Saturday, 31 August 2013

Book bits: Cool new German cover, hints of books to come, and better look at new DS9

Remember how disappointing Fallen Gods' cover was? The one with a big Riker head, and reuse of the USS Titan image from Sword of Damocles. Well there's good news for German readers; unlike all the previous Titan translations from Cross Cult (not counting crossover series books), the new German release of Fallen Gods (due in July next year) will have a brand new cover by Martin Frei, featuring Tuvok and a whole bunch of Andorians. Here's the first draft (released on the German Star Trek books Facebook page):


In other books news, Christopher L. Bennett has updated his website with a set of annotations for his most recent Star Trek book, the new Enterprise novel, Rise of the Federation: A Choice of Futures. Check them out for details of all the references to Star Trek, real science, and more.

TrekCore recently interviewed David R. George III, including getting him to spill a few beans on his 2014 Star Trek novel:
All right. I’ll give you this: my next Star Trek novel will take place during the so-called Lost Era, the large gap of time between Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country and the launch of the Enterprise-D in "Encounter at Farpoint."
Later teasing:
At the moment, I am very much into the time period 2303-2319.
Quite a wide span of time for one novel, I'm intrigued! George also spoke a little about his latest novel, the freshly published first book in The Fall series, Revelation and Dust:
The story I developed for Revelation and Dust essentially had to serve three different masters. On the one hand, my tale needed to launch the five-book arc that would continue with Una McCormack's The Crimson Shadow, David Mack’s A Ceremony of Losses, James Swallow’s The Poisoned Chalice, and conclude with Dayton Ward’s Peaceable Kingdoms.

On the second hand, it would have to renew the ongoing Deep Space Nine saga, which in the Star Trek literary world has continued forward from the end of the television series. And on the third hand (this is science fiction, so I’m sure none of us will have any trouble positing a third hand), my novel would have to introduce the brand-new Deep Space 9 space station.

Although I already had in mind some DS9 elements that I wanted to write, I first met with editor Margaret Clark and the other writers of The Fall to determine the overall tale we wanted to tell. Our idea was that we would each produce a novel that would satisfy in and of itself, but that when read with the other entries in the series would tell a larger tale as well. Ms. Clark and all of the writers are consummate, creative professionals.
As for the overall story, I’ll simply say that in Revelation and Dust, a major event takes places in the Star Trek universe that will have significant repercussions throughout the Federation and well beyond its borders.
You can reader more from George about many of his books on TrekCore. Meanwhile, hiding in plain sight on his Twitter page I found the cover art for Revelation and Dust, without the titles. This is also a slightly wider crop than the cover image, giving us an even better look at the new Deep Space 9:


Finally, TrekFM's Literary Treks has also posted a new interview, with Dayton Ward. They talk primarily about his new novel, From History's Shadow. They speak at length about the book, including how Ward got into the period setting:
I had to emerse myself in the period: How people talk, what they worked with; the technology that was available at the time. Everybody smoked; it was good for you. Where things were, like the airforce bases were either army bases, or were named differently. Places that we take for granted didn't exist yet. It was a lot of fun, a lot of research.
Particularly for the UFO lore, for lack of a better term, I really wanted it to be as close as I could get to being right on. But obviously I had to make some concessions for the Star Trek take on certain events. But I really wanted, when you read about so-and-so is the commanding officer of the Blue Book Project, if you check the timeline for those projects, that's the guy who was running it back in the day.
They also discuss some of the characters that appear, and some of the plot points in the book. But that's all I'll say about that, as depending how much you know about the book, you might consider it quite spoilery. So have a listen, before or after reading, depending on your spoiler-level preferences.

Ward also gave an overview of the format for the new Vanguard spin-off series, Seekers. Giving some idea of the directions the series could take as they develop it:
The stories will be more stand-alone than Vanguard was, in terms of there's not this huge meta-story-arc that's driving the entire series; but there'll be character development and character arcs that covers multiple books. The stories themselves will be largely stand-alone, you'll be able to read them in any order. And then of course the format lends itself to us teaming up for the occasional two-parter or mutli-book story line if we want to.

Thursday, 29 August 2013

Paramount Blu: The Wrath of Trekkies

Last month when Paramount announced the extra features for the home video releases of Into Darkness I found myself surprised at how few they listed - Just seven featurettes, nothing else at all. Shrugging it off as information still to come, I left it at that. Then last week the digital download version of the film was released, including an audio commentary with the iTunes release. What a relief I thought, there are more extra features.

