STAR TREK DISCOVERY: DESPERATE HOURS
Star Trek: Discovery #1 – Prequel
By David Mack
Read by: Susan Eisenberg
Simon & Schuster Audio
September 26, 2017
I voluntarily reviewed an advance readers copy of this book. No remuneration was exchanged and all opinions presented herein are my own except as noted.
An all-original novel based upon the explosive new series on CBS All Access
Aboard the Starship Shenzhou, Lieutenant Michael Burnham, a human woman raised and educated among Vulcans, is promoted to acting first officer. But if she wants to keep the job, she must prove to Captain Philippa Georgiou that she deserves to have it.
She gets her chance when the Shenzhou must protect a Federation colony that is under attack by an ancient alien vessel that has surfaced from the deepest fathoms of the planet’s dark, uncharted sea.
As the menace from this mysterious vessel grows stronger, Starfleet declares the colony expendable in the name of halting the threat. To save thousands of innocent lives, Burnham must infiltrate the alien ship. But to do so, she needs to face the truth of her troubled past, and seek the aid of a man she has tried to avoid her entire life—until now.
It’s probably been forty years since I read a Star Trek novel, although I read the original “Making of Star Trek” books and probably one or two of the novels when I was a teen and considered myself a Trekkie.
When this came across my screen almost immediately after I started a subscription to CBS ALL ACCESS so I would be able to watch the show, I thought, “Hell, Yes!”
This is a new Star Trek environment. I am not sure which Star Trek reality we’re in, but, let’s assume it is the one we first new from the original series and through Star Trek: ENTERPRISE. Indeed, the reality factor became an issue with the first Chris Pine as Kirk film which seemed to either decide against continuity altogether or to have jumped into the field of alternate realities. According to an article in THE VERGE (https://www.theverge.com/2017/10/25/16535404/star-trek-discovery-canon-continuity-spock-michael-burnham-technology-klingons) this continuity issue is a problem with each new iteration of STAR TREK.
But, this story is not quite up to the new series. Michael Burnham is Pre-Discovery-Crisis here, so what we get is both an intriguing story with lots of twisty events and backstory to Burnham’s character in the TV series. It also features a pre-paralyzing injury Capt. Christopher Pike, Kirk’s predecessor in the original show (where he ends up a thinking vegetable) and pre-paralyzing/Dying Chris Pike in INTO DARKNESS.
The way Pike and Georgiou (Captain of the Shenzhou) function and dysfunction is perplexing here and points at a political issues within the Federation that we don’t really see until near the end of the TV show, STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION. These problems don’t seem in evidence in the original program.
The reality of what the captains of these two ships are ordered to do; and which they struggle to overcome is absolutely not the STAR TREK I grew up with or at all. The closest horror of it I can imagine was the fate of Khan and his fellow “Supermen” in the newer STAR TREK movie INTO DARKNESS. So, that was disturbing.
But, I don;t want to reveal too much – especially if you haven’t watched the show.
And, incidentally, watching the new show and then reading this book, shows how elastic the human mind can be. So, with that elasticity we can enjoy all the many versions of Star Trek: The Franchise without going mad!
The narration in the book is good, and happily it did not feature sound effects. The way characters are voiced did not overly emphasize the diversity of the species on board the ship. I did not find too much light shed upon the relationship between the captain and Lt. Michael Burnham; but I did think the treatment of the second officer character Lt. Saru by all and sundry was bullying.
There’s nothing in the book to presage the show and the narration is good. I listened to the book twice and didn;t find any glaring inconsistencies. The story is compelling with edge of the seat on at least two levels at all times. We get to see Burnham and Spock work together. After all they are nearly family.
One thing unanswered in bot the show and this book: Burnham was raised by Spock’s parents after her parents are killed in a surprise Klingon raid. But, why are Sarek and Amanda her foster parents? It does allow this connection to the TV/Movie franchise and gives us a reason to possibly see Spock in the series?
To put it in Spockian terms, “It’s fascinating.”