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Star Trek Edition: The Great Fandom Swap!

The following is a repost from Michael of My Comic Relief in regards to the fandom swap we recently worked on together!

Friendship is wonderful, isn’t it?  It can lead you to do all sorts of things you’d never do on your own.  I’d start listing examples but, c’mon, then we’d be off on a tangent (a beautiful, nourishing, and entertaining tangent to be sure!) which could fill pages.  Let’s cut to the chase!  My friendship with Nancy of Graphic Novelty2 – my oldest, longest, and dearest blogging friend – has led to an historic first.  I, Michael John Miller, author and operator of the blog My Comic Relief, am writing about Star Trek for the very first time.  You see, Nancy loves Star Trek and I’d never seen a single episode of Star Trek (only the JJ Abrams films).  I love Doctor Who and Nancy had only seen a few episodes in passing.  So, in the name of friendship, AMAZING THINGS, and blog content, we did our first ever Fandom Swap!  Eagerly sharing what we love with the other, Nancy chose eight episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation (her favorite iteration of the show) for me to watch and I gave Nancy eight episodes of Doctor Who

What follows is a unique piece, a sort of dialogue.  You’ll see Nancy’s intro material leading me, a Star Trek newbie, into each episode, followed by my thoughts, feelings, and reactions to the episodes as well as my general feels on wading into the world of Star Trek for the first time.  Enjoy!

NancyStar Trek: The Next Generation ran for seven outstanding seasons, but I am starting off with an episode from S3, for truth be told most series take awhile to gain their footing and attract a fan base. 

Yesterday’s Enterprise S3E15

Photo Credit – Paramount’s Star Trek: The Next Generation

Nancy: This episode was the perfect “going back in time to right wrongs” episode.  It features Tasha Yar, a character from the first season who had been the first Head of Security in S1 and was killed in the line of duty.  IRL the actress wanted to leave the show (so foolish!) and was given a rather ignoble death scene, so this episode in S3 gives her a fitting end, plus I liked the subplot about the possible romance between her and Castillo.  It also ended up setting up another amazing twist storyline in future seasons.  Some background knowledge: The Enterprise NCC-1701-D  is the fourth Enterprise, under Captain Picard (A was Captain Kirk, B was Captain Harriman, C was Captain Garrett). 

Michael:  My very first thought as I began my very first episode?  “Is that Whoopi Goldberg???  It is!!!”  I had no idea she was on Star Trek!  The size of The Enterprise is something my mind kept sticking on.  I’m not used to “good guy” ships being so big/full.  In Star Wars, the Rebels’ ships are so much smaller than the Empire’s and in Doctor Who the TARDIS is infinite on the inside but it’s always just the Doctor and a few companions.  To think of this ship’s “ecosystem,” as it were, is staggering.  It’s so much more “polished” than the world of Doctor Who, where the Doctor is essentially a vagabond setting things right where they find things needing sorted.  I got lost

thinking on the Tasha/Castillo romance.  The idea of meeting someone, having that connection, and then knowing they have to go back into the past which will reset your timeline and make you forget ever even having met them??  That’s a heavy thing to wrap your mind around.

It’s not as jarring as I thought it’d be, jumping into the world of Star Trek for my very first time.  My most vivid connection to a character from this episode was Tasha then Picard (obvs.) and Data and Whoopie.

Sins of the Father S3E17

Photo Credit – Paramount’s Star Trek: The Next Generation

Nancy: Worf, Klingon Head of Security, defends his family’s honor and has to make a sacrifice.  This episode really showed Klingon society.  Worf has proved to be one of my favorite characters, and later very capably made the jump to Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and helped anchor the series that was initially struggling before it hit its stride. 

Michael:  Worf is one of my most vivid Star Trek memories from my youth, seeing him in ads in my comics or on TV.  I always thought he was a villain (he kinda scared me) given the way he looked.  Since Klingons freaked me out as a kid, it was interesting to see an episode so focused on their culture.  They were as intense and violent as I would’ve expected but there was a surprising warmth and familial connection.  As I observed above, the very military nature of this show is so foreign to me.  I don’t normally watch or read things like this.  The hierarchy.  The routines.  The protocol.  It all fees so…strict.  I got a rush o’ feels when Worf asked Piccard to serve as his cha’DIch.  And when Picard replied in Klingon??  It felt surprisingly sweet for a show I was only on my second episode of.

