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Old September 22 2008, 09:46 PM   #27
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Re: Picard's 'middle' years

Timo wrote: View Post
Indeed, and I completely respect your choices for the book. It's just that I like to argue that in general, we shouldn't shy away from giving a starship captain starships to command, and Picard need not absolutely be an exception to that.
I did give him one starship to command, and then I gave him command of a whole fleet. But the thing about Picard commanding a starship is -- we've seen that. We've seen plenty of that. I thought it would be more interesting to see him doing something else for a while. And I thought it was worth establishing just why the heck it was that the archaeological community thought highly enough of a starship captain that they'd invite him to speak at their symposia or to accompany them on digs.

That's the thing about Picard -- unlike Kirk, he's not just a starship captain. He has a life beyond starships. And if I was going to fill in a missing portion of his life, it made sense to explore that other half of who he is.

Apparently, losing ships and being court-martialed for it is "standard procedure" for Starfleet, so Picard's career as starship skipper shouldn't have come to a grinding halt with the Battle of Maxia.
Well, a hearing is standard procedure; unfortunately Melinda Snodgrass got that confused with a court-martial, so I was left with something rather difficult to explain away. But all that aside, Picard's interaction with Philippa in "Measure of a Man" gave the strong impression that it was a particularly ugly and damaging court-martial, and a cut passage from the script (on which I based my depiction of the trial) made that more explicit, stating that Louvois's vicious interrogation almost cost Picard his career.

True, he was exonerated, but there was plenty of doubt in Picard's own mind, as we saw in Mike Friedman's story "Darkness" in Tales from the Captain's Table. Now, Mike had Picard get over that doubt in the story, but I had a whole novel about Picard's personal journey to write, and Marco specifically asked me for a tale about Picard losing faith and needing to go on a quest to get his groove back. So I interpreted "Darkness" as just the first step on Picard's journey out of self-doubt, and I decided that Picard would've chosen to get away from Starfleet for a while. His Starfleet career came to a halt because he chose to pursue something else for a while, not because he was blacklisted or anything. As we saw in The Buried Age, people within Starfleet (exemplified by Janeway) remembered Picard for his successes, even counting Maxia Zeta among his successes because he saved his crew against all odds.

And it still strikes me as somewhat unbelievable that the Federation Flagship would be given to a guy who for the past nine years has not been part of the core world political intrigue or, alternately or in addition, shown consistent or improving skill in commanding starships.
Which is exactly why Part IV of the novel establishes that Picard spent 2360-63 on the vanguard of Starfleet's advance threat-assessment division and built a solid reputation as a diplomat, tactician, and troubleshooter, culminating in (as I said) the command of an entire fleet. (True, I skipped over most of those three years, but I did so with the conscious awareness that some future author might want to explore them in more depth.) Indeed, it was TrekBBS conversations on this very point that made me realize it would be necessary to establish his qualifications for the post. It's quite possible, Timo, that you were one of the people whose comments informed my approach to the issue.

Not having to deal with Cardassians would probably not be that unusual, considering how much O'Brien's "border wars" sounded like a distant and largely forgotten conflict in "The Wounded". What may have looked like a major war to the Cardassian side probably didn't involve all that many starships on the Federation side... Talarians would probably be similar bit players.
Actually Mosaic and Pathways establish a major burst of conflict with the Cardassians around 2357, and Terok Nor also has things pretty hot between Cardassia and the UFP in the late 2350s. As for the Talarians, we know that the Galen border conflicts were fought in the late '50s as well. That's why I mentioned them here in the first place.

And everybody everywhere seemed ignorant of the Ferengi, fearful of the Klingons or confused and wary about the Romulans during the early TNG years; experience, quite clearly, was a rare commodity in Starfleet.
"Fearful of the Klingons?" How so? They were shown throughout early TNG to be stalwart allies.

I admit, though, that it was a bit jarring when this old, balding and greying guy did not launch into a reverie of "I remember back when I commanded the Pathfinder, or was it the Stargazer, well, never mind, but my first, wait, my second officer said..." whenever they ran into an opponent, event or location that was new to the audience.
Well, I dispute "old." Picard was only 59 at the start of TNG, and that isn't even midlife by 24th-century standards. And Patrick Stewart was only 47 when TNG began, and that's not even close to "old."
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