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Star Trek: Discovery: Desperate Hours by…
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Star Trek: Discovery: Desperate Hours

by David Mack, Susan Eisenberg (Narrator)

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343462,292 (4)2
Member:tottman
Title:Star Trek: Discovery: Desperate Hours
Authors:David Mack
Other authors:Susan Eisenberg (Narrator)
Info:Simon and Schuster Audio
Collections:Your library, ARC, Sci Fi, Audio
Rating:****
Tags:discovery star trek

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Desperate Hours by David Mack

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The novelization of the newest entry in the Star Trek universe gets off to a great start with Star Trek: Discovery: Desperate Hours by David Mack. Desperate Hours follows Lieutenant Michael Burnham aboard the Starship Shenzhou. The Shenzhou is called to a federation colony that is under attack from an ancient alien spaceship that has risen from the planet’s ocean. As the threat from the alien ship increases, Starfleet declares the colony expendable in the name of ending the threat and sends Enterprise to the planet to reinforce its decision. If the alien ship is going to be stopped and the colonist saved, Burnham is going to have to find a way onto the ship, and confront some inner demons along the way.

Mack does a great job of fleshing out the backstory of some of the principle characters from Star Trek Discovery, while at the same time honoring characters from the original series that we already know, especially Spock and Captain Pike. The portrayal of Spock is particularly tricky and David Mack pulls it off brilliantly. There is perhaps no more familiar character than Spock, yet here, it is a much younger Spock before he has even met James Kirk or gained much of the wisdom for which he is known. Mack manages to paint a character that is both familiar, and yet unfamiliar in his knowledge, confidence and sense of self.

Mack also adds a lot of depth to Michael Burnham, through whom the bulk of the story is told. We get to see a glimpse of what it was like to be raised as a human on Vulcan and how that has made her feel like an alien among her own people. Burnham has been provisionally promoted to first officer, but she has to convince both herself and her captain that she is capable of it. Part of that is managing her difficult relationship with Science Officer Saru, who we get to know a little better here as well.

The plot is twisty, with duplicitous colonial leadership, shady corporations, and trying to fathom the motives of an ancient alien civilization. The ticking clock aspect of the threat posed by the alien ship, as well as the strong personalities of two Starship captains keeps the tension steady as Burnham and crew members from both the Shenzhou and the Enterprise work to avert disaster. It’s worth mentioning that Captain Philippa Georgiou comes across as an exceptionally strong character on the page, much like she does on screen. I would love to see more of her.

Susan Eisenberg narrates the audio version of the book and does an outstanding job. Her character voices are distinct and she does a good job of conveying the mood and the pace. Vulcan characters with their emotions kept under wraps can be difficult to portray, but Eisenberg manages to convey both their restraint and the turmoil and conflict in their innermost thoughts.

This is a great entry in the Star Trek universe. Mack has written an exciting story with both an interesting plot and wonderful character development. Eisenberg helps bring it to life with excellent narration that complements the story. Highly recommended.

I was fortunate to receive a copy of this audiobook from the publisher. ( )
  tottman | Nov 18, 2017 |
The first Discovery tie-in novel is a prequel, set one year prior to the events of the Discovery pilot, "The Vulcan Hello." It has a neat concept courtesy of series co-creator Bryan Fuller, one which will probably never be done on screen: the Shenzhou meeting the Enterprise under the command of Captain Pike, which means that Michael Burnham meets her foster brother, a young Lieutenant Spock.

The plot is honestly pretty perfunctory: a mysterious alien ship threatens a Federation colony, so the Shenzhou and the Enterprise are sent to stop it. Captain Pike is ready to follow orders to destroy the ship with minimal investigation, while Georgiou favors a more scientific and diplomatic approach. It's in its characterization of Pike where the book falters the most: I never felt like I was reading about the thoughtful man played on screen by either Jeffrey Hunter or Bruce Greenwood. Pike here is too violent and too by-the-book.

Better was the characterization of Burnham and Spock. A young Spock is tricky-- there are points where he's more Data-esque-- but I liked these two characters together: mirrors of one another, both human-Vulcan outcasts in their way. I didn't always exactly get where Burnham was coming from, but that's consistent with her characterization on the television program (I finished the book after watching episode four), where she's very rash but says she's logical and focused, and where her attitude towards ends and means fluctuates. Burnham and Spock solving puzzles together on an alien ship was okay, but the part near the end of the novel where each has to confront what it means to live as the other, was excellent, some really sharp character-based writing from David Mack. Alas that we will never get to see Sonequa Martin-Green and Zachary Quinto do this on screen.

