A sizable portion of “The Ruins of Noble Men,” my novella in Star Trek Vanguard: Declassified, is set nearly a decade prior to the current series continuity, when some of the characters served together aboard the Federation starship Dauntless. Because I wanted something to visualize while I was writing, I looked to the work of fan starship designer Masao Okazaki for inspiration.
Masao’s web site, the Starfleet Museum, is his personal interpretation of the design lineage for the ships that were first seen in the original Star Trek TV series. Because of the clear influence his work draws from Star Trek Production Designer Matt Jefferies, as well as the work of Franz Joseph Schnaubelt—the man behind the Star Trek Blueprints and the Star Fleet Technical Manual, two publications that fed my geek needs back in the early ’70s—I’m a longtime fan of Masao’s work. When David Mack and I developed the Vanguard series for Simon & Schuster, Masao was the guy I hired to design the space station, as well as the scoutship Sagittarius. Those interested in finding out more about Masao’s Vanguard work, as well as his aforementioned influences, Matt Jefferies and Franz Joseph, should be sure to check out Star Trek Magazine #35, which is out right now. In addition to containing features about those talented individuals, it also has some great articles by my friends and fellow Vanguard conspirators, Dayton Ward and Kevin Dilmore, and an excerpt from my story, “The Ruins of Noble Men.”
Which brings me back to my original reason for this post. To visualize the Dauntless while I was writing the story, I fixated on one of Masao’s designs from the Starfleet Museum, the Pyotr Velikiy. In addition to Masao’s various elevations, the ship page also had some great CG images, rendered by another fan artist, Thomas Pemberton. And when I was handed the honor of having my story previewed in Star Trek Magazine, I thought it would be fun to illustrate the excerpt with one of those renders, renamed and renumbered for the Dauntless. So I contacted Tom Pemberton, and to my complete surprise, he not only agreed to do it, he actually created an entirely new render of the ship from scratch, completely different from the ones on Masao’s site! How cool is that?
Star Trek Magazine published the image in monochrome to fit their overall design for the spread on which the excerpt appeared, but I wanted to share it here in all its original glory. Enjoy!
The third and final winner of the Star Trek Vanguard: Declassified Bookwatch is Julio Angel Ortiz, who sent me this photo from the Barnes & Noble book store in Salisbury, Maryland. Like the winners before him, Julio gets a free copy of Declassified signed by all the authors. Congratulations, Julio!
And to all the winners, I hope you enjoy the book.
Congrats go out to Tim Clarke, the second winner of the Star Trek Vanguard: Declassified Bookwatch! Tim snapped off this shot of himself picking up the book at the Borders Books, in Silver Spring, Maryland.
There’s still one more chance to win a free copy of Declassified signed by all four authors. Just go to your favorite bookstore, take a photograph of the book, and email it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The first winner of the Declassified Bookwatch is Joe Giannetti, who spotted copies of the new Star Trek Vanguard book on display at the Barnes & Noble bookstore at Neshaminy Mall in Bensalem, Pennsylvania. Joe is the first person to send me a photo of the book for sale in a brick-and-mortar store, and for that, he wins a free copy of Declassified signed by me, Dayton Ward, Kevin Dilmore, and David Mack.
There’s still two more chances to win, so get to your favorite bookshop, get clicking, and email those photos to email@example.com.
And congratulations to Joe!
Scored this on a visit to Simon & Schuster today.
Feeling very jazzed!
It’s June 2, the bound-book date for Star Trek Vanguard: Declassified! This means the initial run of the book has been printed and will shortly be shipping out to all points civilized. Over the next week or two, it may even start appearing on bookstore shelves in advance of it’s “official” June 28 street date.
So Vanguard fans, please take note: the Bookwatch begins now. The first three people to email me a photo showing Declassified available in a bookstore will each receive a free copy of the book signed by all four contributing authors: Dayton Ward, Kevin Dilmore, David Mack, and myself. The winning photos will be posted on my blog and my Facebook wall, and the autographed books will be mailed out during the month of July.
Book photos should be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org. Don’t send me your mailing address unless I’ve notified you you’re one of the first three. Good luck!
Back when I acquired and edited books on staff at Simon & Schuster, I was frequently struck by how different the reading experience was, going from manuscript to galley pages. Seeing the text designed and formatted, as it would look to paying readers, was always sobering. It crystallized the book, giving permanence to what had previously been fluid.
Flash forward to today, when I face the same experience, squared: The first-pass pages for Vanguard: Declassified are in, and here before me, currently spanning pages 187-277, is the story I wrote, The Ruins of Noble Men, as it will look when (hopefully) others read it.
It’s been a long time since I’ve seen my own words make this sort of journey. Yes, I’ve written plenty of back cover copy that was published, and every six weeks I still get to see the pieces I write for Star Trek Magazine make it into print. But this is different. Crafting fiction is an act of intimacy, and what comes of it is at once revelatory and misleading. Stories are reflections of their tellers, to varying degrees, but what readers may infer from one about the other is anyone’s guess.
But that’s not really what this is about. My thoughts as I revisit Ruins with fresh eyes have less to do with what the reactions to my novella may be than with managing my instinct to pick nits…and just how odd my story now looks.
In pages, Ruins suddenly seems both familiar and very strange. I know I wrote the words, but they’ve taken on new dimension. It’s a little like seeing my kids today and recalling what they were like when they were much younger, and realizing that while I take joy in how they’ve grown, part of me wonders if I’ve shaped them as well as I could have. Intellectually, I know those doubts are natural, and second-guessing my choices at this stage—well, that way lies madness. Still, I wonder.
Then again, maybe that’s the point. It’s not about what I may have done right or wrong in writing The Ruins of Noble Men, but how that experience has affected me. I’m the familiar stranger…standing on the other side the editorial divide with a renewed appreciation for what storytellers go through in trying to spin tales they’re proud to put their names on.