Friday, 27 July 2018

The Long Road: The Official Starships Collection Issues 128 and 129

I had quite low expectations of this month's duo but once more Eaglemoss have obliterated my mental negativity.

Shown only in the opening titles of Enterprise, the OV-165 space plane may rank as the chronologically earliest ship to be a part of the series since it "fits" between the OV-101 space shuttle Enterprise and the Phoenix. Now from memory there's nothing else from this far back in Star Trek space flight history.

This is an absolute winner - no doubt about it - and the real killer is that mine arrived a little scuffed in a couple of places as you'll spot from the pics but on a positive note it doesn't ruin how great this "historic" craft is. 

The panelling effects around the nose are a big indicator of how this craft has been influenced by the earlier NASA Space Shuttle. It's such a smooth finish to the paintwork here as well with the lines separating the sections of the nose perfectly aligned to each other as they curve around the hull. On mine there is a minor blemish on the tip but I'm bearing with it!

Up to the blackened cockpit windows (same colour as the black nose sections mind) and the OV-165 really opens up, literally widening out into the main body of the hull. The panelling also gets more detailed as we move towards the rear of the space plane with the exterior decorated with a tiled effect finish across the upper hull and cargo bay doors. The darker grey segments work to break up the colour nicely but are not too overpowering against the white base coat. 

Spot too that there are actually only a few major panel lines worked into the body of the craft running across the hull left to right while the tiling effect on top appears to be a large transfer stretching from the cockpit to the very rear. 

Nor am I disappointed that it is a decal because it's perfectly placed and even more impressive are the wrinkle free lines which run down either side of the hull in black and red. Both are precisely parallel to the other with the lower black ones meeting up exactly with the rear stabiliser fins, themselves edged in black.

Those fins rise almost majestically from the main hull and the craftwork on this one is blindingly good with it all appearing to be one piece as far as the topside of OV-165 goes. The fin edges are crisp, the paintwork excellent and the grey marking is again razor sharp at every angle. In fact that marking is recessed into the fins which makes it even more impressively finished. The fins aren't part of the top metallic section of the ship and are instead inserts into the hull and match up with the plastic underside and wings.

The fit on one of the two fins isn't quite flush with the starboard side one just sitting a little high. There's a smidge of a roughe edge to the front while the port fin runs smoothly into the main body of the OV-165.

To the back there is a sweeping drop and here I've spotted some of the paint on my model is missing to the port side on the base white coat. The sweeping hull plates here are a single grey with the metal allowing some great definition on the ridged sections. Now according to the plan views in the magazine, the aerospike engines which power the ship are located at either side of this sweeping piece but on the model there is no clear indication of where they are since the entire bottom of the ship is a single black coat.

The stand fit is a single clip here which slides onto the swept section of the hull to the back. It's a steady grip with a stand that fits together pretty well. It's the only place that the ship could be positioned on the stand and makes the OV-165 look even more fantastic.

The two lifting wings at the sides continue that grey/black panel combination as with the vertical fins and my only gripe with the single plastic bottom is that there are some pock marks in the middle of mine. I kind of understand why there's no detail on the underside - just as there isn't much on the finished SS Emmette since it was only ever intended to be viewed from the rear.

Issue 128 offers a brief but insightful look at the "in universe" facts of the space plane and its unique propulsion system which uses the hull rather than the wings to take flight. The points here do make it a very natural successor to the NASA space shuttle and by proxy screams out that the collection has to include the OV-101 Enterprise orbiter at some point soon. Awesome plan views with just that printing error of VX-165 on one side!!!

John Eaves' designs are poured over here with a good selection of ideas that attempted to bridge the gap between the Phoenix and the classic shuttle design from the 1980's. Finally we have a section reviewing the visual effects used for the Enterprise pilot Broken Bow. Lots of good information here with a look at everything from the launch of the NX-01 - the most detailed CG ship ever created (to that point) for Star Trek to animating the tongues for the alien women during the bar scene on Rigel X later in the story. 

Second up to the plate is a new remastered craft from The Original Series. I would have loved to see the classic form of this ship but for now we're getting the updated Tholian Webspinner.

