Author Michael Chabon Gives Details On His ‘Star Trek: Discovery’ Short “Calypso”

Michael Chabon - Star Trek: DiscoveryMichael Chabon on set for his Star Trek: Short Treks episode "Calypso" (Photo: Instagram/Michael Chabon)

At Comic-Con, it was announced that there are four Star Trek: Discovery mini-episodes in the works, called Short Treks, which will premiere in the fall. TrekMovie revealed in an exclusive interview with executive producers Alex Kurtzman and Heather Kadin that one of them was written by author and Star Trek fan Michael Chabon.

Chabon’s “Calypso” Short Treks episode

Today Chabon, a Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist (who also has a Hugo and Nebula), posted a photo of himself sitting in the captain’s chair on the set of Discovery. In his Instagram post the author reveals his episode is called “Calypso” and was already shot a few weeks ago, directed by Discovery executive producer and director Olatunde Osunsanmi. “Calypso” stars actor Aldis Hodge (Leverage) as Craft, a man who finds himself the only human onboard a deserted ship.

Short Treks coming this fall

“Calypso” starring Aldis Hodge and written by Michael Chabon, will be one of four Short Treks episodes coming to CBS All Access. CBS describes the Short Treks as an “opportunity for deeper storytelling and exploration of key characters and themes which fit into Star Trek: Discovery and the expanding Star Trek universe.”

Actor Aldis Hodge to be featured in the ‘Short Treks’ episode written by Michael Chabon

The writers of the other three mini-episodes have yet to be announced, but a few details on them have emerged so far. One will explore Saru’s backstory as the first Kelpien in Starfleet, another will be about Tilly’s journey aboard the U.S.S. Discovery and her friendship with an unlikely partner, and the last installment will see Rainn Wilson reprise his role as Harry Mudd, in an episode he will also direct.

Each Short Treks episode will be 10-15 minutes in length, with one released each month starting this fall, likely running from September through to December. Executive producer Alex Kurtzman noted that the films are something to tide the fans over until the second season of Discovery premieres in January 2019.

Official logo for Short Treks

Chabon the Trekkie and genre author

Chabon was introduced to Star Trek by his dad, and his fandom is made clear in his Instagram post, where he describes sitting in the captain’s chair as “the most exciting part of all, personally.” He’s also clearly a fan of both TOS and TNG.

He’s a genre fan, too — he previously pitched story ideas for movies for the X-Men and Fantastic Four franchises, and wrote a draft for 2004’s Spider-Man 2. About a third of his script made it into the final film. His novel Wonder Boys was made into a movie starring Michael Douglas and Tobey Maguire and directed by Curtis Hanson in 2000. His Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay takes a deep dive into the early days of the comic book industry, and is a great read for Star Trek fans looking to get familiar with his work. And his New York Times best selling novel The Yiddish Policemen’s Union is another great read for fans of alternative history.

Chabon’s novel The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay


Star Trek: Discovery is available exclusively in the USA on CBS All Access. It airs in Canada on Space and streams on CraveTV. It is available on Netflix everywhere else.

Keep up with all the Star Trek: Discovery news at TrekMovie.

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This is a neat idea, and thrilled to see a sci-fi writer with some street-cred writing this one. Very much looking forward to seeing these…eventually. Will they make me re-subscribe to CBSAA any sooner than 2019? Nope.

I’m with you, Danpaine. Nice idea. But it’s not going to get me to subscribe before S2 starts. Although I’m sure it will lure some back early…


I don’t get it, personally. Michael Chabon’s virtues as a writer–not as an SF or genre writer, but just writer–have been celebrated to a greater extent than anyone who has ever worked for this franchise, with the possible exception of Harlan Ellison (and that’s in the context of Ellison’s total career). He’s at least as talented as the entire regular DSC writing staff put together (no especial insult to them; Chabon is just that good). Yet you’re willing to pay the CBSAA premium to see their stuff–even though you’ve made no secret of your own unhappiness with the show–and not his. What sense does that make?

Yes, very hypocritical indeed.

But the usual suspects paying $30 a month for high-speed internet so that they can spend 2 hours per day mocking all things new in Trek…NO PROBLEMO…sign them up! LOL ;-)

I agree with the above statement. I got CBSAA and watch a lot of the other stuff too, but with out subscriptions, they won’t have money to make the show or reason to and the monthly only costs about what a coffee does. I can’t understand this turning it on and off stuff. Its like $7/month.

