Posted by Bob Greenberger on May 31, 2013
By being in New Mexico, I missed the opening weekend for Star Trek Into Darkness and then had to complete my obligations to Balticon before I had the time to finally take it in. We’re two weeks from opening so I’m going to discuss it, spoilers be damned.
I09 has a brilliant deconstruction of the film’s major plot holes and my longtime pal Glenn Greenberg also nails the film’s flaws with his own analysis. As a result, I’ll address some of the issues I have seen far less written about.
Given what I do and who I do it with, there was little chance of my going into the theater without knowing the details and twists. I had heard the criticisms, seen the lukewarm reviews by the major media and the raves from friends. I had guessed that I would walk into the multiplex, buy my popcorn, settle in and enjoy the film until the lights went up. Only then would the sloppy plotting and bad writing irk me.
It took a lot less to piss me off and I stayed annoyed until it ended.
Screenwriters Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci and Damon Lindelof appear to have taken the most obvious traits the mass audience knows about James T. Kirk and ignored the rest. This means Chris Pine gets to play a hotheaded jerk who is all instinct and no intellect. Let’s compare: the TOS Kirk knew his ship inside and out, and kept current with the tech, otherwise he never would have known what to do to the deflector dish in Star Trek Generations. Pine’s Kirk kicked the hardware into place. Gary Mitchell chided Kirk for studying too hard, striving too hard to be perfect and still, Kirk had enough outside-the-box thinking to outthink the Kobyashi Maru test. Pine’s Kirk is smug and seems to skate through without effort. The television Kirk loved books and was pensive, quoting the Constitution of the United Sates and John Masefield. Pine’s Kirk gives us no clue he has such depth and dimension.
The biggest issue is how the Kirks approached the Prime Directive. On television, every time Kirk skirted or violated the law, it was for the good of the people (see Vaal, Landru) or to undo the contamination from other Starfleet personnel (see John Gill, Ron Tracy). In this film, the story starts with Kirk breaking the laws to save Spock’s life, a selfish, thoughtless act that led to his omitting vital information from Starfleet. WAIT! There is more to read… read on »
Posted by Bob Greenberger on October 16, 2012
This has been a heady year for conventions. First there was all the After Earth star treatment at San Diego Comic-Con followed by the release of ReDeus: Divine Tales at Shore Leave. This past weekend, I was attending the New York Comic-Con and for the first time in ages, I was there as a book author, not a comic book guy. Voyageur Books rushed 100 copies of Star Trek: The Complete Unauthorized History from the printer to have for sale at the show, weeks ahead of its November 8 release.
For four days, I spent hours at the booth, cajoling curious customers, signing books, chatting up casual fans and having a ball. This was the first time I had actual swag related to my book. And I don’t mean just the post cards that were circulating these last few months. Nope, there were genuine buttons with the cover on them and we were giving them out with gusto. We, by the way, meant the book’s publicist Steve Roth, accompanied by marketing men Jeremy and Other Steve. WAIT! There is more to read… read on »
Posted by Bob Greenberger on October 8, 2012
A year ago at this time I was knee deep in the local election, interning at high school, and completing my master’s degree. There was also this little project that was dropped in my lap that was too cool to pass up.
And now, at last, I will get to hold a copy of Star Trek: The Complete Unauthorized History – and so will you.
I’m told copies are at Voyageur Press and it looks fabulous. I’ll take my first gander at it in person on Thursday when I attend NY Comic-Con. I can’t wait! Really, its weird knowing others have seen it already and are saying lovely things about it, but I still wait.
Anyway, I’ll be taking a break from my next project and my student teaching, to be at the show all four days. I will be at the Voyageur Books booth, #929, at the following times:
Thursday 6-7 p.m.
Friday 11 a.m. – 1 p.m.; 3 p.m. – 5 p.m.
Saturday 10:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.; 3:00 p.m. – 5 p.m.
Sunday 10:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.; 2 p.m. – 4 p.m.
Since the con did not see fit to use me for programming, the remainder of the time will be spent wandering the aisles, catching up with old friends, or hanging out at Peter David’s table BB-1, which is also being used as Crazy 8 Press central.
And once the show ends, the waiting for reviews and customer feedback will commence.
