Last month it was officially announced that the next Trek series will feature Sir Patrick Stewart returning to his Star Trek: The Next Generation role of Jean-Luc Picard. There is little known about the show and it doesn’t even have a name, but we now have a couple of more details on the Picard series, thanks to one of the executive producers.
One of the executive producers for the new Picard series is Pulitzer Prize-winning author Michael Chabon, who has been sharing some of the goings-on from the recently formed writers’ room, as we reported last week when he revealed his galactic map briefing. This week Chabon has again used his Instagram account to reveal more about the show, including the year for the show’s setting.
Regarding the time setting of the show, Chabon’s Instagram post states: “So we finished our first amazing two weeks in the #space2999 writers’ room, and I think all you 99ers out there are really going to “grok” what we have planned.”
Chabon also used an image from the ’70s sci-fi series Space: 1999 to send out his message about the “99” setting of the show.
“Space 2999” seems to be an inside joke and mashup of Space: 1999 and the actual year the show is set, which appears to be 2399. The last time we saw Picard was in the 2002 film Star Trek: Nemesis, which takes place in the year 2379. At Star Trek Las Vegas, Patrick Stewart said of the setting: “Twenty years will have passed, which is more or less exactly the time between the very last movie – Nemesis – and today.” It appears that Stewart was being specific and that the show will take place exactly 20 years later, or 2399.
The end of an era and the dawn of the 25th century
2399 puts the new Picard show at the end of the 24th century, which is somewhat poetic as it will bring to an end the century which was the setting for Star Trek: The Next Generation and the two subsequent series, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, and Star Trek: Voyager. Through 21 seasons those three series thoroughly covered the period between 2364 and 2378, with Nemesis taking place one year after the Voyager finale. It also brings up the possibility that the show will be a bridge into the 25th century of Star Trek’s future history.
The only known events set out in canon for the post-Nemesis 24th century comes from the 2009 Star Trek movie. J.J. Abrams first Trek film established that in 2387 a supernova which threatened the galaxy exploded, destroying the planet Romulus. Spock was able to prevent the supernova from destroying the rest of the galaxy but he and his ship were drawn back in time, along with a very angry crew of Romulan miners, to kick off the new Kelvin timeline in the 23rd century.
If we want to look to the extended universe, The Star Trek: Countdown comic book series that tied into the 2009 Star Trek movie established Jean-Luc Picard as the Ambassador to Vulcan in 2387, with a resurrected Data as captain of the USS Enterprise-E. While comics are not officially canon, it is worth noting the Countdown series was developed by Star Trek screenwriters Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci as a way to tie their film into Star Trek: The Next Generation, and of course Kurtzman is an executive producer on the Picard show.
There are also numerous books and the Star Trek Online MMORPG which have told the stories of many events in the late 24th century, however, these are also not part of Trek canon and even less likely to be adhered to for the Picard show. That being said, Kirsten Beyer is also on the creative team for the Picard show and before joining Star Trek: Discovery as a writer, she wrote a number of Star Trek novels, including a number set after Nemesis.
Star Trek has shown a number of alternative futures, like Voyager’s “Timeless” with an embittered Harry Kim being chased by a Captain Geordi LaForge in a 2390 where the USS Voyager had crashed, killing most of the crew, We also saw a version of Picard in the mid 2390’s in the Next Generation finale “All Good Things,” where he is retired to his family vineyard in a Federation where relations with the Klingons have become hostile. While these alternative late 24th century moments are not canon due to changes in the timelines created in those episodes, one thing that is consistent is that the Federation and Starfleet endures.
In fact, thanks to Star Trek’s penchant for time travel episodes, we know to expect that the Federation exists in some form in 2399. The Temporal Cold War arc in Star Trek: Enterprise established that the Federation survived and had grown by the 26th century, and would even include Klingons as Federation citizens. The long history of ships named Enterprise also continues in the mid-26th century with the Enterprise-J. And Star Trek: Voyager and Enterprise established that the Federation continued to exist even in the 29th and 31st centuries.
The other thing Chabon said in his Instagram post was possibly more intriguing, with:
“I think all you 99ers out there are really going to “grok” what we have planned. (Hint: Metamorphs! But you didn’t hear it from me.)”
Assuming it isn’t a red herring, what could his hint about Metamorphs mean? Strictly speaking, a metamorph is defined as any organism “that has undergone metamorphosis,” such as how a caterpillar transforms into a butterfly. In the world of science fiction and Star Trek, we have seen many different kinds of sentient metamorphs that can transform themselves.
If you were thinking this might have something to do with the Dominion and the Great Link and Deep Space Nine shapeshifters, Chabon has seemingly already shut that down. A fan asked if his hint had anything to do with Odo and the writer replied “nope” in the comments on his Instagram post.
Another potentially more intriguing possibility would be the character Kamala, played by actress Famke Janssen in the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode “The Perfect Mate.” The character was Kriosian, and was described as an “empathic metamorph” who could transform her persona to adapt to any possible partner. In the episode she is set to marry a politician to help foster peace but ends up falling in love with Captain Picard.
Returning to Chabon’s Space:1999 reference, the word metamorph also has a meaning in the 1999 universe. The character Maya was a metamorph added to the main cast in season two. She had the ability to transform into anything organic for an hour. The concept of a metamorph in Space:1999 is closer to that of a Changeling in the Trek universe.
Geeking out with Chabon
For now, there is no way to know for sure what Chabon is hinting at, but we are totally intrigued, which is the point of these kinds of teases. And we didn’t even get into Chabon’s use of the word “grok,” a term coined by legendary science-fiction author Robert. A. Heinlein in his classic Stranger in a Strange Land. Meaning “to understand” in the deepest possible way, Chabon could be hinting some connection to Heinlein, or just showing off his deep geek cred.
And if you want any more proof that Chabon is one of us, check out some of this other nerdy posts over the last week.
It is also good to know that the Picard show writers’ room has already been at it for a couple of weeks, which means putting together the first scripts may not be too far into the future. It is not unreasonable to think this show could go into production in early 2019, after Star Trek: Discovery wraps shooting on its second season later this year.
Keep up with all the news on the Picard show and other upcoming Star Trek TV shows here at TrekMovie.com.