Star Trek: Star Trek: Discovery: Die Standing
Written by: John Jackson Miller
Published by: Pocket Books
Available as: Paperback (399 pages), ebook, and audiobook
“Stages of grief,” Cornwell replied… “It was an old psychological construct. More of an aid to understanding than an actual progression.”
Georgiou leaned back in her chair. “We have such a model too – for coping with a loss of status.”
Cornwell raised an eyebrow. “This should be good.”
Georgiou reeled them off. “Defiance. Murder. Plundering. Destruction. And my favorite: Vengeance.”
What’s an emperor without an empire to do?
What would it be like to be the emperor of an entire galaxy, only to have that all taken away, and then find yourself alone in an unfamiliar place? John Jackson Miller’s Star Trek: Discovery: Die Standing takes us inside the story and mind of Her most Imperial Majesty, Mother of the Fatherland, Overlord of Vulcan, Dominus of Qo’noS, Regina Andor, Philippa Georgiou Augustus Iaponius Centarius, the character played by Michelle Yeoh on Star Trek: Discovery, and reportedly soon to be the central character in a forthcoming Section 31 series. Ruthless, amoral, with a boundless desire for power, Emperor Georgiou is trapped in the Prime Universe with no way home, and in the time between Seasons 1 and 2 of Star Trek: Discovery, she’s recruited to serve Section 31.
The people she recognizes have lived different lives from the ones she remembers. Some of them are people who had served her in her native Mirror Universe, but here have power over her. Some she had killed back home. History is upside down. All that she has left is her cunning, and her unshakable conviction that she is the Alpha predator, whatever the universe.
The Starship U.S.S. Farragut has had a terrifying encounter with an incomprehensible alien cloudlike life form that has left half the crew dead, including the Captain (à la TOS’ “Obsession”). At the direction of Section 31’s Leland and Starfleet’s Admiral Cornwell, Georgiou must team up with gymnast-turned-researcher Emony Dax and frequently incarcerated Starfleet washout Sean Finnegan to backtrack the cloud-alien to its source and try to eliminate the threat. Of course, Georgiou has her own agenda—the agenda she always has—to use whatever means at her disposal to regain her rightful power and rule.
The psyche of the Mirror Universe has always been a hard one to comprehend: How could a culture based on ruthless self-advancement ever develop a stable, forward-moving society? This book helps (a bit) to answer that question, giving us glimpses into Emperor Georgiou’s thinking throughout. Mirror Georgiou’s hysterically acerbic one-liners fill the book from cover to cover. You will cackle as a prison warden works his way through the Emperor’s resume, as the Emperor finds new and impressive ways to insult Leland, and as the Emperor attempts to choose an innocent-sounding alias to travel under.
And when Georgiou is paired with and pitted against the wide-eyed optimistic Emony Dax, sparks fly. Slow-witted prankster-brawler Sean Finnegan (seen in canonical Trek only in TOS’s “Shore Leave” and as an alternate reality version in Star Trek Beyond) is a hoot.
Die Standing dips into questions about the history of the Trill, inconsistencies in the worldview of the Federation, and even the origins and usage of the term déja vu. In addition, Miller’s novel gives us several fascinatingly creative alien races and cultures, big, sprawling battle scenes, and more double-dealing than you can shake a stick at. If it all takes way too long to really start rolling, at least once it does start rolling, it rolls in really fun ways, and to really fun places.
The bottom line: Die Standing has a long ramp-up, but the characterizations are amusing and the alien cultures you meet are absorbingly detailed. Best of all is that it fleshes out Mirror Georgiou herself, a character that so far on TV has seemed quite one-dimensional. I liked Miller’s The Enterprise War far better, but Die Standing is a great read as well.
Star Trek: Discovery: Die Standing is available now
Listen to a sample of the audiobook
More recent and upcoming Star Trek fiction
On August 11th, Pocket Books released David Mack’s More Beautiful Than Death, the second Kelvin universe novel from the set they pulled from the schedule in 2009. Look for a review of that soon. And on October 6 Titan is releasing the Autobiography of Kathryn Janeway, by Una McCormack.
Keep up with all the Star Trek books news, previews and reviews at TrekMovie.com.