How wrong I was. As The Digital Bits discovered when they got their review copy, that really is all there is. There are more extras out there, they've just been sprinkled around as retailer exclusives: So to get the full experience, you need to go to Best Buy and Target to get their exclusive versions which come with bonus discs (or the Sainsbury's exclusive copy in the UK), and then despite all the disc releases coming with digital copies anyway, you'll have to go and get the iTunes download as well if you want the audio commentary.

Thanks a lot Paramount! I'm pretty sure you're not going to find many people crazy enough to buy the film three times to get everything, but you are rather certain to annoy the fans. And we're not just any fans, we're Trekkies, a passionate bunch, who support your Star Trek brand with unreasonable vigour!

I think the retailer exclusives that offer alternative covers, or extra stuff, are cool - Amazon has the phaser, Walmart/Play the Hot Wheels USS Vengenace, Walmart in Canada the Klingon Mimobot - They offer something for the fans that want to seek out some extra things, but don't detract from the basic offering on the discs themselves. Unlike this mess with the extra features.

Those of us who buy physical copies of films expect that investment to be rewarded with extra content, that you don't normally get from just downloading a title. What film doesn't have an audio commentary? That's a basic feature of home video releases! I'm sure I'm not the only one happy to pay a premium to get a deluxe edition of a film with a bunch of extra features I want to watch, but I'm not going to get it multiple times! This seems like a pretty obvious case of shooting themselves in the foot too, as this surely can't do anything but encourage illegal sharing of the illusive extra content. And whichever version you get, knowing this has happened, you know you've got an incomplete product.

Since The Digital Bits posted this many other sites have picked it up; TrekMovie, TrekWeb, io9, and Blastr, for starters. I'm adding my voice here to what I hope is a chorus Paramount cannot ignore! This is no way to treat loyal fans who want to buy your product. We want to enjoy the film, and then find out all about how it was made, and the people who made it. Don't abuse that loyalty to your brand.

Designing the nuKlingons

Star Trek Into Darkness concept artist Neville Page has updated his website with lots of artwork, examining how he developed the look of the nuKlingons. Commenting on his blog he noted:
This was a very important assignment for me because I knew how important it was to the fans of the franchise. It was a delicate balance of respecting the established looks from previous incarnations yet delivering something appropriate for JJ's film.
And also remarked on what he hoped to his look delivered:
Part of my self induced criteria was to do a cleaner version (especially regarding the forehead) and to make them sexy (or sexier if you already find them sexy!)
He has posted a gallery full of Klingon artwork, with numerous variations trying out different ridges, ranging from so subtle you almost cant see them, to dinosaur-style head-crests. There's similar exploration of beards with options ranging from styles that wouldn't be out of place on Mr T through to a Fu Manchu. My favourite is an elaborate design feature Pangolin-like scales over the hair (hair armour?):



Here are a few more that stand out to me, but be sure to check out Page's full gallery to see everything he worked on; they're very impressive designs!


Comics bits: Madefire's Star Trek motion books launch, and more John Byrne photo-comics

The first Star Trek motion book from Madefire is now available, they're kicking things off with Star Trek ongoing #1, the first half of the retelling of Where No Man Has Gone Before.

This is the first Star Trek comic released as part of Madefire's partnership with IDW: They take the original comics and recompose them with moving elements, unfolding sequences of images, and sound effects. You can see a few sample pages, complete with Star Trek sound effects on DeviantART, or via Madefire's iTunes app.

In other comics news, it appears John Byrne is hopeful that his forthcoming photo-comic will justify a sequel, as he's already started playing around with ideas for another story in the format. Posting on his forum he revealed a couple of panels he's started putting together:
The story I have in mind takes place on an Earth colony, but I wanted to stretch a bit beyond merely recycling some of the matte shots and Los Angeles locales that doubled for other worlds on TOS. There will be some of that, sure, since that's part of the fun, but I also wanted a bit more.
Continuing to play around in my head with various bits and pieces for a couple of possible future Photonovels. One story I realized would require a scene that I knew did not actually exist, and would therefore have to be built. So, since this was a rather IMPORTANT scene, I thought maybe I should build it now, rather than get that far into the story and discover I couldn't put together the pieces I needed!

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Walking all over the Enterprise

ThinkGeek have done it again! In their continuing mission to seek out strange new stuff and add a Star Trek twist, their next target is your flooring! Available now is the USS Enterprise rug, which is basically a meter wide schematic for your room of choice. Check it out:


Play your own Into Darkness soundtrack, and other nuTrek news

Good new trekkie pianists, due out in a couple of weeks from Hal Leonard, is the Star Trek Into Darkness score, for piano solo. The blurb below details the included tracks:
The piano-centric score to the 2013 film in the popular Star Trek series was penned by Michael Giacchino, and performed by the Hollywood Studio Symphony on the soundtrack. Our songbook features eight selections for piano solo: Brigadoom * Buying the Space Farm * Kirk Enterprises * London Calling * Meld-Merized * Star Trek Main Theme * Sub Prime Directive * Warp Core Values.
Pre-order: Amazon.com, Amazon.ca.