Posted by Bob Greenberger on September 28, 2012
Hard to believe that it’s been 25 years since Star Trek: The Next Generation debuted. I still recall hearing about it around the time the Original Series was celebrating their 20th anniversary in 1986. Then, DC Comics was offered the license to the new series and we were invited out for a visit.
They were still building the bridge when we were taken to the sound stages in May 1987. My first impression was that the overall design sensibility owed a lot to Matt Jeffries and they were honoring what came before. It was larger, of course, with the sloping ramps fore and aft, but it was clearly an Enterprise bridge.
To have a miniseries in support of the new series out that fall, we would have to work quickly so it was easy to turn to Mike Carlin, who had been writing the main book for a short while. Being on staff meant we could keep the few scripts we were sent in house and not worry about leaks, which was becoming an issue even back in those early AOL/Usenet days.
For the art, I turned to speed demon Pablo Marcos, who could bang out the model sheets working from a handful of Polaroids that were taken just as the pilot was finally shooting. We were informed that Patrick Stewart and Jonathan Frakes had approval rights so we did model sheets for those characters first, and followed with the other regulars which Paramount Licensing approved on their own. Stewart made it clear that Pablo had to give him less hair and make his head more pointed. We made it so.
Without much to go on beyond an ever-changing bible and maybe four scripts, Mike and I brainstormed ideas which proved prophetic since several of our concepts also found their way into the series. To this day I say it was all coincidence and not stealing but when I saw the episode with a powerless Q, I laughed and said, “We did it first!”
As a fan, I found the show maddeningly inconsistent in quality and fairly dull at first. It was clear cast and crew were feeling their way through this new concept and the quality improved incrementally throughout that first season. Truth be told, though, it wasn’t until mid-way through the second season with episodes like “Measure of a Man” that the show began to live up to its potential. It was only later we began to learn the truth of how ugly the birthing process was and how many people were burned in the process. A lot of those stories are recounted in the forthcoming Star Trek: The Complete Unauthorized History (hint, hint).
The universe Gene Roddenberry created was rich enough to sustain a look ahead, cementing his belief that mankind would not only make it to the stars, but be made better from the experience. Yes, it was challenging to tell stories where human conflicts were considered a thing of the past, but the writers and producers found ways to tell interesting stories over seven seasons, just as we explored further in the monthly series, which Mike Friedman and Pablo so ably launched. And who could forget those amazing Jerome Moore covers?
TNG’s success sparked a new financial model, allowing first-run syndication series to explode across television (and now cable). It also launched the television careers of countless writers and producers whose work we have continued to enjoy. The series proved so successful, Paramount, for good or ill, continued to ask for additional series set in that universe. There is so much this series gave us fans that we will always owe it a debt of gratitude.
Today, I salute Roddenberry’s creation and hope we continue to enjoy it for years to come in whatever form we find it.
Posted by Bob Greenberger on March 22, 2012
I’ve been thinking a lot about marketing of late. Over at Crazy 8 Press, we continue to try and figure out how best to get the word our when we have new material to offer. There are five of us with Facebook pages, blogs, and Twitter accounts plus our C8 website and Twitter feed. Still, I question whether or not we’re getting the word out as loudly or as broadly as we should. And if I am right, what aspects are missing?
With the Latchkeys series, there are 13 of us involved so we’re trebling the number of people we have screaming about the books but the sales don’t seem to indicate anyone is listening. (So, if you haven’t sampled books one and two, you might want to consider supporting the arts.)
At Lunacon this past weekend, I sat in on a panel discussing the value of Book Trailers and while they are pretty and do something, no one was convinced they helped sell actual copies of print or eBooks which I found dispiriting. WAIT! There is more to read… read on »
Posted by Bob Greenberger on January 17, 2012
I’m overdue writing here, but it’s been busy.
I returned from a week in Florida to concentrate entirely on completing the manuscript to Star Trek: The Complete Unofficial History. In December, it became clear I was threatening to run amok with the word count and my editor kindly ratcheted me back into place. It did mean, though, that much had to be trimmed before I could complete a draft. Paul Simpson and Howard Weinstein stepped up and each took a decade and helped me whittle. I was sorry to see stories go and other material truncated but there’s a tremendous amount of history to cover.
