The first Star Trek: Discovery novel is a godsend if the show left you hungry for more detail. Set one year before the premiere, Desperate Hours features a team-up between the U.S.S. Shenzhou and the Enterprise—a fan-pleasing crossover with the cast of Star Trek’s original 1965 pilot episode. Considering CBS’s secretive attitude, this book contains a surprising amount of new information about the show’s main characters and their backstories.
Written by longtime Star Trek novelist David Mack, Desperate Hours holds equal appeal for new fans and those who miss the rhythms of earlier shows. Focusing on a perilous Starfleet rescue mission to a colony planet, it’s the kind of self-contained story we’re unlikely to see in the serialized framework of Discovery.
Shortly after Michael Burnham’s promotion to First Officer, the Shenzhou receives a distress call about a leviathan attacking a mining colony. This launches them into a kaiju-inspired adventure with some scientific mysteries thrown in, impeded by local politicians sabotaging the investigation. To complicate matters further, Starfleet orders the Enterprise (or as Georgiou delightfully calls it, “the Big E”) to tackle the monster in a different way. That’s where the Original Series callbacks come in, because while this takes place before Kirk’s time on the Enterprise, Spock is already the science officer. And as we know from Discovery, Michael Burnham is (kind of) Spock’s adoptive sister.
Since the adult Spock is unlikely to appear in the show, Desperate Hours provides fascinating insight into their relationship—or lack thereof. Without giving too much away, it seems they were raised separately on Vulcan. Both were shaped by the controlling influence of Spock’s father Sarek, but while Spock rebelled by leaving Vulcan to join Starfleet, Michael still strives for Sarek’s approval. There’s more than a…