HomeMerchandiseCollectables, Games and BooksREVIEW: Star Trek: Picard 'Firewall'

REVIEW: Star Trek: Picard ‘Firewall’

-

There’s finally a new Star Trek: Picard novel to dig into, ending the long hiatus since Una McCormack’s ‘Second Self’. It comes after a highly regarded final season for Picard and adds a fourth entry into its universe-expanding novels. The highly anticipated Star Trek: Picard ‘Firewall’ by David Mack is available now. And it puts fan-favorite Seven of Nine (Jeri Ryan) and her past at the heart of its story.

Fans will undoubtedly recognize the author’s name from David Mack’s many contributions to the longstanding Star Trek novel-verse. One of the most recent is its final entry – Book 3 of the Star Trek ‘Coda’ trilogyStar Trek: Picard ‘Firewall’ is a less final affair. The story follows the journey of Seven of Nine after she returns with the USS Voyager to the Alpha Quadrant. At the start of Picard we learned she had joined the Fenris Rangers, but what happened in between?

Star Trek: Picard 'Firewall' Cover by David Mack
The cover of David Mack’s Star Trek: Picard ‘Firewall’

A New Chapter

Star Trek: Picard’s incarnation of Seven of Nine radically departed from the character we previously knew. After Star Trek: Voyager’s finale ‘Endgame’, Star Trek: Online and the novel-verse portrayed Seven working within the Federation. The revelation made many fans wonder, “How did she end up here”? Star Trek: Picard ‘Firewall’ finally delivers an answer. 

The majority of ‘Firewall’ takes place in 2381, though there is an introductory and conclusory scene set in 2386. A Voyager fan may be tempted to pick up this book in isolation. However, I’d recommend also reading Una McCormack’s ‘Our Last Best Hope’. McCormack’s novel will give further context on the Romulan evacuation, as this event is referred to multiple times. Speaking of which, we’re now going to go intoSPOILER territory! So if you haven’t read the novel yet and don’t want to be spoiled, bookmark this page for later! 

In the beginning

Photo Credit: Paramount+

Seven of Nine has always been a fascinating character. Originally introduced in Star Trek: Voyager’s fourth season to replace Kes (Jennifer Lien). Seven was viewed by fans and cast alike as a cynical attempt by Paramount to boost ratings. Throw some ‘eye candy’ into the cast by adding Jeri Ryan in a skin-tight ‘Borg’ catsuit. 

While their intentions were questionable, one of Star Trek‘s most iconic, beloved, and deeply engaging characters was born. Seven would also become an icon for queer Trek fans. Her status was established long before Picard paired her with Michelle Hurd‘s Raffi Musketeer and canonized Seven’s queerness. It’s not hard to understand why LGBTQIA+ fans would connect so strongly to a character who struggled to understand herself. Seven rejected her previous name, and life, in favor of one she felt better represented her true self. Even if that identity made those around her uncomfortable. 

Star Trek: Picard ‘Firewall’ thankfully does not steer away from the queer aspects of Seven’s character. In fact, it steers into them at warp 9.975. Seven’s entanglements in the narrative are all women. Her brief relationship with Chakotay in Voyager’s ‘Endgame’ is also addressed. Plus an attraction toward another male character is referenced, establishing Seven as firmly bisexual. 

Jeri Ryan and Michelle Hurd in Star Trek:  Picard Season 2
Pictured: Jeri Ryan as Seven and Michelle Hurd as Raffi. Photo Credit: Trae Patton/Paramount+

Stories with the Story

‘Firewall’s narrative feels like a collection of short stories. While there are over-arching elements, there are also several contained narratives that would work individually. The first of these centers around Seven’s growing discomfort within the Federation, driven partly by xenophobic attitudes towards her. These don’t only come from the Federation’s bureaucratic institutions, but also from the locals where she is living. 

Janeway has a prominent place in ‘Firewall’s narrative throughout, much to the delight of this Voyager fan. I felt that Mack handled her character excellently. The narrative manages to tread the tricky line between her portrayal as a matriarch and as a rebellious spirit. That said, beyond a few referential lines (Harry finally got a promotion!), the Voyager cast doesn’t get a look in. This feels like somewhat of a missed opportunity. At the end of the day though, this is a Picard, not a Voyager novel. 

I can say with certainty that after reading this book, I want the further adventures of the Fenris Rangers. Many opposed the adventures of Picard outside the comforts of Starfleet. However, a Fenris Rangers series would be a perfect stage for a different perspective on the Star Trek Universe

Trek Central's Banner with Jeri Ryan as Seven of Nine and Kate Mulgrew as Janeway

A New Direction

Even though the Fenris Rangers appear in Picard a few times, they are only mentioned in relation to their reputation within the Federation. Seven was really the only one we got to meet. Plus, viewers only saw one vessel, which was destroyed almost the moment it appeared. So, this vague outline of the organization leaves plenty of room for interpretation by Mack. 

