The Autobiography Of Jean-Luc Picard: The Story Of One of Starfleet’s Most Inspirational Captains, by David A. Goodman
I always find it to be deeply interesting when fictional characters end up getting an autobiography that is clearly meant for a wide reading audience. In this particular case, it appears to be obvious given the context of the book that this book was written in order to provide a context for and even advertisement of the television show Star Trek: Picard, which focuses on the life of the retired Starfleet captain after his adventuresome career. For those readers who have not read all of the backstory of Picard, and whose knowledge of him is limited to Star Trek: The Next Generation as well as the movies, this book offers a summary of Picard’s achievements from his own perspective as well as some context on his earlier career and why it was, for example, that he remained single so long. We meet plenty of familiar people here and see the small-town politics of an institution like Starfleet as well as examine the complex family background of Picard and how it shaped his own life, frequently for the worse. As a result, this book, if more strictly a fictional autobiography than an actual one, is no less dishonest for not being about a real character. Indeed, one of the ways one can tell that this autobiography is not a real one is the willingness of its narrator to admit his own faults.
This book is a reasonably short one at a bit more than 250 pages. It begins with a foreword from Dr. Crusher that is mostly interrupted by the rantings of Q. After that the author gives a chronological account of Picard’s life. We begin with the rivalry between the brothers and the troubled relationship that Picard had with his father. We discuss his early education and his struggles in Starfleet and his growth in character as he experienced being an officer. The author makes friends and deals with responsibility and finds himself with a wide variety of choices and options, and sometimes feels himself a bit behind the curve when it comes to career advancement. Eventually, of course, after some dramatic experiences in many aspects of Starfleet operations, he finds himself the captain of the Enterprise, where we see a familiar perspective of the operations of the ship and his relationships with his officers as we would have seen it in the television series and movies. After that the author catches the reader up with Picard’s experiences after his time as a captain and how he eventually came to terms with his complex family legacy and learned to enjoy retirement. And with that, presumably, the book ends where the new series begins.
Is this a worthwhile book? If you are a fan of Star Trek and have at least some fondness for Jean-Luc Picard as a character, this is certainly an enjoyable book. It is hard to imagine that one would be a fan of ST:TNG and not be a fan of Picard at least somewhat, and if one is not aware of the new series, this book forms a suitable reminder that Picard’s story is still going on, that he has married Dr. Crusher (spoiler alert) and that he is enjoying a productive retirement reflecting on his life and the choices he has made. For readers who are less interested in Star Trek itself and more interested in the book as representing the autobiographical form, this book does a good job at showing the way that someone can structure a narrative for their life towards the end of it. Obviously, it is harder for memoirs and autobiographies written at the beginning or even middle of one’s life to serve as a suitable signpost of one’s life history and the course of one’s existence, but this book does the trick because Picard at this point is pretty old, it must be admitted.