The Best of Both Worlds S3E26 & S4E1 (two-parter)

Photo Credit – Paramount’s Star Trek: The Next Generation

Nancy: The Borg, cybernetic humanoids that assimilate individuals into their hive-mind, are introduced.  Captain Picard is captured and assimilated!  His time there would forever change him and would tie him to another character (Seven of Nine from Star Trek: Voyager – which was Captain Janeway’s ship) who also was formerly a Borg, and the two co-star in the series Star Trek: Picard.  This was an excellent cliffhanger episode and really made me anxious for the start of S4.  In the years since, the Borg have become the Big Baddies of the franchise, and are over-used TBH. 

Michael:  What came to mind whenever I thought of Star Trek as a kid, before ever seeing an episode, was their color coded uniforms, the shape of the Enterprise, Picard, the Klingons, and the Borg.  So to see the introduction of the Borg was exciting!  The Borg gave me major Cybermen vibes – a cyborg species seeking to assimilate everything and operating through a hive mind.  So this was kinda cool :).  This threat felt familiar.  It makes me wish I gave you an episode of Doctor Who with the Cybermen in it!  I get your anxiety over the summer, too.  My notes at the end of Part One literally said, “That’s where they did the ‘To Be Continued…’ cutoff??  How did people wait all summer to see the next one?!?

This episode was the first time through this I felt really invested in the story.  Like I was on the edge of my seat watching!  I also keep thinking of how often I saw the Borg, the assimilated Picard, and their big ol’ cube ship in my comic ads as a kid.  So much of my sense of Star Trek comes from those ads.  Going into the second episode, even though I knew Picard would be ok (somehow), I still felt a pit in my stomach as Ryker takes charge and Guinan gives him his li’l pep talk to do so.  My notes for the end of Part Two, “What was with that ending??  Was it just a sobering reflective moment or are they still in his head someway??”

The Inner Light S5E25

Photo Credit – Paramount’s Star Trek: The Next Generation

Nancy: Probably my favorite TNG episode ever!  Picard is always so stoic, but here he gets to raise a family and the ending will gut you.  The flute…tears!!!  It makes you wonder how long you yourself would fight against knowing you were in the wrong era/world and give in and live the best life you could under the new circumstances.

Michael: Knowing this is your favorite TNG episode ever had me really excited to see it!  I can see why you like it (and I don’t even have the emotional connection to the series/characters that you do!) and it did give me a lot to think about!  Waking up in a world I know is wrong but everyone else says is correct would be so overwhelming!  I presume I’d spend a lot of time crying and ultimately find myself committed.  Even if I had another family and natural supports, I’d be haunted by what I knew was right and what I knew I’d lost.  Could I go to bed with a women I just met who was certain we were married?  When would I commit to an illusion?  When would I accept it as “real”?

I figured out the twist when Picard and Batai were talking about the planet being doomed but that didn’t make it any less emptional.  What a beautiful reflection on the power and purpose of history!  History, when done right, should pull us into a people and we should come to love them – their life, their culture, their ways, their world – just as we do our own family.  But history often fails.  Though when it doesn’t, well it can forever change our lives as it did for Picard.  The flute scene at the end, while I was expecting something like it, was so poignant!  This was an episode!  I see why you love it so much!  On the one hand, my gut reaction was it was kind of a dick move on those people’s part, to hijack a consciousness to share their story with the world.  But as soon as I thought about it for a few moments I realized…what else is the point and purpose of history?  Yes, it’s hard but it should be.  WOW.

I, Borg S5E23

Photo Credit – Paramount’s Star Trek: The Next Generation

Nancy: An injured Borg drone is captured and Picard has to decide if he will use him as a weapon against the Borg, who have become a huge threat to the Federation.  What happens when this former Borg begins to demonstrate free will? 

