Star Trek: Picard: Rogue Elements
By John Jackson Miller
Published by Simon & Schuster in hardcover, ebook, and audiobook
REVIEW CONTAINS MILD SPOILERS
Rios looked behind him. The booming voice belonged to Kahless, here to refill Gorkon’s glass.
He did so – and looked down on Rios. “You should do a great deed, young Rios. Not because it will solve your problem or make right a wrong,” Kahless showed his teeth. “You should do a great deed because you should always do great deeds.”
Rios stared. “What would this deed be?”
Gorkon leaned across the table and poked him in the chest. “You tell us.”
Cristóbal Rios devoted his life to a great cause, and in the end, suffered an emotional loss that drove him away from the existence he had known. No longer a joiner, he sought out a ship – a freighter – that could take him out into the black, where he could be the master of his own fate. His goals were simple: take the jobs. Get paid. Keep flying. So why does he keep gathering a substitute family of misfits around him?
Yes, John Jackson Miller’s new Star Trek Picard tie-in novel, Rogue Elements, has a strong flavor of the great, lamented sci-fi western Firefly about it, but that doesn’t make it derivative. Instead, it provides a strong, pre-existing character spine to the story that helps you appreciate the ways in which this novel is gonzo-zany-creative-bonkers-nuts.
I’m not kidding. Miller sat down during the pandemic to write a story that was “completely fun, for a world that needed a break.” And he has accomplished that goal. This is a story that has a car wreck inside a spaceship, for crying out loud!
Set between Rios’ tragedy aboard the U.S.S. Ibn Majid in 2390 and his enlistment as a pilot for retired Admiral Jean-Luc Picard in 2399, Rogue Elements takes us from Rios’ first test-flight aboard the ship that would become La Sirena and through the first two years or so of his career as a freighter captain, and in its scope draws in tons of elements from TOS, TNG, DS9, and Discovery in a devil-may-care, madcap hullabaloo of an adventure. You want Nausicaans? We got Nausicaans. You want Iotians? We got Iotians. You want twin brother Ferengis? We got twin brother Ferengis. You want… Well, that would be a spoiler. A huge part of the fun of this book is all the connections that ensue with some of the most enjoyable parts of Trek lore.
In addition to having all that fun, this book also does the job a good tie-in backstory novel should. Of course, this book introduces us to all of Rios’ funhouse-mirror Emergency Holograms! Of course, this book gives us a strong dose of the friendship between Rios and Raffi Musiker. Of course, we learn more about the tragedy aboard the Ibn Majid. Of course, this book lets us watch Rios’ deep respect for Jean-Luc Picard as it develops from afar. And of course, this book remembers that Rios is a damn fine handsome man, and never stops reminding us of it. It does everything it needs to do, and it does it with style.
Bottom line? John Jackson Miller revs the engines of this novel from the very first pages, and never lets up, slinging a fast-paced, hysterical, at times unbelievable, and above all fun adventure story that grabs you and won’t let go. Highly recommended.
It is also available as an audiobook on CD at Amazon and Audible. Listen to a sample below.
More new and upcoming Star Trek fiction
September 28 – Coda Book 1: Moments Asunder by Dayton Ward
October 12 – Coda Book 2: The Ashes of Tomorrow by James Swallow
November 30 – Coda Book 3: Oblivion’s Gate by David Mack
December 21 – DS9: Revenant by Alex White
May 3, 2022 – Picard: Second Self by Una McCormack
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