‘Star Trek: Picard’: Rios’ Book Inspires Intriguing Theory About the Pilot


One of the most interesting characters on Star Trek: Picard is the pilot of Picard’s new ship, Chris Rios. For the second episode in a row, the show has focused on a book that he likes to read. The book is called “The Tragic Sense of Life” and it’s sparked an interesting theory about the pilot. This article will have spoilers for Episode 4, along with potential spoilers for future episodes if a fan theory is correct. 

We’ve Now Seen ‘The Tragic Sense of Life’ in Two Episodes

We already saw Rios’ book, “The Tragic Sense of Life,” in Episode 3 when Picard found it.

The show focused on the book yet again in Episode 4 when we saw Rios reading the book and talking about it with Agnes Jurati, an expert on synthetic life. During their conversation, Rios said the book was about “the philosophical implications of the existential pain of living with the consciousness of death.”

The Tragic Sense of Life” was written by Miguel de Unamuno and it was published in 1912. Here’s Amazon’s description of the book:

“The truth is that reason is the enemy of life.” Regarded as Spain’s most influential thinker, Miguel de Unamuno was a prolific writer of novels, essays, poetry, and plays. Tragic Sense of Life, published in 1912, was his most important philosophical work and is now generally considered one of the great existential texts of the 20th century—as provocative a work in its own right as anything written during the post-war period by Sartre, Camus, or Heidegger. In it Unamuno rejects the life of reason for one of intense passion, faith, and love, establishing Don Quixote as the great role model for contemporary man. Wisdom Classic Editions. The goal of SophiaOmni’s Wisdom Classic Editions is to reintroduce important works by great thinkers from the past that have something significant to say about the human condition and our place in the universe.

If you want to get the book for free, it’s available through Project Gutenberg.

Here are some interesting quotes from the book, shared by people on social media.

One quote shared above reads: “Man is said to be a reasoning animal. I do not know why he has not been defined as an affective or feeling animal. Perhaps that which differentiates him from other animals is feeling rather than reason… More often I have seen a cat reason than laugh or weep. Perhaps it weeps or laughs inwardly—but then perhaps, also inwardly, the crab resolves equations of the second degree.”

Part of the book posits that suffering brings meaning. A quote reads: “How do we know we exist if we do not suffer, little or much? How can we turn upon ourselves, acquire reflective consciousness, save by suffering?”

Another viewer pointed out that the book has a line that reminds them of the Borg. It reads: “I feel myself when I am not others.”

Here are more quotes from the book.

Here Are the Theories Evolving from That Book

Two theories have evolved from the show’s intense focus on this book. This story could have potential spoilers if either of these theories are correct, but it’s not known if they are. The author hasn’t seen any episodes past Episode 4 upon writing this story. 

One theory is that Rios doesn’t just have a lot of holograms who look like him, but he’s a hologram himself too. This might, perhaps, explain his fascination with that book. Maybe he’s an Emergency Command Hologram or an Emergency Pilot Hologram. Maybe the real captain was the person the holograms are all based on, and the pilot is just another one of those.

But some point out that when we first saw him, he was injured and being tended to by the Emergency Medical Hologram, so surely that theory can’t be true. What do you think?

The other theory is that Jurati’s a synth herself but she may not realize it. Thus, this would make her “sense of life” quite tragic. (Others think she’s a double agent, and still other viewers believe she’s just exactly who she appears to be.)

One person on Reddit commented, “You’d think Earth’s leading expert on synthetic life actually would be interested in talking about the philosophical implications of the existential pain of living with the consciousness of death…” That irony in itself has led viewers to think that things may not be as they appear with one or both characters. 

Many viewers are going to be reading Rios’ book in hopes of finding clues.

READ NEXT: How To Watch ‘Star Trek: Picard’ Online on CBS All Access

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