Sunday, January 21, 2018

Two Space Or Not Two Space

In researching for this piece, I've discovered that there's a controversy in the writing world I never knew existed - whether or not to put two spaces between sentences.  Feelings run unexpectedly high on the issue, from some folks saying absolutely not to do it, to others who say that it's steeped in rich grammatical history.  Some have gone so far as to say that it's a sign of being old(or at least over 40) if you use two spaces after a sentence.  What began as a quirky little post became a journey into a surprisingly passionate subject that pit nerd against nerd, and grammarian against grammarian.

I learned, eons ago when dinosaurs roamed the Earth, to use two spaces at the end of each sentence(or a semicolon).  It became so ingrained in me, and I've been doing it for so long, that it's as natural now as breathing.  In fact, I have to make a deliberate effort to only use one space, and I've found that effort so disrupting to the flow of my work that I stopped worrying about it.  But why did that rule ever come about?

Apparently it was all a result of our use of typewriters.  In the olden days, before computers, typewriters all used the same font and spacing.  The letter "l" used the same amount of spacing as the letter "w."  In order to create separation between sentence and provide for better flow, what I call the "rule of two" came into being.  And it was used for a long time.  It became standard practice in both classrooms and media offices.  School after school that taught typewriting - which was nearly every high school in existence prior to 1995 - drilled the rule of two into everyone's head.  This made it a natural reaction.

However, when computers came along, it became moot.  Office programs made it so that the spacing now no longer relied on manual typesetting, so one space was plenty good enough to see the difference between sentences.  Typesetters even began discouraging two spaces after a sentence as it created extra work for them.  This has not been enough to overcome some of the (older) inertia.

I use two spaces.  I probably always will.  I independently publish, and I still think that two spaces provides a good break between independent thoughts, but I'm not opposed to those who use one space.  But bring that up in a group of writers under the age of 30 and you might as well have set a sack of puppies on fire.  Talk about angst - sheesh!

So where do you fall, and why?  Are you a two-spacer?  Or do you believe it's one space, and all two-spacers are secret members of a Satanic cult?

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Just Write The Damn Story

Folks, I've done my best to stay out of politics.  I don't comment on the current President, just like I didn't comment on the last one.  I don't talk about Congress, or the federal budget, or the latest polls and what they may or may not say about an upcoming election.  I even stay out of topics sensitive to readers on all sides regarding same-sex marriage, abortion, and the war on drugs.  However, I'm going to stray a bit here, because some stuff is creeping in that affects actual writing.

The biggest takeaway is that writers are writing scared.  Far too many are getting so worried about not offending people that it's getting in the way of writing good stories.  Some folks are going so far as to have sensitivity readers look at their work so as to ensure that no one is offended and all the proper PC etiquette is observed.  Remember the saga of The Black Witch?  Laurie Forest endured scathing criticism of a novel that most people hadn't even read yet.  One reviewer talked about how the book was culturally insensitive, and suddenly the McCarthyites came out of the woodwork.  You'd have thought she penned a new Mein Kamp or something.

Then there is "cultural appropriation," a term which makes me want to vomit.  This is the belief that we're all supposed to stay in our own little world and not write about that which is from another culture different than ours(as if one culture or another "owns" something, or readers even know which culture is doing the writing in the first place).  This is idiotic from several standpoints, not the least of which being how limiting it is to both the writer and the audience.  Who gave anyone the right to tell us what we can and can't write?  If writers stayed only within their own world, we'd be denied some tremendous stories...stories that belong to all of us, not just select members of a certain group.  There's also the myopic view that this creates, limiting us to only what we know and never allowing us to explore outside of it.  Isn't the whole point of exploring other cultures to get to know them?  What is the point of diversity if it can't enrich us all?  Further most of those talking about not culturally appropriating things are referring less to real culture and more to skin color, which is an awfully stupid way to assess which culture someone came from.  I know folks of all races from all cultures, so assuming someone's culture by the color of their skin is only slightly less racist than...well...nothing.

