Piecing together Captain Jean-Luc Picard's past is like gathering gleaming fragments of a vast galaxy that gets brighter and clearer as you approach, yet still remains dim and distant.
Despite Patrick Stewart's engaging character appearing in 178 episodes of The Next Generation and four feature films, the Earl Grey-sipping, Mambo-dancing, Borg-assimilated Frenchman who embarks upon interstellar voyages aboard USS Enterprise-E remains somewhat of a mystery.
A new 288-page, faux-autobiography from Titan Books and editor David A. Goodman titled, The Autobiography of Jean-Luc Picard, seeks to shine a light into the lesser-known depths of the stoic starship commander's life and myriad dangerous missions.
SYFY WIRE has an exclusive excerpt from this revealing new Titan hardcover you can read below, filled with a constellation of sparkling facets to Picard's world.
The Autobiography of Jean-Luc Picard will be available at New York Comic Con starting Thursday, October 5 at the Titan Books Booth #2142 with a Enterprise enamel pin for $25. It enters wide release in book stores and online retailers on October 17.
Catch author David A. Goodman as he discusses the book at the NYCC Live Stream Village, 3:45-4 p.m. Thursday.
“Captain’s Log: Stardate 41153.7. Our destination is the planet Deneb IV, beyond which lies the great unexplored mass of the Galaxy. My orders are to examine Farpoint, a starbase built there by the inhabitants of Deneb IV. Meanwhile, I’m becoming better acquainted with my new command, this Galaxy-class U.S.S. Enterprise. I’m still somewhat in awe of its size and complexity…”
I was in my new quarters, grand, plush, and comfortable, staring at the stars distorted by warp speed. I’d put a lot of thought into what I was going to say in that first log entry. I was recording a moment for posterity, and my words were carefully crafted to disguise the mass of chaotic feelings that threatened to overwhelm me. I had a new ship, a new crew, a new life. And I was surrounded by strangers, there were children all over my ship, and I was on my way to see the one woman in my life I’d ever truly loved.
Several weeks previous, while Halloway was still “shaking down” the Enterprise, I was in my rooms at Starfleet Headquarters going over personnel choices. There were over a thousand crewmen tasked to this ship, almost a complete city in space, and I wouldn’t choose them all; I picked department heads and they in turn staffed their sections, though I could certainly make strong “suggestions” if there was a junior officer I liked. Because the Enterprise was the Federation flagship, Quinn had made it clear that I had my choice of any officer I wanted. Though this was a boon for me, it had a downside as I would be taking talented people away from captains I knew, many of whom were my friends.
I had spent hours reviewing the service records of all the candidates I was considering for first officer. It was becoming impossible to tell them apart. They were all very much the same: accomplished young men and women from countless species, all with glowing letters of recommendation and spotless records. It was telling that the one that caught my eye was the one whose record had a “spot.”
William Thomas Riker, first officer for my friend Robert DeSoto on the Hood. He’d disobeyed a direct order from his captain and refused to let DeSoto beam down to Altair III, because Riker deemed it unsafe. He risked a general court-martial to, in his mind, protect the captain and the ship. I decided to look into this one.
“Bonjour, mon ami,” DeSoto said, from the monitor in my quarters; I’d contacted him via subspace. “You going to steal my first officer?”
“It is a possibility,” I said. “I’m assuming your letter of recommendation was honest?”
“Not entirely,” DeSoto said. “He’s got a sense of humor; I left that out because some captains don’t like that.”
“Good to know,” I said. “Was he joking when he wouldn’t let you beam down to Altair III?”
DeSoto smiled. He knew what I was getting at.
“Anybody who’s had this job, Jean-Luc,” he said, “knows you’re alone in a thousand decisions, and a bad one can cost lives. Do I need to tell you that you need people who will stand up to you when they think you’re making a bad call?”
“No, you don’t,” I said. This was the heart of it. I knew how hard it must have been for this young officer to stand up to his captain, because I had been in that position myself. I had disobeyed Mazzara’s order to abandon ship, risked my own court-martial because I thought the captain was wrong. It was a lonely, scary moment, and an important one.
“Anything else?” DeSoto said.
“Yes,” I said. “If I were you, I’d start looking for a new first officer.”
After picking my XO, there were other key positions I already had people in mind for. I contacted Cheva and asked her if she’d mind giving up Natasha Yar, whom I wanted for my chief of security. Cheva chuckled at the idea that she would turn down a request from the man who’d gotten her a command. The Enterprise was also one of the first vessels to have a ship’s counselor, and Deanna Troi, the young woman I’d met several years before on the Saratoga, was my only choice.
I also had to get Data away from Leyton. I offered Data a promotion to lieutenant commander, but Leyton didn’t want to let him go—he knew how lucky he was to have him. I had Quinn put in a call and it was done. I hired my blind pilot Geordi La Forge as my conn officer, and gave Ensign Worf a promotion to lieutenant, and suggested him to Yar as a security officer.
When it came time to choose a chief medical officer, I thought my decision had been made. Dr. Ailat had been on Earth at Starfleet Medical Headquarters since her time on the Stargazer. I’d told her years ago that if I got another command, I would be asking her back. I didn’t question this course of action until I came across a resume I didn’t expect.
Beverly Crusher. She had put in for duty in the Galaxy-class program because it made room for families; she had never remarried and had raised Wesley on her own. When Quinn had given me the news that the Enterprise would have families aboard, I was aghast—children on my ship. I was in no position to argue, I wasn’t going to give up the post, but it rankled me. Until, that is, the moment I realized it might mean I’d see Beverly again.
It occurred to me that she might not know I was captain, and if I offered her the position she might turn it down. And then there was the problem that Ailat might be expecting the position. It seemed irresponsible to alter my decision for such personal reasons. Beverly, though competent and skilled, wasn’t nearly as experienced as Ailat was. I decided to call Ailat; perhaps she wasn’t expecting me to make the offer. She was in her office at Starfleet Medical; I spoke to her via my computer monitor.
“You’ve heard I’ve been made captain of the Enterprise,” I said.
“Yes,” Ailat said. “Congratulations. You will need a chief medical officer.”
“Yes,” I said. “I would love for you to accept the post.” I realized that I had to, in good conscience, offer her the job. She was the most qualified, and I’d had a long, comfortable working relationship with her. But my heart ached at what I was giving up.
“I am honored,” Ailat said. “But are you aware that Beverly Crusher is also available?”
“Wh-what?” I sputtered, confused, embarrassed. “No… I mean, yes, her service record came my way… but…” Why was she bringing up Beverly? Were Edosians telepathic?
“Captain,” Ailat said, “I served with you a long time.” Her tone was as flat as it always was. She looked at me with those strange Edosian eyes set apart in that giant orange skull. Edosians didn’t smile the way humans did, and certainly didn’t seem warm or friendly. But Ailat was taking care of me.
“I owe you, Ailat,” I said. I disconnected from her and immediately sent a request for Beverly Crusher to be posted to the Enterprise as chief medical officer. I stared at my computer console waiting for a response. There was still a lot of service records to look over, other posts to fill, but I couldn’t concentrate.
Finally, a message. A simple moment of joy.
“Position: Chief Medical Officer. Candidate: Beverly Crusher. Candidate accepted.”
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