Michael Chabon Interview: ‘Star Trek: Picard,’ ‘Unbelievable’
“I’ve been a ‘Star Trek’ fan since I was 10 years old,” says Michael Chabon, who is best known in literary circles as the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of “The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Klay,” “Wonder Boys” and “The Yiddish Policeman’s Union,” among other books. But “Trek” fandom “never left my life. There are references to ‘Star Trek’ hidden like Easter eggs in, if not all of my novels, then many of my novels.” So this season he took on a new role: co-creator and showrunner of “Star Trek: Picard” on CBS All Access. Watch our exclusive video interview with Chabon above.
Running a TV series is “a big shift” from writing novels, of course. “Nobody becomes a novelist because they want to sit with a huge group of people and engage in this kind of collaborative enterprise,” he explains. “If you become a novelist, I think typically it’s because you like to be by yourself.” But “I’ve been working alone for a long time, so it was really a nice change for me.”
As a lifelong “Star Trek” fan, the “pressure of living up to the legacy kind of crept up on me I would say because I came in through a side door,” he says. He wrote for the “Short Treks” anthology series before beaming onboard for “Picard,” and he “fell into the job of being showrunner quite by accident .. It really wasn’t until the show was done and was going out and fans were going to be watching it, that’s when it really hit me hard.”
The season of “Picard” unfolded as a mission for its title character (Patrick Stewart) to rescue an organic android and come to terms with the death of Data (Brent Spiner) from 2002’s “Star Trek: Nemesis” film, but this season’s themes went back farther than that. “It was a thread we picked up from ‘The Next Generation,’ specifically from the episode ‘The Measure of a Man'” from 1989, in which Data’s rights as a synthetic life form were called into question.
But to wrap up that storyline, Chabon realized, “We need to put our money where our mouth has been.” We go into detail about that payoff in the video, but there were scenes during the season finale that were “a writing dream come true.”