I've come across a lot of writers that won't engage on certain topics or viewpoints because they're worried they may upset the wrong group of people.  Doesn't this keep us from writing good stories?  What's wrong with writing what you like and then letting the audience decide if it's any good?  So many classics throughout time have been maligned as wrongthink, from Huckleberry Finn to I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings to A Wrinkle In Time, that if those writers had listened to such scolds, we'd have been deprived of some amazing work.

Write what you're comfortable with and think is a good story.  I didn't write Wrongful Death from the point of view of a high school girl, but I originally tried, and I wouldn't begrudge anyone, man or woman, who could pull it off.  I doubt JK Rowling was ever an eleven year old boy or a wizard, but she did a great job with Harry Potter.

This isn't just a political issue - it's an issue of freedom.  I thought we'd long since moved past the era of book burnings, but today's scolds are trying to accomplish basically the same thing, which is to prevent a larger audience from enjoying a certain work because the scold finds it to be heresy.  Where we used to worry about fundamentalist churches banning books, now it's "sensitive" people who somehow know what's best for our entire society.  What a joke!  If you don't care for a book, don't read it!  However, acting as judge and jury because you think you're all "woke" is incredibly conceited and stifling.

Writers should write.  Let the audience decide what's good and what's not good.  I promise they will.  Beyond that, don't worry about what a bunch of overly sensitive ninnies who wouldn't know good literature if it smacked them will say.  Just be creative.

Okay...rant over.  Now go back to your lives...

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Been Busy

Sorry about missing a post last week.  Life has been hectic, and I didn't plan ahead to have a post ready.  Time also caught up to me today(the NFL playoffs didn't do me any favors  :-P  ).  I promise I'm working on something for Thursday.  I get that y'all are probably getting tired of me missing posts or complaining about time, but that's life at the moment.

I'll pull out of my laziness and pity party this week.  Until that point, please accept my apologies for being short on content.

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Calling All Bloggers!

This post won't be long - I'm putting out a call for anyone who would like to guest blog.  Someone recently pointed out to me that writers should help give each other platforms to get the word out about ourselves, and I've decided to join the cause.  Anyone looking to guest post, please contact me at RussDMeyer@gmail.com.  Send me a brief bio and what you'd like to blog about.  If you have a book out or about to be out, I'll happily link to it from here.

So come one, come all - dazzle us!

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

The Last Jedi Review(WITH SPOILERS)

As most of the universe knows, The Last Jedi came out a little while back, and I went to see it the day after it was released.  I've waited a bit before reviewing it in order to make sure the legions of fans who were rabid got to see it and give it some thought before I reviewed it.  It's no surprise that I'm a big sci-fi nerd, so I was really looking forward to this movie.  Last chance warning - this review contains massive spoilers.

Okay, now that we've got that out of the way, we can begin...

I have to say...I didn't like this movie.  As time has passed, I've liked this movie even less, going so far as to say I hated it.  It was among the biggest disappointments I've ever come across, ranking up there with Batman Vs Superman and World War Z.  Disney seems to think that slapping the name Star Wars on something will make it automatically a blockbuster, and that's probably true, but that doesn't automatically make it a good story.

