Trek Nerdery: An Imaginary Series Proposal

A bit of nerdery-for-the-sake-of-nerdery, which I don’t get to indulge in as often as I’d like.

A proposal for a new STAR TREK TV series, with the 50th Anniversary approaching in 2016. Our imaginary series would simply be called “Star Trek”, with no subtitle — not a reboot though, a continuation (of the prime timeline, in fact), and given the imprimatur of the undiluted franchise name.

The Year: 2466 (79 years after last “prime universe” event (destruction of Romulus and Spock’s journey back in time) — simultaneously a tribute to the 1966 debut of the Original Series, and the 78 years that Next Generation was supposed to be after Kirk’s era, according to 1987 press releases.)

1701HThe Ship: USS Enterprise, NCC-1701-H, the first of the new Enterprise-class starships, equipped with quantum slipstream drive, and poised to begin the first intergalactic exploration: A five-year mission to the Large Magellanic Cloud.

The ship would have an identifiable saucer-and-nacelles look that says “Enterprise” to the casual viewer — perhaps something like the USS Grandeur design created by Jason Lee of Vektor Visual.

The Show: A return to the final frontier — exploration, first contact, trailblazing, and far less embroilment in the Milky Way geopolitics that has marked most of the Next-Gen-Era of Trek (and avoiding the “Lost in Space/trying to get home” angle of Voyager).

The Crew: (With casting, because, hey — why not?)

kirkCaptain Amelia Kirk, Commanding Officer, played by Kim Dickens. A descendant of one of the most famous Starfleet captains in history (and we never find out exactly how, which will drive the hardcore fans insane :) ). She recognizes the expectations of being a Kirk in command of an Enterprise, but very much feels as though she has earned this assignment. Driven, dedicated, brilliant, but also possessed of the familiar reckless charm of her namesake.

nkosiAmbassador Peter Nkosi, Federation diplomat, played by Keith David. Representative of the Federation council, in charge of first contact situations. You would expect there to be tension between this position and the Captain (who assumed this role in past series), yet that is not present here — Nkosi is an old family friend of Kirk’s, and fulfills the role of trusted advisor/uncle-figure.

ahrynnCommander Thalli Ahrynn, First Officer and Science Officer, played by Beth Riesgraf. One of the most critical mission specialists on the Enterprise, the Andorian officer is perhaps the most brilliant scientist in the entire Federation. She is not a “people person”, however — her Andorian stoicism and focus often results in her having difficulty in social situations, where she is viewed as blunt, pre-occupied and occasionally harsh.

taevLt. Taev, Chief Engineer, played by Aidan Turner. A young (60-something) Vulcan/Romulan hybrid — one of the generation born after the Reunification that followed the destruction of Romulus. Struggles with family issues — his family are Romulan traditionalists, and suspected of connection to separatist terrorism. They wanted him to be a soldier, not an engineer. Unlike the expectations of the audience to a vulcanoid character, Taev is fully emotive — in fact a bit of a rogue.

jadhavLt. Eshana Jadhav, Security/Tactical Officer, played by Aarti Mann. Handling combat operations and ship security, Lt. Jadhav is a young officer on her first command-level assignment, and a high-profile one at that. Her cheerful demeanor seems at odds with her job description — she runs security on the Enterprise almost like an affable town sheriff, with a light touch, a few words in the right ears. But when situations turn serious, she is revealed as a cooly professional and efficient fighter.

irexLt. Irex, Helmsman, voiced and motion-captured by Kevin Conroy (Batman The Animated Series). Given the fact that CG and motion-capture technology are now sufficiently advanced, it’s time for a truly alien crew member. Irex is a call-back to Arex, the alien helmsman who appeared in the Star Trek animated series in the 70s — a character that has now been convincingly pulled off by the fan film production “Phase II”. The Edosian helmsman is fast friends with Lt. Taev, and the two fill our “buddy” plot needs (similar to Bashir and O’Brien on DS9).

harkerDoctor Adrian Harker, Chief Medical Officer, played by Jack Huston. English doctor, xenobiology expert and talented surgeon, Harker was also formerly in a relationship with Kirk (during their Academy days) — a situation which both say is long behind them, as both chose their careers over the relationship. Whether that is strictly true, however, remains to be seen. (We would avoid tedious “will they or won’t they” games, but there will surely be fans who ship this HARD).

