The author Carmen Maria Machado grew up watching “Star Trek: The Next Generation” with her parents, and the show has always felt like a familiar comfort food for her. “When I watch it, I feel like I’m a kid,” Machado says. “It feels like some older time and some like more optimistic time.”
So the show was a natural choice to play in the background while she was writing her new book, “In the Dream House.” But when the episode “Chain of Command: Part II” came on, what was supposed to be comforting white noise suddenly captured Machado’s attention, and she couldn’t turn away.
In that episode, the heroic Captain Jean-Luc Picard is captured by enemy aliens and subjected to physical and psychological torture. The Cardassian interrogator, Gul Madred, is ostensibly trying to get information from Picard about top secret military plans, but really it’s a sadistic game of control. And that resonated strongly with the book she was working on: “'In the Dream House” is a memoir about abuse, based on her experiences in an abusive relationship several years ago. “I kept thinking, ‘This feels so on the nose,’” Machado recalls. “As I'm working on this memoir, this episode just happens to be in the queue.”