To start with, they've destroyed the legacy of the characters who made Star Wars great.  I get needing a new generation to pass the torch to, but this didn't pass the torch - it snuffed it out.  Killing Han Solo in The Force Awakens was supposed to add gravitas to the movie, so while I thought it a bit reaching, it fit.  In The Last Jedi, however, the other old characters were completely left out.  Chewbacca is on screen for all of two minutes, and only when he roars at Luke(leaving the rest to Rey for some reason) and gets an attack of conscience about eating a bird-like creature for supper, because it's cute or something.  Luke Skywalker, the hero of the original trilogy, gets barely any screen time, and what he does get makes him out to be a horrible person.  He isn't just a crotchety old man; he's an asshole.  He was supposedly broken by Ben turning into Kylo Ren and embracing the dark side, but then we learn of one of the main reasons why - Luke was about to kill him.  This is so out of character for Luke that it made me wonder if there was some kind of doppelganger involved.  Let's not forget that this was the same guy who literally refused to strike down one of the most evil men ever because Luke felt there might be a tiny sliver of good left in him.  However, in this movie, he appeared willing to stand over the sleeping form of his sister's only child and strike him down as he slept because there might be some bad in him.  Remember, in The Force Awakens, Kylo himself admitted that he felt a pull back to the light, so shouldn't Luke have been able to sense this conflict and try to bring him back before deciding to turn him into a shish kabob?  I know that he said he pulled back, but even going as far as he did destroyed the visage of a man who believes in ultimate redemption.  Remember, Kylo hadn't yet done anything; Darth Vader blew up whole planets and choked people to death simply because they pissed him off.

While we're on Luke, was the whole Yoda cameo really necessary?  Yoda showed up to tell "Young Skywalker" that he still had much to learn.  And he can apparently still use the force in our world by bringing down lightning to destroy the "tree of good"(that's what I'm calling it) that held all the Jedi books.  He was a sad, comical character who added nothing to the film.  A better idea might've been to bring back a vision of a reformed Anakin to remind Luke that he redeemed him, so maybe he can do the same with Ben.

There was one, and only one, point at which we thought maybe Luke was the badass we all knew he could be.  Remember that part in The Empire Strikes Back where Darth Vader literally blocked Han Solo's blaster shots with his hand?  In this movie, Kylo Ren had a dozen AT-ATs fire at Luke and he walked away from them.  I thought at first that a better thing might have been for him to deflect them the way Vader did, but it still gave me some hope that maybe he was a higher order of Jedi Master after all.  But then...nope!  Turns out that he projected a hologram of himself halfway across the galaxy,  He didn't raise his ship from the water and fly in to the rescue as the hero we always saw him to be.  Instead, he was sitting on a rock doing some kind of "ohm, ohm, ohm" yoga thing and fooling everybody.  Then he just faded away, because I guess force projection is lethal.

Going back to the beginning of the movie, the Resistance attack on the First Order's Dreadnaught was...well...laughable.  I get it that we're supposed to suspend disbelief in a movie about fighting in outer space, but you can't ignore obvious stuff, like major laws of physics.  During the fight, the Resistance bombers had to go over the top of the Dreadnaught to drop their bombs because...they needed gravity?  In space?  This is space for crying out loud!  One of the hallmarks of outer space is no appreciable gravity, meaning that the Resistance could've launched their bombs from practically anywhere and let inertia do the rest.  I get folks who come down on me for wanting a sci-fi movie to be a little realistic, but this part was waaaaayyyyyyy over the top.  They might as well have needed to shield their eyes from the sun, too.