Contractually, it was due January 9 but my editor recognized that between the holidays and word cutting, I needed time and said I had all week. As it was, Deb was out of town on business for a stretch allowing me to focus on little else but the book. This allowed me to complete a manuscript that was still over the contracted word count but now at a manageable level. Once my final sidebar was delivered, I gave the manuscript a once over and submitted it on Thursday which meant, I was more or less on time.
My attention now turns to graphics. I have a bunch of stuff in my personal collection that needs to be scanned and submitted for consideration. Other fans from around the world have begun sending in stuff, too. If you have Trek-related pictures form conventions, events, museum shows, etc., let me know. We can send you a release form and you can send in 600 dpi images for the designer to consider using.
Beyond that, I am now also turning my attention to student teaching, which begins one week from today. Yesterday, I watched Patrick Stewart’s version of Macbeth and followed along with the text. Today I will begin reviewing my teacher’s notes and materials so I can begin thinking about how I want to teach the Bard. Maybe it’s a good thing I’m starting with his shortest tragedy.
I’ve got a few small odds and ends to deal with such as cleaning up desk and office related things. There’s a wee bit of writing to do but doubt I will have all that much time to build up a head of steam on anything new.
I intend to read plenty, catching up on books and magazines while I can. After all, I’ve been warned how all-consuming the teaching can be and after my December taste of it, I see what they mean.
Posted by Bob Greenberger on January 5, 2012
I was little surprised to see the cover to Star Trek: The Complete Unofficial History go live on the Facebook page last night, mostly because I had seen it for the first time in the morning and had asked for a tweak or two. Still, it’s a solid design and should be eye-catching enough given the inability to use licensed images. (By the way, click over to the FB page and “Like” us.)
I am now playing beat the clock as I complete my work on the manuscript, having lost a week to a Florida trip to spend the holidays with family. Thank goodness Howard Weinstein and Paul Simpson are playing beat readers for me, helping me trim excessive words and making my points sharper. This will make it a far better reading experience for you.
Posted by Bob Greenberger on December 31, 2011
The end of the year is a time to take stock, look back and figure out if this was a good year or a bad year. I think, for me, it was a transitional year.
I began – and completed – a Master’s Degree program in education. I also did a full year’s internship at Darien High School al to prepare me for being certified to teach Secondary Education English. As I have written before, the coursework varied from a waste of time to quite interesting. Still, I value my time in the high school which really has prepared me. In just a few weeks the adventure continues as I begin Student Teaching.
On the freelance front, it was a steady, albeit slow, year with a few nicely paying gigs that made up for the $100 and $200 jobs that were done more for love than money. The first six months of the year I was a Patch columnist although that dried up when I became a candidate for office. I did a few pieces for Star Trek Magazine, Marvel Spotlight, and Back Issue! I continued to review tons of stuff along with some news writing and interviewing for ComicMix.
I did a pile of writing and editing for Dynamic Forces which stretched my muscles in nice ways. I also edited the Dinosaurs and Animal Planet graphic novels for Silver Dragon Books with the latter scheduled to now finally show up around February.
I wrote 24 columns for Westfield Comics, letting me interview old friends and recommend stuff that might have been missed otherwise. My comics writing, though, was minimal: one Scooby-Doo story that has yet to see print.
Odd jobs included legal research for a publisher and being paid to write a sample chapter for a project that I really wished happened because I think my partner and I did a good job. On the other hand, some other stuff I did and can’t really talk about yet kept me busy with more to come.
I also dipped a toe into the digital world by helping launching Crazy 8 Press. It’s been an uneven six months but I did manage to get an older story back into print. “A Matter of Faith” has been available since October and has sold a whopping four copies so far. May the next offering, the second Latchkeys story (due in early 2012), do better.
Beyond that, Deb and I celebrated our 31st anniversary. We actually fit in a brief New Hampshire vacation along with spending Christmas week with Kate and our mothers. My mom turned 80 this week, surrounded by her siblings, children, and grandchildren so that was a special treat.
Looking ahead, I have to complete The Unofficial History of Star Trek in January and then hopefully other opportunities will present themselves. I suspect 2011 was a rebuilding year and all the time and investment of effort should pay off in 2012, making it a superior year.