Michael:  Seeking out an area “for colonization” carries a different connotation in our age of growing awareness of the horrors of empire.  Dr. Crusher’s immediate compassion for the wounded Borg boy was welcome, especially after their last encounter.  I really like her character for that :).  Picard plotting a potential Borg genocide with Data is not unsurprising (heck, Star Wars adores genocide) but it still makes me sad.  The whole military-centric drive of the show, in fact, is something that has yet to feel like it “fits comfortably” for me.  I love how the more Geordi gets to know Hugh, the more uncomfortable he feels with the program he’s designing.  Conversation breeds connection and connection breeds communion.  The last episode tugged on the ol’ heartstrings but watching Hugh voluntarily go back to the Borg to protect Geordi from their pursuit hit hard.  I just wanted them to save Hugh!  Why couldn’t they take him with them??  Why didn’t he become part of the crew??  Siiiiigh.

The First Duty S5E19

Photo Credit – Paramount’s Star Trek: The Next Generation

Nancy: Wesley Crusher, the doctor’s son who had been a regular in the first few seasons but had left the Enterprise to attend Starfleet Academy, is back in this episode and he is in trouble.  He and some other cadet pilots made a stupid decision while flying and a crewmate died.  This isn’t truly one of my very top episodes, but it ties in nicely with the next episode I am having you watch.  Aside – the actor playing Nick Locarno would later be recast and play Tom Paris in Star Trek: Voyager.  For legal reasons, he couldn’t be the same character in two different series. 

Michael: “Captain’s Log: Stardate…”  “Space – the final frontier.  These are the voyages of the starship, Enterprise.  It’s continuing mission, to seek out new life, to explore new star systems, to boldly go where no one has gone before.”  “Resistance is Futile.”  It’s so cool to finally be experiencing these classic lines for myself as part of their narrative rather than just hearing them as an oft quoted piece of pop culture!  Picard told Wesley the duty of every Star Fleet officer is to the truth – scientific, historical, and personal truth.  I really like this frame of what they do.  And I got to see future Earth – future San Diego, it looks like – for the first time!

Lower Decks S7E15

Photo Credit – Paramount’s Star Trek: The Next Generation

Nancy: We get a look at the younger crew members of the ship, and one of them is from the episode The First Duty.  This gives us a different perspective of the ship, seen from the crew who are part of the “lower decks.”  This premise is the basis for the new series Star Trek: Lower Decks, which is a cartoon, but ties in with the entire franchise.  A very bittersweet ending, but realistic that sometimes captains need to make decisions that they know could hurt or kill their crew, but is for the greater good.  

Michael:  In some ways this episode reminds me of Scrubs S9, with it’s focus on the ensigns on the ship and their concern about their careers and promotions and coming up in Star Fleet.  I was really happy to see Sito back from the last episode.  I like her.  Watching her talk with Picard in the wake of what happened at the Academy was hard.  We’ve all been haunted by mistakes but how do you come back from something like that.  Do you?  Can you?  I like how this episode explored that.  I love how often they hang out in the bar/restaurant on the Enterprise.  I like the overlay of senior officers and the ensigns playing poker – regular poker on a regular poker table

with regular cards – and chatting, too.  It gave a strong sense of continuity between those on the Enterprise and us.  It felt more like our possible future, you know?  Ok, so here are my literal stream on consciousness notes:

“If Sito dies in this episode…I’ve not seen enough Star Trek to learn their narrative rhythm yet but it seems like this could be setting her up for a tragic ending.  I am rooting for her!  I really like her as a character!  She can’t die here!  If I lose Sito after the flute scene and losing Hugh, I am gonna be in a rough place!  I am not comfortable with this whole hostage ruse/escape pod pickup scenario.  I am not liking this one bit!”

What a heartbreaking way to end.  I mean, it makes sense.  It is bittersweet, as you said.  And it certainly leaves me awash in my own emotions around the crew of the Enterprise.  Part of me is surprised I became so connected to these characters in just eight episodes – and Sito who was only in two of them! – but part of me isn’t.  I’m an empath by nature and I’m easily pulled into a well written story.  Also, Star Trek has been popular for sixty years precisely because it pulls people in like this.