The best part of the book is Saru. On screen he's probably my favorite character. I didn't like the implausibly unprofessional bickering he and Burnham participate in, but that's an accurate reflection of the television series, unfortunately. (I feel like you could write a rivalry that wasn't so immature-- its brazenness reflects poorly on both captain characters for not quashing it.) What Desperate Hours lets us do that Discovery itself has not yet done is let us see those parts of Saru that have nothing to do with Burnham; since the show is mostly told from her perspective, so far we've only seen Saru interacting with her. Here, we get Saru running his science lab on the Shenzhou, Saru contributing ideas that help save the day, Saru interacting with the Enterprise's Number One (who he kind of falls for, as she's the first human he's met who doesn't act like a predator), and Saru ruminating on his past (he was rescued from his planet, where his people lived in caves, by a Starfleet crew). I really liked the way the book handled Saru.

Number One was characterized well, though I was mildly grumpy that Mack calls her "Una"; however, I understand that originates from a Greg Cox novel. I know it's hard to work with an anonymous character like this in prose, but it just seems wrong, like translating Chewbacca's dialogue directly in print. I was a little sad to get almost none of the other Pike's Enterprise crew: Boyce has one scene, and Tyler, Garison, and Pitcairn make tiny contributions, but there's no Colt (who's my favorite), and the only "expanded universe" Pike crewmember I noticed was Caitlin Barry from the 1980s/90s novels by D. C. Fontana and Peter David. Give me some Mohindas or Burnstein or Dabisch or Nano or Moves-with-Burning-Grace or Carlotti! You shouldn't really take this complaint seriously, though, because ultimately this isn't a Pike's Enterprise novel, it's a Discovery (Shenzhou) one, and the focus is in the right place. I just really like Pike's crew.

I do wish we'd seen more of the various Shenzhou crew, though. Mack wrote biographies for them all, and named many of them (including Kayla Detmer, the only one to make the transition to the Discovery other than Burnham and Saru), but there's not much in the book to make you care about them: I want previous adventures for Danby Connor that make me even more sad when he bites it at the Battle of the Binary Stars!

Anyway, on the whole this was an enjoyable book. I like the way CBS and Simon & Schuster seem to be handling the Discovery novels: rather than so-so outings slotted in between television episodes like how Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, Voyager, and Enterprise all started out in prose, they're being used to flesh out the universe of the new show and connect it to the world of the old ones.
  Stevil2001 | Oct 20, 2017 |
David Mack's Star Trek: Discovery: Desperate Hours takes place one year before the Star Trek: Discovery pilot episode and one year after the U.S.S. Enterprise visited Talos IV. The story begins with Captain Phillipa Georgiou offering a conditional promotion to Lieutenant Michael Burnham as first officer. This places Burnham in conflict with Kelpien science officer Lieutenant Saru, who was the more seasoned officer and only receives a promotion to second officer. Georgiou, Burnham, and Saru must take the Shenzhou to Sirsa III where a mysterious craft, dubbed the Juggernaut, is attacking the colonists. When it becomes clear that the Juggernaut may pose a threat to the Federation should it leave the planet, Starfleet sends Captain Christopher Pike and the Enterprise to destroy it, with the colony as collateral damage. The story focuses on the conflict between the two ships and their crew, with both trying to do what they think is best for the galaxy.
Along the way, Mack includes interesting character studies through combined boarding parties, such as Una from the Enterprise and Saru, but particularly through Burnham and Spock. After the death of her parents, Spock's father Sarek raised Burnham on Vulcan, where she attended the Vulcan Science Academy. In this way, she is like a distorted reflection of Spock, who was estranged from his father while struggling to balance his human and Vulcan ancestry, eventually leaving Vulcan to attend Starfleet Academy. Their interaction drives the story and, as this focuses on a younger Spock, Mack has the ability to present a character still developing into the more familiar iteration of the character. Fans and newcomers alike will enjoy this part of the narrative.
Mack includes some fun references, such as Pike invoking the "Great Bird of the Galaxy" (pg. 227). Like the new series, the Starfleet character speak more in the vernacular, with one of Georgiou's bridge crew warning of "some serious shit" (pg. 231), which may be a Back to the Future reference. As Bryan Fuller, co-creator of the new series, specifically requested Mack write this story featuring the new ship and the most iconic Star Trek ship, it can be considered more canonical than other Trek novels and a good introduction to the new series for fans and newcomers alike. ( )
  DarthDeverell | Oct 11, 2017 |
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"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."--Page 4 of cover.… (more)

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