@Chris — actually that’s not true. Netflix and Space basically pays all the costs at the moment. Essentially CBSAA is leveraging Trek, not only with the fans, but with other streaming services to help finance their development of their own streaming service. The very nature of the streaming services is the ability to easily turn them off and on, based on whether they meet a viewers needs. That’s the very basis of competition.

CBS has plenty of resources to underwrite the production of Trek. The idea that CBS needs my charity to support their efforts is a bit comical. They exist to entertain me, so let them build it and I will watch, or not if I don’t like it. Some fans hate DISC, so why should they support it at all, much less when it’s not even airing new episodes?

DISC will be off the air for about 9 months, or $63 worth of viewing for the commercial free version. In the absence of anything else I want to watch on CBSAA, that’s money that could better be spent on movie rentals, or even a nice dinner out for two.

When I do sign up again, I’ll be signing up through Amazon, as the audio and video quality is better than CBSAA, unless they really step up their game over the next few months.

So it comes across with better quality through Amazon, Cadet? Interesting. I may try that as well. Amazon Prime, another service well worth the $$ for the programming, imo.

I heard that too. But the thing is, you need to pay for Amazon Prime to get it. A service I checked out and decided was not worth it.

True, ML. It’s about $100 a year, which includes free shipping on anything you order from Amazon. To each his own of course, but the service has some great original programming – Man In The High Castle, Goliath, Sneaky Pete and Electric Dreams to name a few, and more movies and older tv shows than you can count, practically. My wife and I love it.

That’s the thing. With services out there (Netflix, Amazon, Hulu) all costing about the same as CBSAA but offering leagues more *quality* content, to pay for CBSAA for anything but the least amount of time as possible is a no-brainer, for me. I’ll see Discovery season 2 and the shorts, probably in the span of a month, then cancel again. Simple. $10 spent.

I’m not a fan of multiple streaming services because they do start to add up. I know Amazon includes free shipping but I just don’t order enough from Amazon to make that come out in my favor. There are some things I would like to see on Amazon but I am just not enough of a fan to pay the fee. The Handmaid’s Tale finally made its way to Netflix so I’m getting that. I’m hoping some of the Amazon stuff will find its way there too. Maybe.

Handmaid’s Tale didn’t make Netflix here in the States, and probably won’t. Good for you. It’s an excellent show.

I’m in the States and I have it in my cue.

@Michael Hall,

It’s not that hard really. Where’s the logic in paying a monthly subscription starting in September 2018 just to watch a 10-15 minutes webisode months before the season two premiere in January 2019. S/he could simply wait for the January premiere and watches the four webisodes in the same day.

Yes, I get that. But if you take Trek seriously–and we all probably take it way too seriously–the participation of a writer of Chabon’s stature is literally without precedent in the history of the franchise. So rather than pony-up the $5.99 to CBS he’ll wait months for the opportunity to view and comment on the episode, and will most likely get spoiled in the meantime as doubtless even mainstream media outlets will be covering it.

No judgments, certainly; it’s his money and his choice. But no, I don’t understand it at all.

…because it’s still a 15 minute short, which is hardly an earth-moving franchise moment, whatever the merits of the writer. I’ve no problem with the subscription model in general, and I’ve said so many times, but it’s economically rational to wait until January — which is what I too am planning to do.

There IS more than one episode, Ahmed. But you can probably see them later if you subscribe to CBSAA to get the new season of Disco.


“There IS more than one episode,”

I know. CBS AA is planning on releasing the four webisodes over the course of four months!

It would make more sense to release them weekly, rather than monthly, in December prior to the January premiere in January.

Simply put, it makes Economic sense. I’ll watch the shorts during the same time period I watch the season, then cancel the service again. Personally, I’m hoping for much better things in Season 2. Offer me full-length, quality Trek all year, I’ll pay for it all year. Creative as these shorts will likely be, this is still just a ploy to get people to subscribe longer. I shouldn’t even need to point that out.

I agree Danpaine and I said the day this was announced this is what a lot of people will do and either A. Just wait until the show is back and watch them all then or B. Wait until all four have aired at least. But since it sounds like DIS will premiere in January then most will do A.

I love the idea but I don’t think most people want to pay another $24 to watch a total of 40-60 minutes of new content. That’s REALLY bare. I mean some might but my guess is most won’t. And I’m a defender of AA. Hell I still have it now and I haven’t watched it in months. So I’ll be watching in September lol. But for others who have cancelled I don’t think this will convince many to re-sign but my guess is CBS knows that, they are just doing SOMETHING to get people a reason to do it.