Nancy: I hope you enjoyed your window into my beloved franchise, and if I had another episode I would recommend the last episode of the series, All Good Things, which wraps up the series nicely.  It had a perfect ending scene with all the main characters.  While of course Star Trek: The Original Series is the granddaddy of the entire Star Trek universe, I believe you can truthfully say it was Star Trek: TNG that revitalized the franchise, and all series that came afterward are truly based on TNG.  For anyone interested in getting into Star Trek for the first time, of course, I recommend TNG, but the new Star Trek: Strange New Worlds is absolutely fantastic and will make a Trekkie out of you yet!  In the meantime, Live Long and Prosper!

Michael:  I did enjoy this!  In fact, I enjoyed it so much by the start of “The First Duty,” I began to consider watching Star Trek on my own, making it another big series I explore alongside Classic Doctor Who.  This is HUGE as I feel I never have time for the TV people tell me I “should” be watching (in fact, I just wrote about my reluctance to jump into new TV shows here).  But I was open to – even eager – to explore more of the Star Trek universe on my own.  The main reason I haven’t yet was I wasn’t sure if we’ll make this Fandom Swap an annual thing we return to so I held off ;D.  But I’m SO GLAD we did this!  And I’m really happy you chose TNG for me to begin with as almost all the Star Trek memories I have from my youth are about TNG.  Now I finally got to see it for myself!

I chose to end with this picture as a) I mentioned above how much I enjoy the characters regularly hanging out at this bar on the Enterprise, b) Worf is one of Nancy’s favorite characters, and c) my heart still hurts for poor Sito! / Photo Credit – Paramount’s Star Trek: The Next Generation

Nancy: Stay tuned for my piece on Doctor Who next week!!!!!

Star Trek Picard: Season Two

As I said in my synopsis of S1 of Picard: While I had been fond of Star Trek (TOS) from watching re-runs, it was Star Trek: The Next Generation that cemented my love for the franchise. I have watched every episode of the seven-season series (many multiple times) and the four movies afterward. I was also a big fan of Voyager, DS9 and the Kelvin timeline movies but didn’t care for Enterprise and have found the recent Discovery unwatchable; so when I heard that there would be a new series about TNG’s iconic Captain Picard, I was in! Plus, I was thrilled that my husband would watch the series with me, for while he was a fan of TNG and DS9, he hasn’t watched any newer series with me, until now.

Overall, I was pleased with S1 which was set in 2399 and showcased the retired Ambassador, who had left Starfleet in disgust after they backed out on their promise to help the Romulan population escape a planet-destroying catastrophe, as he covertly worked with some “synths” (like his former crewmate and friend Data). Picard works with a new crew but a highlight was Picard working with Riker and Troi from TNG, who are now married parents, but I missed the original crew.

Set two years later in 2401, this time the premise is that the alien Q traps Picard and many of the S1 crew in an alternate reality, and they must travel back in time to the 21st century to save the future of the galaxy. First off, I have to say- I have always hated Q. That the entire second season revolves around his whims, already set me on edge. While they brought everyone back from S1, a few characters’ roles were reduced, which was fine with me, as I hadn’t really jelled with everyone.

Having Star Trek episodes set in our era is an easy way for producers to save money on sets and costumes, but is overused, paling in comparison to when TOS utilized it in the movie Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home. In fact, there is an awesome Easter egg that connects that movie to this series (hint-they both take plus on a bus) that had me so excited that I rewound it a few times to enjoy it again. There is also a connection to TNG when we meet a younger Guinan before she and Picard meet officially in the future. One other character falls in love with a doctor, and predictably but implausibly chooses to remain behind with her once the mission is over. The Borg Queen is merged with someone else, making them less evil, but TBH, I’m a bit confused if that changes the future. Finally, we are given a surprise (and kinda weird) cameo by Wil Wheaton as Wesley Crusher, with the show doubling down on him remaining a Traveler (even though he didn’t seem to be one when he returned for Riker & Troi’s wedding in the movie Star Trek: Nemesis).

All in all, this was a mediocre and uneven season. But then I found out they are bringing back the original TNG crew in season three!!!! Forget about everything else- we will see Worf, Geordi, Crusher, Riker, and Troi again. So while I eagerly await the third and final season of Picard, I wish that you may live long and prosper!