If you're prefer to leave playing the soundtrack to the professionals, and happen to be in the UK next May, then maybe you might also enjoy Star Trek Live in Concert, at the Royal Albert Hall. Since I last mentioned this, Star Trek Into Darkness Live in Concert  has also been added the day after, on the 30th of May, and with the both performances evidently being in demand, a third date was added, with both films playing back to back on the 31st!

In other Into Darkness news, Germany has become the fourth country where the Into Darkness bluray and phaser set is on offer. Like the French version, the German release comes with a steelbook version of the bluray:


Meanwhile in Japan, Alan Dean Foster's novelization has recently been released, in a Japanese translation.


Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Star Trek Topps preview pages

Out next month from Abrams ComicArts is the new Star Trek Topps trading cards book. With commentary by Paula M. Block and Terry J. Erdmann, the book will present the entire TOS Topps trading card collection, to stir nostalgic memories, or for younger fans introduce you to one of the earlier Star Trek tie-in products. io9 have posted several sample pages, with give a nice idea of the format. There are some interesting little insights into the production of the cards amongst the descriptions (more pages after the jump):




Interestingly obscure stuff coming to Star Trek Online

Star Trek Online has revealed some of the latest things coming to the game: Mining the Star Trek universe for obscure stuff they can expand upon, their latest additions will make use of the quiet aliens from Silent Enemy, while Voth will be making a return, alongside a Dyson Sphere, in a future update.

The Silent Enemy aliens, which STO have called Elachi, are to be allies of the Tal Shiar, here's the in-universe story of their return, from STO's announcement:
Although reports of similar alien encounters have been recorded as far back as the 22nd Century, it wasn't until their ships first appeared in Romulan space that the Elachi finally came to be known by name. Since these mysterious, silent adversaries began working in concert with Tal Shiar forces, they have mounted a series of devastating attacks on colonies and settlements and are believed to be responsible for hundreds – possibly even thousands – of disappearances in this region of known space. These abductions have struck fear into the hearts of many species in the Alpha and Beta Quadrants, and people across the galaxy now look into the skies and wonder if the Elachi will be coming for them next.

During the many clashes between Elachi and the Romulan Republic and its allies, many examples of Elachi technology have been recovered and are being adapted to help fight these silent enemies. Elachi technology may even allow ships to someday explore subspace, where the Elachi apparently have the ability to safely travel and even construct stations for their fleets.

Study of this technology is still ongoing, but initial findings indicate a possible link between the Elachi and artifacts of Iconian origin. What the connection between these species could be is yet to be determined. And the Elachi themselves have not been known to talk about anything, much less divulge the secrets of their origins.
As usual, these new releases to STO come in the form of opportunities to pick up a selection of themed items from a lock box, and Lobi crystal exchange. There are two Elachi ships available, the S’golth class escort, which is reminiscent of the original Enterprise design:


And the Monbosh class battleship, which also have the ability to launch fighters:


Also included in this release is an Elachi bridge design, new weapons, such as the distinctive crescent weapon, Elachi ground-combat robotic drones, and the usual assortment of mirror universe versions of other STO ship designs. See a few examples of those, and a look at STO's Voth, after the jump@

Monday, 26 August 2013

First details of Starships Collection special issues

With the first issue of Star Trek: The Official Starships Collection only just out in the UK, the first details of the "special issues" is starting to surface, via the magazine collection's project manager, Ben Robinson, on Facebook. The special issues have been long rumoured, since the first issue list appeared last year, but it's always been a bit ambiguous as to what exactly they are. Robinson has described them as oversized issues, with the first, Deep Space 9, set for release late this year or early next year. It's not yet clear if these will take the place of a standard issue in the fortnightly releases, or come out as extra issues on top of the regulars. Robinson released this image of the painted prototype of Deep Space 9:


Being a spindly fragile thing, the station will apparently be delivered in a big polystyrene block to protect it in transit. It has already been announced that the nuTrek ships in the collection would also be released as special issues, and when the first issue list was released it suggested other space stations (Earth Spacedock maybe?) might also get the special treatment.

Robinson also posted a photo showing many of the ships in the collection, including the first look at prototypes of the USS Dauntless, and Enterprise-era Romulan Bird of Prey and Tholian ship. Deep Space 9 is also among the group, and notably larger than the ships:


Note the subscription bonus big Borg cube model also seems to have had an upgrade from the version Eaglemoss have been using in all their promotional material. The version in this image has much more refined details (so hopefully this is more like the one we'll be getting!).

