Peter David made me as an author
This is something that occurred to me when I was looking over the reports of his multiple strokes and Go Fund Me request. It was always vaguely on my bucket list to attend a convention or somehow make it a point to find Peter David someday so I could thank him for it in-person. I only began being an author in 2015 and became comfortable referring to myself in that professional capacity around 2020 but really, truly, wanting to make the effort to meet one’s idol was kind of put on hold by the cataclysmic events of the past few years.
Now this is something I’m probably never going to be able to do. His condition is something that hit me as someone who has never met the man but was still profoundly affected by his works. I encourage people to donate to his Go Fund Me as a man who has made such incredible art that has brightened the lives of millions deserves better than to have to do this in America’s health system: https://www.gofundme.com/f/peter-david-fund
I hope Peter David is able to make a dramatic recovery but it puts it into perspective he’s probably not going to have time to shake hands with yet another fanboy. So, thinking about that and hoping for the best, I decided to share this article about what Peter David’s writing has meant for me.
It’s really hard to narrow it down as to what exactly I should even focus on because he’s actually been a constant presence in my life. I didn’t even always know it but very often, throughout my childhood, I was either reading or watching something that he created. I watched Space Cases when it was on Nikalodeon, I read Spiderman 2099 when I hadn’t yet realized cyberpunk would be a massive part of my life, and I recall how his Aquaman single-handedly redeemed the character from the Super Friends joke he used to be. It’s why I prefer Arthur Curry with Dolphin over Mera and created my love of pretty white-haired girls before Daenerys Targaryen solidified it.
Hell, it was a neck and neck contest over whether or not I should talk about his Supergirl run versus the subject I did decide to talk about. His version of Linda Danvers is one of the most formative media discussions of religion and morality that lives rent-free in my brain. It, along with Star Wars, helped create my version of Christianity and is a helluva lot healthier I imagine than the rather nasty people in RL who tried to force an intolerant authoritarian version on me growing up. Not naming names but I mean you, Pastor Todd.
No, for this article, I’d like to thank Peter David for Star Trek: New Frontier. Bluntly, I would not be a writer without this book series and even if I somehow was, I would not write the same way. Every writer can list someone who had a formative effect on their style. Someone who you can say, at some point, you read the prose of and it dinged in your head, “I want to write like this.” Tolkien, Raymond Chandler, Stephen King, and so on.
This isn’t about my writing but Peter David’s and it’s not even his signature style but it was the style for this series. Star Trek: New Frontier is a comic space opera that is full of rapid fire dialogue, absurd situations, fantastic characters, incredible wiseasses, constant lampshade hanging, and self-referential humor that only a truly dedicated Star Trek fan could appreciate. Kevin Smith, Jim Butcher, Joss Whedon, and now Mike McMahan are all people to think of when talking about the story.
Running from 1997 to 2015, Star Trek: New Frontier deals with the adventures of Captain Mackenzie Calhoun and the crew of the USS Excalibur. It is a wholly original set of adventures unrelated to any TV series save for some minor characters from various episodes. Inspired by the fall of the Soviet Union, the Thallonian Empire has collapsed and our heroes are there to offer humanitarian relief in the feuding warlord states that have emerged.
The crew is fantastic with the straight laced first officer, Elizabeth Shelby (of TNG: “The Best of Both Worlds”), the hermaphroditic Burgoyne 172, the literal rockman Zak Kebron, half-Romulan half-Vulcan Soleta, Robin Lefler (also from TNG), and later some refugees from Star Trek: The Animated Series back when it was still exiled from continuity. Mackenzie Calhoun, himself, is sort of an human-ish alien William Wallace who liberated his planet as a teenager but found out he had no taste for ruling.
It’s a beautiful series with over a dozen novels, multiple spin-off tie-ins, a comic book series, and a few nods in Star Trek: Online as well as Star Trek: Prodigy. It often goes in unexpected directions with the pathos of tragedy striking right after its funniest moments. The series ended with The Returned in 2015 but, I admit, I always hoped we’d get one more book out of the author. That was selfish of me but they became good friends over the books twenty-odd-year-life span.
I strongly encourage you to pick up a copy of these books if you have any love of Star Trek or even just space opera in general but any of Peter David’s works carries some of his awesome talent. Certainly, the Supervillainy Saga and United States of Monsters wouldn’t exist without his writing. Space Academy Dropouts absolutely wouldn’t exist and has more than a little New Frontier in its DNA, perhaps driven by my desire for those more books that will never come. But most of all, say a prayer or nod your head in appreciation for Peter David.
He made magic happen with his pen.
So sayeth the Great Bird of the Galaxy and Xant.