content by

David Mack

Fiction and Excerpts [2]

Fiction and Excerpts [2]

Star Trek: Typhon Pact: Zero Sum Game (Excerpt)

, || A spy for the Typhon Pact—a new political rival of the Federation—steals the plans for Starfleet's newest technological advance: the slipstream drive. To stop the Typhon Pact from unlocking the drive's secrets, Starfleet Intelligence recruits a pair of genetically enhanced agents: Dr. Julian Bashir, of station Deep Space 9, and Sarina Douglas, a woman whose talents Bashir helped bring to fruition, and whom Bashir thinks of as his long-lost true love. Bashir and Douglas are sent to infiltrate the mysterious species known as the Breen, find the hidden slipstream project, and destroy it. Meanwhile, light-years away, Captain Ezri Dax and her crew on the U.S.S. Aventine play a dangerous game of cat and mouse with a Typhon Pact fleet that stands between them and the safe retrieval of Bashir and Douglas from hostile territory.

Six Books of Truly Epic Secret History

Most fans of fantasy and science-fiction literature are familiar with the concept of alternate history—tales that spring from such speculations as “What if the Confederacy had won the Civil War?” or “What if the Roman Empire had never fallen?” and so forth—but less well known is the niche of secret history (sometimes referred to as “shadow” history).

Unlike their cousins of alternate history, tales of secret history are designed to mesh with reality and history as we think we know it. Rather than posit changes to major events of the past, stories in the secret history subgenre speculate what might have happened behind the scenes, or in the shadows, of the past or present that we all take for granted.

[Read more]

Five Books About Bad-Ass Modern-day Magicians

In decades past, if one asked readers of fantasy to picture a magic-user, most would envision a figure in medieval garb, wielding a wand or a gnarled staff capped with an orb, and perhaps wearing a pointy hat. Though long a staple of the swords-and-sorcery niche, spell-slingers have proved to be just as much at home in the urban-fantasy subgenre.

There are, of course, as many ways to depict magicians in modern-day settings as there are authors to write them. There are monster-hunters, vampire-lovers, world-jumpers, and countless other variations on the concept. My personal favorite? Big-city magicians as stone-cold badasses, living life beyond the law, in the shadows, and forever skirting the rough edge of self-destruction. Here are five that I love.

[Read more]

Series: Five Books About…

Read “Hell Rode With Her,” a Novelette Set in David Mack’s Dark Arts Series

David Mack’s Dark Arts series continues as the wizards of World War II become the sorcerers of the Cold War in the globe-spanning spy-thriller The Iron Codex—available January 15th from Tor Books.

To tide you over until the book arrives, we’re thrilled to present “Hell Rode With Her,” which takes place between books one and two of the series. David Mack explains:

This novelette is a story arc that was excised from the first Dark Arts novel, The Midnight Front. It details events that befall Russian-born sorceress (aka “karcist”) Anja Kernova after she deserts from the Red Army in late 1943. This was in fact the first part of the Dark Arts series that I wrote, and Anja’s confrontation with her countrymen during the Great Patriotic War sets the stage for the series’ second book, The Iron Codex, in which Anja is the chief target of an international magickal arms race in 1954.

[Read more]

Learning to Make Wine For the Apocalypse

In this ongoing series, we ask SF/F authors to describe a specialty in their lives that has nothing (or very little) to do with writing. Join us as we discover what draws authors to their various hobbies, how they fit into their daily lives, and how and they inform the author’s literary identity!

Like most writers, I take my drinking seriously. So seriously, in fact, that in recent years I started learning how to make my own booze. Y’know … just in case the apocalypse happened and someone needed to know how to perform this valuable social service.

[Read more]

All For One: Star Trek III: The Search For Spock

The third Star Trek feature film gets a bad rap. It had a hard act to follow. How could any movie continue the saga after the masterful and heart-wrenching second film, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan? Even today, few fans list the third film among their three most-favorite of the eleven feature films, and it often cracks viewers’ top five simply by default rather than out of affection. While I acknowledge that the film has flaws, I think it’s far better than most people remember.

[Read more]

Series: Star Trek Movie Marathon

Star Trek Re-watch: “The Cage”

The Cage
Written by Gene Roddenberry
Directed by Robert Butler

Original Series Pilot
Production episode 0x1
Original air date: Oct. 4, 1988
Stardate Unknown

Recap: Dayton Ward

The Enterprise is traveling in deep space, and we drop in on the bridge crew under the command of Captain Christopher Pike. Everybody is tense while watching the viewscreen, as something’s heading directly for the ship. One of the bridge officers reports that it’s a “radio wave; an old-style distress signal,” which apparently was designed to scare the crap out of anybody who might happen across it. The signal indicates a vessel, the S.S. Columbia, was forced to crash-land eighteen years ago somewhere in the “Talos star group,” a remote area that has never been explored.

