Bird of Prey

Bird of Prey!
(Click for large version)


"This ship can't fight them. This ship can't even fly."

Polaris Ultima — New Minnesota. The Federation's most distant colony. A nearly-frozen world far above the galactic disc, it's truly on the frontier. Life here is harsh and unforgiving, but rewarding and worthwhile.
Lucas Davenport is the chief of law enforcement on the planet, but there's almost no need. With enough room and resources for everyone, there's no reason to fight. And with only ten thousand people, there's almost no law to break. He spends most of his time restoring an antique Klingon Bird of Prey that crashed on the planet a century before. It's a weird hobby, but it gives him something to do.
But when the colony is attacked — the enemy and their motives unknown — Lucas's hobby becomes the colony's only hope. But there's no backup, and no hope of reinforcements. What can one small spaceship do against an alien armada?
Quite a bit, actually. When the Klingons built the ship, they built it sleek and they built it tough. And they built it for war.

Star Trek Frontiers: Stand-alone adventures exploring previously unknown places in the Star Trek universe. Forget the rules. Embrace the new.

April 1, 2017

Disclaimers

Star Trek is a registered trademark of CBS studios, although given all the other companies working on it, there's probably an "it's complicated" in there somewhere. The Klingon Bird of Prey on the cover (and the planet in the background) were directly taken from the video game Star Trek Online, from Cryptic studios. The typeface used for the "Bird of Prey" part of the front text is the classic Star Trek typeface designed for the original series (although the rest of the text is not Trek-related). The combadge behind the top text is the special "Future" variant as seen in "All Good Things" (TNG) and "The Visitor" (DS9). I'm not claiming ownership of any of those things because that'd be ridiculous. Repurposing them for this limited and no-money-made-whatsoever use falls under both fair use and protected speech. I'll even take it down if someone decides to issue a DMCA notice, but, again, this is totally legitimate on my part.

Explaining the Joke Ruins the Joke
by Roswell Camp

One of the titles that keeps coming up again and again in reader suggestions is "Bird of Prey" or "Birds of Prey" [1]. There's no indication that Putnam is ever going to use one of those titles [2], so I figured I'd grab one. But which?
Well, "Bird of Prey" would probably have to deal with Star Trek somehow. There's a starship that literally has that name [3]. The synopsis practically writes itself [4].
Meanwhile, "Birds of Prey" is the name of an ongoing DC comic book featuring several of the Gotham city superheroines. It was also a short-lived television series with a similar premise [5].
Both were tempting, but I've been a Star Trek fan since I was five years old [6]. It was really no contest between the two of them. Star Trek it was.
Now, Star Trek has always had problems with people not knowing what to do with the property, or how to write the characters, or how to keep things consistent. Gene Roddenberry himself had a very casual relationship with "everything should be consistent" in that he didn't seem to care. Stardates came and went in seemingly random orders. Agencies changed names or gained new ones. Plot points directly contradicted other plot points. It's become a game amongst Star Trek fans to force the inconsistencies to make sense [7].
And for every fan who is annoyed with the way the series seems to (at times) be randomly flailing around, there's a fan who has a solution. And all the solutions are different.
I'm no exception. Many, many years ago I had an idea for a "perfect" Star Trek series that could fix the flaws, right the wrongs, set the series on solid ground [8] again with a sense of renewal. But after thinking about it for a while, literally every Star Trek fan out there had something like that. I'm hardly special in that regard. So instead of posting angry blog posts or FaceBook rants about what the series creators should do [9], I'm trying to keep quiet and enjoy it for what it is.
That didn't stop me from doing this cover. There's plenty of room in the Star Trek universe for stories that have nothing to do with Kirk or Spock or Picard or the Enterprise or anything we've ever even seen [10]. Why not show some of that? And so I plugged in Lucas, gave the title a rationale, and that was that.
Oh, except that the cover is almost a straight-up screenshot from the video game Star Trek Online (as I mentioned in the disclaimer above). I tried to make many, many planets in Photoshop, but the lighting never worked out. Either the spaceship was too dark, or the planet was too bright, and eventually I just said "Screw it," and logged in to the game. It took about an hour of random flying to find a good planet, another five minutes to find the right angle and pose, and then I took a screenshot and it was good enough. And that was the "hard" part. Ha.

Footnotes

1. And one of the thing that seems to be a constant is that whenever I get people sending in a suggestion, they do so assuming that it's an original suggestion that nobody has ever, ever thought of before. A few have asked for credit should "their" title get used. Needless to say, that's not how titles work.

2. Although there's no indication that they won't use one, either. Maybe one day they will.

3. Or more specifically, a class of starship. Or even more specifically, at least two distinct (but similar) classes of starships. For those of you who care, this is a B'rel class raider.

4. That phrase — it practically writes itself — is a lazy cop-out used by people who have a great idea but want someone else to do the grunt work of, y'know, actually writing it.

5. It was slightly more in the "future" and was about "What happens to Gotham when Batman's no longer around?" Basically an attempt to write a Batman series without Batman. Many people liked it, many people did not.

6. My earliest memories of Star Trek were of the animated series when it was first broadcast. This was the early 70s, and was probably part of a Saturday morning cartoon block. I only discovered the (older) live action show later.

7. My other biggest fandom is Doctor Who, which I was watching back in the 80s. Doctor Who is at least as guilty as Star Trek when it comes to inconsistencies. Sure, Star Trek had stardates out of order, but Doctor Who sank Atlantis three times! In different ways! That's not just inconsistent — that's art.

8. Or solid space?

9. One of the most annoying criticisms a writer / artist / creator can get is "It's not what I would have done." But when a fan is passionately invested in something, it's also the most common.

10. Which is why it annoys me so much that every single plotline in the various book series always come back to Kirk / Spock / Picard. The worst offenders are the Shatner ones, which are huge crossovers between all the established series. How many times do we need a Kirk / Picard crossover? How many times do we need to throw Voyager into the mix? How many times does it have to be a big reunion? The answer, it seems, is "every single time."