Spoilers PIC: Second Self by Una McCormack Review Thread

Discussion in 'Trek Literature' started by Avro Arrow, Sep 15, 2022.

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Rate PIC: Second Self

  1. Outstanding

    11 vote(s)
    73.3%
  2. Above Average

    3 vote(s)
    20.0%
  3. Average

    1 vote(s)
    6.7%
  4. Below Average

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  5. Poor

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  1. Avro Arrow

    Avro Arrow I can't let them know it's all for show Moderator

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    Blurb:
    A thrilling untold adventure based on the acclaimed Star Trek: Picard TV series!


    Following the explosive events seen in season one of Star Trek: Picard, Raffi Musiker finds herself torn between returning to her old life as a Starfleet Intelligence officer or something a little more tame—teaching at the Academy, perhaps. The decision is made for her though when a message from an old contact—a Romulan spy—is received, asking for immediate aid. With the help of Elnor and assistance from Jean-Luc Picard, Raffi decides to take on this critical mission—and quickly learns that past sins never stay buried. Finding the truth will be complicated, and deadly…

    About the Author:
    Una McCormack is the author of ten previous Star Trek novels: The Lotus Flower (part of The Worlds of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine trilogy), Hollow Men, The Never-Ending Sacrifice, Brinkmanship, The Missing, the New York Times bestseller The Fall: The Crimson Shadow, Enigma Tales, Discovery: The Way to the Stars, the acclaimed USA Today bestseller Picard: The Last Best Hope, and Discovery: Wonderlands. She is also the author of five Doctor Who novels from BBC Books: The King’s Dragon, The Way Through the Woods, Royal Blood, Molten Heart, and All Flesh is Grass. She has written numerous short stories and audio dramas. She lives with her family in Cambridge, England.

    https://www.simonandschuster.com/bo.../Una-McCormack/Star-Trek-Picard/9781982194826

    _______________________________________________________

    People are starting to read this, and there hasn't been a review thread posted yet, so I went ahead and created one. I don't know when I will be able to get my hands on this book, but an Una McCormack novel is always a treat, so looking forward to it!
     
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  2. Anduinel

    Anduinel Commander Red Shirt

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    Does anyone know why the initial blurb focused on Rios and Agnes going on this mission with Raffi, but the most recent highlights Elnor? Not a complaint, since I love the guy and don't think he's gotten nearly enough exploration, but I am curious.
     
  3. 100Pic

    100Pic Lieutenant Red Shirt

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  4. Reanok

    Reanok Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    The book is really good and thanks for posting your interview with Una McCormack. .Agnes is briefly mentioned in the book being on the goodwill tour with Soji.Elnor is getting a good story arc in the book.
     
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  5. hbquikcomjamesl

    hbquikcomjamesl Commodore Commodore

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    None of the local B&N locations has it. But then again, I'm still in the middle of The Sound and the Furry (just finished "Joy in Mudville" [the Hokas play baseball].)
     
  6. Anduinel

    Anduinel Commander Red Shirt

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    Hm. Mixed feelings.

    As a Raffi fan, I'm feeling very well fed - McCormack did a great job of fleshing out Raffi's scars, struggles, and regrets, but also gave her a level of balance I don't think the primary canon ever actually affords her. And her dynamic with Picard is great; there's often a sense that, while she cares for him deeply, he's not *quite* a forgiven friend. Or at least not enough to be allowed to get away with any shenanigans unremarked, which is entirely satisfying to read. ;) I also appreciated that Raffi's life was opened up a bit - that she does still have people from her past who'd consider her a friend, people who appreciate her accomplishments, and that her world is bigger than Picard, Rios, and Seven.

    As an Elnor fan, I am utterly disappointed. Yet again. No deepening of previous backstory, little interiority, and the story kept insisting his weapon was a staff, not a sword, which was particularly jarring given how Elnor's two primary traits at this point were Absolute Candor and his being a swordsman. I went back through again to see if I missed a line somewhere about his having given up his tan qalaq or if there was mention of his just using the wooden scabbard as a staff since arriving on Earth (since decapitations would be even less approved of than usual), but there doesn't appear to be an explanation. It's always disappointing to read about a character that has so little firmly established about them, and see one of the few solid details seemingly flubbed. I did like the instances where McCormack had the character express frustrations about his situation that closely mirror the ones I have wrt to his overall treatment in this franchise, though.

    As a Garak fan, I'm torn. As always, McCormack writes a wonderful Garak, appealingly clever and ever exasperating, while never letting any potential audience fondness for the character take away from the crawling discomfort of the monstrous acts in his past. But, more than anything, this felt like a Raffi and Garak story, and as much as I adore Garak and adore McCormack writing Garak (and adore McCormack *for* writing Garak :D ), he's not who I dropped in to read about. It's also a bit disheartening that Garak's story feels very much like a final send-off. Of course the novels are secondary canon and can be overridden at any time (not to mention that there's time travel involved), but the fact that TPTB approved Garak being sent back in time to the Occupation via orb hijinks and apparently dying there seems to indicate that there are no plans for him in the 25th century. So that's a bit of a bummer (though no fault of the author).