Sorry Picard crew, I want the TNG crew back!

Star Trek Picard: Season One

While I had been fond of Star Trek (TOS) from watching re-runs, it was Star Trek: The Next Generation that cemented my love for the franchise. I have watched every episode of the seven-season series (some multiple times) and the four movies afterward. I was also a big fan of Voyager, DS9 and the Kelvin timeline movies but didn’t care for Enterprise and have found the recent Discovery uneven; so when I heard that there would be a new series about TNG’s iconic Captain Picard, I was in! Plus, I was thrilled that my husband would watch the series with me, for while he was a fan of TNG and DS9, he hasn’t watched any newer series with me, until now.

Set in 2399, twenty years after the last movie (Star Trek Nemesis), Admiral Picard is retired from Star Fleet and has been living on his family’s ancestral vineyard in France. We find out he left Star Fleet under less than ideal circumstances, as he was an advocate for helping the Romulan population escape a planet-destroying catastrophe. When some synthetics destroyed the Mars ship-building colony, Starfleet reneged on their offer to help the Romulans due to their fleet being depleted. Picard resigned in disgust, and the public has taken a dim view of his perspective on what happened.

A young woman, Dahj, is introduced when Romulan assassins try to murder her, and she inexplicably manifests super strength during the fight. She has a mysterious vision of Picard and finds him, only for the mystery to deepen when signs point to her being an android and somehow connected to Data, another android who served with Picard and gave up his life to save others in Nemesis. As synthetic life was banned after the Mars disaster, Picard is trying to piece together what happened when he is then led to a former Borg cube, where former assimilated Borg are being released from the collective and rehabilitated.

We meet a lot of new characters, as Picard commissions a ship with a motley crew, and frankly, the storyline is rather wonky and confusing here to summarize. We have an uptight scientist who gets away with murder, a young Romulan swordsman (who looks like an elf), a rascal of a captain who is Han Solo-ish, another Romulan who is a slimy Lothario, a troubled drug-addicted former Starfleet officer with a heart of gold, Dahj’s twin Soji, and Seven of Nine from the Voyager series. Seven was a former Borg who wore skin-tight clothes and was the hottie who got Kes kicked off the Voyager series (aside-I was in the minority in not liking her, as I had preferred Kes). At least in the new series, her character was more developed and I actually liked her (yet another aside-as a bonus that frees up Chakotay to be with Captain Janeway, as I always shipped them, and I was so flippin’ mad that Seven had been paired with Chakotay). At least Picard meets up with Will Riker and Deanna Troi, former crew members of his who are now married, and they assist him at a critical juncture.

The last episode of the series was somewhat controversial for me for several reasons- there are huge leaps of logic, a confusing fantasy/mystical element is introduced and a poignant moment concerning Picard is erased which eliminates the emotions associated with what happened. There are a few romances between characters, but they are so quick and unexpected that you don’t build up investment in their relationships. Perhaps that will develop in the future.

I just have to say that I missed not seeing more of the Enterprise-D crew. I know it’s not TNG-Part 2 and wasn’t supposed to be a nostalgic stroll through the past, but still. As I had guessed would happen, the series diverted from The Autobiography of Jean-Luc Picard (2017) as in his supposed memoir Picard had married Dr. Beverly Crusher, and she is nowhere to be found in this series. This was wrong! So wrong! I also want to see Worf (who should have a series based off him IMO) and Geordi LaForge (LeVar!).

Picard’s first season was stronger than Discovery’s first and second seasons, and I’m not really anticipating that series’ season three.  Picard’s second season is already greenlit, and I look forward to seeing what further adventures await our intrepid captain. And of course, I hope the remaining original crew members get a small cameo, as when you have been as invested in a series and characters for years, you want to know what has happened to your tv family. In the meantime, live long and prosper!

-Nancy

Picard hugging Will & Deanna- I teared up!

Short Treks- Season Two

Star Trek Discovery tried an innovative approach in keeping it’s audience’s attention and building interest- it put out four shorts (each approximately 10-15 minutes long), between Discovery’s season one and two. This second time around there were six episodes, two of which were animated, and timed to coincide with the premiere of Star Trek Picard.

