Production notes and trivia from my experiences on comic books, fiction, and games including
Star Wars: A New DawnStar Wars: Kenobi Star Wars: Knight Errant
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My first HALO prose appears in September's HALO: FRACTURES!

Friday, May 13, 2016

https://www.halowaypoint.com/en-us/community/blog-posts/canon-fodder-the-write-stuff
I had announced earlier this spring that my first Halo comics story would be in the new Halo: Tales from Slipspace hardcover coming from Dark Horse on October 12, 2016. Just as I did both Star Wars comics and prose, I can now announce I've done the same for Halo. My first Halo prose appears in Halo: Fractures, a short story anthology releasing September 20 from Simon & Schuster.

Halo Waypoint has the complete list of authors here, but you will find me among Star Wars and Star Trek alums Troy Denning, Christie Golden, and James Swallow, as well as Matt Forbeck and a lot of other fine folks. It appears to be a trade paperback collection.

So it will be a busy fall for me release-wise, as the anthology comes out the week before Star Trek: Prey Book 1 comes out. And then there's the Dark Horse book. Here's your place to preorder that one:

Amazon
Barnes & Noble
Indiebound

I expect to have preorder links available for Halo: Waypoint shortly.

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Indiana Comic Con!

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Just a quick post to alert the masses: I will be a guest at Indiana Comic Con, signing April 29-May 1 at the Wordfire Press booth, number 243.

I will also be doing a panel discussion version of my Rule the Galaxy Together: Writing in a Shared Universe presentation Saturday at 3 in Room 140 with special guests Jody Lynn Nye and Eric Flint.

It's my first Indiana convention since Gen Con in 2008, so I'm looking forward to seeing everyone!


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My first HALO comics story is in October's TALES FROM SLIPSPACE!

Friday, March 11, 2016

Continuing my string of weekends where news of my new projects breaks, I am pleased to announce my return to Dark Horse Comics with my first story set in the Halo universe!

From the Dark Horse news release today:

"343 Industries and Dark Horse Comics are set to release a brand-new Halo® graphic novel anthology based on the massive video game franchise later this year. Halo: Tales from Slipspace will feature all-new stories from some of the comic industry’s best — including Jonathan Wayshak, Eric Nguyen, Alex Irvine, Kody Chamberlain, Dave Crosland, John Jackson Miller, Jonathan Goff, Simon Roy, and Halo: Escalation writer Duffy Boudreau — as well as 343 Industries’ own Franchise Creative Director Frank O’Connor and Franchise Producer Tyler Jeffers."

"This action-packed anthology is essential reading for all Halo fans! 343 Industries and Dark Horse have also produced two blockbuster comics series with canonical story lines written by writers from the video game franchise (Halo: Initiation and Halo: Escalation) and will rerelease the graphic novel Halo: Fall of Reach in March. Halo: Tales from Slipspace is in stores October 12, 2016."

Here's your place to preorder the book:
Amazon
Barnes & Noble
Indiebound

And, of course, at your local comic book store, where it should appear in the August-for-October issue of Previews. Find your local comic shop here!

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Star Trek: Prey trilogy titles, release dates announced!

Sunday, March 6, 2016

I am delighted to announce the titles and descriptions for Star Trek: Prey, my trilogy releasing in this fiftieth anniversary year of Star Trek from Pocket Books!

Star Trek: Prey - Book One: Hell's Heart releases September 27. Preorder it here!

Star Trek: Prey - Book Two: The Jackal's Trick releases October 25. Preorder it here!

And Star Trek: Prey - Book Three: The Hall of Heroes releases November 29. Preorder it here!

All three books form an epic event that spans both the Original Series and the Next Generation. Here's the description for book one. The others are online and don't spoil much, but you might still prefer to just read the first teaser: 

Star Trek: Prey - Book One: Hell's Heart

"Continuing the milestone 50th anniversary celebration of Star Trek—an epic new trilogy that stretches from the events of The Original Series movie The Search for Spock to The Next Generation!