    So. It has some aspects I liked, particularly where Raffi's concerned, but sad to say, I didn't come away having really enjoyed myself.
     
    Last edited: Sep 17, 2022
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  7. Reanok

    Reanok Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I thought the book was really good at filling Raffi's back story and the things about the dominion were well written. It was nice we got to see Garak again I certainly didn't expect some of the things Garak did in this book and the time travel either with the Bajoran orbs.I liked some of the scenes with Elnor too.
     
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  8. Brendan Moody

    Brendan Moody Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I would guess the initial blurb was based on an early outline and the book evolved in the writing. The final blurb’s reference to a message from a Romulan spy requesting aid, which survives from the initial blurb, doesn’t really fit the finished book either.

    I voted Outstanding. I can see why some might be bothered that this is to some extent a DS9 novel with a Picard spin (in much the same way that The Dark Veil was a Titan novel with a Picard spin and Rogue Elements was a TOS novel with a Picard spin), but on the deepest thematic level it’s about the same things as the first season of Picard: reconciliation, penance, old men finding redemption and new life in unexpected ways. It’s also a taut espionage thriller and a strong character study of Raffi. The Picard novels have gone from strength to strength, and I hope that the end of the TV series won’t mean an end to them.
     
  9. Reanok

    Reanok Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    ditto I want more Picard books after the series ends next year.I like these characters and want to see more stories featuring them to continue..I like this book was an espionage thriller.It was nice to see Raffi using her skills as a spy to help the Cardassians and the Romulans and the Bajorans too.
     
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  10. 100Pic

    100Pic Lieutenant Red Shirt

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    I’m about half way through and loving it so far. I haven’t had as much time to read as I would have liked but I’ll be back fairly soon to post my review.
     
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  11. Markonian

    Markonian Fleet Admiral Moderator

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    Just finished.

    Starships:
    * In terms of ships, we get Romulan scouts - could be either the Jarok class from TNG or the Snakehead from PIC.
    * Bajoran Intelligence sends ships which are not described in any way. The novel left it entirely ambiguous whether the Bajorans did or didn't join the Federation.
    * We have the Stargazer, who doesn't have Commander Moshe as its first officer yet. A member of an unspecified species is XO - I can't find her name in my notes.
    * A Cardassian ship of unspecified class is the Corat Damar. Looking at other Star Trek tie-ins, there's a postwar Damar-class destroyer in Star Trek: Armada. It's a miniature Galor class. In the early 25th century, there's the C.U.V. Damar, Keldon class, as per STO. In 2410, it participates in the Battle of Midnight. After that, Councillor Elim Garak of the Detapa Council commands the Damar-class dreadnought CUV Damar as of 2411.
    * The USS Gráinne is active in 2376. "Gráinne" is an Irish given name according to Wikipedia, and is a character in mythology. I believe we have not seen a USS Gráinne before in Trek. It's class and registry remain unknown. (My brain kept inserting a California-class ship, despite me telling my brain to use a Norway).

    Trill:
    * Zi is a Trill symbiont who has experienced at least 3 hosts by 2399.

    Orbs of the Prophets:
    * The Orb of Restitution is a new one. It is the 15th name for a Bajoran orb according to Memory Beta. Canonically, there were 10.
     
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  12. Stevil2001

    Stevil2001 Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I was very much on the fence about this—love Una, think Picard is utterly terrible—so thanks for this. There's a good discount on Second Self at Blackwell's, so I'll pick it up.
     
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  13. DS9forever

    DS9forever Commodore Commodore

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    I think Una said in the first Picard novel that Bajor did join the Federation.
     
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  14. Brendan Moody

    Brendan Moody Vice Admiral Admiral

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    IIRC there’s dialogue somewhere in this one that strongly implies Bajor is a Federation member; I’ll see if I can find it tonight.

    Edit: I found it, but I was misreading it; the book is indeed ambiguous on whether Bajor is a Federation member.
    I don’t think Picard is terrible exactly, but I do think it’s a frequently silly/shallow take on interesting themes, and what I like about the novels is that they do better than the show at taking those themes seriously.
     
    Last edited: Sep 20, 2022
  15. Ronald Held

    Ronald Held Vice Admiral Admiral

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    About half way through. The historical sections were interesting. Garak seems be be in character.
     
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  16. Charles Phipps

    Charles Phipps Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    So if I wanted follow up on the events of Season One, how much would I like this book?
     
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  17. Markonian

    Markonian Fleet Admiral Moderator

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    I’d say this could be a welcome coda to season 1, even/especially if you decided not to watch season 2. Nedar and Narek aren’t mentioned but the Coppelians are referred to.
     
  18. Elwro

    Elwro Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    My preorder copy has finally arrived! Yay!

    I see that it's printed on toilet-quality paper :-) but I don't mind really...
     
  19. Una McCormack

    Una McCormack Writer Red Shirt

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    At last a use for all my author copies.
     
  20. Ronald Held

    Ronald Held Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Cannot tell the paper quality as I bought a Kindle version.