Back in 2017, Star Trek launched it’s first live action series since the finale of Enterprise in 2005. As always there have been tie-in books allowing various authors to explore the universe depicted on big and small screens, as well as the variety of characters inhabiting it. Some to a more successful degree than others.
With the launch of Discovery, and something that I noted in the Picard series of novels, the authors, Paramount, and the publishing company for the novels Simon & Schuster, through their Gallery imprint, have wanted them to be a little closer to canon than some of the early editions back on the Pocket Books imprint (which are still enjoyable, but readers are aware that they are necessarily to be considered as canon).
Still, being the first to dip your foot in the pool has to be tough, especially when creating character stories, that could later be contradicted by on-screen depictions. Happily, David Mack’s first foray into the Discovery universe fares pretty well, with only a few deviations from now established canon, though they can easily be glossed over and resolved.
Set in the year 2255, one year after the U.S.S. Enterprise’s mission to Talos IV (‘The Cage’), and one year before the Discovery episode, Battle At The Binary Stars, the U.S.S. Shenzhou, captained by Philippa Georgiou is assigned to respond to a distress signal; a colony is under attack by an unknown craft.
Aboard the Shenzhou there are new assignments for some of the crew, Lieutenants Michael Burnham and the Kelpien Saru are settling into their new roles of First Officer, and Second Officer, respectively, while still trying to figure out how to work with one another.
The distress call is precipitated by a drilling rig striking an anomaly under the surface of a planet, and rousing an ancient spacecraft which then launches a devastating attack on the colony. As the Shenzhou races to their aid, the legalities of the colony’s claim on the planet are also explored – it seems someone covered up the data depicting the existence of an ancient, now extinct, culture on the planet and they seem to have a connection with this strange craft.
Seeing the lethality of the attacks, Starfleet assigns another ship, the U.S.S. Enterprise, captained by Christopher Pike to join the Shenzhou in stopping the attacking craft, and prevent it from getting off the planet and laying a swath of destruction across the galaxy – even if that means the colony is expendable.
Burnham finds a way to explore the giant craft, joined by one of the Enterprise crew, the one she knows the best, and one she’s not sure she can work with, Lt. Spock.
While the two work together to figure out the craft’s ultimate goals, the Enterprise and Shenzhou captains need to find a way to work together to stop the ship, or will have to carry out their orders and destroy the planet and everything on it.
It’s a fairly fast-moving story, and it’s telling its tale on three fronts, the Burnham/Spock angle, the colony’s, and the Georgiou/Pike front. The continuity errors don’t really affect any of these, as said they are only minor things – Michael doesn’t quite sound like Michael yet (nor does Spock), and some of her behavior seems a little off, though that is touched on a bit by the story’s end, so we can go with the belief that Mack was using that as a character arc, there’s the mistake of calling Saru’s home planet Kelpia rather than Kaminar (though that hadn’t been established yet), and there’s some issue with Pike and Georgiou as we later learn that they were at the Academy together, and while their behavior in this story doesn’t preclude that, that knowledge makes you see things in a bit of a different way.
I found Desperate Hours a very fun read that gives us a look at not only the Shenzou but also the way its crew interacted with one another before we were introduced to them in the episode ‘Vulcan Hello.’
Continuity has proven very important for Star Trek series over the years and everything in this seems to be mindful of this while still telling us a fun tale that lets us see the characters in a different light. Not bad for the first novel in the series, and a long way from stories like Spock Must Die! and The Prometheus Design.
I can’t wait to see where the human adventure takes me next as I continue to boldly go…!
Check out this Discovery novel, and other great Star Trek titles (every live action series has their own line – though having typed that, I would love an official Lower Decks graphic novel, and maybe a series of Prodigy young adult books) available now from Simon & Schuster. Let’s fly!!