"When Klingon commander Kruge died in combat against James T. Kirk on the Genesis planet back in 2285, he left behind a powerful house in disarray—and a series of ticking time bombs: the Phantom Wing, a secret squadron of advanced Birds-of-Prey; a cabal of loyal officers intent on securing his heritage; and young Korgh, his thwarted would-be heir, willing to wait a Klingon lifetime to enact his vengeance.

"Now, one hundred years later, while on a diplomatic mission for the United Federation of Planets, Captain Jean-Luc Picard and the crew of the USS Enterprise are snared in the aged Korgh’s trap—and thrust directly in the middle of an ancient conflict. But as Commander Worf soon learns, Korgh may be after far bigger game than anyone imagines, confronting the Federation-Klingon alliance with a crisis unlike any it has ever seen!"


"Continuing the milestone 50th anniversary celebration of Star Trek—an epic new trilogy that stretches from the events of The Original Series movie The Search for Spock to The Next Generation!"

This has been my major project for the last year and a half and I am delighted to see it coming to fruition. It'll be a book a month next fall — a fun adventure for all. Covers coming soon!

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Now available: My new Star Wars story in RISE OF THE EMPIRE!

Monday, October 5, 2015

http://bit.ly/SWRise
New Star Wars fiction alert! I've been working hard this year on my Star Trek: Prey trilogy for 2016, but I did some commuting between galaxies to provide a new short story for Star Wars: Rise of the Empire, available Oct. 6 in print and e-book release.

Rise of the Empire is a massive 700-page compendium that collects the two canon novels from 2014, my own Star Wars: A New Dawn and James Luceno's Tarkin — and fills in some blanks with short stories by Melissa Scott, Jason Fry, and myself. It's the perfect place for new readers who want to catch up on all things Imperial!

My story, "Bottleneck," is set between Tarkin and New Dawn (and it appears physically there in the book) — and it depicts a pivotal meeting between the Grand Moff and Count Vidian, the villain from New Dawn. It was great to get to return to the Vidian character — and without giving anything away, it was a lot of fun to depict another new favorite in there as well.

Some quick weekend event notes for October, which should come close to wrapping up my year:

Saturday Oct. 10, 2-4 p.m.
Star Wars Reads Day appearance
Madison Central Library
201 Mifflin, Madison, Wis.

Saturday, Oct. 17, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
Family Sci-Fi Day
Discovery World Milwaukee
500 N. Harbor, Milwaukee, Wis.

Saturday, Oct. 31, 1-3 p.m.
Halloween Comicfest at Powers Comics
Powers Comics
2180 S. Ridge Rd.
Green Bay, Wis.

See you there!

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Tales from the Memory Bank: Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic: Homecoming

Thursday, September 3, 2015

http://bit.ly/TORMarv1In honor of the rerelease by Marvel of the Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic comics, I'm revising and updating my production notes here on what I hope will be a weekly basis. You can get Star Wars Legends Epic Collection: The Old Republic Vol. 1 from your local comic shop, from Things from Another World or from Amazon. 

The Old Republic Epic Collections are in stock again at
my shop, and you can purchase signed copies directly while supplies last.

Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic #9
"HOMECOMING"
Art by Brian Ching
Lettered by Michael Heisler
Colored by Michael Atiyeh
Cover by Brian Ching
Edited by Jeremy Barlow and Dave Marshall
Released October 20, 2006 by Dark Horse Comics
Story licensed and © Lucasfilm Ltd. 

As with all my “production notes,” consider a “Spoiler Warning” attached. Please read the books first.

When people have asked about my favorite characters in this series to write, I have often included Lucien Draay – perhaps a puzzle to those who only knew him from his earlier appearances. Following the release of “Homecoming,” essentially a solo Lucien tale, my preference may make more sense to some. He’s a very fun guy to write.

I had wanted to do a single issue focusing on Zayne’s pursuers in which he didn’t appear, and I wanted to do it right in the first year, putting a finer point on what they were about. A couple of previous comics served as mental models for this.

My favorite Archie Goodwin Star Wars story, Marvel’s Star Wars #29 (“Dark Encounter”), was a battle between the bad guys – and its drama gripped me more than the stories where the villains only appeared as antagonists. Here, we got a little insight into what Vader was thinking. (And when I did my own first Star Wars issue, I was glad it could be a Vader solo story.)

