guide to my reviews of new Star Trek — I’ve been reviewing the new Trek TV series (Discovery,Short Treks, Picard, Lower Decks, Prodigy, Strange New Worlds) on Paramount+ (formerly CBS All Access) for Tor.com, and this post is regularly updated with each new review as they go live
guide to KRAD COVID readings — during the coronavirus pandemic in 2020, I started up the YouTube channel “KRAD COVID readings,” and this post is a guide to all the stuff I’ve been reading as part of it, regularly updated with each new reading
guide to 4-Color to 35-Millimeter: The Great Superhero Movie Rewatch — I rewatched every live-action movie based on a superhero comic book each week from August 2017 to January 2020 for Tor.com, and now the feature is occasional, with me looking back at new movies that have been released every six months to a year or so; this is an alphabetical guide to all the movies I’ve covered or plan to cover
the Dragon Precinct chronology — a listing of the chronological sequence of the stories, vignettes, and novels in the world of my fantasy/police procedural series that started with Dragon Precinct
guide to the tales of Cassie Zukav, weirdness magnet — I’ve written a cycle of urban fantasy short stories taking place in Key West that involve scuba diving, Norse gods, folklore, rock and roll music, and beer drinking, not necessarily in that order; they’ve been published in a variety of sources, and this post gathers them all in one place, complete with links that give you the means to acquire/read them
This is a piece I wrote on my LiveJournal in April 2015. After I mentioned my Stargate SG-1 novel Kali’s Wrath on Twitter, Alana Dill asked me how I wound up “in a position to be paid essentially 4 writing fanfic.” I couldn’t answer that in a tweet, so I replied on my blog. I’m running it again seven years later, as it still applies…
First of all, there’s no good way to answer the question of how you break into writing, whether it’s writing tie-ins, writing mysteries, writing newspaper/web site articles, or whatever. There’s no “right” way to do it, there’s certainly not one way to do it. You ask any ten writers how they broke in, you’ll get a dozen answers.
However, in the interests of answering Alana’s question, here’s how I broke in: as an editor.
From September 1993 to May 1998 I was on the editorial staff at Byron Preiss Visual Publications and Byron Preiss Multimedia Company, and then I went freelance, continuing to work for Byron on and off between May 1998 and April 1999. One of the projects I worked on for Byron was a series of novels and short story anthologies featuring Marvel superheroes. The project kicked off in the fall of 1994 with a Spider-Man novel (The Venom Factor, first of an eventual trilogy by Diane Duane) and a Spider-Man anthology (The Ultimate Spider-Man, which predated Marvel’s “Ultimate” line by six years).
For the latter, we had the cover done before any of the stories even came in (it was kind of a rush project), which featured Spider-Man and four of his foes. We had stories featuring three of those four foes, but we did not have a Venom story. I should explain that the process for every media tie-in work is as follows: the writer comes up with a story first, and that story outline has to be approved by both the editor at the publishing company who has the rights to the property and (more importantly) by the people who own the property, in this case Marvel Comics. The person at Marvel doing the approving was an assistant editor in the Spider-Man office, and he rejected six different Venom proposals that we sent in by six different authors. It’s now past the eleventh hour, and we need a Venom story because a) the character’s on the cover and b) Venom was by far Spidey’s most popular villain in 1994. In desperation, we ask the editor in question what he wanted to see in a Venom story. He gave us a sentence.
Now for this project, I started out as the assistant, working for John Gregory Betancourt (guru of Wildside Press, among other things). John left Byron in late 1994, and I took over the project solo, but he and I worked together on those first two books. At this stage, it’s too late to even hire another writer, and I offer to write the Venom story. I do a draft in two days, give it to John, he takes it, rewrites it from the ground up, gives it back to me, I rewrite it from the ground up, we both take a final look at it, and the end result is “An Evening in the Bronx with Venom,” and that’s how I broke into writing media tie-in writing.
Being an editor also helped me with my other early sales, mostly because the job put me in touch with people in a position to hire me to write stuff. Besides doing other work for the Marvel line (which was always edited by another of Byron’s editors on staff, either Steven A. Roman, Ken Grobe, or Howard Zimmerman), my talks with the upstart company Wizards of the Coast about possibly hiring some of their artists (which never actually came to fruition) led to me pitching a story to a Magic: The Gathering anthology, my hiring Andrew Lane to write a few short stories (including one for The Ultimate X-Men) led to me pitching a Doctor Who story to him that wound up in Decalog 3: Consequences, and so on.
