tyler)


Cade & Briet in the Lake
“Camille’s Story”
Quantum of Solace (David Arnold)

Luis’s Disciples in Rome
“Goodbye, My Son”
Man of Steel (Hans Zimmer)


Cade & Anja by Moonlight
Skyfall (Thomas Newman)


The Bank Job Begins
“Frankenstein’s Monster”
X-Men: First Class (Henry Jackman)


Cade Faces the Old Man
“Kite in a Hurricane”
Spectre (Thomas Newman)


Yasmin Conspires with Niccolò
“Recruiting Psylocke”
X-Men: Apocalypse (John Ottman)



“The Mission Is Terminated”
Mission: Impossible – Fallout (Lorne Balfe)


Cade Breaks Free
Skyfall (Thomas Newman)


Monks and Mages Arm for War
“Steps Ahead”
Mission: Impossible – Fallout (Lorne Balfe)


Alpine Combat / Hellhounds
“Snow Plane”
Spectre (Thomas Newman)

Violent Attrition
“The Bloody Shot”
Skyfall (Thomas Newman)


Cade & Lila / The Old Man
Iron Man 3 (Brian Tyler)

The Betrayal and the Sacrifice
Spectre (Thomas Newman)


Spirit Hammer
“Can You Stop This Thing?”
Avengers: Age of Ultron (Danny Elfman)

Cade Dies
Mad Max: Fury Road (Tom Holkenborg)

Anja & Briet Take Revenge
“Darkest of Intentions”
Avengers: Age of Ultron (Brian Tyler)

Leveling the Chalet
Stargate: The Deluxe Edition (David Arnold)


A Tragic Return
“I Feel You”
Avengers: Infinity War (Alan Silvestri)


A Bittersweet Homecoming
“What Beach?”
X-Men: Apocalypse (John Ottman)


Anja’s Warning
“The Grim Reavers”
Logan (Marco Beltrami)


Three Sisters Scatter
“Don’t Be What They Made You”
Logan (Marco Beltrami)


End Titles
“Gimme Shelter”
The Rolling Stones, Let It Bleed