Books That Made Me – Part One

A recent post on Twitter from a good friend reminded me of the excellent occasional series of interviews that The Guardian newspaper conducts with various writers using a set outline of questions under the title “Books That Made Me.” Reading over a few of the more recent interviews made me think that it might be fun to take that outline and use it for my own series of blog posts. – Just how would I answer those same questions?

So with apologies to the Guardian, let’s take a look shall we:

What book am I currently reading?

It’s very rare that I am reading just a single book at a time, often it’s three or more. At the moment I have a pretty eclectic list of reads underway.

Fleming

“The Life of Ian Fleming” by John Pearson. I recently received a copy of “Ian Fleming: The Notes” published by Queen Anne Press which collects many of Pearson’s research notes from when he was writing his acclaimed 1966 biography of James Bond’s creator. Before diving into that much-anticipated volume I thought it would be a good idea to revisit the actual biography first.

R&R

“The History of Rock & Roll: Volume 1” by Ed Ward: My current bedside table read is this excellent, entertaining, and informative first volume on the history of rock from 1920 to 1963. As an aside, over the last few months, I’ve been listening to a podcast on The History of Rock Music in 500 Songs, which, other than common subject matter, has no connection with the book, yet as I’m reading I hear the text in the voice of the podcast’s presenter, Andrew Hickey.

bat100

On the coffee table in my library sits “Batman: 100 Greatest Moments” by Robert Greenberger. Covering the last 80 years of the Dark Knight’s career it’s providing some trips down memory lane from my years as a serious Batman collector while opening me up to some of the more recent tales I may have missed.

Disco

While the Kindle app on my phone is loaded with a copy of  “Star Trek Discovery: The Enterprise War” by John Jackson Miller featuring the tale of what happened to the iconic spaceship while under the command of Captain Christopher Pike during the Federation/Klingon conflict shown in the first season of the new Discovery series. It’s a fun read that sheds some interesting light on characters we feel we know but have never really been that deeply explored before. A good “stood in line at Starbucks and want to catch up” read; which is what I want from the books I read in digital format.  Something I can read anywhere whether I have a spare 5 minutes, or a spare 50 minutes.

What book changed my life?

This is a tricky one that took a lot of thinking about. Was it “Tom Swift and the Cosmic Astronauts” that I got out of the library as a youngster that introduced me to the concept of cosmic adventure, or discovering DUNE at college and realizing how mind-expanding  SF could be? The Readers Digest abridged books version of The Man With The Golden Gun that introduced me to the works of Ian Fleming, or the James Bond Annual that sparked my fascination with the 007 movies? The various comics that proved to be turning points in my life (that is probably fodder for another blog post)?

ZEN

In the end, I think the vote goes to “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance” by  Robert M. Pirsig. I read the book while serving on-board container ships as a junior engineer, and it helped me come to the realization that as much as I love, and am fascinated by, machines I didn’t really gain much personal satisfaction from working on them. I wanted to share knowledge about them, I wanted to share about what they could do; and that despite the fact that I couldn’t spell (and still can’t) I really could do that one thing I’d wanted to do since the age of seven despite being repeatedly told I couldn’t do it –  be a writer.

Next time I’ll be thinking about:

  • The book I wish I’d written.
  • The book that had the greatest influence on my writing.

Till then, keep reading.

The Ones That Got Away – Star Trek Manga

ST_POABack in 2006, Tokyopop, a US based publisher of Japanese style manga comics produced a volume of new manga style stories featuring the cast and concepts of the original Star Trek series. A couple of more volumes appeared in the following year, and as we were working with Tokyopop on GOD SHOP our planned manga series at the time, I was asked to pitch several story ideas for the Trek series. This was pretty much a dream come true to be asked to pitch for Star Trek. Although none of my ideas were picked, it was an honor to even be asked.

While hunting through some old files the other day I came across a document outlining those long forgotten attempts to help guide the adventures of the crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise, and thought it might be fun to share a few of them here.

THE GAME

Two years after its original visit to Sigma Iota II (in 2268 in TOS episode “A Piece of the Action”) the Enterprise returns to see how its “gangster culture” has progressed. The planet is now run like late 20th Century Las Vegas with the “mobsters” controlling strings of casinos. The landing party is captured by the current boss and Kirk must play a high stakes card game for the lives of everyone being held hostage. The game is “Fizzbin” an imaginary game invented on the fly by Kirk as a ruse during their previous visit. However the Iotians – known to be highly impressionable – have developed the idea into a real game. Can Kirk bluff his way out of this one, or will he be forced to play a game where he doesn’t know the rules? As the game progresses it turns out that the game’s underlying complex logic means that it is Spock who is the best player and wins the crew’s freedom.