Here’s wishing you all a Happy New Year!
Posted by Bob Greenberger on December 20, 2011
With all the focus on school and graduate school, I’ve had all too little to say about my freelance life. All year long, it has taken a back seat to my other obligations but remains a daily constant.
This week we should, at long last, send the Animal Planet project for Silver Dragon Books to the printer. There were countless delays with approvals or communication while some of the talent I hired missed their deadlines with regularity. Overall, it looks pretty sharp and should be out in early 2012. There will be a Free Comic Book Day edition so you can sample it in May.
Due out this month is The Art of Howard Chaykin but there have been delays there, too, and only in the last few days I answered the final questions posed to me. This hopefully will also be out from Dynamic Forces in early 2012.
I worked on one project that had me write a sample chapter in about a week only to discover the publisher realized they botched the timing and couldn’t sell the project so it died. Too bad, I’m proud of the work I did. On the other hand, some writing I’ve done for a company has led to additional assignments but I can’t talk about it yet.
A different project I wrote an outline and sample chapter for was a ghost writing assignment and much to my disappointment, we couldn’t move the deadline meaning I had to bow out of the project since it overlapped with The Unofficial History of Star Trek.
That book is humming along. I have been delighting in researching but frustrated at the stop and start nature of it as school and other things get in the way. Fortunately, I seem to be building up a nice rhythm and should be pretty close with my deadline. It’s fascinating to see the conflicting accounts of how things happened along with really close versions so I am trying to sift my way through the accounts, apply some logic and my own knowledge to try and pin down what I think really happened. Similarly, I am trying to put a lot of the information into a context that I have not seen elsewhere so even those who think they know the history will learn a thing or two.
In case you missed it, my short story, “A Matter of Faith” is still available for the Kindle and the Nook. Plus over at Crazy 8 Press, we announced the imminent arrival of the Latchkeys series where I am a contributor. More on that in the coming weeks.
Due out this week is The Art of Spider-Man Classic where I contributed the 1970s chapter and some shorter material. Gotham City 14 Miles, the anthology dedicated to the Batman television series, is now available at a lower price.
I am also working to wrap a career retrospective issue with someone rarely interviewed in the fan press and look forward to completing that and delivering it to Back Issue! in the first weeks of the New Year.
So yeah, I stay busy.
Posted by Bob Greenberger on September 8, 2011
One of my oldest friends, who I haven’t seen in something like 30 years, dropped me a note a little while ago, asking if I was doing anything to mark the 45th anniversary of Star Trek today. Laura got me to thinking and while I wasn’t watching when “The Man Trap” aired, I caught on soon enough.
I’ve written often through the years about my early days with the television series followed by the cons, the comics, and novels so there’s little point in rehashing that stuff.
Instead, I have to admit, my affection for the series, characters, and concepts remain strong. I think it’s terrific to see how many people have posted on Facebook and Twitter about the anniversary, recirculating YouTube clips of varying quality.
These days, though, I feel a little distanced from the franchise. The revolving door editorship at Pocket Books has meant a concept of mine, that I was assured was at Paramount for approval, apparently never got out of someone’s inbox. Instead, the scientific principle I built the story around got co-opted by another author for a book that came out this year. No foul, the science is real and he got lucky to get through the labyrinth.
Similar efforts to write for IDW got as a far as a script only to see the project canceled when sales for the line fell and the artist hadn’t started work after six months. New efforts to pitch have gone to no avail.
Thankfully, Paul Simpson over at Titan’s Star Trek magazine has use for me now and then. The current issue, for example, has my overview of Star Trek: The Next Generation’s third season.
It’s not a conspiracy on someone’s part or bitterness on mine, but some sadness. I love writing the characters and I love writing about the show. I look forward to a change in the solar winds which will allow me to resume. Until then, I chuckle at every reference I catch on television shows (most recently Leverage, Suits and Warehouse 13) or in movies. It speaks to the enduring appeal of the series and is a cultural shorthand so many of us understand. The show has become permanently embedded in the fabric of American society and that’s a pretty rare accomplishment, usually reserved for literary giants, top 40 singers, and a handful of others.
I salute the show and remember that Gene Roddenberry’s concept for “Wagon Train to the stars” proved to be far more than that. Qapla!