Based on the Enterprise 22nd Century version spied during the second season of the show, the Webspinner is built around a central metallic core. 

One of the simplest ship designs for some time, the Tholian craft has only very slight detailing on that central section which is in keeping with the plain design of the 1960's iteration. For note the tripe lines on two sides of the ship do help indicate which way is "up" on this one. The main piece of detailing is to the "spear tip" nose where there is some raised hull panelling which leads back up into the three fin-like appendages which branch out to the engines.

The protruding hull sections that lead to the translucent engine covers are plastic and one of the sections on my Webspinner is loose, revealing the simple covering is a single section that runs over the engine to the back above the web-spinning port.

Those three translucent engine covers are finished with a grated effect but I would have liked to have seen them more aglow with that red/orange fiery finish that was seen on the screen as this colour doesn't do the ship any justice on a shelf. The metal finish is also a bit too clean for my liking and could have benefited from a little more mottling than we get on the finished item here. 

The web-spinning port at the rear lacks depth to it as well which is clearly a restriction of the model-making process and can't be avoided but at least you can tell where it is.

The fitting for the stand is the same as for the Enterprise 22nd Century version, slotting over the rear and providing that "flying" illusion. It's a solid grip and the ship being angled backwards means there's little chance of it sliding out spear-point first.

Ok, over to the magazine for ship number 129 and it's interesting to see that the concept here is that the Tholian ships haven't advanced that much over the course of a century, proving more than a match for the NX-01 but being easily bettered by the NCC-1701.  The xenophobic Tholians are a cracking race from The Original Series and having both this and the earlier edition fleshes out their background as much as possible.

We also have a lot more focus on The Tholian Web (no complaints there) and how it all links in to In a Mirror, Darkly. For those big fans of the collection, this also provides you with the Enterprise, Defiant and Webspinner photo op now all three are available.

Designing the Tholian Ship is rather short but tells the tale that the budget for the remastered episodes had run out, leaving those in charge to take the Enterprise webspinner and "update" it for the 23rd Century. Indeed, putting the two side by side you can see a lot of similar lines.

Finally we have six pages discovering Star Trek at the Smithsonian, revisiting the exhibition and the array of props that were displayed from The Original Series from the medical instruments used by Doctor McCoy through to the cumbersome - and difficult to get out of - environmental suits from The Tholian Web. Having seen one of them I have to agree they look awful to extract yourself from!

SO that's it from this month for regular issues. These two are a lot better in the flesh but of the pair I have to say there's more of a yearning to keep the OV-165 on the shelf a lot longer than the Tholian ship. Note to Ben, I think you need to do some of the classic classic ships as well especially this one!

Loving the Enterprise titles group? Impressed with the remastered Tholians? Let me know your thoughts below!

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Thursday, 26 July 2018

Second Sighting: Discovery’s Comic-Con Trailer

And the reason we haven’t seen the new captain of the Discovery... because they’re borrowing one for this season in the form of Anson Mount’s Christopher Pike! 

Yes, a classic Star Trek character will be in the centre seat for at least some of season two which will leave the USS Enterprise under the watchful eye of Number One who we now know will be played by Rebecca Romijn known to many Marvel fans as Mystique in the original X-Men movie trilogy.

But what else can we glean from the newly dropped Star Trek Discovery trailer? Of course it’s time to get screen capturing and take a look at those two and a half minutes of tease.

"We have always looked to the stars to discover who we are and hidden there was a message; a secret made of space and time. Visible only to those open enough to receive it."

Opening up with a monologue from the newly reminted Burnham we have the Discovery being hailed by the Enterprise with Captain Pike beaming aboard. Mount has such a presence even from the trailer that his Pike is definitely going to be memorable from the off and you can even see how the crew of the Discovery are in awe of him when he arrives with two members of his staff in this trailer.

We get a few passing shots of the Enterprise from the perspective of the Discovery, on the viewscreen, through a window, as the Crossfield Class ship departs for its mission. Some great shots of the starship and it's very odd to see her guest-starring in a show which has only happened once before in Emissary for the kick-off of Deep Space Nine in 1993. 