And one of my favorite comics stories of all time, period, is Neil Gaiman’s Hob Gadling story reprinted in Sandman: A Doll’s House. It’s a single issue which revisits the same characters in one time period after another, leaping years at a stretch. It’s an interesting device, and while the structure of “Homecoming” differs in that it’s a present-day drama interlaced with flashbacks moving forward in time, I enjoyed the opportunity to do something in a related vein.

And, indeed, it was of my favorite issues to write in the series to that point. But “Homecoming” nonetheless had its twists and turns behind the scenes.

The first twist related only to my own stupidity. I lost half the script in a foul-up with a new hard drive. Due to a power failure (I believe) both the file and its back-up were corrupted, and nothing I could hit it with – and believe me, I tried everything there was – could rescue it from being a file full of “@” signs. I figured that probably wouldn’t make for a good script. (Good call!)

While the Internet is generally an endless fountain of ideas about how to restore a document, there’s a moment at which – after enough hours of attempting to virus scans, file repairs, and deleted file searches proved fruitless – you’ve spent more time on that than you would just rewriting. So I did, meaning this puppy got more drafts than anything I had done to date for this series. So if the issue shows more reflection, it came by it the hard way! (And yes, immediately afterward I began backing up everything in octuplicate. There’s even a flash drive on the cat’s collar now…)

Another twist came long after my work was done. The plan had been for Dustin Weaver to work on #7-9, which Brian Ching worked ahead on #10 – which this issue was announced as. But when the scheduling situation meant that Brian got done first, we reversed the issues – which was fine, since there was little to change to make that happen. The two issues were essentially happening simultaneously on opposite sides of the galaxy. Ironically, I finished the script for #10 before #9 anyway, so this actually is reflected in the release order. We wound up titling it "Flashpoint Interlude: Homecoming" in the monthly comic book.

The #9-10 switch was a good, low-impact solution; low enough that readers didn't always notice when we corrected the order. The first two Dark Horse reprintings put "Homecoming" after the end of "Flashpoint," restoring the intended order -- whereas Marvel put the pages in order of release when they did the Epic Collection in 2005.

TRIVIA

• This issue marks the turning of the calendar from “approximately 3964 years before the Battle of Yavin” to “approximately 3963”; the Onslaught, taking several days, actually straddles the 3963-and-a-half year mark, so the whole battle is “on the cusp.” We didn’t deal in months in the KOTOR era, which can cause a bit of confusion, since people might have read the cover note and thought a full year has passed. I’m not sure it was a problem for most, though.

• Brian Ching has really crafted a KOTOR-era taste for really long stretch vehicles, from extremely long airspeeders to bikes. Figure it’s the era of Lincoln Continentals and choppers…
• Did you notice they let the woman with no eyes drive? “Sorry, officer. He was in my Force Sight Blind Spot.”
• Comlinks come in all shapes and sizes, as we see in the early pages. My first thought when I saw Lucien’s comlink was the “Flicker” women's razors that have been around for years
• Krynda (rhymes with “Brenda”) ties up this series with the Tales of the Jedi era more tightly than ever before. Vodo, Exar Kun, the Miraluka, and more came from that line of comics.
• Haazen is pronounced “HAH-zen,” and someone in the design stage made the joke that his last name was “Daag.” Someone else read that, believed it for a moment, and wondered if we would get in trouble with the ice cream company. Relax – he’s not Haazen Daag, except in our imaginations!
• I decided after the release not to get into who’s sitting where in the High Council. Yes, as usual, we populated it with faces that fans may find familiar – but, as ever, with a few exceptions, if you didn’t hear the name in dialogue, I did not intend to provide the name in that issue. (I mean, we can hardly call the roll in a situation like that!
• On the other hand, we do name Master Vrook, voiced by Ed Asner in the games. I don’t mind if you hear his voice as you read his words – I certainly did!
• I was very pleased that Brian could work in the late Padawans into the “courtroom” scene, as I’d hoped. Imagine a trial where the accused has to stand there staring at the hologram of the victims!
• Several people noted the novelty of the word “revanchism,” but it was pretty familiar to me in my political science days. Related to the French word for “revenge,” it literally means a policy of trying to regain territory lost in war. It’s a shade different from another word, “irredentism,” which captures that meaning plus the idea of gaining control of areas not lost in war, but which are culturally or historically connected. (It’s based on the Italian word for “unredeemed,” referring to Italian-speaking areas in other countries.) You might say that Nazi Germany’s desire for Danzig was Revanchist, while its desire for, say, the Sudetenland, was irredentist.
• I didn’t put sound effects into the fight scene, but it plays pretty well without them. It’s always hard to tell when even a little “Biff! Pow! Oof!” is enough. I tend to be overly fond of “Gaaaah!”, as if you haven’t noticed by now.
• They always said I couldn’t see the writing on the wall. Look closely at the scene from Haazen's chamber and see if you can. No, it’s not Artoo and Threepio there in the hieroglyphics – they’re busy in Raiders of the Lost Ark’s Well of Souls… but there is some grafitti there. I didn't catch it at the time, but Brian worked in "John J. Miller" and "Jables McBeat," (which I believe was the nickname of someone working on the title), into the wall design!

