Posted in: Reviews, Star Trek

Book Review- Star Trek: Picard The Last Best Hope

Last Best Hope cover
The cover to the Star Trek: Picard novel “The Last Best Hope”

Note: This article that I wrote originally appeared at www.SeventhFleet.org

Book Review- Star Trek: Picard The Last Best Hope

Title: Star Trek: Picard The Last Best Hope

Author: Una McCormack

Page count: 336

Breakdown: Fifteen chapters in three parts.

Year Published: 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9821-3944-5 (Hardcover)

ISBN: 978-1-9821-3945-2 (ebook)

The Last Best Hope is the first novel based on the CBS All Access (now Paramount+) series “Star Trek: Picard”.  I recently had a chance to purchase this book for my Amazon Kindle to add to my reading list.  Being the first book in the series, I knew that I just had to know the show and not any previous books (I’m doing a lot of catch up on my Star Trek reading right now) so I was eager to open this book up and explore.

                This book starts out with Starfleet Command approaching Captain Picard with the task of assisting the Romulan Star Empire after the discovery of the supernova that will destroy countless inhabited planets.  The newly promoted Admiral Picard is immediately moved into a role of coordinating the relocation efforts that the Federation extends to the Romulans.  He first meets Lt. Commander Raffi Musiker who briefs the Admiralty on the supernova that we first learned about in the 2009 Star Trek movie. 

                There is a lot of discussion about how the Federation would handle such an evacuation.  The resources needed, the ships built, and the manpower required.  What projects would be placed on hold just to accomplish such a goal.  There is a lot of insight into what happens with refugees.  Especially when the government like the Romulan Star Empire is built upon keeping secrets.

                Author Una McCormack introduces us to several of the characters we will get to know in the Star Trek: Picard television series.  The above-mentioned Raffi Musiker and her time as Picard’s Executive Officer on the USS Verity.  We get an insight into the effects the mission has on her family life.  Doctor Bruce Maddox mentors a student known as Agnes Jurati.  This mentoring develops into a relationship, especially when Dr. Maddox is forced to abandon his life’s work to develop a form of artificial ship builders known as the Synths.  One of he Romulan planets that is evacuated by the Verity contains Zani and the band of warrior nuns known as the Qowat Milat.  Here Picard meets a very young boy named Elnor.  While not seen in the series, Geordi La Forge features prominently in this novel as he heads up the shipbuilding efforts at the Utopia Planitia Fleet Yards building the Wallenberg Class transport.  We also get a chance to meet future Fleet Admiral Kirsten Clancy at Federation Headquarters.

                There is also a rich band of characters that are introduced for this novel.  Estella Mackenzie works at Utopia Planitia alongside La Forge and comes up with the idea of creating androids to help with construction.  With the supernova being a unique event, Doctor Amal Safadi at Cambridge’s Institute of Astronomy conducts several studies.  He tries to get a hold of his Romulan counterpart, the scientist Doctor Nokim Vritet who first discovered the disaster that had befallen his people.  On the USS Verity are two interesting individuals such as Lt. Koli Jocan, a Bajoran who is very familiar with relocation due to the history of her people and provided one of the most inspirational moments within the book.  The other is the Romulan “cultural liaison officer” Lt. Tajuth sent to make sure that Picard considers Romulan interest while within their territory.  Tajuth provides quite a bit of insight into the Romulan culture.  One of the more interesting characters is Olivia Quest.  A politician who is a representative from the agricultural colony near the Romulan border called Estelen.   She provides a lot of insight into how the smaller worlds within the Federation feel about the sudden influx of Romulan refugees into the area. 

                With this book set before the Romulan star exploded I was wondering if we were going to see or hear from two individuals.  The first one, Spock, did not disappoint me.  I was also wondering if we were going to hear anything about Nero and his crew.  They did not make an appearance, but this may have been due to (at the time) the rights to characters from the 2009 movie.

                The writing style and detail provided by the author delved very deeply into the characters and various sub-plots.  The short chapters made for quick reading.  Unfortunately, my reading schedule only allowed for short reads each day.  Most of these I did not want to put my reading tablet down.  I found myself spending extra time reading “just a few more pages”.  The writing was that engaging in the story and characters. 