The redesigned command gold uniform is incredibly bright and look closely as you’ll spot that the pattern under the single colour is exactly the same as the Discovery blues. Even the collar is the same asymmetric style just black. It’s clever that they have chosen to keep the underlying look the same and tie in the larger franchise with this alteration. Make sure you also spot - towards the end of the trailer - Anson wearing the blue Discovery uniform so he will be sticking around for a while. Could we be going for a new captain each season until Burnham gets command?!

As with the original trailer for season one there’s a lot of Burnham in here clad in a redesigned spacesuit. In Italy it appears that she is trapped on some alien world in not too dissimilar a situation to what Spock encountered at the beginning of Into Darkness.  She definitely looks "pained" at times so there's got to be some form of danger out there for the crew to defend the Federation against.

So why is Pike on board the Discovery

He’s been brought in because of some strange occurrences in the store. It seems something strange has shown up in the galaxy and Regulation 19 Section C is being brought into play. "Seven bright bursts spread out over 30,000 light years..." are giving off signals like nothing seen before and the Discovery is going to find out.

The visuals of the space-suited crew tend to suggest more time out on alien worlds and might be all from the same mission. These suits definitely look different to the one Burnham wore in The Vulcan Hello. The visors look tighter around the head and the uniforms less cumbersome than from Burnham's encounter with the Torchbearer.

The second biggest thing really in the trailer beside Mount Pike (that might stick) are those cool little travel pods that everyone is spinning around in. There looks like an asteroid field that Burnham is racing through but there's no context as to what this is all about. Is it connected to the planetside walk. Where is this walk? Could it be on the Klingon homeworld possibly since there have been hints that we will be going back there.

Nice bit of humour there for the bridge crew who look like they'll be getting a lot more screen time but on the flip he only get a brief glimpse of Tilly and Stamets in Engineering lauding the joys of maths (and there's a high five in there for good measure). Is the spore drive going to make a return this year since there's not even a glimpse of it in the trailer. That might suggest it's been consigned to the past!

What we do know is that this is all linked to a certain Vulcan named Spock who has taken time away from the Enterprise. Burnham gets to take a look inside his quarters - there's Spock's science division uniform and a lot of questions to answer. I figured that we hadn't heard a casting announcement which meant either super-secrecy or that he hadn't been cast yet and now it seems that the latter is correct. Also this is probably the room that Michael is walking into in the first trailer. One question to raise here though; where is Sarek? Last time we saw him he was on the bridge of the Discovery just as the Enterprise appeared but he's not even in the background of a single shot here.

Our new Chief of Engineering for the USS Hiawatha also rears her head with a bit of dry humour in a very brief intro clip for Tig Notaro. Certainly with this and the earlier lighter moments of the bridge crew it would indicate that season two will be a little less dark than the first 15 episodes were.

But don't expect this to be a comedy since there's still a healthy amount of explosions and sparks a flying to keep the action interest and what is that item that the whole crew are seeming to be assembled around at 2:36? What are they all looking up at?

This trailer really does have everything and the kitchen sink in there. It's going to be an action-filled season just as season one provided and I would strongly think that the footage we're getting here is from the first few episodes. 

Of course we couldn't mention a trailer breakdown without the first appearance of the Saurian, Linus in the "post-credits" turbolift sequence. Once more it's an indication that there is going to be that lighter tone for the show behind all the action and adventure we've come to know already. For note the two Enterprise crew are Rachel Ancheril as Lieutenant Naan and Sean Connelly Affleck as Lieutenant Connelly - an opportunity missed for these to be Yeoman Colt and Lieutenant Tyler???

Already feeling like 2019 is a long way off? Don't fret m'dears because we have been promised a series of four 15 minute "shorts" before the end of 2018 which will offer some insight into the show's characters including one on Saru which will reportedly reveal the predator species from his homeworld. Another will tackle Tilly, a third will be about a new character to the franchise and the final one will belong to a certain Harcourt Fenton Mudd...

Do you have any suspicions for season two? What was missing from the trailer that you want to know?

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Friday, 20 July 2018

Third Instalment: The Official Discovery Starships Collection Issue Three: USS Kerala

Eaglemoss' latest Discovery release is the Shepard Class USS Kerala NCC-1255. Liam Maccreadie is our new collection reviewer and here's his first entry! 