But I think this proves CBS wants new Trek up ASAP and I have a feeling we will get another show next year as well. Probably in the summer or fall but CBS realize people are probably dropping their subscription like stones and the other news shows aren’t making a dent (has ANYONE checked out any of the other new shows yet). So hopefully we’ll get a brand new show a year from now and its NOT Khan.

Agreed, Tiger. If one of the new shows they’re going to offer has to do with Khan, I’m not interested. As the Darth Vader of Star Trek, his story has been told. Has the new Twilight Zone started yet? Again, interesting, but not enough to get me to sign up again.

The new Twilight Zone is something to get me interested. But it’s not going to get me to subscribe any longer than I will for Trek already. I’ll just check out TZ when I have the service for Trek, then kill the service again. It’s really quite simple. Also, if the quality of the new TZ is not good, I will stop sampling it anyway. That said, when CBS revived the Zone in the 80’s I though many of the episodes were quite good. The syndicated version that followed and the WB version after that… Not so much.

You don’t need to point that out. CBS’s obvious motives don’t interest me; the potential for quality and the unique advent in Trek history of Chabon’s participation does. I often spend more than $5.99 on lunch, so why would I wait to see Trek that has the potential to be something truly special, other than to spite CBS? And if you’re truly going to be strictly concerned about the economics only, why not just wait until mid-2019 and binge watch the whole season at once?

Again, I’m not trying to be critical. It’s your money, of course. I just don’t understand it, that’s all.

Oh I agree this isn’t an argument, Michael Hall. And it’s also not a money thing, by the way. It’s a content and quality issue. For instance, I pay $15 a month for HBO Now all year long because HBO has content I enjoy literally all year long. I’m about to drop Showtime for lack of same. Netflix, worth $11 a month all year, definitely. CBSAA has one show I kind-of (?) liked with Discovery. Nothing else. So I’ll wait until January and binge season 2 of Discovery for $10 commercial-free – can’t wait any longer because I’m a Trek Nerd and proud of it – and watch the shorts, and go from there. CBSAA isn’t worth a monthly fee to me right now whatsoever. Not even close. It’s not a matter of ‘showing them’ or any foolish vindictive thing like that, it’s just a matter of quality. Maybe season 2 will blow me away and I’ll sign up for good and rewatch it over and over. I do hope that is the case.

Geez, Goodwill gets his stuff in all the time but I’ve never even opened one of his books. He’s THAT good, huh? Okay, I’ll take it as stated, and just imagine we’re all talking about Trevanian (who was the author I kept up there with Ellison) and give his stuff a shot between now and then.

Well, he’s THAT good IMO, in the opinion of the Pulitzer committee, and that of his many loyal readers (including one Harlan Ellison, who thought very highly of his work). YMMV, of course, you being something of a contrary, ornery sort. :-)

Yeah never of him either before. The shorts sounds interesting. I just don’t think people will pay monthly when they can wait until the show start and watch them then.

It would make more sense to air them weekly but we obviously know why they aren’t.

Not to speak for Danpaine but I suspect it is the mere fact that these are shorts and the other is a full fledged season. One he intends to get regardless of the quality of Trek when S2 begins. The shorts can easily be seen then. No need to jump in early just for that. I think that would be pretty obvious.

Yeah it is a neat idea. There is so much they could do with the short films in the Trek universe. I’d like to see a short about how the Romulans left Vulcan during the time of Surak, or about Zephram Cochrane dealing with Vulcans for the first time, or a young Worf’s first day at Starfleet Academy, or so much more!

Too on-the-nose for my tastes, with all respect. The STAR WARS franchise has fallen into the trap of filling-in-the-blanks, and judging by the reaction to SOLO it hasn’t done them any good. What excites me about “Calypso” is the prospect of a celebrated author using the Trek universe to tell his own story, rather than rounding-off the details of someone else’s. No guarantees how it’ll turn out, but that’s potentially the best and most satisfying kind of Trek there is, IMO.

Exactly. I really couldn’t care less about Worf’s first day at Starfleet academy, and the glimpse we saw of Cochrane doing tequila shots with the Vulcan captain-cum-anthropologist was all we needed. The Sundering? Maybe. But it deserves a full episode, not a ten minute gimmick.

You guys are right, I just thought of those right at the moment, I did not think it through. But yeah, using new characters in a short adventure within the Star Trek world is very cool. And you’re right about too on-the-nose, which is like the Star Wars Story stuff. But as I think about the Vulcan stuff, that could be a cool mini-series.

Except the shorts are not original characters. They are linked to Discovery. Let’s fact it… Would anyone be surprised if they turn out to be little more than glofified commercials for S2 of STD?


