Tor.com content by

Ryan Britt

These 5 Books Will Give You Geeky Knowledge You Won’t Find Anywhere Else

The only thing better than binge-watching your favorite SFF movies or TV series is reading a bunch of cool facts about them. Behind-the-scenes books about science fiction movies and TV shows are sometimes overlooked by fans, partially because so much nerdy information exists online. And yet, in the pages of great behind-the-scenes books, you’ll find things you really can’t find anywhere else. Even when you think you know something, there’s always another detail in a behind-the-scenes book that will be missing from Wikipedia, or, paradoxically, articles like this one.

Here are five behind-the-scenes books about SFF movies and TV that offer revelatory details about some great franchises. From Babylon 5 to Blade Runner, to one thing you almost certainly got wrong about the original Star Wars, let’s raid the bookshelf to make your next sci-fi binge even better.

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Surprise! 5 Classic Star Trek Characters Who Could Easily Appear in Star Trek: Discovery Season 3

Warning! Spoilers ahead for the endings of Star Trek: Discovery season 2 and Star Trek: Picard season 1!

Because Star Trek: Discovery season 3 will take place 930 years after 2257, in the year 3187 and beyond, it doesn’t seem at all likely that we’ll see any familiar faces from Star Trek’s lengthy mythology.

Or will we? A show brazen enough to have already made Spock and Pike central (and very well-depicted) characters could definitely figure out how to feature a few more familiar faces, even centuries past their prime. There are very specific, and surprising, ways for a few characters to return without having to utter the phrases “temporal anomaly” or “space-time continuum” at all.

Here are five Trek characters from across the entire franchises who could crash the far-future party of Star Trek: Discovery Season 3.

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Star Trek: Picard and The Witcher Highlight a Brave New Trend — Direct Contact With Fandom

Showrunner Michael Chabon remembers the exact moment when he knew he needed to talk directly to the viewers of Star Trek: Picard. At the end of a “gauntlet” of perfunctory red-carpet interviews with members of the press at the LA premiere of the series, Chabon describes “a sense of relief” in being greeted by what he describes as “probably 100 fans, a lot of them in cosplay. All I wanted to do at that moment was to go stand over there and talk to them and answer their questions and engage and be part of that.” And so, as Picard started airing, Chabon took to Instagram every week to answer fan questions about each episode.

This direct and overwhelming positive interaction with fans reveals the emergence of an encouraging trend. Some of the biggest science fiction and fantasy TV franchises are connecting directly with their fandoms, in a way that brings everyone down to Earth. From The Witcher to the in-production Wheel of Time TV series, to Chabon’s Instagram talkbacks about Picard, the line between fan and showrunner is getting warmly blurred.

[Spoilers ahead for Star Trek: Picard.]

Star Trek: Picard Finale Means Season 2 Could Be Loaded With Nostalgia

As Jean-Luc Picard once said to Data: “Nicely done!” The finale of Star Trek: Picard has wrapped-up the show’s first season, and managed to finish off a few loose threads from Star Trek: Nemesis at the same time. (No, a Shinzon Tom Hardy cameo tragically did not appear.)

But, one feature of the Picard season 1 finale was a decided restraint against fan service or an outpouring of what we think of as conventional nostalgia. For the most part, the finale—and the series as a whole—focused on finishing what it set up, and little else. This means that when Picard season 2 happens, The Next Generation nostalgia could go into overdrive. Here’s why.

Spoilers ahead for Picard episodes 1-10.

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Picard’s Squadron Could Be a Massive Next Generation Reunion. Let’s Discuss.

Jean-Luc’s got a squad!

In episode 8 of Star Trek: Picard, “Broken Pieces,” Jean-Luc Picard reaches out to his buddy Admiral Clancy, and eventually, gets what he wanted way back in episode 2. But now, because of that very specific request, it seems like Picard may have slyly set-up several cameos to occur in either episode 9 or episode 10 of this season. Will the finale of Picard end with a massive Next Generation reunion? Here’s who could come back and why.

Spoilers for Star Trek: Picard episodes 1-8 ahead. Plus speculation for episodes 9 and 10.

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Picard Kzinti Easter Egg Links Star Trek to the Works of Larry Niven

With one, small, off-the-cuff Easter egg, Picard has connected the Star Trek universe to the literary canon of Larry Niven.

With a single word from Riker in episode 7, “Nepenthe,” Picard referenced a 1973 episode of Star Trek: The Animated Series. And, in doing so, brought Larry Niven back into Trek canon, too. This may have slightly bigger implications than a deep-cut reference; in fact, the entire backstory of the Star Trek canon might have just been given a new spin, that is actually, very old.

Spoilers ahead for Star Trek: Picard episodes 1-8.

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Think Star Trek: Picard Is Slow? Let’s Talk About The Next Generation

When retired Admiral Jean-Luc Picard says “Engage!” in Star Trek: Picard, longtime fans of The Next Generation all high-fived each other, or possibly, their own childhoods. But did it take too long to get us here? With three episodes of Picard released so far (out of the total ten) there’s a contingent of criticism that laments how sluggish the series is moving. When you look at reviews for Picard, even the very positive ones seem to go out of their way to say the show is “slow.”

But, to that criticism, I have a question: Did we all forget that The Next Generation was perhaps the slowest Star Trek of them all? In fact, I’d argue, that loving Star Trek is—at least partially—less about saying “engage” and more about saying, “make it…slow.”

Light spoilers ahead for the first three episodes of Star Trek: Picard.
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Corruption at the Daystrom Institute Might Play a Big Role in Star Trek: Picard

In its first two episodes, Star Trek: Picard has subtly reminded us that the Daystrom Institute–the spot where a lot of rogue A.I. comes from–is also the most prestigious cybernetics research organization in the galaxy. Here’s why the history of the Daystrom Institute prior to Picard suggests that all these rogue A.I.s might not be an accident.

