Kevin David Anderson is the contributor for this week’s Take Five, a regular series where we ask authors to share five facts about their latest books. His latest novel, Night of the Living Trekkies, is available today.
This sci-fi/zombie/comedy/adventure follows a group of rag-tag Trekkies getting together for the fifth annual GulfCon (billed as the “largest Starfleet Convention in the western Gulf Coast region”).
Our heroes are dressed in homemade uniforms and armed with prop phasers-but soon find themselves defending their hotel and convention center against hordes of flesh-eating undead. Suddenly, all of their useless knowledge about particle physics and old Star Trek episodes has genuine real-world applications! And while hotel employees and regular civilians are dying left and right, our Trekkies summon strength and courage by emulating their favorite starship-voyaging characters.
Packed with hundreds of gags referencing Star Trek, Star Wars, comic books, and fan conventions, Night of the Living Trekkies reads like the strange lovechild of Galaxy Quest and Dawn of the Dead. Journey to the final frontier of zombie science-fiction satire!
1. The idea for Night of the Living Trekkies came to me while watching the brilliant documentary, Trekkies. Directed by Roger Nygard and staring Denise Crosby, it’s an in-depth and entertaining exploration of the devoted fans of Star Trek and their world, from home life to conventions. I was not even halfway through the film when it hit me. I kept imagining, in the right situation, under the right dire circumstances, these guys can become the heroes. And of course the right situation was the zombie apocalypse.
2. I almost shelved the idea several times, doubting that any publisher would even consider the idea. The potential legal wrangling that the parody manuscript might get caught up in was daunting. In the late eighties at least one Star Trek parody book project that I know of, was killed, and the difficulties that plagued the filmmakers of the movie Free Enterprise, when attempting to insert Star Trek visuals into the film, were always paramount in my mind. But one day, think it was late in 2008, I was listening to one of my favorite NPR radio show, Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me, when a trivia question came up involving some crazy book in which they were putting zombies in a Jane Austen novel. I remember the audience and the show’s host, Peter Sagal, having a good laugh at the not yet released New York Times Best Seller. But I didn’t laugh. Well, okay I did, a little, but only because I realized how brilliant the concept was. I knew then that there was at least one publisher, Quirk Books, that could think way outside the literary box. The novel Pride and Prejudice and Zombies inspired me to continue work on Night of the Living Trekkies, and coincidentally the manuscript landed on the desk of the very same editor responsible for our current trend of literary mash-ups, PP&Z’s creator and editor, Jason Rekulak.
3. Before pitching the idea to Quirk Books, I lived in a constant state of paranoia, that some other author would beat me to the punch. I thought the idea of combining zombies with Trekkies at a sci-fi convention was like death and taxes. It was inevitable. And if I didn’t do it someone else certainly would. I told almost no-one what I was working on until it was in the hands of a publisher. For almost a year, the first rule of Night of the Living Trekkies was, don’t talk about Night of the Living Trekkies. Now I just think I was paranoid. Or nuts. Or both.
4. There were many excellent revisions to the characters from my first draft. George Takei, (the actor who played Mr. Sulu in the original series and the movies) or at least my interpretation of him, was actually written into several scenes. There were some good moments with him, his foil, battling zombies, but in the end, Takei’s scenes were cut. With the real possibility that the owners of the Star Trek property might have issues with our little parody novel, why push it. One of the best changes made was the redrafting of Leia from the original idea, a high priced Sci-Fi prostitute, to that of a Sci-Fi convention model. Why was this done? Well, when you’re asking your audience to suspend some belief in order for them to accept things like, the living dead, it’s best to make the situations and characters as real as possible. It’s amusing to think that there might be Sci-Fi ladies of the evening, mixing cosplay and prostitution. But it does sound a little far fetched, whereas if you’ve ever been to ComicCon or anything like it, you know that there are plenty of real world Sci-Fi convention models brightening up the booths, our nerdy fantasies, and exciting our geeky hearts.
5. Many of the character names were nods to Star Trek characters. Some were obvious, like Jim Pike, but others required some deep Trek knowledge. And one character name, Eli Sandoval, actually hinted at the ending.