Star Trek Book of Friendship dives deep into Picard and Riker’s bond
The main attraction of Star Trek is to see brave heroes go boldly in the name of discovery, exploration, and diplomacy. But talk to any Star Trek fan and they’ll tell you about the franchise’s second hot spot: the drama at work. The sci-fi spectacle may draw fans in, but it’s the relationships between the characters that keep them hooked.
Those friendships are at the heart of The Star Trek Book of Friendship, from BenBella Books’ Smart Pop imprint. Kirk and Spock, Bashir and Garak, Janeway and the Seven of Nine: All Due. The official tribute to the greatest friendship in Star Trek history comes in the form of a conversation between two friends. Authors Robb Pearlman and Jordan Hoffman [Ed. note: Jordan Hoffman has written for Polygon.]
Pearlman and Hoffman were polite enough to provide an introduction to Polygon’s exclusive excerpt for The Star Trek Book of Friendship, also in the form of a conversation between two friends. Read on and, below the horizontal line, an excerpt from the chapter of the book about Jean-Luc Picard and Will Riker.
Robb Pearlman: I’m vibrating with the excitement of an overheated warp core! I’ve loved Polygon since my parents first connected Pong to our black and white Magnavox.
Jordan Hoffman: How is that possible, that’s from before the web even existed?!
RP: Space and time don’t matter anymore, Jordan, so don’t wonder about it.
JH: Fair enough. Star Trek is filled with such confusing facilities, but you know what the background of that show was for me?
RP: You’re not going to start talking about how the USS Belieant is actually upside down, are you?
JH: No, but I’d like to revisit that later. For me, it’s about the characters and how they relate to each other through unique friendships.
RP: Agreed! And there seems to be an infinite number of combinations of friendships. With the gold standard of Kirk and Spock, there are words and unspoken loyalty that make up Picard and Riker’s friendships, happily hostile couples like Quark and Odo, and many others. I’m also incredibly excited to see the friendships that exist within the Star Trek fandom, whether it’s online or at conferences. In fact, that’s what inspired me to create The Star Trek Book of Friendship!
JH: If you recall, we met at a chat. You were there to promote your first few Trek books like Fun with Kirk and Spock and Star Trek’s Witness and Wisdomand I’ve been there censoring the panel and hosting the Star Trek podcast before. And then, one night we stayed up until dawn to make Armus laugh.
RP: Oh yes, I remember well! Also can have salsa and chips. We started talking about Star Trek and went from there. I mean that. Whether you’ve just met someone or have known each other for years, Star Trek gives everyone the instant and undeniably shorthand that ties people together. It’s a sense of connection, of enjoying the same shared experience, that serves as a launching pad for deeper and more meaningful friendships.
JH: The Star Trek chat was a great way to stay healthy as we worked on the book during the pandemic. And thanks to Star Trek friend JK Woodward for doing the illustrations there’s a cherry at the top. The painting of Doctor Bashir wearing Garak’s clothes should be in the Louvre Museum.
RP: There is a parallel universe in which it exists! We should also say that the book features a special appearance by our friend, Dr. Erin Macdonald, and a preface written by our other friends as well as Star Trek icons Robert Picardo and Ethan Phillips.
JH: That’s right! In fact, part of the proceeds from the book will go to The Planetary Society, so the book provides a way for Star Trek friends to help friends reach the stars!
RP: We all participate. Now if you’ll excuse me, I want to be alone.
JH: Okay. But keep your mail frequency open. I have more thoughts about Trustees.
R: Picard and Riker are friends who would do anything for each other. Even if their first meeting was a bit odd, with an unusually strict Captain Picard testing Riker by having him perform a plate-mounting operation under a microscope, their friendship was soon flourish.
J: How many times have they faced the threat of “Oh, no, will Riker get a promotion?” Feeling like very much! Some have called their relationship a career killer for Riker. Of course they were wrong. But Picard needed it. That’s why he chose Riker in the first place, because he sided with Captain DeSoto aboard the USS Hood at Altair III and kept him out of harm’s way. And he knows he can give Riker the worst jobs ever and trust him to do them, like making him a prosecutor in “Measurement of a Man.” ” to force him to prove to the best of his ability that the Data lacks interest. It’s a
ask! But both know the only way to save their friend is to not communicate, they have to correct the mistake. Unlike Kirk fighting Spock in “Amok Time”, in a strange way.
R: Wait, does this make Bruce Maddox T’Pau or Stonn?
J: I’m sorry, the thinner atmosphere around that analogy requires a shot of the tri-ox compound if we continue. But writers know they have something good there. There are a few episodes where Riker has to confront Picard. The most famous, of course, is the end of TNG’s “The Best of Both Worlds.”
R: I can still hear those trumpets sounding like “To keep going. . . ” appears on the screen. And as someone who chose to spend his summers sitting in the comfortable air watching television and reading books rather than going out to play sports (since then still stuck in my throat), wait for the summer of 1990 ending for the next season. The broadcast episode was a particularly tough season to get through. And let’s not forget about “The Pegasus” of TNG season seven, when Riker is ordered to keep the prototype concealment device a secret from Picard—you can see it destroy him. It also didn’t have much of an effect on my anxiety levels.
J: That whole episode made me nervous. I can watch anything, but I can’t bear to see Riker lie to our beloved captain. However, it’s not his fault! However, I really like how the two often know what the other is thinking, like the ending of TNG season two’s “A Matter of Honor” and Riker aboard the Klingon. Neither of them fully knew how that impasse would play out, but they trusted each other enough for it to happen.
R: For that, the best is TNG’s “Rascals” season six, when Picard has come of age, or as I like to call him, “‘Lil’ JL” has to pretend to be Riker’s son. They both know exactly what to do and how to play it, but Riker just loves every moment of it. He knew he was going to tell this for years to come, because “Oh boy, this is going to be a funny story.” Riker is one of the very few people who can joke around in Picard. And like any good friend, he knows exactly when to do it.
R: When you meet Raffi, wait, is she a Riker 2.0? Of course, she doesn’t. She is her own person. And then Riker shows up cooking pizza later in the series.
J: Robb, I’m going to need a tissue if we’re talking about group hugs here.
R: We are. It was a sensational part of Picard’s sensational first season. Great fan service in part, sure, but it also gives viewers confidence that the friendships with these amazing characters are only expanding, not separating. Picard, Riker and Troi are not only friends, they are family. They are our friends and family.
The Star Trek of Friendship book will hit shelves on May 10.
https://www.polygon.com/23032620/star-trek-book-of-friendship-except-picard-riker Star Trek Book of Friendship dives deep into Picard and Riker’s bond