Next time: A return from our detour, back to the conclusion of "Flashpoint." Or you can skip ahead and read all the notes for the series, though they're only updated up through this issue.

Read more...

Tales from the Memory Bank: Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic: Flashpoint, Part 2

Thursday, August 27, 2015

http://bit.ly/TORMarv1In honor of the rerelease by Marvel of the Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic comics, I'm revising and updating my production notes here on what I hope will be a weekly basis. You can get Star Wars Legends Epic Collection: The Old Republic Vol. 1 from your local comic shop, from Things from Another World or from Amazon. 

The Old Republic Epic Collections are in stock again at
my shop, and you can purchase signed copies directly while supplies last.

Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic #8
"FLASHPOINT" PART 2

Art by Dustin Weaver
Lettered by Michael Heisler
Colored by Michael Atiyeh
Cover by Brian Ching
Edited by Jeremy Barlow and Dave Marshall
Released September 20, 2006 by Dark Horse Comics
Story licensed and © Lucasfilm Ltd. 

As with all my “production notes,” consider a “Spoiler Warning” attached. Please read the books first.

Issue #8 brought us our first heavy-duty space battles – rendered wonderfully by the detail-minded Dustin Weaver. The care such detail required – plus unrelated scheduling issues -- resulted in a slight delay to the issue's release, but the final result was worth it.

As with #3, #8 follows after a breakneck action issue – and is in some senses a chance to reset the scene and lay out what’s going on in the larger world around Zayne. In this case, we finally get our first real look at the Mandalorians and how they look at things. They’ve been the bogeymen off-camera up until #7; now, in Rohlan and Demagol, we meet two Mandalorian figures with very different outlooks on what's going on. (And their fates would be intertwined forever — but that's getting ahead of things!)

One of the things starting earlier than the Knights of the Old Republic games allowed us to do is delve more into how the Mandalorian War on the Republic actually started. There is, of course, discussion of it in the games as a blitzkrieg taking the Republic off-guard. But it left another element to be explored, which gave us a chance to elaborate further on the war’s start: the political status of Taris.

A quick look at the Star Wars galaxy map suggests why Taris would be pretty early on the Mandalorian list of places to invade – it’s out on the Outer Rim, near Mandalore itself. So what the heck is the Republic doing here? We finally find out from Captain Karath – a guy we’ll see later in the video games. It wasn’t the purest of motives that brought Taris to the Republic’s attention – and, indeed, the decision to protect it proves “a bridge too far.”

This element allowed us to make Zayne’s escape from his masters an event with galactic consequences. It also allowed us to make the Mandalorian blitzkrieg a bigger surprise than it otherwise might have been for gamers familiar with the history. Where the wars against non-Republic worlds had been going for some years, if you listen to commentators in the game, you might expect the surprise invasion for 3963 BBY, a year after the date given for the beginning of comics series. Yet we showed the Republic and Mandalorians already at odds -- and we showed Tarisians and Jedi both feeling they’re at war. And everyone is right!