Also posted recently on the Starships Facebook page is the confirmed listed of the first thirty issues. Only the last few have been jiggled about since the last list, but for the sake of giving a sense of the series, here's the entire list (after the jump):

Sunday, 25 August 2013

Book bits: KRAD's Klingon return, next Voyager novels, and latest German and French titles

A few bits of book news: Starting with news that Keith R.A. DeCandido finally has a new Trek book on the way! Now listed for release next May, from Simon and Schuster, is Klingon Art of War. A hundred-and-sixty page hardcover release, I expect this is a new "non-fiction" book. No other details just yet though. Thanks to dhorizon to pointing this out via Twitter. UPDATE: UnrealitySF's Jens Deffner has unearthed a bit more about this (via Chronic Rift), and pointed me towards it: Like so many of the recent Star Trek non-fiction books, this is being developed by Becker and Mayer, and the listing on their website has a cover a blurb:
Klingons fight, but they do not merely fight. For Klingons, battle is a dance, a way of living with dignity and purpose. This is central to the concept at the heart of Klingondom: honor.

The Klingon Art of War lays out the principles of the Klingon code that animates their entire culture. Each chapter introduces another part of the Klingon ethic and explores the ways it informs Klingon life, behavior, and history. Each chapter also celebrates famous Klingons, warships, and battles, and the role they've played in advancing the Klingon Empire.

There's also news of the next few Voyager relaunch novels! TrekCore recently interviewed Kirsten Beyer, where she talked about all her work on the Voyager relaunch, and more. She gave this summary of next year's new Voyager novel, Protectors:
Protectors picks up right where The Eternal Tide left off, but it does cover more time than my books have up to this point, with the exception of Full Circle. It has a lot of ground to cover. In addition to beginning Janeway on her new journey, the reality of the fleet’s new circumstances must be addressed.

They started out as nine ships. Now they are three with one more back in the Alpha Quadrant and a big job still unfinished. There is a new mission and lots of new discoveries that will continue to play out as the stories continue. Neelix does make an appearance. And no, I haven’t forgotten about Meegan, nor has the crew.

The Eternal Tide changed so much. One of the main tasks of Protectors is to show how those changes play out for all of the characters who started the journey of Project Full Circle, to bring closure to some of them, and to set the stage for resolutions yet to come.
She also mentioned early work has already begun on the next books following Protectors:
There was no way to begin the new book, however, without thinking long-term. Luckily, my editors embraced this possibility, which is great for a number of reasons. It allowed me to think big, while knowing that I would have the time to develop those thoughts into a cohesive narrative.

There were issues already established prior to The Eternal Tide that need to be addressed. The massive alteration of the status quo came first, but also had to set the stage for what is to come. To do that, I had to know what that was going to be. Now, I do.

Although the paperwork has yet to be completed, so nothing can be stated to an absolute certainty, I am now in the process of outlining the book that will follow Protectors along with one more that will tie up currently dangling threads and stuff that is about to start unraveling with Protectors. This will include the return of some familiar faces, along with the introduction of lots of new ones.
Meanwhile in France, Amazon.fr have a listing up for a French edition of Star Trek: The Visual Dictionary. L'Encyclopedie Illustrée Star Trek is due out in November, and has a new cover:


Over in Germany, Cross Cult have announced they will be reusing the US cover art when they release Dayton Ward's Vanguard ebook, In Tempest Wake, and David R. George III's Typhon Pact novel, Plagues of Night. German translations of both are due out early next year.

Saturday, 24 August 2013

Lots of Into Darkness concept art released via Xbox app, plus latest home video news

Star Trek Into Darkness has now been released, in digital download format at least. The blurays and DVDs are still a few weeks away. Coinciding with he digital release Paramount have announced a new feature: Using the X-Box's SmartGlass application for mobile devices you can use your tablet as a second screen when watching Into Darkness, to see exclusive extra features such as concept art and behind the scenes images. StarTrek.com, IGN, Comic Book Movie, Coming Soon, and Wikia have all posted examples images from this feature, with lots of new artwork revealed; stunning examples like these:


You might notice there's a code under the title on each of these images. That can be input on the new Defeat Khan game site, where you win tickets to the Star Trek Live performances at the Royal Albert Hall in London. Most of the sites mentioned above have also posted video excerpts from the Into Darkness extra features, so make sure to click through and check them all out.

Continue after the jump for more Into Darkness news, plus other recent and forthcoming Star Trek home video releases: