Review: ‘Star Trek: Discovery – Somewhere To Belong’ Is An Emotional Adventure Connected To Disco’s Past

Star Trek: Discovery – Somewhere to Belong
Written by Dayton Ward
Published by Simon & Schuster in paperback, ebook, and audiobook
Release date: Tuesday, May 30, 2023

“He’s right, Doctor.” When Culber eyed them, [Adira] straightened their posture. “I haven’t known her as long or as well as any of you, but I’ve known more than a few Starfleet captains.” They shrugged. “Well, Tal has, but you get my meaning. Not all of them were great leaders, but the ones who were? They all had the same drive to succeed, to face adversity and beat it. They’d get very obstinate and protective when their crews were concerned. Nothing would stop them from keeping their people safe. Not rules, not laws, not being outnumbered or outgunned. Nothing. They’re the ones we read about in history books. Captain Burnham is one of those leaders. If it can be done, she’ll do it.”

At the end of Star Trek: Discovery season 2, the Disco crew jumped their ship nine hundred years into the future to stop the malicious clandestine AI known as Control from seizing the “sphere data” in the ship’s computers. In doing so, the crew willingly and permanently left behind everyone they had ever known. What must that be like? And how difficult must it be to restart a life from scratch? It would be like an entire crew entering the witness protection program at once, together. That’s the question author Dayton Ward sets out to answer in his new Discovery tie-in novel, Somewhere to Belong, and to answer it, he draws on the legacy of a significant figure from Discovery’s past.  SPOILERS BELOW

Set between seasons 3 and 4 of Star Trek: Discovery, Somewhere to Belong follows the crew of the USS Discovery as they are interrupted from an important mission by an urgent distress call from a freighter in peril. As they render assistance, Captain Burnham and her crew are drawn into a high-stakes situation of societal unrest, protest, and government conspiracies. What breaks their hearts is that all this involves an alien race Discovery fans have come to know and love, a race that has fallen on hard times since Discovery left the 23rd Century and suffered greatly in “the Burn.” Trying to be a neutral honest broker, Burnham finds that no matter how much she tries to stay uninvolved, the very presence of Discovery exacerbates fault lines that have grown in the culture for centuries. It’s a diplomatic quagmire in the very best tradition of Star Trek episodes from “A Taste of Armageddon” to “Sarek” to “The Vulcan Hello.”

Along for the trip is Doctor Arbusala, a Denobulan therapist tasked with assessing what the crew of Discovery needs in order to more easily build their emotional connections to the 32nd century. His presence presents an emotional challenge for Dr. Hugh Culber, who has been serving as the ship’s ad hoc counselor. Through his conversations with the crew, we get insight into the sacrifices involved in volunteering for the time jump, as well as the ways in which the crew has been dealing with their losses.

Some of the highlights of the book include the ship’s “movie night” events which bookend the story, the very real and emotional conversations between Culber and Stamets, and the rakish and note-perfect portrayal of Jett Reno.

“What are you going to do, Commander?” asked Bryce…
“Her eyes fixed on the pile of chips as though running calculations in her head, Reno replied, “Slow your roll, ace. What’s your rush?”
Bryce grinned. “…Commander, the bridge called. We just skipped another nine hundred years waiting on you.”

There is a bit of an action thread that underlies the last two-thirds of the book with a ticking clock and some real jeopardy for the crew of Discovery, but the bulk of the material is diplomatic back-and-forth and has emotionally rich conversations between Arbusala and the crew. This makes the book fairly talky, and it wears its feelings on its sleeve, as befits a Discovery tie-in novel. If you’re a fan of the show and its emotionally open approach to its characters, it works. Ward is a skillful writer and captures the voices of the Discovery characters perfectly. The book does a great job of filling out a lot of the questions that the show could not take time to answer about the crew’s transition between millennia. The book also tackles a fan critique of the character of Michael Burnham head-on, offering what I thought was an excellent explanation for her propensity to be the person who saves everyone all the time.

