Questions, questions, questions!
Highest on the list of current inquiries for Star Trek fans — above wondering if Discovery stay true to the franchise’s ideas, more than curiosity about returning to the Kelvin Timeline films — is wondering where will Trek authors Dayton Ward and Kevin Dilmore vacation together this year… and we think our answer is here, as Ward partners once more with publisher Insight Editions for his latest Hidden Universe Travel Guide, for all things on the Klingon Empire!
Adrenaline junkies might revel in the opportunity to visit a planet where mortal danger literally lurks around every corner of the Empire, whether in the form of a warrior challenge to the death, your food attempting to eat you first, or those pesky bat’leth lessons that might result in maiming or worse — just be warned warned, deciding to visit Qo’noS at any time should not be attempted by the faint of heart.
Dayton Ward laughed when asked whether or not the Klingon Empire might be the last vacation destination someone might seek when looking to relax.
Why would somebody put themselves through this?
This isn’t a vacation, but more like a rite of passage or endurance test. Do we get a t-shirt after passing? I don’t know if the Klingon Empire would be my ideal vacation, but the fun in writing this guide was to defy stereotypes and conventions when it came to the Klingons.
Just think you go to a museum and you see paintings depicting the battle your great-great-great grandfather died in. Do they have Klingon farmers, metal workers – of course they do. Yes, they value the hierarchy and military. But I like to think any civilization that has been around for two millennia are going to value everything about their culture.
Here’s where the fun begins
Admittedly for Ward, part of the fun working on the travel guide to Vulcan released last year was being able to draw actual maps to detail the distance and physical relationships between different on-planet attractions and locations.
Travel guides, by nature, rarely divert from formula, but where in the Klingon Empire would Ward discover new joys this time around?
We established a structure for the Vulcan guide I thought I could follow, but quickly realized I could veer away from that here and there. Having the freedom to deviate to make the Klingon Empire guide its own thing was fun.
Since it’s for an entire empire and not just one planet, I was able to include side trips to different worlds and offer different type of testimonials. I was not forced to just make book two in a series.
The decision to hire lifetime-fan Ward not only gave Insight Editions instant credibility with its Hidden Universe series, but also allows hardcore Star Trek aficionados the ability to revel with one of their own when it comes to the franchise.
One entertaining carry over from his Vulcan guide was Ward’s inclusion of various out-of-canon references to the Star Trek universe originating in tie-in novels, video games, role-playing games, and more.
One such expanded universe idea that delivered multiple inspirations for the Guide was John M. Ford’s seminal Trek novel, The Final Reflection. In the 1984 novel, Battlecruiser Vengeance was a long-running episodic space opera followed by some of the characters in the book — and this idea allowed Ward to have some fun from one of his all-time favorite Star Trek novels.
One of the funniest things about the travel guide is there is a full page ad at the end for coming attractions, ‘The Battlecruiser Vengeance Experience’! The whole idea came because my editor told me they were one page short; whatever I had in the original space was the wrong tone to end the book.
He asked, ‘What can you come up with quickly?’ and it hit me: the end of the Vulcan Travel Guide had a PSA advisory [for surviving Vulcan’s Forge]. The idea of an ad took shape, and it also became a wink at the audience of the Star Trek Experience [formerly in Las Vegas].
‘Vengeance’ is the Klingon version, but something with modern technology – intergalactic holograms, that sort of thing – plus actors and guides like from Star Trek Experience. I literally pulled that out of my ear at 3 p.m. and they needed it at the end of the day.
Like the saying goes, necessity is the mother of invention, and desperation is the necessity of inspiration. I needed to close the book on an upbeat note, even though it’s not a novel I don’t want it to end on a downer.
So, what can I do, how fast, how easy… bam, were done.
How did we get here?
Before last year’s Vulcan Travel Guide even hit bookstores and online retailers, Insight Editions gave the go ahead for a second travel book from the final frontier. However, just because it was on the schedule did not necessarily mean it was a done deal.
Insight was really enthusiastic with how the Vulcan guide was coming together and the excitement among fans, so they decided to green light a second book before it was released.
Thankfully, the sales bore out that this idea was going to work.
Interestingly, the novelist was buttoned up tighter than a Trill discussing the symbiosis process with outsiders when noting the possibility of writing a second guide for Insight Editions during interviews last year.
As it turns out, Ward was already hard at work on the Klingon Empire guide during his promotion of the Vulcan Travel Guide.
Depending on the timing of when I was doing interviews for the Vulcan guide last year, I was probably writing the bulk of the Klingon Empire guide. In fact, right before the Vulcan guide came out last year, I was on a Disney cruise with my family, sitting at the poolside, drinking rum and revising the Klingon manuscript.
The Hidden Universe label also involves other properties besides ‘Star Trek’ (including ‘The Complete Marvel Cosmos’). For all I know they are working on another universe book at this moment.
As of this interview, I have not been asked to do another travel guide, however I am under contract to do a couple other things for Insight.
The undiscovered country
In fact, Ward said he thought the only possible second choice would be the Klingon Empire. Afterwards, it gets dicey as far as finding a Trek location that would find broad mainstream appeal.
To me, something like this really works for the casual fan as well as the hardcore fan — but it has to be inclusive as possible.
We’ve had the conversation formally about what possible candidates for the next travel guide there are after this. In the interest of honesty, once you get past the Klingon Empire or Vulcan, the interest drops off for the mainstream audience; maybe Romulus is a candidate?
However, maybe we do one book that encompasses multiple popular races, like the Cardassians, Ferengi, Andorians?
Hopefully, after producing travel guides for both Vulcan and the Klingon Empire, Ward and Insight Editions might want to look to friendlier locales for possible future editions, such as Risa, or the Amusement Park planet in the Omicrom Delta region.
The Risian expression “All That Is Ours, Is Yours” certainly takes on a different meaning when not having to fight to the death like on Qo’nos!
I volunteered to be the researcher for Risa, but that would require me to visit the Bahamas or someplace like that — they didn’t seem too excited to send me!
Back to the big question
Ward conceded that he and frequent writing partner Kevin Dilmore would most likely visit Vulcan on vacation first — but as is typical in every relationship, they most likely would not always be on the same page during the trip.
We would never agree on anything – where to eat, stay, go orbital skydiving, etc…
I’m not saying [Kevin ] wouldn’t go to the Klingon Empire, but I could see us as being sent there as some form of punishment!
Hidden Universe Travel Guide: The Klingon Empire is available now, with an eBook edition arriving August 1. Order your copy – or last year’s Vulcan guide – now!