(My favorite was Greg Cox calling me because he couldn’t find Dean Wesley Smith’s phone number and he wanted to hire Dean to write a movie novelization. But Dean was working on a novel for me at the time and I knew he wouldn’t be able to fit it in his schedule, so I offered myself in Dean’s stead. Dean forgave me when I finally told him later on, as he really couldn’t have fit it in his schedule. In any case, that was how I wound up novelizing the FOX TV movie Gargantua in 1998 under the pseudonym “K. Robert Andreassi.”)
That should answer Alana’s question — except it doesn’t, really, because what she asked was how I got to be paid for writing essentially fanfic.
And I’ve never ever been paid for writing fanfic, and neither has anyone else, because fanfic by definition is unpaid.
I’ve been down this road before, and I stand by what I said on the subject eight years ago. I’m not writing fanfic, I’m writing media tie-in fiction. That doesn’t make what I do better, necessarily, but there is a difference between the two, which is why they have different names. *wry grin*
Fanfic, besides being nonremunerative, is also completely freeform and not beholden to anyone — including the readership. If a fanfic is read by four people or four thousand, it’s of little consequence to the writer and doesn’t necessarily have any impact on whether or not the writer continues to write. If a tie-in isn’t purchased by enough people to make a profit for the publisher, more tie-ins won’t happen.
Fanfic can take any shape or form — drabble, vignette, scene, eight-million-word novel, whatever — while tie-ins are in a proscribed format — novel, novella, short story. Fanfic doesn’t have any kind of oversight by the owners of the intellectual property while tie-ins must have every step of the process approved by the IP owner. Fanfic also doesn’t have any kind of editorial oversight required, where tie-ins are professionally edited (this doesn’t mean that there aren’t excellent beta-readers of fanfic and this doesn’t mean that there aren’t tie-ins that are poorly edited, but the general principle remains the same that professional editing is better than not having that, for the same reason why when my toilet breaks I call a plumber rather than try to fix it myself). Tie-ins have to appeal to a mass audience of viewers of the show (not, I hasten to add hardcore fans of the show, as if you just appeal to the hardcore fanbase, you don’t have enough people to support a mass-market book), while fanfic only really has to appeal to the person writing it, and if other people like it, awesome!
And fanfic is illegal, for all that most IP holders turn a blind eye to it (especially as long as no money is changing hands at any point), tie-ins are legally licensed.
None of the above is meant to show that fanfic is superior to tie-ins or vice versa, merely elaborating the many differences between them.
Kali’s Wrath is not fanfic. MGM has to approve it (they made copious notes on the outline), Sally Malcolm at Fandemonium Books has to like it, and the readership has to buy it and like it. Oh, and I have a contract that says that Fandemonium will pay me a certain amount of money once MGM approves the final manuscript.
Oddly, the thing that annoyed me most was the name Cyrus Ramsey. Hoshi Sato is from Japan. She was teaching in Argentina when we first met her. Yet her subconscious comes up with an aggressively white-guy name for this person who had a transporter accident. Mostly because this script was by Rick Berman and Brannon Braga, the co-creators and by far the most prolific writers on this show, and if Enterprise has shown us nothing else, it’s that their world is mostly populated by white guys.
Coming soon from TokyoPop is my triumphant return to the world of Resident Evil, in this case a manga-style comic book that will serve as the prequel to the Netflix animated series Infinite Darkness. Entitled The Beginning, this five-issue miniseries will focus on the fan-favorite character Leon. In the first episode of Infinite Darkness, Leon is helicoptered to the White House, having just come from stopping a terrorist attack in Pittsburgh. This miniseries will chronicle that untold tale, helping set up the events of the animated series.
This is the cover to issue #1, with art by Carmelo Zagaria. Enjoy!
Because all the men responsible for this movie can think to do with Wanda Maximoff is make her the mother from hell, turning a grieving character struggling toward heroism in several previous movies and a TV series into a mass-murderer who will commit any depraved acts necessary as long as she can be a mother. Because that’s all the ladies really want, am I right, fellas?
When I first saw the movie, it wasn’t bothering me as much, because I know from the comics how foul the influence of the Darkhold can be, but this movie doesn’t do nearly enough to sell it. Maximoff’s redemption arc is weakly done, and requires her to kill herself, which is just horrible. It’s especially galling after the complex meditation on grief that was WandaVision. To have the character be so completely capital-E evil this time is disappointing, lazy, and not fair to a character who was finally given some depth on Disney+, only to be shit upon in the cinema. It’s a bad look for a cinematic universe that has already shit upon Gamora, the Black Widow, May Parker, and Jane Foster in recent movies, not to mention the sidelining of the Wasp in favor of the much-less-interesting Ant-Man and taking way too long to have a movie headlined by a woman.
If you don’t support my Patreon (and why don’t you?????), here’s what you’ve missed over the last five weeks…..