Bottom line? Somewhere to Belong is a fascinating dive into the characters of Star Trek: Discovery—their motivations, griefs, and courage. Its diplomatic and emotional plot makes a fine change from the action-movie-go-go-go of the series itself. It shares many of the strong points of the series, but those strong points do not appeal to all fans equally. Fans of the show will love the novel. Critics of the show will have the same criticisms of the novel. I loved it.

As a side note, after criticizing the generic-looking cover for the last Trek tie-in novel, I was delighted to see the creativity for this new one. Somewhere to Belong features a fantastic painted cover, with flat, almost cut-paper-looking shapes defining portraits of Burnham, Tilly, Culber, and Stamets, as well as Disco herself.

Available Tuesday

Star Trek: Discovery – Somewhere to Belong will be released on Tuesday, May 30. You can pre-order it at Amazon in paperback for $16.99 and Kindle eBook for $12.05.

It is also available as an audiobook at Amazon on CD and Audible, ready by January La Voy.

What’s next for Trek lit?

One real-world mystery that this book leaves unsolved is what’s next for Star Trek tie-in fiction. This is the last Trek novel slated for publication in 2023, leaving at least the next seven months potentially with nothing new in Trek lit. Simon and Schuster and Gallery Books still hold the Star Trek license and books are apparently in the works so for now we can only wait for news on the future of Star Trek fiction.

Find more news and reviews of Star Trek books at

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Great review i have all the previous Discovery novels and can’t wait to add this one to my collection.

I love the show so much and it’s still the best of the current set of shows and while i feel that the other shows fail to reach the excellent character development and stories that Discovery tells.
They are all still great shows and it will be a sad day for the Trekkie Fandom when Discovery airs it’s finale episodes and i hope we will see most of these characters again someday.

To each their own, I think the characters on Discovery are utterly awful. The worst of any tv series I’ve ever seen.

The show is weak, yes, but “The worst of any tv series I’ve ever seen” is such a hilariously over-the-top overstatement. It’s the worst Star Trek TV show, but there are hundreds of non-Trek shows that are far worse.

Emily was blunt.

I said the cast of characters were the worst of any tv show I’ve watched.

LOL^2 — that’s just so ridiculously over-the-top.

Who are you to tell me that my opinion is over-the-top? I think the characters are awful. Unlikeable/annoying/unprofessional/bland cardboard cutouts, crying or hugging or saying how much they love each other every 5 minutes. They’re terrible.

Someone who agrees with another person here who came to same conclusion.

But if you think they are the worst characters in the history of all the TV shows you have ever seen or been made aware of (because that’s basically what you said) by all means, go for it. But in my opinion, as well as Lorna’s here, and I expect many others (even the usual DSC detractors) that is over-the-top silly…just our opinions though.

IDIC — Believe what you want to believe though, no worries!

I admit I originally didn’t like a lot off them either and I really really hate all the crying. I like most of them today but still far from my favorite crew.

I don’t know if I can go with the worst characters ever, but that’s fine to believe of course.

“Good…good…let the hate flow through you”

When I see badly written series that could have been great like Picard, or embarrassingly juvenile “what the F were they thinking? series like LDS, it just reinforces to me how lucky we have been to have so many years with DSC leading the franchise.

Good to see gatekeeping hate alive and well on such a ‘progressive’ franchise…

You obviously don’t understand what “gatekeeping” is.

The funny thing is, your response is much closer to gatekeeping then my remark that you said was so…lol

I’ve tried to enjoy the Discovery novels, but they suffer from the same problem as the TV show–overly broad characterizations, weak plots, and anticlimactic endings. I like Ward’s work, but I may skip this one because I’ve grown tired of waiting for Discovery’s novels to be good.

I’m just curious Lorna Dune, what are your favorite Trek novels? I’ve never read any but I still like to hear what other people think of them.