As the Resistance flees the approaching First Order ships(btw, didn't the rebels rout the original Empire?  You'd think they'd have kept some kind of military force beyond "Leia and a few ships that can be beaten up pretty easily."  If not, then how did they retake power in the first place?), they run into something that has never been an issue in Star Wars before - fuel.  Sure, maybe an okay plot point, but given that no one has ever mentioned it before, it seemed like a stretch.  Still, let's go with it.  After an attack that blew Leia out into friggin' space, she somehow morphed into Supergirl and figured out how to fly through space.  With no oxygen.  And no air pressure.  Unconscious.  Yes, Leia showed a very brief ability to tap into the force in The Empire Strikes Back, and she is a Skywalker, but not only did they not allude to anything to do with her force abilities in The Force Awakens(aside from apparently knowing Han was used as a pin cushion for their boy), they've never shown space flying as a Jedi ability.  Yet this untrained woman pulled it off, I guess because they knew folks might be pissed she got killed(even though she's dead in real life).  So she magic-moves back inside, while in a coma, and the Resistance fleet is now in the command of some purple haired actress who we haven't seen up to now.  But she's brilliant.  Totally brilliant.  So brilliant that she has devised a plan to save her people and fool the First Order into leaving them alone.  So awesomely, outstandingly brilliant that she not only conceives of this plan, but then promptly tells absolutely nobody, thus giving everyone the impression that she's an incompetent boob and they have to do something if they are to survive at all(thus leading to a 45 minute totally unnecessary subplot which I'll discuss in a few minutes).  I've heard some very ignorant people say things to the effect of, "Well, she's in charge, and the lower Soldiers would never be told of the plan."  That's absolute, 100% horseshit.  There's a concept in the military called Mission Command, and it's both a big deal and fairly standard practice.  The whole point is that you tell everyone, including your lowest subordinate, the intent of the plan so that they can carry it out in the event things go sideways(as they tend to do in combat).  Purple Hair could've eliminated the coup, the trip to the Star Destroyer, and the trip to Vegas Planet, simply by saying, "BTW, folks, we're going to use our ship's destruction to mask our escape to this planet we used to have a base on."  That's Leadership 101, yet she acted haughty and basically provoked a few alpha personalities to come up with something, anything, if they were to survive.

Two of the biggest mysteries of The Force Awakens were the identity of Rey's parents, and who was Supreme Leader Snoke?  Was Rey a Kenobi?  A long lost child of Emperor Palpatine?  Some left behind half sibling of Ben that no one knew about?  WHAT COULD BE THE ANSWER?  Well, it turns out that her parents were nobodies who got drunk and traded their kid for some whiskey.  All well and good to show that strong force users can exist outside of the Skywalker line, but building up the mystery so much and then pulling this kind of crap was an enormous waste.  Even if they pull out that it was all some kind of Kylo Ren trick and she's really related to some big shot in Episode IX, this whole bit left everybody feeling deflated, and no one will buy it should it turn in the next movie.  And then there was Snoke...wow...talk about a letdown.  Darth Vader and the Emperor knew Luke existed in the original trilogy because of the effect he had on the force.  So here we had an enormously powerful dark side force wielder that now led what was left of the Empire, so there had to be a great deal to the story, right?  He couldn't have become that powerful and the heir apparent overnight, or without Palpatine noticing, so what was the deal?  Was he a brother?  An illegitimate son?  Did Palpatine violate the "Rule Of Two" for some unknown reason?  Surely here was a powerful man who would be integral to the entire canon of the galaxy!

Nope.

Kylo Ren simply cut him in half and watched as what was left of him slid down his throne.  It quickly became apparent that Snoke was nothing more than a plot device for Kylo Ren to take over the First Order, kind of doing Darth Vader in reverse.  Again, amusing point, but not worth of the way they built Snoke up.  To make it more gripping, they needed at least 45 minutes of Kylo defying his master, as well as some kind of trigger beyond "Kylo wants to rule and really likes Rey."  The scene in Snoke's chambers was the best of the film, but only from an action standpoint, and not based on plot.  We got nowhere in knowing how or why Snoke rose to the top, nor how he became a great dark side force user.  He felt like a throwaway.

Speaking of throwaways, wtf was with Captain Phasma.  She was built up as being a bigger thing in this movie, a big baddy that would really cause chaos for Finn, and she turned into this trilogy's Boba Fett - a cool looking character with a lot of promise who died after a bad fight and did nothing of substance.  I could've done more in that movie than she did.  For that matter, Winnie The Pooh would've made a bigger impact in a cameo than Phasma.