I don't recall seeing this ship during Discovery, so which one is it you might ask? Well, it's the ship that's become affectionately become known to me as the upside down Shenzou. If you're really keen you'll probably spot it during the Battle at the Binary Stars back in the episode of the same name!

The Kerala also reminds me of the NX class Enterprise but re-envisioned. I'm going to call it more than a passing family resemblance but don't get me wrong, this isn't just a cheap cop out by reversing the design as she has all her own perks.

Let's start with the registry which looks great in white and is the proper way around unlike the sideways saucer-running NCC-1227 on the Shenzhou.

Carrying on along the dorsal section the aztecing is really well pronounced and helps separate the detail with the grey sections of the hull. Heading on along the warp nacelle struts are some nice decals and small window details, which luckily aren't ruined by misalignment as there wisely are no indents which have ruined the final impression of many a regular collection starship.

Over to the warp nacelles and they are reminiscent of the Discovery engines although they are slightly shorter in this case. The paint application is well executed on the bussard collectors to the front complimented again with some nicely defined Starfleet pennants on the sides.

Flipping to the rear and we have bright red impulse engines however I can't help but feel they would look better with plastic inserts instead of just painted blocks. The fronts of the nacelles are nicely detailed and recessed, almost the "upsode down" versions of the ones from Discovery minus a bit of that substantial tapered lengthThe double nacelle struts are a nice touch and give the ship an impressively detailed look from the back.

Saving the best until last, the ventral section is what I consider to be her best side.

The underside is almost entirely metal and we have some really nice detailing starting at the rear and running along the middle; think Shenzhou top side but slightly more discreet. We also have aztecing, running lights, lots of tiny windows and Starfleet pennants running along several different hull levels. Indeed there's lots of great work has gone in here which culminates on the deflector housing and dish. This has been askew on a lot of models and can be easily adjusted but on mine was fine.

The magazine has a nice feature about designing the USS Kerala and shows how the design came about. Subscribers also get their hands on a free binder which has some wonderful shots of the upcoming ships. Personally, I prefer the magazine size as they store a lot better and take up less space than the regular collection issues.

The previous two ships in the collection have been great and this is no exception. I'm glad I decided to keep with the subscription and already the preview shots of issue four - the Klingon Bird of Prey and issue five's USS Europa are showing Eaglemoss is continually pushing the barrier to deliver us better ships each month and if these carry on at the £30 price tag it's a very reasonable price to pay for the quality..

What are your thoughts on the Kerala? Good execution by Eaglemoss?

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Saturday, 14 July 2018

The Good and the Bad: Star Trek Adversaries Is Mobile

Already available on PC, the Star Trek Adversaries game has now transferred onto the Apple App Store for us mobile gamers to enjoy.

Now it's been a little while since I last reviewed any form of online game. I still play Timelines regularly however Wrath of Gems and Trexels have both fallen to the wayside and will probably soon find themselves deleted from my phone.

So what makes this one any different to the handful already available?

Adversaries places you into starship combat but the spin on this which makes it different from the similar battle aspect of Timelines is that this is all turn-based card playing. You face off against an opponent either in multiplayer or versus the computer armed with a selected deck of thirty cards including an array of both ships and characters.

From your chosen flagship (there's a list and all come with different features to use) you can then dispatch up to four ships to battle your equally laden opponent. Each ship/card played can have its own advantage to play such as inflicting increased damage or rebuilding your own health and it's a straight out fight to be the first one to destroy your enemy's flagship.

Currently the Gamesparks game only supports Klingon versus Federation but there's a ton of ships available within the framework from the original USS Enterprise right through to the new Klingon Bird of Prey from Discovery. Each ship has its own attack and defence score and its down to you to work out the best way to play your cards although there is a degree of the game itself highlighting which cards you can play.

This isn't a game that you can really dip in and out of easily as I've discovered after a few days of playing. For one, the time for a turn is limited to two minutes for a versus computer and 30 mins per turn for an online match. You need to be able to dedicate the time to it otherwise it will nark off your opponents at how long it can take to have a go. Even with the computer battles you need a good 15 to 20 mins to play it through properly and, honestly, I just don't have that kind of time every day for two or three games.