I’m not Lorna, but I’ll answer you anyway. :-) I’m a big fan of TOS, and I’ve read most of the TOS novels. My favorite is Crisis of Consciousness, by Dave Galanter. My Amazon review of the book says this: This book may well be the perfect Star Trek novel. The characters are spot on, the plot is interesting, the writing is excellent, and we’re left with ideas to think about. Kirk and Spock both get major screen time in this book, Scotty gets a fun sub-plot, and Uhura gets to do a bit more than the original episodes gave her a chance to do. (McCoy is in the novel, but he’s not a focus, so if he’s your favorite character, this probably isn’t the book for you.) For me, my favorite character is Spock, and this book gives him a LOT to do, while not short-changing Kirk. Spock gets to use his special Vulcan powers to such a large extent that I was worried the poor guy would be collapsing from exhaustion by the end. :-) The aliens in this book are interesting; they’re similar to a major Federation race in some respects while being wildly different in other respects. That difference is both a source of strength and a source of weakness for them, and the author spends some time showing us what the aliens’ minds are like while still keeping the focus firmly on Kirk and Spock. I’ve always been interested in both telepathy and in Dissociative Identity Disorder (what used to be called Multiple Personality Disorder and may still be best known under that name), and the new aliens have aspects of both of those elements in their makeup. Carolyn Palamas — the Archeology, Anthropology, and Ancient Civilizations officer introduced in “Who Mourns for Adonis” — is in this book, and while she’s not a huge focus, the book does flesh out her character a bit and gives some backstory that makes Scotty’s crush on her (in that episode) seem more plausible. She turns out to be a consummate Starfleet officer and not just a pretty girl, a touch this female reader found most welcome. We probably all have our own “wish list” for Star Trek novels, but to me, a great Star Trek novel should have the following elements: 1. A major role for Spock. He should either be thinking his way out of whatever problems the novel throws at them or using mind melds or neck pinches or other Vulcan superpowers to save the day; ideally, he’d be doing both. Bonus points for his inspiring or training or otherwise leading the scientists under his command and for the author’s remembering that his role isn’t just FIRST officer, it’s also SCIENCE officer. More bonus points for allowing him a chance to show what a wonderfully ethical, dutiful, and self-sacrificing person Spock can be. 2. A major role for Kirk. He should either be swaying people through the power of his oratory or getting the Enterprise and/or the landing party out of whatever problems the novel throws at them through tactical genius. Ideally, he’d be doing both. Bonus points for inspiring or nurturing or otherwise leading the crew under his command and/or for solving problems through non-violent means. 3. A chance for some of the minor characters (McCoy, Scotty, Uhura, Sulu, Chekov, or Chapel) to shine while still not taking the focus off of the main two. 4. A positive view of Starfleet and the Federation, not a plot where the Federation is actually evil or Starfleet is evil or incompetent. 5. Interesting new problems or situations, not just a tired retread of things that have happened in the episodes. But a brief nod to an episode or a slight tie-in to an episode is nice and helps to anchor the novel in what we know. 6. A lessened focus on the Spock-McCoy bickering (compared to the episodes), since while the things McCoy said seemed funny to people in 1966, they seem racist to modern eyes. 7. While the focus is mostly on the plot, there should be some nods to the relationships among the characters, with the Kirk-Spock friendship foremost here. Galanter hits EVERY ONE of the wishes on this list and delivers exactly what I want from a Star Trek novel. Really, it feels as if this book was written with me in mind, for all that I’ve never met the author and know nothing about him. Maybe I’m just a typical Star Trek fan. :-) I hate it when people write the Star Trek characters out of character, which far too many people do, in my opinion. But Galanter clearly knows his Star Trek, and Kirk and Spock feel exactly like they should. I also hate it when people write plots with holes… Read more »

Hi, I have DID. Can you tell me how it comes up in that book? Please?


The alien species in the book has many personalities.

Okay thanks

Also answering though not being LD…Prime Directive is excellent, and would make for an excellent miniseries down the road (takes place toward the end of the five year mission.) I don’t care for The Fall in its entirety, but The Crimson Shadow excellent. Both Articles of the Federation and A Singular Destiny are really good (closer to being political thrillers than what you’ll usually get from Star Trek,) Watching the Clock is a really dense look at the Department of Temporal Investigations (I also think the indirect sequel, Forgotten History, is pretty good, but if you put a disruptor to my head and I had to read one, it’d be Watching the Clock.) Maybe my hottest take (other than “actually, Gowron killed K’mpec”) is that the Destiny trilogy is the finest Star Trek story ever written.

