Tuesday 26 September 2017

Discovery: Desperate Hours author insights and excerpt

The release of the first Discovery novel, David Mack's Desperate Hours is imminent, and two interviews have been released to coincide with the publication. Continue below for some of the highlights, plus excerpts from the book:

Speaking to StarTrek.com Mack gave an overview of the book - which is set a year before the TV series starts - and in particular Saru's relationships with Burnham and Captain Georgiou:
It uses personnel from the Shenzhou specifically and it focuses on how Michael Burnham and her peers got to be where we find them at the beginning of Discovery. We see the moment she goes from being the senior tactical officer of the ship to its acting first officer. She's being tried out for the job. At that time, it's between her and Saru. We also get to see some of the rivalry between her and Saru, and we see some of Saru's resentment in that he had seniority over her when she first came aboard. He went to Starfleet Academy, and she didn't. He’s done his time coming up through the ranks more than she has. But she has an exceptional range of abilities. She is simply an exceptional person. She is the protégé of the captain, and because Georgiou has taken Burnham under her wing, Burnham advances more quickly through the ranks than an ordinary officer would, perhaps to her detriment, but we don't necessarily realize that at the time. We get to see Saru's resentment, as he sees someone who he thinks has not paid her dues, first, catch up to him as a peer, and then in the beginning of book one, surpass him and become his superior. We see his rage at being passed over, his heartbreak at being passed over, because what he desperately wants is to have that protégé/mentor relationship with Georgiou. He loves Georgiou. He worships Georgiou, and to see this opportunity go to Burnham, it's humiliating for him because he has seniority over her, he's done more time. 
The aesthetics of The Cage are still part of the Discovery-world
The book is also set feature the USS Enterprise, under Captain Pike in this time period of course, and where Burnham sort-of-brother Spock serves - This adventure taking place about a year after The Cage. Mack talked to Unbound Worlds about how he tackled the mixed aesthetics of the two pilot episodes made fifty years apart:
That created one of the challenges I faced when writing Desperate Hours: how do I reconcile the visual aesthetics and modern visual effects of Star Trek: Discovery with those of a television pilot produced in 1964?

I needed to be true in my descriptions of the ships, uniforms, and equipment to what is shown on-screen in Discovery, but I also wanted to honor the legacy of the series’ original pilot. I did my best to accomplish that by providing subtle explanations for the differences in the two crews’ uniforms, and by alluding to the reverence and awe the crew of the Shenzhou has for the new jewel in the crown of Starfleet, the Constitution-class Starship Enterprise — but without ever actually providing hard numbers or making an apples-to-apples comparison of the two ships.
Mack also spoke to both sites at length about how he approached the characters of Burnham and Saru. But he also told his own story, including how both he and Kirsten Beyer got involved in Discovery in the first place. Telling StarTrek.com:
Back in December of 2014, Kirsten Beyer, David R. George and I, we knew that K/O Paper Products had the license to produce Star Trek on television. We arranged to pitch to them our idea for a Trek TV series, not because we thought they’d buy our series, but because we wanted to prove to them that we were serious longform story thinkers and people who were very knowledgeable about Star Trek and could be of use to them. The meeting went extremely well, but, in the end, it turned out there was only job to be had and three of us. Kirsten, because of her proximity being in L.A. and previous professional relationships she had with some folks who were involved in the show, was the most logical choice. She was the one they knew the best. They were most comfortable with her. She had the qualifications. Kirsten got on staff and, after I sort of got over the disappointment of not being able to join her for the most amazing ride of our lives, I said, “You know what, I'm still committed to being a team player. I still want to be a part of this. I want to contribute any way I can help. Any way that my expertise can filter through you into the room and help make Discovery the best it can be, I want to do anything I can to be helpful.”
That helpfulness landed him with the role writing the first tie-in novel, and he explained to Unbound Worlds just how connected to the production he has been, for better and at times maybe worse:
I’ve had the privilege of being “in the loop” on Star Trek: Discovery since day one. In the early days I saw concept art and production sketches, and my friend Kirsten Beyer, who served as a staff writer on the show during its first season, kept me informed of developments concerning the series’ overall story, the backgrounds and story arcs of key characters, and similar details.

However, because of the very fluid nature of the television development process, I was not able to start drafting a story for Desperate Hours until the show was farther along. Even then, we had a few false starts as some of the show’s underlying premises evolved in the writers’ room, changes that necessitated I scrap some plans for my book and go back to the drawing board.
Having to deal with writing a series that was still being developed, Mack did some of his own development work, a process that ended up being two-way:
I did that by drafting detailed bios of all the supporting characters, giving them backstories, hobbies, quirks, etc. As a fun side note, some of those character names got picked up by the show, and my bios were given to the actors to help them round out their performances. So I feel like I got to give something back to the show.
Mack talks extensively about his work on the novel to both StarTrek.com and Unbound Worlds; so both interviews are worth checking out in full. Meanwhile, you can read an excerpt from the novel right here:

Desperate Hours, the first novel, and indeed first tie-in fiction of any sort from Discovery, is out right about now, in paperback, ebook, and audiobook; the latter read by Susan Eisenberg. Here's the cover for the audio edition. UPDATE: And an audio excerpt too:

And also the German language edition (translated by Helga Parmiter) from Cross Cult, Gegen die Zeit; which is getting a very prompt release just next week!

This initial novel will be followed by the launch of the first Discovery comics next month, giving us the backstory of the Klingon leader T'Kuvma. Then next year a second novel will take us back even further before the series, with Dayton Ward's book set a decade before the first episode.

1 comment:

Fox said...

Wow that is an ugly cover.

I typically enjoy Mack's Trek novels (Beyer's, too) but at this point I really can't imagine Michael ever being portrayed as a sympathetic characters. She's just too crazy in Discovery.

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