The Autobiography of Jean-Luc Picard
Edited by David A. Goodman
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I was browsing the TV and Media tie-in section at Amazon yesterday scoping out GameLit books since that’s where they live while authors wait for Amazon to come up with an appropriate LitRPG/GameLit category. While there I spied The Autobiography of Jean-Luc Picard which caught my interest. Then I saw it was on sale for $1.99 and decided to give it a try.
I’d call this book a page turner, but I was reading it on my Kindle so it’s more like it was a battery devourer. I couldn’t put it down. I missed an update of my ongoing serial Spellcraft over on RoyalRoad because I was so caught up in this book.
I grew up with Star Trek: The Next Generation. My parents were both Trekkies who grew up on the original series, and so it was a no-brainer that TNG would be a staple in our household. Some of my earliest TV memories are watching TNG. I’d regularly sneak into my parents’ bedroom well after my bedtime but before theirs so I could watch episodes when they came on at 10:30PM after the evening news on Fox 59.
This book reads like a love letter to TNG fans. Minor characters who are given a brief appearance in the series, those “I have a deep history with this character to add gravitas to their inevitable death a minute before the commercial break” characters who only ever get their due at Memory Alpha or in the old Star Trek Encyclopedia. Relationships with familiar characters are explored from new and interesting directions.
More than anything, Autobiography fills in the holes of Picard’s early life and the career trajectory that took him to the bridge of the Enterprise-D. The book is peppered with fun references for fans, such as a tongue firmly in cheek explanation of why there were so many Chief Engineers in the first season that I won’t spoil, and is a definite for anyone who considers themselves a fan of TNG.
My only quibble with the book is an issue that must’ve been a Kobayashi Maru scenario for Goodman as he was writing it. Most of the book is dedicated to Picard’s life before he became the famous Jean-Luc Picard we all know and love, and then his career about the Enterprises D and E is rushed in the last sliver of the book before moving on to talk about what he’s been up to since.
I don’t fault the book for this. The stuff we’re interested in is the before and after. We’ve all seen the series and the movie, else we wouldn’t be picking up the book. I can see where recounting episodes that already have an ending wouldn’t be as interesting as telling new stories about years of Picard’s life that haven’t been explored.
Still, for a book that hews closely to the autobiography template it does feel odd that such a substantial portion of Picard’s life is glossed over so quickly, and the few observations that we do get from his point of view in the book give us a tantalizing tease of what a retelling of TNG adventures purely from Picard’s point of view could be while not completely delivering.
I know I spent a few paragraphs on that, but it really is a minor quibble. Overall this book is excellent and worth the read. It’s very rare that I read a book that I feel is an unreserved recommend, but if you’re a Trekkie then you’ll enjoy this one.
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