                This was also the curse of the book.  The main characters seen in the show had their stories wrapped up by the end of the book in a very good story.  I’m not certain if there was a limit on the number of pages, but it seemed like the very well written characters introduced into the book were quickly wrapped up in a few pages.  This disappointed me a little.  With how well these characters had been written, I was hoping to find out more about what happened with them at the end of the book.  Perhaps this could be an opportunity to see some of these characters again in future novels.

                If you enjoyed watching the first season of Star Trek: Picard and would like to know how some of the characters developed before the television series, I would highly recommend The Last Best Hope.

Posted in: Quotes, Star Trek

Daily Star Trek Quotes: April 26-May 2

Data, my jokes aren’t that bad. Are they?

Here are the Daily Star Trek Quotes that will appear on the @STrekQuotes twitter account for the week of April 26th through May 2nd.

April 26
“Hope? I always thought that was a Human failing, Mister Spock.” Dr. McCoy “True, doctor. Constant exposure does result in a certain degree of contamination.” Spock- The Gamesters of Triskelion, Stardate: 3211.7 #StarTrek #StarTrekTOS #WeAreStarfleet

April 27
“My great-grandfather was once bitten by a rattlesnake. After three days of intense pain, the snake died.” Riker- Shades of Gray, Stardate: 42976.1 #StarTrek #StarTrekTNG #WeAreStarfleet

April 28
“On Earth, there is a cautionary tale about the dangers of releasing a magical creature called a genie from the bottle. Once it’s out, it’s extremely difficult to put back in.” Dr. Phlox- The Forgotten, Date: Unknown #StarTrek #StarTrekENT #WeAreStarfleet

April 29
Happy Birthday to Kate Mulgrew. @TheKateMulgrew https://memory-alpha.fandom.com/wiki/Kate_Mulgrew #StarTrek #StarTrekVOY #StarTrekTNG #StarTrekProdigy #WeAreStarfleet

“There are three things to remember about being a Starship Captain. Keep your shirt tucked in, go down with the ship, and never abandon a member of your crew.” Janeway- Dark Frontier, Stardate: 52619.2 #StarTrek #StarTrekVOY #WeAreStarfleet

April 30
“My mother always said, ‘If you try to combine talking and eating, you’ll end up doing neither very well.'” O’Brien- The Die is Cast, Stardate: Unknown #StarTrek #StarTrekDS9 #WeAreStarfleet

May 1
“I am pleased to see that we have differences. May we together become greater than the sum of both of us.” Surak- The Savage Curtain, Stardate: 5906.4 #StarTrek #StarTrekTOS #WeAreStarfleet

May 2
“Dream not of today, Mr. Picard.” Galen- The Chase, Stardate: 46731.5 #StarTrek #StarTrekTNG #WeAreStarfleet

Posted in: My Creations, Star Trek

Flashback Article: Star Trek Encyclopedia Update 1994

Galactic Engineers Concordance Logbook
The cover to the Galactic Engineers Concordance Volume 6 Number 1 (January – February 1995)

One of my earliest articles that I had published in a national fanzine was an update to the Star Trek Encyclopedia that was published in 1994 and written by Michael Okuda, Denise Okuda and Debbie Mirek. I remember purchasing the Encyclopedia the date it came out, it was the same day that the news broke of the death of Kurt Cobain. I poured over this book several times. I remember talking with some fellow Star Trek fans over the early internet fan sites. It was during one of these discussions that I discovered that his version of the encyclopedia was slightly different than my copy. I was a little shocked as no announcement had been made about an update. We had spent a lot of money purchasing our books. We didn’t want to spend any additional money buying different copies. So my friend let me borrow his copy of the book and I did a side-by-side comparison.

I typed up this comparison article (calling it v1.0 to v1.1) and submitted it to a Treknology fanzine called The Galactic Engineers Concordance Logbook. The article was published in the Volume 6, Number 1 (Jan-Feb 1995) issue of the fanzine. I was able to find my copy of this fanzine and I scanned the article into a PDF file. It is presented here.

When several of the staff writers for Star Trek: The Next Generation came to Salt Lake for a writers presentation, I was able to provide them with a copy of the article. They also asked me to mail a copy to their offices at Paramount. However someone there thought I was attempting to submit a script. They sent back a copy of the script submission guidelines.

