With the premiere of an all-new Star Trek television series this week comes its first tie-in novel, Star Trek: Discovery: Desperate Hours, which is set one year before the events of the new show. The book introduces us to Lieutenant Michael Burnham, a human woman who was raised on Vulcan, just as she’s elevated to Acting First Officer of the Starship Shenzhou, serving under Captain Philippa Georgiou.
With orders from Starfleet Command, the U.S.S. Shenzhou is en route to help Sirsa III, where a drilling operation has inadvertently awoken an ancient alien leviathan hidden deep within the planet’s seas that has attacked the Federation colony from below. To assist, the U.S.S. Enterprise, commanded by Captain Christopher Pike with Lt. Spock as Second Officer, is also on the way to the planet, where they learn that the regional government has not exactly been on the up and up with the Federation. There’s little time before the ancient vessel destroys the planet and then moves on to conquering other worlds, so the crews of both starships must work together quickly to learn enough about their new enemy to eliminate its deadly threat.
In Star Trek: Discovery: Desperate Hours, author David Mack perfectly unites the earliest of characters from the original series with the franchise’s newest addition. Along with getting a tale set in Spock’s earlier Starfleet days under Pike, which we saw in the original series episode “The Cage,” we also see the half-human/half-Vulcan officer team up with Burnham, who is essentially his foster-sister. The book establishes what their relationship was growing up, and how that affects how they interact now. Both were raised on Vulcan in that planet’s culture by Spock’s parents “” the Vulcan Ambassador Sarek and human Amanda “” but they clearly had very different childhood experiences. Their storyline by far was the most interesting and compelling in Desperate Hours.
It was also a treat to see the return of the Enterprise commanded by Pike along with Number One (referred to here as Commander Uno), the latter of whom has an adventure of her own with the Shenzhou’s Second Officer, Saru. Lt. Saru is a Kelpien, a new species created for the Discovery television series, so this story really delves into his experiences and what makes him unique as a Starfleet officer, as well as his rivalry with Burnham.
At over 360 pages, the book dragged on in a few areas, mainly when it focused on the officials and drillers of Sirsa III, but that possibly couldn’t be helped, considering they were very unlikable characters and they had to share a story not only with capable new Starfleet officers, but the beloved Pike crew. Thankfully, the oftentimes contentious coordinating mission between the Shenzhou and the Enterprise and the new, extremely hostile enemy they faced kept the story moving. But, as I mentioned, even with everything going on in this book, Spock and Burnham’s mission and interactions stole the show every time — these were the absolute page-turners.
With its throwback to Pike’s Enterprise era, Star Trek: Discovery: Desperate Hours makes a great standalone novel, but it’s the introduction to Burnham and the revealing of her past that makes this an even better tie-in prequel to a new series that’s sure to have fans eager to learn more about these new characters and their continuing adventures.
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.