Last week’s Star Trek Day brought a new trailer for one of my favorite ST series, Picard, and news that season 3 has been approved well before season 2 airs. Terrific news! But the first season left me with all kinds of questions, many of which were answered in part one of a newer trilogy of Star Trek books, the Destiny series (see my review here). The final book in the trilogy, Rogue Elements, came out recently, and again, fills in some remaining holes in the show’s story arc.
Rogue Elements centers on a character new to Star Trek, the loner pilot of La Sirena, Cristobal Rios (played by Santiago Cabrera). During season 1, we learned that the hard-drinking Rios had a checkered past with Starfleet, some very interesting look-alike holograms, and a certain way with the ladies. But who is Rios, where did he come from, and how did he get that ship?
I’ve really been enjoying picking up on the Star Trek books – and there seem to be a never-ending supply! This one was different – as the author, John Jackson Miller, said in the author’s notes, it was really written just for fun. And fun it was – careening from planet to planet, coming in contact with personalities from a few different TV series. The book starts when Rios finds – and test drives, for want of a better word – the ship that will come to be part of Picard. Unlike the first book in the trilogy, the Jean Luc-centered The Last Best Hope, it may not feel like much of this book is important to back story of the series. And if you’re looking for that information, you may not be too interested in this one. But if you take it as a story on its own, it’s not a bad one! While at times it does feel a little over-long, it does finally get to the point. And you can begin to pick out points that help to understand the show.
Rios, broke and heading toward self-destruction, finds a broke-down, junk-filled ship that he christens La Sirena. Because, even with a down payment provided by Raffi Musiker, he can’t afford to buy the ship outright, he is saddled with a minder who helps him book cargo runs to pay off his debt. This minder, Ledger, is an Iotian – a futuristic mobster who follows her society’s design provided by Kirk and Spock when they helped the Iotians by giving them a book detailing the mobster era of the 1920s. Ledger and Rios get involved with an ever-growing list of unsavory characters looking to swindle, steal, and outdeal each other – from the slaughter of the creatures that provide the Klingons’ bloodwine, to the incredibly smelly animal dung used to transform planets, to ancient books and finally, to one-of-a-kind hologram artwork.
There’s a lot of philosophy – some from actual Earth history, some from Jean Luc Picard himself. There’s a holodeck program purporting to be Sto-Vo-Kor, complete with bartender Kahless. Ferengis who meet gruesome ends, a beautiful Marquesa, characters who aren’t what they seem to be. This story is packed full of recognizable faces, if you’re up on all of your Star Trek canon. If not, you’ll find some assistance below.
More than either of the trilogy’s other two books, this one ties in several past Star Trek episodes, and one of the movies. If you need a refresher, or if you get through this book and feel like you need to understand some of the pieces a little better, I suggest that you watch the following:
- Star Trek (the original series) – A Piece of the Action, season 2, episode 17 – where Kirk and Spock meet the Iotians and give them a book that changes the direction of their society
- Star Trek: The Next Generation – The Most Toys, season 3, episode 22 – disreputable collector Kivas Fajo attempts to add Data to his collection of rarities and antiquities
- Star Trek: The Next Generation – Qpid, season 4, episode 20 – Picard’s one-time love interest Vash forms a partnership with Q.
- Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country – Klingon General Chang attempts to stop the peace process between his people, the Romulans, and the Federation.
Watch the Star Trek Day trailer for season 2 of Picard:
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