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.