How? As we’ve seen time and again in history, “war” is a bit of a relative term – and whether or not you think you’re at war often depends on where you live and what’s happening to you. The alliance with Poland caused Britain and France to declare war on Germany in early September of 1939 – but until the middle of the next year, most of the action between them and Germany came in more remote theaters, such as Africa, Norway, and on the Atlantic. After the sudden invasion of France and the Low Countries in 1940, the reality of war was brought home – literally. The U.S., of course, isn’t technically at war until December 1941 – even though it’s clearly chosen sides long before that, through Lend-Lease and airmen volunteering to fly for Claire Chennault in China.

So there’s war, and then there’s war – and there’s something like that going on here. People on Taris, near the frontier where #0 established that the Republic and Mandalorians have been quibbling inconsequentially for more than a year, feel they’re at war. Regular folk on Coruscant? Not so much.

What results is a more nuanced picture for those looking to put events into a simple timeline – as with a lot of Earthly wars, there’s more than one starting date. There’s when the Mandalorians started attacking non-Republic worlds; there’s when the Republic intervened in one of those attacks; and, now, when the Mandalorians attacked the Republic in full force.

We would later call this period "The False War" when it came time to do the Knights of the Old Republic Campaign Guide.

TRIVIA

Jarael's shockstaff from #3 makes a reappearance; eagle-eyed readers will note that she didn’t have it with her in #7. It delivers a nasty shock to flesh, and evidently has some quite visible effects on Mandalorian armor.


http://www.amazon.com/Nelsons-Navy-Ships-Organization-1793-1815/dp/1591146119/sr=8-1/qid=1158797943/ref=pd_bbs_1/104-1558302-5801554?ie=UTF8&s=books
• Saul Karath’s colossal battleship, Courageous, comes by its name through a trivial route so obscure I won’t expect anyone to figure it out. The older Karath’s video-game vessel, the Leviathan, hearkens back to the Royal Navy vessel class of the same name. According to Nelson’s Navy, four ships of the 74-gun Leviathan class were based on the design for the Courageaux, a French ship captured in 1761. The Star Wars Leviathan is NOT the same class as the Courageous, so there the resemblance ends.

• Readers with the Star Wars Galaxy Map that Dark Horse released in that era noticed that Vanquo is pretty much directly between Mandalore and Taris. We speak of it being along the Jebble-Vanquo-Tarnith line in #0; those other two places are not on the map, but we can assume they’re nearby.

• The American versions of this issue had a Science Fiction Book Club insert in the centerspread.

The Rohlan action figure, released by Entertainment Earth
• Flashpoint, with its incredibly short days and close proximity to its sun, is clearly a very new arrival in its solar system – at least from the standpoint of astrophysics. It’s in the manner of smaller bodies (including our own Moon) to eventually become tidally locked with the larger ones, such that the rotational and orbital periods synch up. Flashpoint, therefore, is either just-formed or a fresh arrival – making it an unusual and attractive object for academic study. As time goes on, its sidereal days will lengthen to approach its year in length – if its sun doesn’t engulf it first!

• The name of Rohlan (ROH-lan) is partially inspired by the similarly sounding name of another warrior, the paladin of Charlemagne. Demagol (de-muh-GOL) just sounds evil!

Ulic Qel-Droma, of course, is an important figure in the Tales of the Jedi comics.

• A couple of “we’ll-fix-it-in-the-trade” moments in one panel, though only a handful may notice the Mandalorian word “manda” where it should’ve been “mando’ade.” But my favorite typo ever may be Rohlan speaking of “border skirmishes here, police auctions there.” That’s “actions,” of course. Can you imagine a guy in a suit of armor bidding on an impounded Chevy Nova?

Next time: A sudden detour, as "Flashpoint" pauses for an unscheduled trip to Coruscant. Or you can skip ahead and read all the notes for the series, though they're only updated up through this issue.

Read more...

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