Every so often I get e-Mail from a reader that has a question or two, and if it’s a particularly interesting question then I might share it here or on Facebook. I don’t really have any sort of formal process for deciding what get’s shared. Usually it’s just something that tickles my fancy on a given day.
In this case, it was a short email sent by someone who had just completed his reading of Armageddon’s Arrow, which has only been out a couple of weeks or so. The sender of the email won’t be named here, as they’ve not yet consented to have that information disclosed, but the question just by itself:
“What the hell is that book Picard is reading to his kid?”
Ah. That. Well, it’s like this: there are a couple of places in the book where I refer to Captain Picard reading from a novel to his son, René, before bedtime.
(Oh, wait. Spoilers: Picard and Beverly Crusher are married, and have a kid, who’s four years old and change by this point in the ongoing Star Trek: The Next Generation post-TNG movies timeline. All of this happened a few years ago, spread across a handful of novels. So far, young René has not seen fit to demonstrate advanced intellect, mind control abilities or super powers, but the summer’s early yet. Stay tuned.)
Anyway, what’s the name of the book Daddy Picard is enjoying with his son? This one:
Yes, I guess the secret’s kinda sorta out (again): the book referenced but never named is Strangers from the Sky. More accurately, it’s not the Star Trek novel written by the lovely Margaret Wander Bonanno, but rather the “novel within the novel,” which supposedly was written by “Doctor Garamet Jen-Saunor” and published in the late 23rd century (in the Star Trek “universe,” that is), and purports to be the “real story of Earth’s first encounter with Vulcans.”
As for Margaret’s novel, it’s one of my favorite tales from the 1980s/90s era of Star Trek publishing, and as I sometimes do with other favorite books, I find a way every so often to work in a tip of the hat here and there for this one.
This isn’t the first time I’ve played his game. I introduced the idea of Picard reading this book in A Time to Sow, the first TNG novel I co-wrote with Kevin Dilmore, back in 2004. In that story, I purport that a hardbound copy of the book was given to Picard as a present from Commander Riker, not long after the events of the film Star Trek: First Contact. Of course, that movie came out more than a decade after Margaret’s novel, and so became the “official” sequence of events depicting how Vulcans and humans first met.
Later, during the events of my Typhon Pact novel Paths of Disharmony, I again reference the “fictional novel,” this time in the form of Picard giving a copy of the book to a newer character who’s come along in recent years, Lieutenant T’Ryssa Chen. I’ve come to really enjoy the dynamic between Picard and Chen, and writing scenes with the two of them together is great fun, so I decided to use that as an opportunity to salute Strangers yet again.
Will I find a way to work in a similar reference in a future book? Only one way to find out.
So, there you have it: one of my little slices of quirky fun. 🙂