The short this article is about is specifically a new character, played by Aldis Hodge, who has never before appeared in any Trek.

My bad. There was that one original character. Forgot about that.

My guess is that a Pulitzer-winner wouldn’t have too much reason to be tempted to write glorified commercials for Discovery. Now you’re just spinning.

My guess is that this particular Pulitzer-winner is a fan of Trek and liked the idea of writing something for them. My guess is also it’s possible that a Pulitzer-winner still has to eat.

Also, he’s not the only one writing a short. And, be honest, how many webisodes for anything functioned as little more than a commercial for SOMETHING? This is not spinning. It’s based on what has come before. Is it possible this time they don’t follow that formula? Sure. But the odds favor not.

You all will show em…LOL

Give me a break. :-)

On the subject of short episodes, Doctor Who has been doing it for decades. Some as short as 6 minutes.

Extremely excited for this!

The “I’d like to see a big budget version of Star Trek Continues” crowd should be very happy with this one, as should those of us who love the new DSC take on Star Trek.

In the words of Kenny Loggins, “this is it.” (For fans of ALTERNATE TIMELINES, there is Chabon’s The Yiddish Policemen’s Union.)

A great SF novel indeed, Mr. Galt.

Also very happy to read that the shorts should premiere beginning in September!!!

How freaking AWESOME is this?! Enough to make me forget my internet manners and type in all-caps, just like the 45th President. Enough to make me put aside my very real disappointment with Discovery‘s first season (especially that cold turd of a finale). That’s how awesome.

Forget 2019. December 2018 can’t come soon enough.

They are releasing in earlier than that, first one is in September.

Thanks for the correction. That’s my birth month. If it turns out well, best present ever!

Yes! Alec Hardison in Star Trek! Thats Hodge’s character in Leverage for those who don’t know.

It is too bad they didn’t get Wheaton for this too. Him and Hodge have a great rapport.

I’d love to see some iteration of “Mind Sifter” done at some point…

This is AWESOME!! I’m fangirling! Michael CHABON!!

I’ve read The Yiddish Policemen’s Union and Kavalier and Clay and have not forgotten either book, which means they made a huge impression on me.

I look forward to Star Trek “shorts”!


I knew I loved you for a reason. :-)

There’s no denying the quality of the writer, but he’s still got to work within a 15-minute short format; I don’t see that as conducive to doing any *really* probing stories. We’ll see. It’s certainly not enough to get me to cough up for a CBS All Access subscription before January.

I suggest you look up Rod Roddenberry’s short film “Instant” to learn how wrong you are.

Some of my favorite films have been shorts, particularly in the animated category. One of the things I really appreciated about the ’80s Twilight Zone revival was its accommodation of stories of varying odd lengths, which resulted in some memorable films that were exactly as long as they needed to be, and no longer. (William Friedkin’s adaptation of the Robert McCammon short story “Nightcrawlers,” for example, was simply one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen on television.)

Here’s hoping that Chabon’s eager, unsolicited offer to write a segment indicates that he had the perfect short story in mind for Trek.

I posted the similar idea of a short series using existing sets to explore the back stories of the secondary bridge crew. It would make so much sense to learn more about Detmer, Rhys, and the others through a series that allowed them to demonstrate what life on a starship for junior officers. Similar to “Lower Decks” on TNG. Could add a lot of color to the series.

He wrote John Carter. That was also science fiction and the biggest flop in Walt Disney studio history.

As the Academy award-winning screenwriter William Goldman would be the first to tell you, anyone can write a flop, no matter their record of success or how gifted they are. It’s all a crapshoot, talent notwithstanding, especially when the writer involved is best-known for his work in another medium. Harlan Ellison, who in addition to some novels and short stories had already written some really acclaimed television which you’re no doubt familiar with, also wound up writing THE OSCAR, by his own admission one of the worst and most pretentious films about Hollywood ever made.

That said, I take your point. There are no guarantees. But I’m still really stoked to see “Calypso” nevertheless.

Reminds me of Akiva Goldsman, he wrote A Beautiful Mind but before that batman and robin.

I’d prefer it if these were standalone episodes as part of the official season. Not too big fan of short episode formats. I mean if they really wanted to get more people or make CBS All Access more attractive to subscribing, they could have made these full length episodes and have the season start a little earlier.

I just love this idea!

Doctor Who uses minisodes to great effect. “The Night of the Doctor” filled in a HUGE piece of missing continuity…it dropped literally out of the sky, and is now a sweet piece of NuWho lore….there is something to be said in favor of protecting stories from being told before they arrive.