Without any evidence that there might be survivors after all this time, Pike decides that checking out some heretofore unknown dustball is a waste of time. He opts to continue on to the Vega colony where injured members of the ship’s crew can be treated… because the Enterprise’s sickbay apparently is closed for the season or something. I guess this mission came before that whole “explore strange new worlds, seek out new life-forms, blah blah blah” credo.

[No wonder Roddenberry had to start over…]

Series: Star Trek Rewatch

Star Trek Re-watch: Season Three Wrap-Up

As we reach the end of the third season and prepare to pack up the DVDs, it seems time to take a moment and look back over Star Trek’s final 24 original episodes and consider their merits, faults, and hidden meanings. It’s been an uneven season, disappointing or even boring at times, but also marked by a few surprisingly good highlights.

[Read more]

Series: Star Trek Rewatch

Star Trek Re-watch: “Turnabout Intruder”

Turnabout Intruder
Teleplay by Arthur H. Singer
Story by Gene Roddenberry
Directed by Herb Wallerstein

Season 3, Episode 24
Production episode 3×24
Original air date: June 3, 1969
Stardate 5928.5

Recap: Dayton Ward

The Enterprise arrives at Camus II after receiving a priority distress call from a science outpost located there to study the ruins of a dead civilization. Beaming down to see what’s what, Kirk, Spock, and McCoy find only two survivors: Doctors Arthur Coleman and Janice Lester. Coleman informs Kirk that Lester, who’s lying in a bed and looking to be in obvious discomfort, has been exposed to some unknown radiation. She’s delirious, but not so much that she and Kirk can’t exchange one of those knowing smiles that tells us they share a past. Oh, good… another of the captain’s flings comes back to bite him right in the aft deflector shields. Everybody got their popcorn?

Or, if you turn back now, you can still escape with your sanity at least somewhat intact.

[No way, Dayton! Torture me some more!]

Series: Star Trek Rewatch

Star Trek Re-watch: “All Our Yesterdays”

All Our Yesterdays
Written by Jean Lisette Aroeste
Directed by Marvin Chomsky

Season 3, Episode 23
Production episode 3×23
Original air date: March 14, 1969
Stardate 5943.7–5943.9

Recap: David Mack

The Enterprise crew detects a star, Beta Niobe, that will supernova in just three and a half hours and destroy its inhabited only planet, Sarpeidon. However, despite reports that its people lacked spaceflight capabilities, the planet is now deserted. Instead of celebrating the Sarpeidonites’ timely escape, our heroes fly toward this catastrophe aborning, determined to investigate it first-hand.

[Because what could possibly go wrong?]

Star Trek Re-watch: “The Savage Curtain”

The Savage Curtain
Teleplay by Arthur Heinemann
and Gene Roddenberry
Story by Gene Roddenberry
Directed by Herschel Daugherty

Season 3, Episode 22
Production episode 3×22
Original air date: March 7, 1969
Stardate 5906.4—5906.5

Recap: Dayton Ward

In orbit above a nasty-looking red planet, the Enterprise conducts surveys and sensor scans. Kirk and the gang are puzzled by the apparent presence of life-forms despite an environment that seems completely inhospitable, with the surface covered by molten lava and all. Despite its reportedly poisonous atmosphere, there’s some kind of power generation happening down below, indicating an advanced civilization.

There’s no way a landing party can beam down and check things out, so Kirk orders a report sent to Starfleet detailing his plans to blow this popsicle stand and head someplace a bit more exciting. Somebody somewhere takes exception to that, because alarms start ringing and Spock says the ship is being swept by a powerful scanning beam.

Then, just as you might expect from a science-fiction show set in the far future and not featuring Will Robinson, the Robot and Dr. Smith talking to giant mutated vegetables, Abraham Lincoln shows up.

[ Oh, the pain]

Star Trek Re-watch: “The Cloud Minders”

The Cloud Minders
Teleplay by Margaret Armen
Story by David Gerrold
and Oliver Crawford
Directed by Jud Taylor

Season 3, Episode 21
Production episode 3×19
Original air date: Feb. 28, 1969
Stardate 5818.4–5819.3

Recap: David Mack

The Enterprise comes to Ardana, the only planet that produces the substance zenite, which is needed to save its Federation neighbor Merak II from a plague that’s killing all its plant life. Ardana’s leader, Plasus, hails the ship and says he’s ready to receive them with a shindig at his fancy cloud city, Stratos, but Kirk’s in a hurry to snag the zenite, so he and Spock beam down to the mine’s entrance, instead.