The concept is great and there's the chance to add to your deck, customise each flagship with their own set of 30 cards to get the maximum effect in each confrontation. It is, therefore, incredibly customisable and no two decks will be even remotely the same. There is also the now-obligatory pay to upgrade options with bigger packs with more powerful ships and allies.

The detail on this game - which has very clear CBS backing - is phenomenal. The ships look stunning and the recreations of the characters are glorious but it can look as amazing as you want if there's nothing under the surface.

Luckily there is but, as I've noted, you're going to need to invest heavily in playing to get yourself up the rankings on multiplayer. When I say invest I mean financially and in time because what I have noticed on the single player mode is how quickly the opponent health level jumps once you're past the most basic level of the game. Once past this point yoou'll want to start purchasing more powerful flagships (example above), better cards...the list goes on. Talk about being lulled into a false sense of security from the off but I really should expect it fro every mobile game these days.

Adversaries is one of those games that I would love to love but I just can't. With Wrath of Gems and Timelines I'm able to drop in and out a few times a day - even when there's an event - and play in my own time. With real world commitments like family and work, Adversaries demands your attention for a sustained period of time and if I want to do that with ship based card-backed combat I'll turn to Attack Wing or even the galaxy expanding Ascendancy.

In fact, Adversaries does have a ton of features similar to Attack Wing without the movement element if you think about it. You have flagships, card decks for each's all there but I want to invest my time in that physically and it gets me talking to other people not locked to a mobile phone screen.

It's still early days for this latest mobile experience and just look how much the others have chopped and changed over the years to become slicker games. Adversaries has a lot of potential and it's only just scratched the surface with its use of the Federation and Klingon ships. Plus there must be an absolute ton of characters still to drop into the game. But does it all really matter? 

I'm certain that if you want to get up the rankings then the basic cards you can purchase with credits won't make you Top Dog and for sure the "Ultimate" special features will only come alive with the power of stronger cards. I actually don't think that adding factions such as the Romulans or the Borg or even offering more characters will entice the more casual Star Trek gamer because they won't make that much difference to the gameplay and this might be Adversaries' biggest downfall - there's not enough variety in the game. It's one type of combat over and over and over again and changing to play someone else won't alleviate that. It's the same actions repetitively and if your fleet's crap it's going to stay crap unless you (gonna say it again) invest.

One final good point - the selection of ship skins is insane. Have a ganders through and you can be shuttles, Runabouts, the NX-refit, a Voth city ship, armoured Voyager, the Shenzhou or the biggest draw - the refreshed Constitution Class from the season one finale of Discovery. Well worth two minutes of your time to have a scroll through and spin around of all of the craft available. Pick a ship then click on the ship icon in the bottom right corner to see what skins are hidden away...

Nevertheless, have a dip in but I for one think there are better and more involving Star Trek games out there to take your time and money if that's your thing. I may well play again in a few months to see what improvements have been made but at the moment I'll take my playing thumbs elsewhere.

Played Adversaries? What's your take on this new mobile game?

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Wednesday, 11 July 2018

Trekzone's "Feeling" Good?

A couple of years back now I just couldn't move for the number of fan films that were piling onto YouTube and spent a LOT of time watching and reviewing the variety of crews, actors, effects and stories that flowed through the Star Trek universe.

That all changed in light of the Axanar incident which led to restricting fan films to limited times, a maximum number of instalments, strict alignment on uniforms and many, many more points. It made it more than a little challenging for budding movie makers to step into the Star Trek sandbox...

In the works for 12 months, Trekzone, the Australian-based Star Trek site and YouTube channel, has premiered it's fan flick, Once More with Feeling.

Coming in at a shade over 12 minutes it's well within the guidelines nailed to the wall by CBS but this is one production that actually does something very different and you won't see it coming.. 

The basic story is that student Alicia (Chloe-Jean Vincent) finds and meets with a Starfleet captain to further her course research and what follows is Captain Donovan Lindsay (Jeremy Levi) recounting an encounter between the USS Sydney and a Cardassian starship at the very end of the Dominion War.