Returning to that whole unnecessary 45 minute sub-plot involving the gambling planet, can we please keep the social commentary out of our movies?  We have to deal with this bullshit from all sides every damn day in our lives, and maybe we just want to go to a movie and relax.  The scene was first predicated on the only way to get rich was to sell weapons.  Really?  Not streamlining hyperdrive technology, re-growing limbs or creating robotic ones for amputees, or growing food for the galaxy's inhabitants?  It has to be nefarious and greedy money-grubbing and lead to death and destruction?  The view is so caricatured that it sounds like it came right out of a college protest.  Even within this ridiculous subplot they missed clear opportunities.  When they were looking for the cryptographer who could help them break the First Order's codes, and they were talking about a well-to-do scoundrel, I was certain they were going to bring in Billy Dee Williams and Lando Calrissian.  That would've gotten back to the nostalgia and blown everyone's minds.  Nope, instead we got a brief cameo of someone we never saw again, and then Benicio del Toro showed up playing basically the same character he played in Guardians of the Galaxy.  Then, as anyone with half a brain could've predicted, he betrayed Finn and the others.  Wow, just knock me over with a feather on that one.

While we're on the gambling planet and talking about preachiness, I could've done without the whole animal rights bullshit.  We get it - the folks who run the planet are bad, bad people who enslave children and whip animals.  We didn't need it shoved down our throats.  Further, I thought I was going to puke when Finn asked, "Was it worth it?" and Rose took the saddle off the horse/camel thing, saying, "Now it was worth it."  Give.  Me.  A.  Fucking.  Break.  Releasing an animal into the wild - one that will likely be recaptured about 15 minutes later - makes the trip to find the guy who can help you figure out how to disable the First Order's hyperspace tracking device worth it?  Perhaps we should keep our eye on the bigger picture, mmmkay?

All in all, this is a horrible movie.  Any fan of the original trilogy will likely come away from this profoundly disappointed.  I know there's all this great hype now from critics, but I predict this will become like The Force Awakens or The Phantom Menace after people have had a chance to really think about it - they're currently in the afterglow of "OMG!!!  IT'S ANOTHER STAR WARS MOVIE...YYYYYEEEEAAAAARRRRGGGGHHHHHH!!!!!!!!"  However, it'll soon become, "Now that I've had some time to think about it, that really sucked."  I give this movie one and a half stars out of five, and I think I'm being generous.

But I'm an elite snob, someone who is out of touch, blah blah blah.  I'm sure that legions of sci-fi nerds are now preparing to burn me in effigy for my blasphemy.  Maybe they'll have better success if they act nothing like any of the wimps in this movie.  I never thought I'd say this, but can we please bring back George Lucas?

Sunday, December 31, 2017

2018 Goals

I was originally going to call this post my "2018 New Year's Resolutions," but I backed off because I remembered that I don't believe in New Year's resolutions.  My feelings are that if you try to change just because the calendar flips a day, then none of those changes will stick.  A true life change should be reflected in your lifestyle because you want to change, not because you think you are socially obligated to do so.  Therefore, instead of resolutions, I'm penning several goals I have for 2018.

1.  Publish another novel.  I plan to bring out Wrongful Death sometime in the late Spring/early Summer.  The novel is complete, although I want to go through it one final time to make sure I've caught all the tiny mistakes.  I'm also going to need to use an editor again since I missed a few in Akeldama and had to fix them.  That said, I only plan to put out one novel this year.  I was going to put out two a year for a while, but this is going to be a hectic year for me, so I think one is all I can manage at this point.  I will put out another in early 2019, but the stress of trying to shoehorn two in a year, coupled with some major life changes that I'll be going through in the coming year, will simply be too much.

2.  Get back to writing.  I haven't been very good at writing this past year.  I don't mean that my style has suffered(although that's entirely possible), but rather that I simply haven't written much at all.  I used to do around 1000 words a day when I was focused on writing novels, and it has definitely lapsed.  I have two novels I need to get to work on, the next chapter for the Akeldama series, and a follow up to Salvation Day.  I know where I want them headed, and I've even played out various bits in my mind while driving, but I haven't gotten around to sitting my ass in a chair and actually writing them.  Perhaps I can start with 500 words a day, with a 2000-2500 a week goal, and see if I can catch the writing bug again.