Warning- Spoilers!

Q&A

The first episode took the popularity of season two’s young Spock, Number One and Captain Pike and gave them their own prequel to us meeting them on the U.S.S. Discovery. Spock is beaming aboard the U.S.S. Enterprise for the first time as an ensign and meets Number One who he gets trapped in a turbolift with. Their prim and proper conversation takes a turn for the personal, with a fun but odd singing rendition of I Am The Very Model Of a Modern Major General by both of them. They later pretend to meet for the first time in front of Captain Pike. I did have two problems with this episode- they should not have been wearing those uniforms yet, but most importantly, I like them so much that I want them back on Star Trek Discovery in season three (or even better- a spinoff of their own)!

The Trouble With Edward

This episode was hysterical! I was laughing so hard that my oldest son sat down with me to finish watching the episode after I gave him a quick overview of the iconic TOS episode The Trouble with Tribbles. While my three children are all Star Wars fans, I’ve never gotten them interested in Star Trek (to my everlasting shame) so having him watch this short trek with me was a victory indeed!

New Captain Lynne Lucero is assigned to the starship U.S.S. Cabot (and is escorted there by Captain Pike) where she meets scientist Edward Larkin who is conducting some morally questionable experiments on alien Tribbles, for he wishes to use them as a food source on a starving planet. Ordered to stop, he does not, and the Tribbles start to breed out of control, eventually overtaking the entire ship. While Starfleet officers are usually professional, Edward’s ego got the best of him (as did the Captain’s frankly), and the sequence of events afterward is comical. Captain Lucero’s explanation to an admiral board of review is accurate and a perfect ending to this episode. (BTW, this is the first time chronologically we see a Trill alien in Starfleet)

Ask Not

The third Short Trek with dreamy Captain Pike! When Starbase 28 is attacked, Cadet Thira Sidhu is tasked with guarding a mutinous prisoner who no surprise is Captain Pike. Pike attempts to convince Sidhu into releasing him, but she refuses despite her husband being on board the starship in danger. Pike then reveals that this is a simulated test, and because of her fortitude she is welcomed aboard the U.S.S. Enterprise as an engineer. We even get a brief look at Spock and Number One when she beams abroad. While I very much enjoyed this mini-episode, the likelihood of a captain taking the time to screen applicants for his ship like this is extremely unlikely. But I’ll let is pass, as this might have been our last opportunity to see Pike, Spock and Number One together.

Ephraim and Dot

I was unsure about the animated shorts, but this first was adorable! Set in TOS timeline, a mother Tardigrade wants a safe place to lay her eggs, when The Enterprise disrupts her, so she follows the starship to see if it would be a viable location. She is witness to some iconic episodes- Space Seed (Khan!), The Trouble With Tribbles, The Naked Time (shirtless Sulu with a sword), Who Mourns For Adonis? (giant green hand in space), The Doomsday Machine (the big planet killer), The Tholian Web (orange energy cube), and The Savage Curtain (hey, whats President Lincoln doing in space?!), along with some other shoutouts to TOS happenings.  A droid, Dot, tries to stop her but later realizes her intent and there is a heartwarming ending. The animation was colorful, amusing and will appeal to all ages.

The Girl Who Made the Stars

As much as I loved the previous animated short, I did not like the second one at all. In this episode, we are shown Michael from the Star Trek Discovery crew, as a young child who is afraid of the dark. Her father wishes to reassure so he tells a tale of a young girl from Africa who brings stars to her tribe, as a gift from an alien she met. This story rubbed me the wrong way because a problem I have been having with the Discovery series is that Michael is just so earnest, and she and she alone is the savior of her ship and mankind. This cloying fairy tale-esque episode reinforced that issue which makes me wonder if Star Trek Discovery will fall to the wayside for me soon.

