Saturday, January 13, 2018

James Review -- Star Trek: Discovery: Desperate Hours

This week I decided to review Star Trek: Discovery: Desperate Hours by David Mack. 

The story begins on the Federation colony world Sirsa III, with a mining operation accidentally awakening an ancient automated ship, which is nicknamed Juggernaut. The Juggernaut swiftly destroys the mining station then launches drones to attack the colony’s capital city. In response, the USS Shenzhou, where Michael Burnham has just been promoted to acting first officer, is sent to aid the colony, but with each drone assault repelled the next attack force becomes stronger.

Soon the USS Enterprise, commanded by Christopher Pike arrives. But he reveals that part of the reason the Enterprise was sent is that Starfleet fears Shenzhou’s Captain Philippa Georgiou will refuse to carry out their orders. The Federation Council and Starfleet Command feel that the Juggernaut is so dangerous that it must be prevented from leaving Sirsa III at all costs, including wiping out the colony and rendering the world uninhabitable. This nearly leads to a battle between the two Starfleet vessels, but Burnham manages to clandestinely contact Enterprise’s science officer Spock, the biological son of the couple that raised her after she was orphaned, and suggests a plan to infiltrate and disable the alien craft from the inside.

Burnham and Spock are sent to attempt to enter the Juggernaut, and once inside, they find themselves facing a variety of tests. Eventually the only feasible way to pass one of the tests involves a mind meld between the pair. However, Burnham has experience with melds that is tied to a great trauma in her life and is hesitant to submit to another meld even as the two Federation starships struggle against the Juggernaut and its drones becomes increasingly desperate.

Meanwhile, evidence is discovered that the corporation that surveyed the planet and the colonial leadership have helped cover up evidence that Sirsa III was once inhabited by an ancient civilization destroyed by the Juggernaut. In response, a team is deployed to arrest the colony’s governor, leading to a firefight between Starfleet security personnel and the colonial security forces. And when some of the colonists discover just how far Starfleet is willing to go to contain the Juggernaut threat, they take the Starfleet medical teams deployed to the planet hostage, leading to another crisis for the crews of the Enterprise and the Shenzhou to face.

I give this book 8 out of 10. It does a good job exploring the characters, those created for the novel, the Discovery TV series, and the original Star Trek TV series alike.  I also enjoyed the combat sequences, and I especially liked how the novel explained part of the Star Trek Discovery series premiere, the only episode of the series I’ve seen so far, that didn’t fit at all with pre-existing Star Trek lore. However, there are two major intertwined issues I have that decrease my score for this book. First I feel that Starfleet Command was willing to destroy Sirsa III far too quickly, and, second, I feel that the Enterprise and Shenzhou were too eager to turn on each other when that order was revealed.

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