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Book Review

Book Cover

Star Trek: Discovery
Book #7 - Die Standing


Author: John Jackson Miller
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
385 pages
RRP: £10.99, US $16.00, Cdn $22.00
ISBN: 978 1 98213 629 1
Publication Date: 06 August 2020

Philippa Georgiou has the unique experience of straddling two universes. The deposed ruler of the Terran Empire finds herself stuck in the prime universe, her unique skills a valuable asset for Section 13. While her extensive knowledge of areas of space, as yet unknown to Star Fleet, offers a tantalising pool from which to draw on, it also comes with a caveat. Philippa also knows the locations of superweapons with which she could rebuild her empire...

Star Trek: Discovery: Die Standing (385 pages) is a standalone novel, set in the Discovery universe and written by John Jackson Miller.

I always liked the character of Philippa, whether as the dead captain or the vibrantly alive empress, and a lot of this is down to Michelle Yeoh, who imbues her character with a lot more nuance than previous Trek villains, so much so, that it is hard to classify her as such. Her Philippa is strong, wilful, funny and vulnerable all at the same time. Her overriding characteristic is that she is endlessly mischievous. I draw attention to this because Miller has captured Yeoh’s performance perfectly, from the little asides to the plans within plans that is the character.

The book focusses wholly on Philippa and while some of the other characters from the show are mentioned tangentially, only Leland and Admiral Cornwell turn up in the book in any substantive role. The book does introduce one new major character, Emony Dax, a Trill, at a time in the Trills history when no one outside of their society knew they were a conjoined race.

The story opens in the Mirror universe when the Empress is at the height of her power. Power though can be fleeting so Philippa scours the universe of any major weapon which could ensure her reign and crush her enemies. On a mission to Troika space the ship she was to rendezvous with is destroyed before she can recover a mysterious new weapon, known only as Whipsaw.

Back in the prime universe the book takes you through a prison break, not strictly needed and would not have been missed if omitted, but it does demonstrate Philippa’s resourcefulness and how ruthless she can be.

We then come to the meat of the book. A starship has been crippled and most of the crew killed by a gas-like entity near Trioka space (Whipsaw?). Section 31 want her to infiltrate the system to see if she can discover the source of this entity, but with her knowledge as Empress, Philippa knows that, just possibly, there lies at the end of this particular path a weapon upon which she can build a new empire.

Although constrained by the technology and tropes of the Star Trek universe, what elevates the novel is Philippa’s dual perspective of the two universes. It allows an element of stranger in a strange land to creep in and you are never sure if she should be wary of Star Fleet or whether Star Fleet has a tiger by the tail.

An overall entertaining, well-paced adventure and one which is allowed to cut loose from the central characters of the shows. I would certainly be interested in reading the continuing adventures of the onetime Terran Empress.


Charles Packer

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