Children of Mars

This mostly wordless episode ties in with the Picard series as a prequel to Picard’s timeline, set in 2385, when Mars was attacked by deviant synthoids. The story begins with two girls who attend boarding school on Earth, speaking with their parents who are workers on Mars before they leave for school. The girls get into a skirmish at school and escalate it until they are truly fighting in the hallways.  As they are awaiting punishment from the Vulcan principal, the news is announced and the girls each realize they have lost a parent, and link hands in solidarity. We briefly see Picard on a screen when he was still an Admiral and this all fits into the mystery of Picard’s storyline. This episode was effective on many levels- it showed youth in school as we don’t see many children or family units in the Star Trek world, the catastrophe will sadly remind viewers of iconic tragedies such as 9/11 or the Challenger explosion and ties in neatly with the timeline and reasons for Picard leaving Starfleet.

All in all, I found five of the six episodes strong. These shorts allow some additional ideas to be developed that there is no time to explore in regular episodes. Fan favorites such as Pike, Spock and Number One got more character development, and threads that connect to the newest series were introduced. It a smart move by CBS to produce these mini-episodes to keep interest strong in the franchise and keep subscribers from dropping the paid platform. However, for me, I waited until Picard premiered to re-up my subscription and just caught up with these shorts at that time. So, soon enough you can expect a Star Trek Picard post from me. In the meantime- live long and prosper!

-Nancy

The Autobiography of Jean-Luc Picard

After my rough start with The Autobiography of James T Kirk, I was leery of picking up The Autobiography of Jean-Luc Picard, but I’m glad I did. Listed as the “story of one of Starfleet’s most inspirational captains” it is presented as if it were written by Picard and once again it is “edited” by David A Goodman.

The foreword by Beverly Crusher Picard immediately establishes that Picard and Dr. Crusher married sometime after their TNG days together, which pleased me to no end, but when Q co-opted her foreword I almost put the book down. The editorial choice for Goodman to interrupt a book by Q was unbelievably lame.

We start in Picard’s youth on his family’s vineyard in Le Barre, France, and he establishes the difficult relationship he had with his father and older brother. He shows ambition from an early age and never gives up on his quest to join Starfleet. His Starfleet days showed that he was a stickler for the rules, and didn’t necessarily have the charisma that you associate with a captain.

To me, the book started to take off when he graduated and began his career leading to an early captaincy of the USS Stargazer. He ended up spending 20+ years on that ship, and we are shown why he would choose to stay on an old ship for so long. Normally we associate officers in Starfleet as having stellar careers but Picard has some ups and downs, and sometimes makes decisions that are a bit suspect. He also has time off-ship and has to deal with bureaucracy and uncertainty.

What I liked about this book, so much more than the Kirk novel, was that the relationships between Picard and others were so much more believable and fleshed out. His friendship with Jack Crusher and a young Beverly on the Stargazer, established the crushing guilt he felt when Jack died under his command leaving Beverly widowed with a young son. He long carried a torch for her but felt he couldn’t act on it. I enjoyed meeting some people from his past that were new to me, and I loved every time that he first met a character that you knew would play a role in what we know as Star Trek canon.  When he was given the USS Enterprise to lead he specifically asked for some officers that he had met in past missions on other ships.

His time on the Enterprise wasn’t covered in-depth, as this book is geared mostly to fill in gaps of his life we are not familiar with. I was disappointed that so few pages were devoted to his time with the Borg, as I thought that was a crucial and life-changing event for him. His later years, including his time as Federation Ambassador to Vulcan, and his late in life marriage to Beverly isn’t given much time either.

These books are supposed to be viewed as canon, as they are approved by Paramount and CBS Studios, but as it was written in 2017 I question how much it will hold up as it was recently announced that there will be a new Star Trek series starring Patrick Stewart who will once again play Jean-Luc Picard. While I am thrilled at the chance to experience further adventures with Picard, I do wonder how they will handle storylines, and if any of his TNG crew will make appearances, especially Gates McFadden who played Beverly. Please have all of them on the show- make it so!

An autobiography about Spock will be coming out in August of 2019 (edit- pushed back to September of 2021), and since my opinion of these novels written by Goodman has improved, I plan on picking it up. I need to know the identity of Spock’s wife that was hinted at in this book! In the meantime- live long and prosper my friends.

-Nancy

For more information on Picard’s book, tune in to the enjoyable podcast Trek FM: Literary Treks 209 that interviews Goodman

 

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