Written and directed by Trekzone's Matt Miller, Once More with Feeling is not a straight fans-on-a-sound-stage Enterprise bridge set but subverts expectations with the live action sequences of the film seeing the crew of the Excelsior Class USS Sydney facing towards the camera (with the set depicted on a screen behind them) and giving a dramatic reading of the events rather than physically acting it out. That and the point that they're all dressed in clothes of today rather than Starfleet uniforms which is a striking feature of this work.

I'll admit I had to watch it through twice just to get this real curve-ball way of telling a Star Trek story into my head and understand what was going on. In all honesty I'm still not 100% comfortable with it because it's such a big departure from what you think is coming but I have to applaud Matt's bravery for thinking - and getting people to act - outside of that expectation box and that's precisely what Star Trek is about - unique and different is good. You can't view this decision as anything but positive since it's not treading the path that every other fan film ever has before (no cliche intended).

Once More with Feeling will not be remembered as groundbreaking when it comes to the story but I firmly believe it will be for going outside the norm and trying something different. Maybe the cast could have done without using the script papers or maybe doing away with the green screen background and going truly behind the scenes as I felt it detracted from the abilities of the actors and also from the rather excellent CG supplied by Samuel Cockings from Trekyards with the mix of visual aids at times.

Once challenge I do have with Once More with Feeling is the opening section. It radiates a sense of multiple concepts - the storyboard-style images, the green screen and actual physical situational acting which almost conflicts against the rest of the story. Maybe the arrival of Alicia (Vincent) could have been played out as narratively exercised as the main bulk of the show to keep a theme running through rather than incorporating the unseen door and movement.

Not only that but this opening piece bears a striking similarity to The Visitor.

The influence of the pre-titles sequence of that Deep Space Nine classic is all over this segment which is also scored by the great Star Trek composer Dennis McCarthy. The student searching out the older character for answers followed by a flashback story is a strong echo whether intentional or not. Jake disappeared from public life just as the Sydney's captain has been off duty for six months. Did it need the opening piece? Yes, because it's relevant and while the actors are great it does come a little close to screened material homage or not.

The ending to the latest Trekzone offering leaves everything open for a sequel (which the fan guidelines do allow) and I am interested to see where it goes although there's a little bit of the dynamism and excitement lost because this is more of a behind-the-scenes reading than the expected dramatic and more physical expectation.

As a first attempt this is a great piece of work to show what a low budget can produce when you have a script, some green screen and a talented CG producer. For the next one I'd love to see Matt Miller streamline the behind-the-scenes dramatic reading format a bit more and create a bit more lineage for the series in a set style rather than bouncing between a couple of visual formats. For example there's no real need for the crew to simulate the ship being hit if this is being portrayed as a dramatic reading - it feels inconsistent in where it wants to sit likewise with the door opening and use of the "unseen" medical instrument.

Matt and his cast and crew cannot be faulted for effort or ingenuity on this one and I wish them every success on the second feature which will learn a great deal of information from this foray to make part two even more epic and story driven. Admittedly it's not sat easily with me because it has really played with my expectations. It is a very different and clever way of working to the guidelines and 100% is unique but if you're looking for actors on a Star Trek set then this might not be quite what you're looking for. 

Seen Once More with Feeling? What are your thoughts on "Australia's Biggest Fan Film"

Screencaps with kind permission of Matt Miller and

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Monday, 9 July 2018

Picard: In His "Own" Words

Nearly three years ago I tapped out a review of David A Goodman's Autobiography of Captain James T Kirk.

Now, with the Autobiography of Spock soon to hit the shelves I've turned my attention to the second in his series which takes us to one Captain Jean-Luc Picard. Beware, there might be SPOILERS ahead.

Again an "autobiography", this second book stays firmly in the mold of the first giving us a full narrative from early years right through to - in the case of Picard - his twilight years in the ambassadorial corps.

Goodman's grasp of the lineage of the character is excellent and his knowledge of The Next Generation and Picard (of course) is exemplary. The influence of episodes such as Family and Tapestry are there from the beginning talking us through his early years at the Picard vineyard in France to his first and second attempts to join Starfleet which would eventually reveal more to his increasingly distant father than Jean-Luc initially imagined. There is indeed a great deal of detail within the events Goodman is "editing" for the former captain.

