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Literature / Star Trek Discovery Desperate Hours

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Michael's first adventure.
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A tie-in novel for Star Trek: Discovery, taking place a year before the show's first season. It takes place in the series' novel universe.

Lieutenant Michael Burnham, Science Officer aboard the Starship Shenzhou is promoted to Acting First Officer, narrowly edging out her longtime rival, Lieutenant Saru, for the coveted position by Captain Philippa Georgiou's side. Soon after, they receive word that an alien behemoth has risen from the sea of Sirsa III, destroying a mining rig and launching an attack on the capital. Shenzhou is dispatched to render aid and investigate the threat, and soon after is joined by the Starship Enterprise, under the command of Captain Christopher Pike, who has been ordered to destroy the unknown attacker before it can leave Sirsa III, at any cost. Things go from bad to worse when the colonial government, led by Governor Kolova, is discovered to have established the colony under less-than-legal means, and takes up arms against the Starfleet personnel.

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Desperate Hours includes examples of the following tropes:

  • AI Is A Crap Shoot: The Juggernaut's AI has no way of knowing that the empire it was built to serve has long gone extinct, and once Burnham and Spock pass its test, it assumes that the Enterprise and Shenzhou are attacking ships from another world, rather than part of the same group living on the planet.
  • Alone in a Crowd: A running theme throughout the book. Saru and Spock are the only members of their races aboard their respective ships, Burnham doesn't fit in well with her fellow humans due to her Vulcan upbringing, and has similarly been shunned by the Vulcans she hoped to serve with aboard the Starship Intrepid. And of course Captains Georgiou and Pike are both Lonely at the Top aboard their ships.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: The Enterprise is a much newer ship and has a number of advances compared to the Shenzhou. What she lacks, however, is a Captain's Ready Room next to the bridge, meaning that Pike is forced to sprint to his quarters when Admiral Anderson wishes to speak to him privately.
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  • Awesomeness by Analysis: Much of the plot is moved along by Saru's investigation of planetary survey records and Sirsa III's voluminous charter paperwork much of which he discovers was forged, and ancient alien wall carvings discovered on the planet which end up helping them figure out the Juggernaut's origin.
  • Back-to-Back Badasses: At one point, Enterprise and Shenzhou end up stacked on top of each other, trying to provide mutual cover, but this only proves to hinder either ship's ability to maneuver or fire freely, so they split up again.
  • Brick Joke: The dentist who insists on being part of Shenzhou's away team ends up caught up in a hostage crisis, and by the end of the story is revealed to have gone completely berserk on one of his captors, beating the guy senseless.
  • Continuity Nod:
  • Continuity Snarl: With the events of Season 2 of Discovery, a few key plot points of the book fall into discontinuity, namely the fact that Burnham and Spock end up going through basically the same character arc in the second season of the show, two years after the events of this book.
  • Crossover: A team-up between the crews of the Starship Shenzhou and the Starship Enterprise. Highlights include Saru and Number One exploring alien ruins together, and Burnham and Spock exploring the Juggernaut and its trials.
  • Dramatic Irony:
  • Enemy Mine: Georgiou and Pike have very different ideas on how to handle the situation, but quickly rally to help defend each other against the Juggernaut's repeated assaults.
  • Godzilla Threshold: Starfleet Command believes that the Juggernaut's threat is severe enough to invoke General Order 24, which would involve unleashing the full firepower of the starships in orbit to destroy the Juggernaut, effectively wiping out all life on the planet and rendering it unfit to support life.
  • Jurisdiction Friction: Per Starfleet regulations, Captain Georgiou has command of the situation over Sirsa III, owing to the fact that her ship responded first, but Captain Pike arrives with orders from Admiral Anderson that conflict with Georgiou's sensibilities. The two officers end up spending much of the book angling for control of the situation, with Georgiou at one point invoking some blatant Loophole Abuse after Anderson contacts her to give her the same orders he gave Pike which she is able to argue means that she is yet again in command and that Pike has to follow her lead.
  • Know When to Fold 'Em: Governor Kolova orders her people to lay down arms and surrender to Federation custody the very moment the Juggernaut is destroyed.
  • Neglectful Precursors: The Juggernaut was left behind by an extinct empire for over a million years, until a Federation mining rig accidentally disturbed it.
  • "Not So Different" Remark: Spock and Burnham end up working out their differences during their trials aboard the Juggernaut, in particular learning that neither of them had, as far as they could tell, earned the love of their shared father figure, Sarek.
  • Mythology Gag:
  • Obstructive Bureaucrat: No shortage of them on Governor Kolova's staff. When they are first notified of the Juggernaut's attack on the Arcadia Explorer rig, their first instinct is to find a way to blame the rig's destruction on the corporate miners working it (most of whom died in the attack). When the Juggernaut begins attacking the capital, proving it's existence rather directly, their first instinct is to find a way to blame that on the miners instead.
  • Only Smart People May Pass: The Juggernaut proves to be a test, determining if races are smart enough and advanced enough to join a distant (and extinct) empire. Note that if you pass the test, joining is mandatory, and if you fail the test, all life on the planet is wiped out.
  • We ARE Struggling Together: Captain Georgiou, Captain Pike, and Governor Kolova are locked in a three-way power struggle for control of the situation (well, Georgiou and Pike are in a struggle for control, Kolova mostly ends up antagonizing the both of them into focusing on her instead with her antics), while the Juggernaut is equal-opportunity when it comes to attacking everyone else.
    • On a smaller scale, Burnham and Saru do not get along with each other at all, but share a common cause and loyalty to Captain Georgiou.
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