One of the four Star Trek: Discovery panels at Star Trek Las Vegas on Wednesday was dedicated to the show’s extended universe in print. On stage were Discovery writer and Trek novelist Kirsten Beyer, IDW Group Editor Sarah Gaydos, Pocket Books editor Ed Schlesinger, comic book writer Mike Johnson, and author David Mack. Together they spoke at length about tighter integration between the show and the novels and comics.
Beyer will be spearheading this integration effort, a first for the Trek franchise, which historically hasn’t really concerned itself with having any kind of cohesion among various media. She believes it will help expand the show’s universe:
We want to be able to take the story opportunities that we’re just frankly not going to have time to cover in the show, and go as deep into those into the various formats as we can. It’s not that you have to read these stories to understand everything, but the story will be incredibly enhanced if you do.
Desperate Hours – a prequel novel to Discovery
The first Discovery spinoff will be David Mack’s novel Desperate Hours, set for release September 26th, two days after the show’s premiere. Mack worked in concert with Beyer and Discovery’s writing staff to make the story cohesive with the show, and revealed who came up with the premise for the book:
They have kept me in the loop throughout the season with all the scripts and the story development. There were a few false starts, but eventually it allowed us to collaboratively create this story, which by the way sprung from a direct request by Bryan Fuller, the co-creator of Star Trek: Discovery – he basically asked that we write a book on this basic premise.
The book is a prequel set a year before Discovery, and one year after the Enterprise visits Talos IV in “The Cage.” Here is the official synopsis:
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.
Mack said that finding a balance between Discovery‘s new sensibility and remaining faithful to Trek’s past is challenging. In that spirit, he indicates that we might see a familiar face or two:
There may also be a situation where, when the crisis on the planet gets out of hand, help needs to be rendered by another Federation starship with which fans may have a passing familiarity.
Dayton Ward writing 2nd Discovery novel
They also announced the second novel will be written by Dayton Ward, who joined the panel. His book will be set 10 years before the events of the show and will be out in early 2018.
First Discovery Comic series tells T’Kuvma story
Discovery will make its four-color debut in early October, when IDW publishes the first part of a 4-issue mini-series about T’Kuvma, written by Kirsten Beyer along with Mike Johnson, with art by Tony Shasheen.
Mike Johnson described the T’Kuvma series saying:
We’re building out the characters in the Klingon world with these comics, and we can’t wait to show you.”
Gaydos also praised the new era of collaboration:
The access we’re getting to the show to create these comics that are integral to fleshing out the backstories of the characters is unheard of, and I do a lot of licensed comics.”
More IDW mini-series to come
And the T’Kuvma series is just the start for Star Trek: Discovery comics. Editor Sarah Gaydos says that instead of doing a single ongoing series for Discovery (like Star Trek: Boldly Go) they are currently planning to handle the show with series of mini-series which will allow them do “targeted stories on some different subjects.” Mike Johnson said they are currently batting around ideas for the next 4-issue mini-series.
Does all of this collaboration mean that the novels and comics are now part of the franchise canon? Yes and no, says Beyer:
Because of the collaborative nature of this process, we’re able to go farther, take bigger risks. The danger is that, in the future, somebody will come upon with an amazing story idea that would incompatible with what we’ve already established and just like always, the series is going to take priority. But the hope is that we can carve out these places that are safe and that we can continue to protect because as much as possible we want this to be one integrated universe…we’re doing what we can to make sure these stories all fit together moving forward.
Kirsten also noted that the stories they do in the books and the comics are briefed back to the writing staff so “the stories we created get integrated into their brains.”
More Star Trek Las Vegas Coverage
And there is more to come all week long.