The Series: Unlike previous Trek series, this show would pack its budget into a cable-style shorter season — 10 to 13 episodes at most. A “Game of Thrones” in space. Plus, a finite end — five seasons, each covering a year of the five-year mission, and that’s it. Wrapping it up while it’s still good — no long decline into irrelevance.

So there you go — an imaginary series, which will never happen. But it’s fun to imagine “what if.” Hell, I’m half-tempted to write treatments for at least the first season…

Insurgent Creative: Write. Publish. Repeat.

Insurgent Creative

Insurgent CreativeOne of the projects that I’ve had churning around in the background is a revamped version of ePublishing 101 — a project that Phil Reed and I did some years ago. The original version was very game-industry specific (since the industry was an early adopter of digital publishing), so my plan is to expand the material to account for the current digital publishing boom.

My plans, however, are definitely going to have to change somewhat, due to the recent publication of Write. Publish. Repeat., which is unquestionably one of the best books on the topic of independent publication that I’ve ever read. My own efforts will definitely need to be stepped up to clear the now much-higher bar set by this book.

Johnny B. Truant and Sean Platt, two of the folks behind the excellent have written a clear, no-hype, no-bullshit examination of how to make a solid, full-time career as an independent author-publisher. No get-rich-quick schemes, no promises of millions, no political agendas about the superiority of self-publishing and blind ignorance of traditional publishing — just a clear discussion of the steps needed to make a living as a writer who releases their own stuff.

They break down the terms you need to be familiar with, debunk the usual myths, and give you step-by-step advice on topics ranging from creating professional product (how to avoid looking like an amateur, from pre-production, through writing, and into post-production), to marketing (building relationships, having conversations with your readers, etc.), to building what they refer to as “product funnels”(intellectual properties that lead customers from one purchase to the next in a natural progression).

A lot of this material is the same sort of stuff I’ve been talking about for a while, via these Insurgent Creative blog entries. Even with my familiarity with the tenets involved, I still found this to be an incredibly valuable resource, simply due to the examples and tips they provide — and they often suggested methods surrounding the concepts that I hadn’t considered.

I cannot recommend this book strongly enough. If you are looking at making a full-time living as an independent author-publisher, you need to read this.

Insurgent Creative: Matt Wallace’s First Year

Insurgent Creative

Insurgent CreativeMatt Wallace is a former professional wrestler, and current novelist, screenwriter and all-around purveyor of awesomeness. A year ago, he decided to release his novel, The Failed Cities, independently.

Today, he posts an examination of the first year of the book’s release, providing a look at sales numbers, his promotional and production choices, and more, all with links to additional posts discussing the various decision points along the past 12 months.

One of the interesting elements in his Year One study is his thoughts on collaboration with traditional publishing — where the author releases the digital, and contracts with a publisher for the print edition. He sees this as a model that is coming, despite his own experiences with trying to lead the horse to water:

I decided to use The Failed Cities as a proof-of-concept and pitch another book to larger publishers. I sent several proposals to some mid-range publishers basically saying, “Hey, I did this, we sold this many. I can produce/promote digital copies. You can produce physical copies. They’ll each promote and feed the other.”

They reacted like I was insane, of course. Publishers make huge bank off digital rights at the moment. They share criminally little of it with authors who are in general ignorant, frightened, and happy to give their money away. Publishers aren’t giving that up to some schmuck with a few thousand sales.

Only it’s not insane. It’s not insane at all. Louis CK did the exact same thing with HBO with his last one-hour special. He told them they could buy and broadcast the special, but he needed to be able to retain and sell the digital himself. It wasn’t worth it to him otherwise. If they didn’t agree he’d walk. They agreed.

He’s Louis CK and I’m Matt Wallace so the publishers told me to go screw. I get that. My numbers are too small and it’s too soon.

I’m of the opinion that this is a business model that a lot of smaller publishers should be looking into — partnering with author-publishers on the release of print editions of independently-released ebooks. Not the old “vanity press” model, where authors are duped into fronting the costs of production and un-distributed books end up filling the author’s garage, but a true business partnership — publishers licensing the rights to an existing work, to handle the production and distribution of the print edition. The large publishing houses are more interested in partnering with scummy scam artists like Author Solutions, so it will have to be the smaller publishers who move quickly and offer this valuable service — and it’s already starting to happen (as demonstrated by Wallace’s release of a limited edition hardcover of The Failed Cities in partnership with Murky Depths).

So head on over and check out his Year One report. Being an Insurgent Creative is all about being able to adapt, and having more information makes that process much easier. Be small, think big, move fast.