The author’s interpretation is the main source of my critique of ‘Firewall‘. This is not because it’s a bad interpretation by any means, but it does feel a little… derivative. The Fenris Rangers are very Rebel Alliance-coded. Mack appears aware of this too. There are several that could be interpreted as tongue-in-cheek Star Wars references. This includes a pointed comment about maintaining the high ground. 

Image Credit: Paramount+

The Rangers use a collection of small fighters supported by cruisercraft. These fighters are a bit battered and bruised and they’re struggling to acquire more. The sneaking through lines to occupied planets is a narrative that felt straight out of Star Wars: Rebels. The Fenris leaders have meetings with pilots around a holo table. Another action sequence involves an in-atmosphere station that feels like a bizarre mix of Star Trek (2009) and Rogue One. In a good way though, I must say. 

These aspects did take me out of the story somewhat. Especially when it clicked that Seven’s Ranger mentor was essentially a Han Solo. His mannerisms gave it away, like referring to her as ‘kid’. And giving her a walk-through of the weapons on his ship during combat. This is definitely not a reason to avoid the book though. These elements have enough sense of Trek to give it a fresh spin, rather than a copy. 

The Federation & beyond

The book also involves wider aspects of the Federation beyond Starfleet, most notably the FSA – Federation Security Agency. It’s this organization’s actions that drive the plot forward. The Media also plays a prominent role, as a part of the Federation only lightly referenced in TNG, DS9, and Voyager

I’ve always felt one of the most interesting aspects of Picard is it’s mostly outside of the Federation setting. It’s great to see a tie-in novel take this aspect to heart and further build beyond Starfleet. But Starfleet does have a presence in the story, thanks to Janeway. What may also explain the delay between installments is that the Dauntless from Star Trek: Prodigy makes an appearance! The Prodigy novels have so far only focused on their main characters. The Dauntless crew’s inclusion was a pleasant surprise and also gives a delightful insight into the crew dynamics only glimpsed on screen. 

It’s an appropriate inclusion. However, it does make you wonder how exasperated the Dauntless crew must feel. Dragged out yet again, just 3 years after ‘Firewall’s event, to chase down another ex-Voyager crew member. Let’s hope that wayward voyagers don’t have any further incidents in the intervening years… 

Conclusion

After reading the heartbreaking final page, I felt ‘Firewall’ is an excellent addition to Picard‘s story. It fulfills its mission statement of establishing why Seven left the Federation and became involved with the Fenris Rangers. It is also an excellent tie-in novel in its own right, tackling complex and difficult topics.

The novel connects Voyager’s Seven – just beginning to embrace her humanity – to Picard‘s emotionally raw incarnation. The narrative also has the maturity and wisdom one would expect from a seasoned author like David Mack. The acknowledgments note Mack wasn’t afraid to consult with Kirsten Beyer, who worked on Picard and the Voyager relaunch novels. And it’s all the better for that collaboration.

‘Firewall’ ends a long drought for Star Trek: Picard fans wanting more. And it delivers more tantalizing incites into a character worthy of carrying a new Star Trek Legacy.


What Picard novel do you want to see next?

There has recently been talk on social media of fans wanting a novel exploring Shaw’s past. Perhaps the tale of his change of heart regarding Seven of Nine? Got an idea? Let us know who and what you want to see in the next Star Trek: Picard tie-in novels!

You can find TrekCentral on all the usual social channels – Facebook, Instagram, X/Twitter, BlueSky, Threads, YouTube, and Mastodon!


More From Trek Central

🚨 – Will Star Trek: Discovery Season 5 explain the Romulan Supernova?
🔥 – NEW Tone & Cameos for Star Trek: Discovery Season 5!
🔍️ – REVIEW – Star Trek: Defiant #12


Join the Star Trek conversation via our social media platforms:

James Amey
James Ameyhttps://trekcentral.net
Self declared expert on all things Star Trek: Voyager, dedicated advocate for there being a right way, wrong way and a Janeway. Enthusiast of science fiction in all forms and writer of content for Trek Central.

more star trek 🖖

Star Trek Renewal News – Cast & Creatives Respond

0
Paramount chose late Friday to deliver its Star Trek Renewal News - a new season and the ending of a beloved part of the...

NEW: Strange New Worlds – Scotty is on board for Season 3!

0
Montgomery Scott, Star Trek's most fabled engineer, has returned to the franchise! Martin Quinn stepped into the engineer's shoes, debuting in Star Trek: Strange...

REVIEW – Star Trek: Discovery Season 5 Episode 3 “Jinaal”

0
The fifth and final season of Star Trek: Discovery is well and truly underway! It's a little sad to be saying goodbye, but the...

the latest 🚀

Reviews 🖖