Spoilers ahead for the first two episodes of Star Trek: Picard. Speculation follows.

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Is the Zhat Vash in Star Trek: Picard Fighting Rogue A.I. “Control” From Star Trek: Discovery?

Spoilers ahead for Star Trek: Picard, season 1, episode 2, “Maps and Legends.”

Turns out, the Romulans–or a significant secret society of them–have a serious bone to pick with “all forms of synthetic life.” The latest wrinkle in Star Trek: Picard has added a new detail to the origin story of the Romulan’s Tal Shiar spy network in the form of a new cabal called “the Zhat Vash.” We know only two things so far: They’re thousands of years old and they really don’t seem to like synthetics or artificial intelligence.

But why are they active now? What is it about near-human synthetic life that they hate and fear? And if we pull on this thread far enough…do we encounter Control, the big bad artificial intelligence from the latest season of Star Trek: Discovery?

Are these two shows more connected than we thought?

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Star Trek: Picard Comic Fully Explains Jean-Luc’s Romulan Companions — Laris and Zhaban

Spoilers ahead for aspects of Star Trek: Picard episode 2: “Maps and Legends”.

One of the quirkiest mysteries at the start of Star Trek: Picard has suddenly been answered. If you’re confused about why Jean-Luc is living with a couple of Romulans at Château Picard, you’ll only get hints in the actual TV series itself. (Well, thus far.) Because the complete answer to this huge change in the status quo is elucidated in the final issue of the IDW comic book miniseries, Star Trek: Picard: Countdown.

Here’s how the third and final issue of the prequel comic reveals Laris and Zhaban’s fate and explains why they’re so loyal to Jean-Luc in Star Trek: Picard. 

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Doctor Who May Be Creating a 12-Regeneration Cycle Before the First Doctor

Smack in the middle of its (currently ongoing) 12th season, Doctor Who has introduced the biggest Time Lord twist in very recent memory, and we’ve been left with so many big questions: Has the Doctor lost the memories of her life on Gallifrey? How many? A lifetime’s worth? Several lifetime’s worth? And when we say “Doctor,” what now are we talking about?

This latest reveal, which I’ll get more specific about below, leaves us with a lot of questions. But, if you take a look back through the show (WAY back), there seems to be only one answer. And it goes all the way back to the earliest days of regeneration.

Spoilers ahead for Doctor Who, season 12, episode 5, “Fugitive of the Judoon.”

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3 Ways Data’s Bad Brother Lore Could Crash the Star Trek: Picard Party

The Soong boys are back! In “Remembrance,” the very first episode Star Trek: Picard, we saw two of the three Soong siblings: Data appeared twice in Picard’s dreams, and B-4 was in pieces in a drawer at the Daystrom Institute. But what about the third identical “brother”, the infamous Lore? Could Data’s dastardly brother still be around? And could he bother all these folks in Star Trek: Picard? Let’s look at where we last left Lore in The Next Generation timeline, plus meditate on his previous comebacks for clues for how he might have snuck his way back to the Final Frontier. Get ready to boldly explore the lore of…Lore!

Spoilers ahead for Star Trek: Picard, season 1, episode 1, “Remembrance.”

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After Picard, There Are Two More Secret Live Action Star Trek Shows — But What Are They?

As we get ready to revisit the 24th-century future in Star Trek: Picard , and still eagerly await the USS Discovery’s jump to the 32nd-century in season 3 of Star Trek: Discovery, we can’t help but look further ahead in our current timeline to even more Star Trek television…

According to a statement made by Trek producer Alex Kurtzman at the Television Critics Association last week, “There are two more live-action shows that haven’t been announced yet” beyond Picard, Discovery, and the as yet untitled Section 31 series. So what are those two shows? With a dash of speculation, mixed with facts and topped off with a degree of intrepidity, here are five possible live-action Star Trek series that could materialize sometime in the next few years.

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Could Michael Burnham’s Father Still Be Alive in Star Trek: Discovery?

The latest Short Trek takes Star Trek back into the animated realm for a story set during Michael Burnham’s childhood, before the events depicted in the flashbacks of Discovery’s second season episode “Perpetual Infinity.” If you were curious about Michael Burnham’s relationship with her birth-father (and namesake),”The Girl Who Made the Stars” shows that he was just as big of a part of Michael’s early life as her mother, Gabrielle “Red Angel” Burnham.

But wait a minute. Why is there sudden effort spent on developing the backstory of Michael Burnham’s dad? Is it possible that he too survived the Klingon attack on Doctari Alpha? And if so, could Mike Burnham be making a comeback in season three of Discovery? Let’s discuss!

Light spoilers ahead for Short Treks “The Girl Who Made the Stars.”

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Remembering René Auberjonois: 8 Essential Odo Episodes of Deep Space Nine

Star Trek fans got some sad news on December 8 when it was reported that actor René Auberjonois had passed away at the age of 79. His career as an actor included starring roles on Broadway, voice acting in Disney’s The Little Mermaid, and of course, his memorable role on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine as the shapeshifting changeling Constable Odo.

As fans and colleagues express their love and admiration for the life and career of Auberjonois, Trek fans are probably yearning to rewatch his greatest DS9 hits. Every single episode featuring Odo on Deep Space Nine allowed Star Trek to explore the concept of the Other and Othering in brave new ways. And thanks to Auberjonois’ thoughtful portrayal, Odo was more than just a collection of head-scratching sci-fi metaphors. He was, in many ways, Star Trek’s greatest alien.

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