From Ardana’s surface they admire the cloud city, which Spock praises as a culture of art and intellectual pursuits where all violence has been eliminated. He and Kirk are then attacked by people in coveralls and goggles.

[Didn’t see that coming, did you?]

Star Trek Re-watch: “The Way to Eden”

The Way to Eden
Teleplay by Arthur Heinemann
Story by Michael Richards
and Arthur Heinemann
Directed by David Alexander

Season 3, Episode 20
Production episode 3×20
Original air date: Feb. 21, 1969
Stardate 5832.3–5832.6

Recap: Dayton Ward

The Enterprise is chasing a Tholian a stolen spaceship, the Aurora. When Kirk hails the ship to talk to whoever’s aboard, the other vessel stomps on the gas and tries to make a getaway. Kirk orders the Enterprise to give chase and uses tractor beams to capture the renegade ship. The little ship tries to escape and its engines overheat till they’re about to explode. Naturally, Kirk orders the tractor beams cut, right? Um, no, and the ship blows up. Thankfully, Scotty was hanging out in the transporter room. (The dude has no life. Seriously.) He beams aboard the ship’s occupants and covers Kirk’s ass.

[It’s all downhill from there…]

Star Trek Re-watch: “Requiem for Methuselah”

Requiem for Methuselah
Written by Jerome Bixby
Directed by Murray Golden

Season 3, Episode 19
Production episode 3×21
Original air date: Feb. 14, 1969
Stardate 5843.7–5843.8

Recap: David Mack

The Enterprise is a plague ship: three of its crew have been killed and 23 others infected by Rigellian Fever. To fight the disease, McCoy needs a lot of ritalin ryetalyn, the only known antidote. The ship’s sensors detect a rich deposit on Holberg 917G, an unexplored planet in the Omega system. With just four hours before the epidemic becomes irreversible, Kirk, Spock, and McCoy beam down to find and acquire the rare substance.

They’re on the planet all of ten seconds before Spock’s tricorder picks up a human life sign the ship’s sensors missed, and a gravity-defying stainless-steel gumball machine starts shooting at them. They try to shoot back, but their phasers have stopped working.

[So, how do they avoid death by gumball machine?]

Star Trek Re-watch: “The Lights of Zetar”

The Lights of Zetar
Written by Jeremy Tarcher
and Shari Lewis
Directed by Herb Kenwith

Season 3, Episode 18
Production episode 3×18
Original air date: Jan. 31, 1969
Stardate 5725.3

Recap: Dayton Ward

The Enterprise is on its way to Memory Alpha, which, as everyone knows, began life as a website in the early 21st century before its storehouse of information became so great that they had to punt the whole thing to a planetoid in deep space. Now, it’s the repository of all historical, cultural, and scientific information for all member worlds of the United Federation of Planets.

Along for the ride is Lieutenant Mira Romaine, who’s been given the job of supervising the installation of new equipment at Memory Alpha. It’s a long journey, which gives Scotty plenty of time to wander around the ship following Romaine like a lovesick puppy. It’s distracting enough that Kirk even mentions it in his blog captain’s log just how badly Scotty’s fallen into that insidious trap called love.

[ Of course, it all goes to hell from there…]

Star Trek Re-watch: “That Which Survives”

That Which Survives
Teleplay by John Meredyth Lucas
Story by Michael Richards
Directed by Herb Wallerstein

Season 3, Episode 17
Production episode 3×14
Original air date: Jan. 24, 1969
Stardate unknown

Recap: David Mack

The Enterprise crew discovers an “impossible” planet. Only a few thousand years old and the size of Earth’s moon, it has Earthlike gravity, density, atmosphere, and vegetation—none of which could have developed naturally in so short a time. Captain Kirk decides this merits investigation. (Gee, you think?) He assembles a landing party consisting of himself, Dr. McCoy, senior geologist D’Amato, and helmsman Sulu—because the pilot is the first guy you want to take on a planetary survey. Screw those lazy botanists.

As the landing party starts to beam down, an alien lady whose eye shadow sports more colors than a bag of Skittles appears in the transporter room and declares, “Stop! You must not go!” Then, with one touch she kills the transporter operator—ironically, the only person who could have halted the process.

[Well, bugger]

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