Just for the record, My Favorite Trek Novel is, Black Fire By Sonni Cooper

This is the best Trek novel cover artwork in years!

I’ve enjoyed all the DSC novels. Like the series we get great characterizations, unpredictable plotting and epic conclusions.

Agreed, reminds me of when all the Trek novels had these awesome painted covers.

This art is…really bad. It’s someone just taking some photos and using a posterize app in Photoshop.

You know I actually liked Discovery and the characters and I thought the Burn was the right move… that being said I realized what I think is missing…. the chance for some universe (lore) building strategy combined with “the only ship in the quadrant” starship tactics/crew to the nines, even more so than TOS and DS9 where when it happened was great…
Kind of like Enterprise… just did not materailize and I don’t get why not.
Instead it was just… back to TNG, other people will take care of it.
Hey crew with a super advanced starship that showed up with everything in ruins….. What races should we reach out to? Do you think you can find us some dilithium? Maybe we need a treaty with X, Y, Z. We should try to rebuild Starbase Two but we will need a new treaty with the Vulcans which will upset the Andorians, and will need a colony on the planet to provide resources, etc. We need some kind of rapid response force, we don’t have enough ships to cover this front, etc.
This is critical I think for the Starfleet Academy show. I think they need to not only just be learning but actually re-building the Federation.

You bring up a lot of good points, as usual, Cmd.

Think the problem was they made the season one storyline. If they did it with the same format as SNW or old Trek shows they could of have had different ideas every episode.

Ward is such a good writer I might try it, even though Disco is not a favorite.

I have never read a Star Trek novel to this day (well I did read like half of the adapted The Voyage Home novel when I was like 11 but that’s the farthest I got ;)). This one actually sounds good. I have so many ups and downs when it comes to Discovery but I’m always happy to hear when they do make something people like. I know it’s just one review, but it actually made me curious to read it…if I read Star Trek novels. ;)

And also agree, the cover does look nice.

Hey, I’m an ole timey trekkie.
I had fun watching DISCO because of the characters, they were all so fun to watch. The lead character Micheal the least however, but got better, though SMG was always watchable (yer welcome writers). I was going to hate Tilly immediately, but yea fucking science! She deserves Treks first use of the word because she just rocks.

I get that this show was trying to do something different (I actually liked the trill episode, I thought that was one of the shows best trek stories), to expand the ‘allegory’ format with something more expansive. Yea, perhaps destroying all the dilithium in the galaxy at the angst of a child somewhere is a bit much. Or whatever. Pretty great show and grew well, I have no regrets. :)

Ooh how are the scenes between Stamets and Culber? I know the review said they were a highlight but I wanna know more and can’t go out and get the book.

They are good scenes! It’s great to see the two of them interacting as a married couple – their relationship is the only one in the book that’s allowed to have secrets. Everybody else in the novel always freely tells the truth about how they are feeling – there is complete transparency – which in real life is good for relationships, but makes for lousy drama. Culber and Stamets in the book have feelings that they don’t share with each other, out of a desire to protect each other, and this allows for some of the best drama in the story. The two are also separated by events and are in some jeopardy, so there is the possibility there for love and concern to be expressed in effective ways.

Without spoiling it, I hope that’s helpful!

Oh thanks! That is helpful!

As much as the characters were weak, poorly fleshed out and rather jarring in the TV show, I think the novels can really take their time to flesh them out a little more…but then again, once bitten….

Ope, I didn’t realize today’s the release date. It was on the shelf at my local Barnes & Noble when I was there on Saturday 5/27 and I briefly leafed through it. Is that happening more often in general, or just with this book? I’d seen that other B&Ns have had it out early too.


I would love to read these novels. Right now the cable network here, J:Com, is broadcasting seasons 1-3 of Discovery. Woot!! Season #1 is ending. Seasons #2 & #3 are underway. Though I own the DVDs, I really enjoy watching this series on regular TV. DS9 is in season #6 and TOS is repeating. Unfortunately, it is dubbed in Japanese and that’s just way too much for my brain. Discovery is on daily due to the scheduling. Since I love this show, too, I am overjoyed. Will check out those novels soon.