As I find more of my past articles, I will scan them and post them on this website.

Posted in: Horror Hosts, Humor, MST3K, Quotes, Reviews, Star Trek

MST3K: The Movie 25th Anniversary

On April 19, 1996, Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Movie was released into theaters riffing on the sci-fi classic “This Island Earth“. Unfortunately, it was only twenty six theaters on the opening weekend. I remember wanting to watch this movie the moment I heard the news about this special show. I don’t recall when it finally came to Utah, but I was there when it made it’s Beehive State premier at a Salt Lake City art theater. MST3K: The Movie was shown at The Tower Theater on 9th and 9th. It may have been one of the many cult midnight movies that this theater was known for showing. I went with a group of friends who were all excited to see the movie. In typical MST3K fashion, we riffed the movie in the theater. The one I remember the most was at the start when Michael Nelson was in the hamster wheel. While he was jogging, we all started singing the theme from Rocky. Da-da-daadaa Da Da da…. Gonna Fly NOW!!!!! We were constantly quoting lines from this movie at various opportunities. One of the more unique ones is when the crew sings “normal view. Normal View. Normal View! NORMAL VIEW!!!”. We were playing the Star Trek: Customizable Card Game where one of the cards was titled Mortal Q. You can guess what we sang.

mortal q. Mortal Q. Mortal Q! MORTAL Q!!!!

I remember getting excited when the movie was finally released on DVD. I called my bother (another MST3K fanatic) and let him know it was out since I didn’t know the stores had it at the time. After purchasing, watched this movie over and over again. I had only wished that the original MST3K: The Movie DVD had the original film as one of the extras. It wasn’t until Svengoolie had shown This Island Earth on The MeTV Network several years ago that I had a chance to watch the uncut version of the film. Svengoolie even mentioned the MST3K movie as one of the first introductions to this movie that a lot of people had experienced. There was 30 minutes cut from the original film for the MST3K. Because of how many times I’ve watched this movie, I’ve had some RPG homebrew ideas for the Metalutians. When I get the examples done, the Metalutians will be one of the demo aliens that I’ll be creating.

In honor of the 25th Anniversary today, I found the DVD I had watched a million times and put it into the DVD player. I took some notes while watching for this blog. I loved how the opening scene (after the Rocky run) was an escape attempt and explanation of why Mike and the bots are on the SoL. This gave movie viewers who hadn’t seen any MST3K episodes a quick guide into the setup of the show. I’ve always thought that the “bow down” scene was a little disturbing. Yea we want to show that Dr. Forrester is EEEEVVVVIIILLLL (and a bit of a dickweed) but that always seemed to bother me for some reason. The only reason I can think of is that he was never that nasty on the TV episodes. Yea he was evil, but not “kneel before Zod” evil. I wonder how many people watching the movie now will get the “John Sununu goes for a haircut” joke? I liked how they used the film breaking to give Mike and the Bots a chance to do a skit. Just breaking for a skit like they do in episodes may have confused audience members not familiar with the show. I don’t know why I never noticed that the switch activating the manipulator arms is marked “Manos” (as in Hands of Fate). Good job on that one. The names of the “invisible pilots” are Claude Rains (who played the invisible man) and Harvey the Rabbit (another invisible character). Another item that was different in the movie compared to the TV shows is the crew riffed the end credits to the movie. And I also counted, there were eight Star Trek references in the film.

Some of the lines that stood out in the film.

“Service engine soon” I wonder what that’s all about?

Science and Industry! See big men sticking screw drivers into things – turning them – AND ADJUSTING THEM!

Well believe me, Mike, I calculated the odds of this succeeding versus the odds I was doing something incredibly stupid… and I went ahead anyway.

Now place your hands above the rail [hands suddenly attach to the rail] … they’re magnetized. And if your hands were metal, that would mean something.

Increase the Flash Gordon noise and put more science stuff around!

Are you in Europe? Do you need an adapter?

Offer void in Utah.

It was great to watch this movie again. If you are a fan of Mystery Science Theater 3000, they are currently running a Kickstarter to make more episodes. You can support them at https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/mst3k/makemoremst3k

Posted in: Quotes, Star Trek

Daily Star Trek Quotes: April 19-25

Why were there no other posts this past week? Life quite literally did this to me. (Surgery in my nose)

Here are the Daily Star Trek Quotes that will appear on the @STrekQuotes twitter account for the week of April 19th through the 25th.

