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Back in the mists of history, around 1997, the Captain's Table was built, to float forever in time and space, allowing only captains of ships through the big wooden front door. If my memory serves, the creation of the Captain's Table was slow, like any construction process -- a labor of love carried out over a number of phone calls between myself and former Pocket Books editor John Ordover.
John and I both loved the tradition of bars in literature, and often talked about the White Hart, one of our favorites. I'm not sure of the exact conversation between us that sent the Captain's Table into full construction, but I do remember that at one point John suggested I create the bar.
Since I had worked as a bartender and have a degree in architecture that I have seldom used, it was a logical assignment. I took the task very seriously, actually going to my architectural studio and drawing up floor plans. As I would in any good design, I included restrooms, determined the location of stairs, provided for liquor storage, and so on. Every detail, all to scale. Then John and I worked out the characters who would be regulars, who would be there to listen to the captains' stories.
We developed the rules of the bar, and how it works with captains of ships from any time and any space. We developed the tradition of captains telling tales, and many of the other details that threaded their way into the bar. Then John hired eight of his writers to bring the Captain's Table to life and write six novels. He assigned each the task of writing in first person, from the captain's point of view while in the bar.
Since I had designed the bar, I was given first choice and picked Benjamin Sisko, writing with my wife, Kristine Kathryn Rusch. The team of L.A. Graf took Jim Kirk and Hikaru Sulu, Diane Carey wrote about Kathryn Janeway, Michael Jan Friedman got to record Jean-Luc Picard's story, Jerry Oltion told Christopher Pike's, and Peter David told Mackenzie Calhoun's tale.
John kept everyone together in details and timeline, even managing to have the different books linked by last and first chapters, with one captain leaving the bar while another came in. John even had the artist put in the faces of the authors in the crowd scene behind the captains in the cover paintings and on the big poster. Only not always on our own books. (Hint: Kris and I are right behind Captain Janeway.)
As a hard-core Star Trek fan, this was all grand fun for me, not only the creation of the bar, but writing the novel. Since then, I have been editing Strange New Worlds, the annual-contest anthology that lets the fans into the professional writing side of Star Trek. Over the years, my biggest regret has been that the rules of Strange New Worlds don't allow Captain's Table stories. I've really wanted to read more about the bar that floated out there, giving the captains of ships a needed place to relax.
Now Keith R.A. DeCandido has solved that problem with this wonderful book, getting some of the best Star Trek writers to drop in to the Captain's Table and listen to more stories from many varied captains. I feel like I have come home.
So sit back and enjoy great stories in one of the most interesting and strange places in all of time and space. And when you leave, don't forget to tip the bartender.
Copyright © 2005 by Paramount Pictures. All Rights Reserved.