I’ve been highlighting books I’ve written, edited, or contributed to throughout my career, with a new entry posted every Thursday. It’s “Throwbook Thursday,” ya’ll! (But please do not throw books. It can hurt someone and damage the books.)
If you’re unfamiliar with ATB Publishing’s Outside In anthologies, you’re missing out on a wonderful set of books aimed at—and written and edited by—fans who throw themselves wholeheartedly into the genre-based television and film franchises they enjoy. In other words, people like me. These are not just standard episode guides. They’re critical essay collections, unique in their approach to each respective franchise, and they encompass a lot of different voices, making them both entertaining and thought-provoking.
I’ve contributed to 10 volumes and counting, covering such franchises as Star Trek, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Twin Peaks, Babylon 5, Doctor Who, and The X-Files, and each time I sit down to write my latest piece, I have a blast doing so. These books are insightful, irreverent, humorous, and squarely outside the box, and it’s always a delight to see my name listed alongside so many enormously talented co-contributors. The company describes its Outside In line as “Provocative, engrossing, hilarious, and utterly gonzo. These aren’t your father’s reviews.” It’s such an apt description.
Publisher Arnold Blumberg and editor Stacey Smith? are solid folks who share my obsessive passion for the franchises they cover, and while I’ve never interacted with Natalie Litofsky, the company’s director of marketing and logistics, I have no doubt the same applies to her as well. This is a skilled and professional team, and their books are must-reads. Given the type of person I am, almost all of my contributions have tended toward comedy.
One collection to which I particularly enjoyed contributing was Outside In Makes It So: 174 New Perspectives on 174 Star Trek TNG Stories by 174 Writers, which celebrated 30 years of Star Trek: The Next Generation. The anthology contains one contribution each for every episode of the TV show and the four theatrical films, from “Encounter at Farpoint” to Star Trek: Nemesis. Again, these aren’t typical reviews, as the anthology contains “scripts, recipes, a Monty Python sketch, a psych test, gossip columns, newspaper ads, a sitcom, a eulogy and a daily log from Riker’s beard, not to mention insightful and thoughtful articles examining Picard-era Star Trek from just about every angle imaginable…and then some!”
My contribution was the metafictional essay “Lutan Clan.” I had the honor (or horror, depending on how you look at it) of discussing the episode “Code of Honor,” the franchise’s most appallingly racist hour. I did so with tongue firmly planted in cheek, which was no easy task since there is nothing (I repeat, nothing) funny about racism. My approach? Having Gary Seven (from the classic episode “Assignment: Earth”) attempt to correct history by eliminating that episode from existence—only to screw up and instead cause racist episodes to also exist on Stargate, The Twilight Zone, and other shows.
Did I succeed at walking that fine line involved in satirizing an ugly aspect of humanity? I suppose that’s up to each reader to decide, so buy the book and find out! Outside In Makes It So is available at ATB’s website, as well as from the Doctor Who Store and other booksellers. I’m just one of 174 contributors, and the work turned in by the other 173 is also well worth checking out. This truly is a high-quality series of books, and it’s been my privilege to write for them. But don’t just take my word for it—engage.