$1/month and up: a review of Thor: Love and Thunder
$2/month and up: 31 cat (and dog!) pictures
$5/month and up: a review of Obi-Wan Kenobi
$7/month and up: excerpts from Star Hoppers Book 6 and “Ticonderoga Beck and the Stalwart Squad”
$10/month and up: a vignette featuring Bram Gold
$20/month and up: first looks at Star Hoppers Book 6, Chapters 1-10 and “Ticonderoga Beck and the Stalwart Squad”
This is a really good deal. For twenty bucks a month, you get weekly excerpts from my works in progress, a monthly movie review, a monthly TV review, tons of pictures of cute fuzzy things, a monthly vignette featuring one of my original milieus, and every time I finish a chapter or a short story, you get to see the first draft.
I’m disappointed that they contrived for Chef to be sick so it’s Sato doing the crazed cooking thing, mostly because this would’ve been a great opportunity to finally see Chef. (That’s a personal thing—I’ve never been fond of the person-always-mentioned-but-never-seen trope.) Still, Linda Park has fun with it, as does Connor Trinneer with his goofy-ass add-all-the-things mien which makes him sound—well, like an engineer, truly. Still, both of them don’t go nearly as far as they could with it. Dominic Keating’s a bit too over-the-top as the obsessive Reed, where Scott Bakula is to under-the-top with Archer’s trying so hard to do justice to his old man.
Jolene Blalock does fine trying to hold the ship together, as she really is the only grownup on board this time, but I wish we’d gotten a bit more of the sass that we often saw from Leonard Nimoy and Tim Russ when the humans were human-ing a bit too much on the original series and Voyager.
The only performance that hits the bullseye is, as usual, John Billingsley. Phlox never entirely loses his friendly affect, which makes his experimenting on Mayweather way scarier.
The better part of a month later, with close to 400 supporters, and with more than $18,000 raised toward a $10,000 goal, Thrilling Adventure Yarns2022, the third in the series of pulp anthologies edited by Robert Greenberger, is funded! It will be published in December by Crazy 8 Press.
Best of all, we hit all the stretch goals, which means Bob was able to add several more authors to the table of contents, and also is able to have each story be illustrated.
My story is called “Ticonderoga Beck and the Stalwart Squad,” about a team of adventurers led by Ti Beck who fight for freedom in the late 1930s. Though there’s a lot more to Ti’s Stalwart Squad than meets the eye….
Here’s the full list of authors:
Raymond Benson (many James Bond novels)
Russ Colchamiro (the “Angela Hardwicke” series)
Greg Cox (many Star Trek novels)
Kathleen O. David (The Fans are Buried Tales)
Peter David (Spider-Man 2099, Star Trek: New Frontier)
Keith R.A. DeCandido (many Star Trek and Supernatural novels)
Lester Dent (creator of Doc Savage)
Lucienne Diver (the “Vamped” series)
Diane Duane (the “Young Wizards” series)
Mary Fan (Stronger than a Bronze Dragon)
Michael Jan Friedman (many Star Trek novels)
David Gerrold (Star Trek‘s “The Trouble with Tribbles”)
Robert Greenberger (editor of this anthology series, various DC history/encyclopedias)
Glenn Hauman (Star Trek: S.C.E.)
Paul Kupperberg (creator of Peacemaker)
Will Murray (co-creator of Squirrel Girl)
Fabian Nicieza (co-creator of Deadpool)
Jody Lynn Nye (the “MythAdventures” series)
Jean Rabe (many Dragonlance novels)
Aaron Rosenberg (the “DuckBob” series)
Jenifer Purcell Rosenberg (Bad Ass Moms, Devilish and Divine)
Catilin Rozakis (Baker Street Irregulars, Aurealis)
Steven Savile (many Warhammer and Torchwood novels)
His banter with Matt Smith’s Milo is fun in the early parts of the movie, before the plot kicks in, and if the movie was just Leto and Smith limping through Manchester-disguised-as-New York and snarking at each other, it would’ve been a lot more fun. But that’s dispensed with in fairly short order, and most of the movie is a desultory checking off of all the boxes of an action-adventure movie, and doing so in as sodden a manner as possible. For instance, I knew Milo was going to kill Nicholas pretty much from the nanosecond it was established that Nicholas was the adult Milo’s caretaker, which was less than an hour into the film, and since neither Jared Harris nor the script bothered to imbue him with any kind of personality, it was hard to give a damn when the inevitable finally happened.
Ye flipping gods, what a boring episode. Trek has done this type of story many times before, where the crew has to deal with a pre-warp society and do their best not to influence it (not always successfully) and remove their technology (again, not always successfully), from the original series’ “Tomorrow is Yesterday” to TNG’s “First Contact” to SNW’s “Strange New Worlds,” and “The Communicator” is by far the least interesting iteration of this particular plot.