April 19
“You Federation types are all alike. You talk about tolerance and understanding but you only practice it towards people who remind you of yourselves.” Quark- The Jem’Hadar, Stardate: Unknown #StarTrek #StarTrekDS9 #WeAreStarfleet

April 20
Happy Birthday to George Takei. @GeorgeTakei https://memory-alpha.fandom.com/wiki/George_Takei #StarTrek #StarTrekTOS #StarTrekVOY #WeAreStarfleet

“You’ll find that more happens on the bridge of a starship than just carrying out orders and observing regulations. There is a sense of loyalty to the men and women you serve with, a sense of family.” Sulu- Flashback, Stardate: 50126.4 #StarTrek #StarTrekVOY #WeAreStarfleet

April 21
“You might as well ask a Vulcan to forgo logic or a Klingon to be nonviolent. I cannot change, and I don’t want to…” Kamala- The Perfect Mate, Stardate: 45761.3 #StarTrek #StarTrekTNG #WeAreStarfleet

April 22
“You did the right thing.” Tucker “It seems the longer we’re out here, the more I have to keep saying that to myself.” Archer- Damage, Date: Unknown #StarTrek #StarTrekENT #WeAreStarfleet

April 23
“I wonder how Humanity managed to survive.” Spock “We overcame our instinct for violence.” Kirk- Spectre of the Gun, Stardate: 4385.3 #StarTrek #StarTrekTOS #WeAreStarfleet

April 24
Happy Birthday to Jack Quaid. @JackQuaid92 https://memory-alpha.fandom.com/wiki/Jack_Quaid #StarTrek #StarTrekLowerDecks #WeAreStarfleet

“We all joined Starfleet to dive headfirst into the unknown. We’re explorers; of course we don’t always know what’s going on.” Boimler- Veritas, Stardate: Unknown #StarTrek #StarTrekLowerDecks #WeAreStarfleet

April 25
“You’ve done well. A great starship – on the far reaches of the galaxy. It’s everything you’d hoped.” Jenice Manheim “Nothing works just as you hoped.” Picard- We’ll Always Have Paris, Stardate: 41697.9 #StarTrek #StarTrekTNG #WeAreStarfleet

Posted in: Quotes, Star Trek

Daily Star Trek Quotes: April 12-18

Don’t just stand there, let’s get to it Strike a pose, there’s nothing to it.

Here are the Daily Star Trek Quotes that will appear on the @STrekQuotes twitter account for the week of April 12th through the 18th.

April 12
“We cannot regain honor by acting dishonorably.” Worf- Redemption, Stardate: 44995.3 #StarTrek #StarTrekTNG #WeAreStarfleet

April 13
“All this talk of gods strikes me as nothing more than superstitious nonsense!” Weyoun “You believe that the Founders are gods, don’t you?” Damar “That’s different.” Weyoun “In what way?” Damar “The Founders are gods.” Weyoun- Tears of the Prophets #StarTrek #StarTrekDS9 #WeAreStarfleet

April 14
“I won’t ask the crew to risk their lives because of my obligation.” Janeway “‘My obligation.’ That’s where you’re wrong. Voyager may be alone out here, but you’re not. Let us help you.” Chakotay- The Omega Directive, Stardate: 51781.2 #StarTrek #StarTrekVOY #WeAreStarfleet

April 15
Michael Ansara born on this date in 1922. https://memory-alpha.fandom.com/wiki/Michael_Ansara #StarTrek #StarTrekTOS #StarTrekDS9 #StarTrekVOY #WeAreStarfleet

“Only a fool fights in a burning house.” Kang- Day of the Dove, Stardate: Unknown #StarTrek #StarTrekTOS #WeAreStarfleet

April 16
“How can a chemical substance provide an escape?” Wesley Crusher “It doesn’t. But it makes you think it does.” Yar- Symbiosis, Stardate: Unknown #StarTrek #StarTrekTNG #WeAreStarfleet