3.  Market more.  My novels have done okay, but I haven't devoted the time to marketing them as I would like.  I did a book signing in Charlotte last Summer, but now that I'm back in Kansas, I haven't reached out to bookstores the way I'd planned.  I also need to reach out to more bloggers and try to gain exposure.  If I ever want this to become more than a hobby, I have to get more people to see my work.

4.  Attend a writing conference.  I've always wanted to go to one of these writing conferences, but since Kansas is mostly a barren wasteland, I haven't had the chance.  I'm going to figure out how to get to one of these events in 2018, even if that means out-of-state travel.  I would like to network and attend workshops, but mostly I just want to see what they're like.  I have to find a way this year.  Time to start looking.

5.  Enter Salvation Day and/or Akeldama in a major contest.  Several readers have told me my books are decent, and my own ego likes to think I have a smidge of talent, so I want to enter one of these "whole book" contests and see if I can gain validation beyond my small circle.  It'll cost some bucks, but I think I can write it off as a business expense.  It might also gain me some exposure and get my work out to more people.  The trick is going to be finding the right one.

These are my goals for the year.  What are yours?

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Pass On What You Have Learned

A few weeks ago, someone approached me with a few questions about publishing.  This person had written a book but had no idea how to get it out to the public or what to do to present it.  I gave a few tips I'd learned(get at least an editor who isn't you, hire a good cover artist, go to Bowker and get an ISBN, etc).  The person was grateful, and I went about my daily life.

Someone else told me that this was nice of me and they wish more writers would do things like this.  It got me wondering - are people really holding this kind of knowledge to themselves?

I suppose some are.  My few(brief) inquiries have shown me as much.  It's as if a few writers are so afraid that the person they give advice to will rob them of market share that they hoard the information like it's the KFC Secret Recipe.  This level of paranoia isn't helpful to anyone, least of all the person holding onto the advice.

Some of this goes back to the (bad) idea that books and writers are fungible(that is, able to be replaced by a like product).  It's absolutely absurd.  First of all, your book idea is YOUR book idea, not the person to whom you gave advice.  Despite the delusional fantasies of some of us, no one is looking to steal your book idea or manuscript.  Most folks have no idea if it'll sell well, so why waste the time until after the book has proven a success?  You need to be successful before people will care enough to try and steal your stuff, and by then, you'll have enough resources to fend that off.

Second, we need more indie writers, so getting more people into the field expands it and reaches new people for all of us.  McDonald's was a great idea that was unique...at first.  It had a nice little share of the market, but that's nothing compared to what it now claims, and a great deal of that is due to the proliferation of not just McDonald's, but of other fast food restaurants that made McDonald's innovate along the way and made fast food socially acceptable(indeed, a part of daily life).  If Burger King, Wendy's, and Taco Bell hadn't come along, I'm sure McDonald's would've been just fine, but it wouldn't be the behemoth it is today.  We need the same thing in indie publishing.  We need a larger cohort so that it will become a more socially acceptable alternative to traditional publishing.  That way we all have more success.

Third, networking is never a bad thing.  By helping out a beginner, that beginner may come back to be a great connection when he or she makes it big.  Having them remember you for your kind advice can pay off big down the road.

Finally, think about the troubles you had when you started writing and publishing.  I'm sure no one figured it all out on their own.  Be that mentor that you once had(or were seeking).  Wouldn't you have liked to have known who to get to do your cover art?  Wouldn't it have been nice to know that you need a formatter for both print books and ebooks?  Imagine the trouble you could've saved if you'd known which outlets to approach for publicity.  It all comes back around - make sure it comes back in a good way.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Merry Christmas!

