Encounter at Farpoint (Star Trek: The Next Generation) Paperback – 1 Feb 1988
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Based on the TV episode, which was co-scripted by Gene Roddenberry. Led by their captain, Jean-Luc Picard, the new crew set out on their voyage in a new starship, venturing further into the unknown than ever before!
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For the most part, it is an accurate representation of what happened on screen, though several segments are different from those shown, presumably because Gerrold was working from an earlier draft of the script. Riker's first encounter with Data is different and sheds a different light on their relationship that never gets explored in quite the same way, and there are hints of things for other characters do come to pass despite being missing from the finished episode.
Some of the characters' backgrounds are given in more detail than the show, and it's interesting where these diverge from the TV series - whether by Gerrold adding colour or the series 'bible' be rewritten later by the series' writing staff. Data's origin stands out, along with aspects of Picard's history that go unexplored on TV.
A good read, and for the most part a faithful representation of the original episode, although having to rely on the script for the structure does make some elements feel a little clunky.
The main problem with episode based novels is that the episode is always much better. Writers tend to delve into what they believe the character is thinking at a certain time and this can lead to monotonous exposition and dull story writing.
While Encounter At Farpoint was a very formulaic sci-fi story and a rather straightforward Trek adventure, Gerrold unfortunately does nothing to enhance the plot with his writing at all.
The beginning of the book where Picard sets foot on the Enterprise is now completely at odds with the scenes from All Good Things - although that hadn't aired at the time so you can give some leeway there.
There is also a major change concerning Data. In this book, Data was created by aliens who lived inside a planet which had been colonised by humans. When a natural catastrophe killed the colonists the aliens created Data in the human image and downloaded the memories of the people into him. Of course, this entire story is at odds with the events of season one's `Datalore'. Besides, why didn't the aliens help the humans instead of this ridiculous idea of preserving their memories in a machine?
There are also musings from Picard early on about a woman called Celeste. Whether this was an idea dropped in the series creation or just the writers fancy I'm not sure but it all seems rather irrelevant to the story.
For those that haven't seen Encounter At Farpoint (there may be a few out there!) the story centres around Jean-Luc Picard as he takes command of the U.S.S. Enterprise-D. On the way to Deneb 4, home of the Bandi and their Farpoint Station, the ship encounters Q, a powerful alien entity who accuses them of being a grievously savage child race. Picard challenges Q to test that assumption of humanity now and Q agrees, asking Picard to simply solve the mystery of the station.
The Enterprise arrives and Picard meets with the rest of his crew who are awaiting transfer, namely Commander Riker, Doctor Crusher and Lt. LaForge. The three explain the rather strange events that have happened to them on the station, magical events that defy explanation. When an alien ship arrives and attacks the Bandi they begin to uncover clues that link all these unexplainable events together.
There aren't really any surprises in the plot and if the show had been made today then I doubt STTNG would've made it past a first season. The book isn't that bad, it's just that the story isn't particularly good. Best thing you can do is watch the pilot and a few episodes and then move straight onto novel #1 Ghost Ship.
The Enterprise is on its way to Farpoint Station, a mysterious haven bang in the middle of a rough world to investigate how they managed to build a functional space trade station in a matter of months. On their way however they encounter a strange obnoxious alien on its way, Q! Yey, how exciting: Picard and the new crew of the Enterprise are charged for all the crimes of humanity....a dangerous and savage race. But will they prove him wrong? Oohh.. I brought this for 20p, can't go wrong