April 17
“I command here. My followers are strong and faithful and obedient. That’s why we take what is ours wherever we go.” Gorgon “You take from those who do not know you.” Spock “And we know you.” Kirk- And The Children Shall Lead, Stardate: 5029.5 #StarTrek #StarTrekTOS #WeAreStarfleet

April 18
“Transporter technology is very new. I’m sure Humans were equally frightened when the automobile was introduced… or the airplane.” Dr. Phlox- Vanishing Point, Date: Unknown #StarTrek #StarTrekENT #WeAreStarfleet

Posted in: Character Creation Challenge, Dungeons and Dragons, Role Playing Games, Star Trek, Star Wars, Website

Feedback on catalogs and ships

So I’ve been getting feedback from people who have visited my blog. Thank you. This tells me that others are reading some of the stuff I’ve been posting here. I had several people send me thank you notes for putting together the Character Creation Challenge. I’ve noticed that a few new challenges have started in April displaying the works of different homebrew stats. Unfortunately my April was booked up with some personal issues that prevented me from trying to participate. However seeing creativity inspires creativity so keep it up.

Shane Bradley asked about the ships in my Master Book that I talked about in Homebrewed Stats for Starships Part II. I am still planning to scan the other starships in there that I made when I put the book together back in the 90’s. At this time I just plan to make them into PDFs from the original printouts. Once that is done, then I may consider other tweaking of them. As an example, Shane sent me one of the ships I had presented in Excel format. I’ve linked it here. Thanks Shane.

Mark from from the Xon Gaming website (now hosted by a friend, click on “resources” link at the top) was impressed with the FASA catalogs that I had posted previously. He sent me a better scan of the 1983-2 catalog. It’s a direct scan, not pictures of the pages so it may be easier to read.

This next catalog is the FASA 1986 catalog that someone scanned and sent to me. It is only showing the Star Trek material in the book. However I don’t recall who sent it to me. I’ve looked back through all of my emails and message board posts and I can’t find the person who sent this to me. So sorry, buzz me again and I’ll credit you in a future feedback post. Here is the catalog to share.

Another reader sent me some Star Wars SAGA RPG books that he didn’t want on his shelves any more. This will give me a chance to review the system and see how it differs from the earlier D20 Star Wars books.

I am continuing to search through my past collections for items to post. I was also reading the Dungeons and Dragons Rules Cyclopedia and it inspired me for a possible homebrew to write up.

Thanks for the feedback. Keep it coming.

Posted in: Quotes, Star Trek

Daily Star Trek Quotes: April 5-11

Tuvok points
All right, all right. I’ll stick with Star Trek GIFs.

Here are the Daily Star Trek Quotes that will appear on the @STrekQuotes twitter account for the week of April 5th through the 11th.

April 5
“People are no longer obsessed with the accumulation of things. We have eliminated hunger, want, the need for possessions. We’ve grown out of our infancy.” Picard- The Neutral Zone, Stardate: 41986.0 #StarTrek #StarTrekTNG #WeAreStarfleet

April 6
“It would be illogical to assume that all conditions remain stable.” Spock- The Enterprise Incident, Stardate: 5027.3 #StarTrek #StarTrekTOS #WeAreStarfleet

April 7
“Root beer? This is the end of Ferengi civilization.” Quark- Facets, Stardate: 48876.3 #StarTrek #StarTrekDS9 #WeAreStarfleet

April 8
“In the old days astronauts rode rockets with millions of liters of hydrogen burning under their seats.” Tucker- Silent Enemy, Date: September 1, 2151 #StarTrek #StarTrekENT #WeAreStarfleet

April 9
“I come from a time when men achieve power and wealth by standing on the backs of the poor where prejudice and intolerance are commonplace and power is an end unto itself.” Samuel Clemens- Time’s Arrow, Part II, Stardate: 46001.3 #StarTrek #StarTrekTNG #WeAreStarfleet

April 10
“So it seemed to me, I had a choice to either come up here and say, “I told you so” or to do something constructive to help out in my own humble manner.” Neelix- The Cloud, Stardate: 48546.2 #StarTrek #StarTrekVOY #WeAreStarfleet

April 11
“I am not programmed to respond in that area.” Norman- I Mudd, Stardate: 4513.3 #StarTrek #StarTrekTOS #WeAreStarfleet