No post today.  I just wanted to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas.  I'll be back to "regular" posts later this week, but I felt the tips on writing to wait until after opening gifts.  :-)

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Drama Beyond Death

Stephen King famously said, "Kill your darlings."  What he meant by that was that sometimes you have to shake things up in a story that has gone flat, and one of the best ways to shake things up is to kill a main character or five.  King's biggest example is in The Stand, where he wiped out almost everyone who was part of the Boulder Free Zone Committee.  King felt that his story had no direction, and he needed a way to move it forward, so he had Harold Lauter use a bomb to blow up several main characters.

This is a great technique, and it's absolutely useful at times, but it has grown so prevalent that I wonder if writers know how to do anything to add drama beyond killing off folks.  I don't have an issue with folks dying in books if such dying advances the plot, but I'm running more and more across those who seem to be doing it just for the sake of shock.  Here's a handy tip - the more you do something for shock, the less that shock will register on each succeeding occasion.

There are ways beyond death to add drama and shake up a plot.  A character finding out that a past event was all a lie and that he or she has been fighting on the wrong side shakes up a plot.  A terrifying assault, be it through mob violence, rape, or the beating of a child, can shake things up.  Folks can go off to new cultures or have to confront aspects of their past.  All of these things create drama and tension without the need for death.

I'm not saying to keep every character alive during your story.  Keeping people on the edge of their seats by wondering if their favorite characters will all make it through can be useful, but it should serve a purpose in your story.  Most readers will accept a death that makes sense and moves the plot forward, but they will also be pissed off if you kill a character just for the sake of "shock."  Readers get attached to these characters, and randomly killing them makes them mad, especially if it means nothing.  Yes, random death happens in real life, but most of us read in order to escape the real world.  Throwing too much "real world" into your novel will get you discarded.  That's why I rail so much about keeping politics out of writing - people have no choice but to encounter that in everyday life, so books and other entertainment are where we go to get away from that mess.

Introducing random death was creative when first done, but like any overused plot device, it has run its course.  If you want to be seen as creative and innovative by your audience, you have to figure out ways to drive a story that don't involve randomly killing folks.  Remember, it's not creative to do what everyone else is doing.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Book Review: The Autobiography Of Jean Luc Picard

Last week I did a review of the book Thrawn.  This week it's The Autobiography Of Jean Luc Picard.  Just to say up front...I absolutely enjoyed this book.

Let's preface everything by noting that I am a sci-fi nerd.  Some folks appear to have disdain for either Star Wars or Star Trek, depending on their tribal loyalty, but I love both universes.  They are separate and have their own merits, so I've never gotten why people feel they have to only like one or the other.

Jean Luc Picard is, in my opinion, the best Star Trek captain out there, and his "autobiography" - actually written by David Goodman...because it should be obvious that fictional characters can't write books - is a fun look deeper inside the man.  It talks more in depth about Picard's childhood, his days at Starfleet, and his time commanding the USS Stargazer(including his court-martial for its destruction).  There is a little self-doubt in the pages, but not much, and certainly not more than we saw on screen.  Picard seems to have natural human emotions, and although he wonders about his own maturity and the impact of his decisions, he doesn't come across as weak.  He is an ideal for most of us to strive to without being so perfect that none of us could ever get there.

The only shortcoming in the book is that every story therein was at least mentioned during the Star Trek:  The Next Generation series.  Yes, it went deeper into the stuff talked about on the show, but I would've liked a few more nuggets that weren't talked about.  The novel brings up how Picard won the Academy Marathon on Dalula Two, how his brother Robert hated him for daring to leave their village in France, and how he took control of the Stargazer's bridge when its captain was killed.  Great stuff, but all at least talked about, however briefly, during the series.  If one pays attention, as I tend to do with TV shows I really like, one can find every part of this book in the series.  Some people may find that fun, and I found it fun for the most part, but I wish there'd been stuff not on the show so I could've learned more.

All in all, if you like the show, you'll like this book.  I give it four out of five stars(I rarely give five stars to anything).