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What is Star Trek: Picard: Firewall?

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

Two years after the USS Voyager’s return from the Delta Quadrant, Seven of Nine finds herself rejected for a position in Starfleet…and instead finds a new home with the interstellar rogue law enforcement corps known as the Fenris Rangers. The Rangers seem like an ideal fit for Seven—but to embrace this new destiny, she must leave behind all she’s ever known, and risk losing the most important thing in her life: her friendship with Admiral Kathryn Janeway.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying PDF will be available in your Audible Library along with the audio.

Review

Star Trek: Picard is a controversial spin off in my circle as it draws out very strong emotions from its viewers. Some people love it, some people hate it, and some people’s feelings change between the seasons. On my end, I think the Picard show was of varying quality but came up with some of the best ideas the franchise ever had. Also, I think that it has consistently produced some of the best novels that Star Trek has ever produced. THE LAST BEST HOPE by Doctor Una McCormack and ROGUE ELEMENTS by John Jackson Miller are two of my all time favorite Star Trek novels ever. FIREWALL by David Mack is now up there as well.

The premise is that Seven of Nine has found herself adrift after the ship’s return to the Alpha Quadrant. Starfleet has made the possibly justifiable decision to exclude her from Starfleet based on the idea she might be a danger. Which becomes considerably less justifiable when you remember that if she could be remotely hacked or was going to taken over by the Borg, would have probably happened during the show’s seven year run. It becomes even more spiteful and prejudice-filled when you find out they’ve also denied her Federation citizenship. Which doesn’t actually prevent her from living there but exists purely to make her feel unwelcome.

I wasn’t a big fan of “Ad Astra Per Aspera” from Star Trek: Strange New Worlds because it depicted a Federation that was engaged in hate crimes and ghetto-ization of a large chunk of its population in the Illyrians. I like to believe in Roddenberry’s future, we may not be perfect but we’ve moved past Nazi/Terran Empire behavior. I’m more inclined to accept Seven’s treatment, though, because it is far more isolated and we see pushback from Janeway and others. It’s also practiced only by a handful of individuals in the Federation which, sadly, include people of power.

Anyway, Seven seeks to find herself by living on the fringes of Federation society that are also pretty dystopian and seem capitalist despite the fact they don’t have money. This is a pretty common issue in many works, though, so I don’t mind. That’s when she’s offered a chance to get her membership in the Federation and possible Starfleet commission if she infiltrates an organization called the Fenris Rangers.

Like all prequels, the actual destination is less important than the journey. There’s a lot of interesting character beats in this book like Seven coming to terms her bisexuality and also analyzing the idea that the Federation’s Romulan Rescue Plan resulted in a total collapse of necessary humanitarian relief in other parts of the galaxy. It makes the question to cut their losses after the destruction of Mars seem more justified.

Some fans were offput by Seven’s attraction to women but I think it results in some of the more interesting parts of the book. We also get a relationship that is surprisingly drama free and one that I feel like will resonate with queer reader. I really liked the character of Ellory Kayd and hope she shows up in future Star Trek material. I understand that David Mack envisioned her as played by Jessica Henwick and I think that helped my mental picture a great deal.

The Fenris Rangers are actually given a backstory and we get a sense of what they are, other than having a cool name and fighting crime. Apparently, they were once a legitimate law enforcement/security company (for lack of a better term) contracted to protect the Qiris Sector. When the governments collapsed, they continued carrying out their jobs of enforcing the law of the previous regimes. Frankly, Starfleet labeling them vigilantes in that respect is a sign of Federation arrogance as who else would qualify as a legitimate government in that situation?

The villains of the book are also interesting because they’re some of the vilest ones in Star Trek, up there with the Cardassians, but some of the most easily understood too. General Kohgish and Erol Tazgül are guilty of horrific crimes against sapience but their motives are both believable as well as extremely petty. General Kohgish just wants to make as much bank as humanly possible while Arastoo believes that he’s able to keep the Romulans out of the Federation by making a buffer state via any means necessary once the Neutral Zones collapses. I also appreciate Erol isn’t a part of Section 31 as that would be the “easy” way to do it. No, he’s just a guy who got fired for his extreme politics.

Admiral Janeway gets something of an off kilter performance and why I put this book as a 9.5/10 instead of a 10 out of 10. Well, that and because I feel like some of the locations like Starfield are a little too like capitalistic intolerant Earth than the Federation should be. Basically, Janeway seems awfully naive throughout the book. She doesn’t seem to understand how much pressure and prejudice Seven is getting or that Starfleet’s opinion on the Rangers are wholly unjustified. I wonder if those blinders are just something every Federation citizen has or it’s because she wasn’t in the Dominion War and saw how fallible the Federation’s leadership could be.

In conclusion, I find this to be a fantastic novel and one I really enjoyed. Seven of Nine has always been one of my favorite characters in Star Trek and this is a great bridge between her VOY and Picard personas. I really liked the Fenris Rangers as a concept and hope they eventually invite David Mack to do a sequel or perhaps even a series of novels set between this one and Season One of Picard.

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