THE GREAT HUNT

A young Klingon warrior is chosen by the empire for training on a special mission. A mission to totally eradicate one of the empire’s greatest foes. As the training goes one, the young warrior begins to wonder the exact nature of the foe he must face. Eventually he boards the ships of the armada being assembled to obliterate the foe’s homeworld, and once on board he learns that he has been assigned to take part in The Great Tribble Hunt.

THE THREE RUSSIAN PIGS

During a visit to a starbase Ensign Chekhov is nearly bowled over by a group of unruly kids. Deciding to try and calm the youngsters down he decides to tell them one of his classic “Russian” folktales. The tale he decides to tell is his version of the Three Little Pigs, in which the characters he describes pay more than a passing resemblance to Kirk, Spock and McCoy, while the Big Bad Wolf is portrayed by Khan. Unknown to Chekhov the three officers are stood behind him listening to his tale.

WAGON TRAIN TO THE STARS

The Enterprise encounters a convoy of old Earth ships deep in space being attacked by a hostile force. The Earth ships are clustered together for protection. The Enterprise arrives and scatters the attackers. The Earth ships belong to a collection of unauthorized colonists who had decided to set off on their own to find a new home on the frontier and had based their journey on the early American pioneers. Despite the unauthorized nature of the venture, Kirk decides to give them needed supplies and point them in the direction of the nearest uninhabited Class-M planet. The Enterprise crew is impressed by the spirit and determination of this “wagon train to that stars.”

 

 

Treking my way through ArmadilloCon

ArmadilloCon time is almost upon us. The literary festival in Austin was one of the first SFF conventions I attended and in many ways it remains my favorite. I’ve made a lot of friends at the con over the years, and always enjoyed some great conversations and discussions on the various panels I’ve been on. This year looks like it’s going to be another good one with some great writers and artists in attendance. We’ll all be congregating at the Omni Southpark Hotel in Austin between august 4th and 6th, so come join us.

You’ll be able to catch me chatting about various subjects including:

  • Writing Golden Age Fiction Today (Friday at 5:00pm)
  • Social Media For Writers (Saturday at 10:00am)
  • Star Trek: TNG – A Generation Later (Saturday at 4:00pm)
  • The State of Comics (Sunday at 11:00am)
  • Best SF TV Series Evah! (Sunday at 2:00pm)

On Saturday at noon I’m scheduled to do a reading, and it’s traditional at these sort of events to read something from your latest works.  I’m lucky in that in the past month I’ve had two books published which contain my work….

FullSizeRender-3

…. but I’m not sure Enterprise Information Management or the pulp adventures of a 1930s New York private eye are a good fit for an SFF audience.

But then today I found out about the following bit of news.

OMIS

The upcoming release of a book about the 30th anniversary of Star Trek: The Next Generation, in which I have one of the essays. And am I not moderating a panel on this very subject the same day? – Problem solved.

So if you come along to my reading I’ll regal you with my unique take on the original series episode “Specter of the Gun” from the earlier companion volume of essays, and give you a sneak peek at my thoughts about the controversial Next Generation episode “Skin of Evil.

Hope to see you there.

 

 

 

The Last Ramble of 2016 – Actually it wasn’t all that bad after all.

It seems to be the general consensus that the last twelve months has cumulatively amounted to a pretty shitty year. It’s definitely had its moments, and most of them have seemed bad.  On a personal front we as a family have had some down times in 2016, but we’ve also experienced some profoundly incredible moments.

Writing wise I’ve also had some disappointments this year with work not getting published as originally planned; but that’s all part of the game. The year finished strong with two new books published that contained some of my work. So keep a look out for:

quatermain2

Quatermain: The New Adventures Vol. 2 – that contains my new short story “Stones of Blood,” that takes Quatermain from the streets of London, and an encounter with a certain young consulting detective, to the battlefields of the first Boer War in search of diamond smugglers.

BoldlyGo

Outside In Boldly Goes – that includes “Trouble in Tombstone” – An alternate report of the events of the classic Star Trek episode Specter of the Gun.

Some of the other highlights of 2016 have included (in no particular order):

  • My weekly blog post series at the OpenText Blog, as well as a new monthly column at CMS Wire.
  • A return to doing movie reviews for RevolutionSF
  • Fun times at various conferences and conventions including the Content Marketing World, Lavacon, DX Summit, Peoria Comic Con, Comicpalooza, Armadillocon, and WizardWorld Austin.
  • Guesting on several podcasts such as Batman vs James Bond, Pros@Cons, White Rocket and more.
  • Having two of my stories recorded as Audio Book versions on Audible.
  • and of course writing a lot of stuff that’s still in the pipeline that will be published next year.

Talking of next year I’ve decided to drop the (mainly) monthly Ramble format for this newsletter and instead I’m planning on diving back into my archives to present some behind the scenes stuff, as well as some insights into current projects, on a  (hopefully)more frequent basis.

Look out 2017  – it’s going to be fun.

 

 

November Rambles.

