Star Trek: Lower Decks – U.S.S. Cerritos Crew Handbook
Written by Chris Farnell
Published by Titan Books
“The Lower Decks have always been here. We were there in the TOS* era, in the TNG** era, and way back in the ENT*** era. In any history book where you see some brave captain leading their ship into the unknown, you better know that we are right there behind them, serving them their coffee, handing them their PADDs, cleaning out their replicator nozzles, lubing their turbo lifts, and getting jobs that take ten hours done in two because the chief engineer wants to be “a miracle worker.”
“Notes:* Those Old Scientists. ** Those Newer Guys. *** Earth’s Newbie Travelers.”
In 1975, Franz Joseph’s Star Trek Star Fleet Technical Manual took the sorts of publications that Trek fans had long printed on their own to the glossy, professional, licensed fold. Taking the form of a future document mistakenly transmitted to Earth computers during the Star Trek: The Original Series episode, “Tomorrow is Yesterday,” the Technical Manual explored many areas of the Star Trek world that fans had long discussed, including charts, illustrations, and documents that fascinated and unpacked the Star Trek universe. The Star Trek Lower Decks U.S.S. Cerritos Crew Handbook stands in the tradition of the Star Fleet Technical Manual and other books of this style like Mr. Scott’s Guide to the Enterprise, the Star Trek: The Next Generation Technical Manual, but with a distinctly “Lower Decks” twist.
The new Handbook is finely produced, with a beautiful, stiff paper cover, attractive end pages, and a full-color interior. Lavishly illustrated in the Lower Decks style, the book contains the sorts of entries one would expect to find in a Star Trek reference book, but “accidentally” includes threaded comments by the Lower Decks characters that hilariously riff on and add sarcastic life to the normally staid prose. Sections introduce a new crewmember to the Captain, First Officer, Chief Medical Officer, and all the Senior Staff, but along the way, the text is hijacked by the Lt. JG’s we have come to know and love on the Lower Decks show, along with many others from the LDS cast.
Other members of the crew also get involved. There’s a Tamarian Glossary provided by Lt. JG Kayshon, a timeline of ships named Cerritos narrated by an embarrassed Captain Freeman, and a number of helpful lessons provided by Badgey. Ever wondered what the difference is between a tricorder with a purple stripe and one with a cyan stripe? Let Rutherford explain it to you! A heartbroken Ensign Jennifer Sh’Reyan suggests that maybe Andorians aren’t “cold, harsh, and unforgiving” as the official text indicates, but maybe “they’ve just been hurt before and so need a little bit of reassurance before they can let themselves be vulnerable.” And an entry on humans that Mariner comments, “pretty much nails us to be honest,” states that “most of their behavior can be adequately explained by a combination of egotism and confirmation bias.”
Its 176 pages are a breezy read – it took me about 90 minutes to work through the whole thing – and most of the jokes land well, poking in-universe fun at every Star Trek series, from the original to the most recent. Indeed, the Manual is so up-to-date that certain elements from it would have been mild spoilers for LDS’s fourth season if it had been released a few months earlier. From Ransom’s workout techniques to a hilarious guide to Cerritos Bingo, the Cerritos Crew Handbook has what you’re looking for, and a whole lot more. It’s a fun and informative look at life aboard the Cerritos, both on shift and off.
Star Trek: Lower Decks – U.S.S. Cerritos Crew Handbook was just released in large-sized paperback on Tuesday, December 19. You can order it now on Amazon for $26.96.
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