We join Picard as he steps through the tough Academy years, reliving the time he won the Academy Marathon as recounted in The Best of Both Worlds and meet up with Admiral (Captain as was) Hansen on the occasion, even take a few steps on the Enterprise-C which is odd since this was never even mentioned on screen - even in Yesterday's Enterprise when you would most have expected it.

Martha Botanides and Corey Zweller make appearances too (but their exit is far too convoluted) as do Guinan (many times!), the Crusher family and in fact many more notables from Picard's past. Even old flames - as they would be by the time of The Next Generation such as Olivia Dubois and Jenice Manheim from The Measure of a Man and  We'll Always Have Paris do a turn in the book allowing us to "see" their first encounters with the future Enterprise captain and in some respects make more sense of their later reunions with him and the reasons for their attitudes towards Jean-Luc.

There is a great deal of the book handed over to events that take place right up to the point at which Picard takes command of the Enterprise-D with meticulous attention to the years on the USS Stargazer and how he made his way through the ranks to become the ship's captain.

While a fascinating read it does have a few drawbacks which become apparent fairly quickly. The pre-Enterprise years, while interesting and deeply "researched" do feel as though they go on for a considerable amount of time in some ways forcing the appearance of future The Next Generation characters just for the sake of name dropping them in. It also means that his command years on NCC-1701-D are heavily condensed with only one event from each of the seven seasons being used and his most famous period of exploits being shoddily condensed. We get Conspiracy, We'll Always Have Paris, The Best of Both Worlds, Family, Unification and it goes without saying, The Inner Light, all receiving attention with the four motion pictures getting a shot too for good measure but certainly there's more of a leaning towards Generations and First Contact than the others indicating a certain authorial preference just as was with The Final Frontier? What about Darmok? I could pick more...

It is a crackingly entertaining read and does avoid the pitfall of making part of the main character's existence into an almost-joke as Goodman did with Star Trek V in his Kirk book. I'm not for a second suggesting that this should be taken and presented as canon because there's a bit in there that does feel a tad convoluted and I'd draw your attention to how a lot of notables from his past get killed off conveniently at Wolf 359.

Post Nemesis is where fans will certainly have a lot to say with not only Picard marrying Beverly Crusher but there's what could be seen as a highly controversial story move in regards to B4 that isn't one handled by the continuing novel series by rival publishers Simon and Schuster (this is published by Titan Books). 

It does get quite speculative in these later pages but I suppose there are always the possibilities of alternative futures and the like so anything can - and therefore will - happen. While Goodman's book is a great read I feel that the tone isn't quite Jean-Luc enough. There's a certain aloofness, perhaps a little more ego than I might have expected or anticipated to the writing which doesn't seem in keeping with the Enterprise captain and, if I'm honest, didn't feel that different to the tone of the Kirk autobiography. 

I mean you do feel for Picard when he's recounting his assimilation by the Borg and some of his early relationship issues with his brother but otherwise it feels very average on the emotional scale. That might be by design but I imagined Picard writing something with a bit more of a flourish to it than Goodman has managed. It also, as suggested betrays the author's preferences when it comes to events within the known 24th Century timeline. There are of course elements that you can't ignore but what of Dixon Hill for instance?

There is that rather ironic twist to the tale in that we've only recently had news that Patrick Stewart could be returning to his most famous TV role very soon - which means that a bug chunk of this title could be incorrect within a matter of months and along with those little inconsistencies which could be from a case of trying too hard to cram in as many cross-references as possible, this doesn't sit as well with me as Goodman's first tome on the captain of NCC-1701.

While I have my reservations here over the way in which Picard is presented from his own perspective, it is a book packed with fan-nodding references and a lot of love for the franchise. It's entertaining from the beginning and I did absolutely rip through it in a couple of days just in the same way as I did with the previous Kirk autobiography. One for fans of The Next Generation whatever their interest level I think!

Have you dipped into the Picard authobiography? What was your verdict?

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