AlanPorter_003

I’m in the middle of doing some research for an essay that is scheduled to appear in a friend’s business book, but decided to take a quick break to do my monthly update post (Although I just realized I missed last month – oops).

The essay in question is the last of the various essays and short stories I had scheduled for 2016. By my count I now have the following work sitting at various publishers waiting for projects to be completed and published:

  • Short story featuring Rick Ruby, Private Eye
  • Short story featuring Allan Quatermain (and special guest).
  • Essay on Action Man
  • Essay for a Star Trek Original Series project
  • Essay for a Star Trek: The Next Generation project
  • Essays for two business books

Hopefully some of these see the light of day over the coming months.

For 2017 I’ve decided to take a short sabbatical from accepting these sort of short side assignments and focus on completing my four major ongoing projects.

  • The FORGOTTEN CITY comic book series (of which I have the final three issues to write).
  • Complete the revisions and additions to the James Bond Lexicon
  • Complete the research phase for the U.N.C.L.E. Lexicon
  • and get a polished draft together for my novel-in-progress.

So here’s to focus and a productive year ahead at the keyboard.

August Rambles

Wow where did the year go? It’s definitely been an interesting and eventful one for us, with more fun still to come.

If things work out to plan the following books will be heading to a store near you or available on-line before the year is over:

  • The Joy of Joe – with my essay “So Who Is This Joe Fellow You’ve All Been Talking About,” on my recollections of  Action Man.
  • Outside In Boldly Goes – which will contain my take on the classic Star Trek episode “Specter of the Gun.”
  • Quatermain Adventures Vol. 2 – containing my story “Stones of Blood.”

In the meantime you can find a new page on this site with direct links to some of my existing books for sale on Amazon.

Work is continuing on editing the James Bond Lexicon project and compiling information for the follow-on U.N.C.L.E. Lexicon, and I’ve made a return to movie reviewing in my Editor-at-Large role for RevolutionSF. You can find my thoughts on the recent Suicide Squad movie online HERE.

SUICIDE SQUAD

A lot of my focus over the last few months has been around my business writing with several white-papers under my belt as well as developing regular series of weekly blog posts which you can find HERE. This has lead to a couple of additional opportunities to write a regular monthly piece for a leading industry thought-leadership website as well as an article for another prestigious media industry magazine. More on these as stuff is published over the coming months.

 

 

 

The May Ramble

Once again I just manged to sneak in under the wire with this month’s update on various writing related goings on.

Work continues on editing and updating the James Bond Lexicon manuscript to include the newest 007 adventures including the latest movie, SPECTRE, as well as novels such as Trigger Mortis, Shoot to Kill, and the Vragar comic book series. My own personal 007 adventures continued with a great weekend earlier this month with fellow members of the Ian Fleming Foundation as we moved the IFF collection of vehicles into a new larger workshop home. (Here I am hanging out with the helicopter that chased Sean Connery’s Bond in From Russia With Love).

IMG_6024

While the Bond Lexicon may be still be someways away from publication, it looks like there will be at least two books published this year that will contain a few words from me.I have handed in my essay on Action Man for the upcoming Joy of Joe book celebrating the worlds of G.I. Joe. And I was delighted to find out that the Star Trek themed charity project Outside Boldly Goes is now scheduled for release later in 2016. This fun project includes my take on the classic Trek episode “Spectre of the Gun”.

BoldlyGo

Another cool surprise this month was finding out that there is an audio version of my Allan Quatermain novella, “Golden Ivory“, in production. I’m looking forward to hearing that.

On the comics front I completed and turned in the scripts for the new licensed comics gig I mentioned in the last few newsletters. Unfortunately the publishers and studio involved decided to make some significant changes to the length and tone of the projected series, so my scripts now won’t be used. A shame, but it was a good learning experience. Work on FORGOTTEN CITY continues with the first trade-paperback collection almost ready for publication. Plans are in place for the final three issues (#13-15), while work continues on producing issues #6-12.

Talking of comics, I’m looking forward to two great comics conventions in the next few weeks with the Peoria based Artist & Comics Expo taking place the weekend of June 11th and 12th, and then it’s off to Houston, Texas, the following weekend for Comicpalooza (June 17-19). Hope to see some of you there.

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DilloCon fast approaching

August already, and that means it’s almost time for one of my favorite weekends of the year, ArmadilloCon.

The provisional schedule is up and it looks like I’ll be on the following panels:

Friday, August 26th

  • 5:00pm – The Magic of Collaboration.
  • 9:00pm – What’s New with Doctor Who?

Sunday, August 28th

  • 10:00am – Fans in the Mainstream Media: Big Bang Theory, etc.
  • 12:00pm – Secret History
  • 1:00pm – Flaming Nacelles & Giant Snails – My slideshow on Star Trek comics

Looking forward to it.

The full program grid can be found HERE.