While CBS has not announced when season three of Star Trek Discovery will launch on their All-Access platform, we do know, at the very least, that there will be more Star Trek before that, as there are a couple of shows in development, most notably the as-yet-untitled Jean-Luc Picard series, which has just started production and should be live some time around the end of the year, if all goes well.
And, of course, there’s always licensed fiction. Both Simon & Schuster in prose form and IDW in comics form have new Discovery content in the hopper.
I covered this after season one ended, but to repeat for folks who might have missed it: Licensed fiction, or media tie-in fiction, has been around forever. It’s most commonly seen in the SF/fantasy field, though it’s hardly exclusive (as but one example, there was a long line of CSI, CSI: Miami, and CSI: NY novels in the 2000s; I wrote one of the CSI: NY books). Most large bookstores have a bookcase full of tie-ins at the end of the alphabet in the SF/F section, with books based on TV shows, movies, comic books, and games.
The way the process works is that a publisher buys the rights to do novels or short stories or comic books based on a particular property, and then turns around and hires creative people to produce those works of fiction. And every stage of the process has to be approved by the owner of the property—for TV and movies, it’s usually the studio that produces it, though not always. How closely the licensor works with the licensees varies from property to property, of course. Lucasfilm has famously managed the Star Wars tie-ins very closely, which has continued into the Disney era; Blizzard Games is much the same with World of Warcraft, StarCraft, and Diablo. Other licensors pretty much just rubber-stamp things, or only make minor corrections based on inside information that the writer may not have.
Having said that, regardless of how much involvement the owners of the property have, the books themselves are almost never considered a main part of the continuity. They can be—as an example, the name Coruscant came from Star Wars novels and was later used on screen. Every once in a while, something from tie-in fiction will wind up in the mainline continuity. It’s happened three times in Trek involving characters’ names: Sulu was given the first name of Hikaru by Vonda N. McIntyre in The Entropy Effect in 1981 and that given name was established on screen ten years later in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. The 2009 Star Trek gave us Uhura’s first name of Nyota, first seen in Star Trek II: Biographies by William Rotsler in 1982, and Kirk’s parents names of George and Winona, as established by McIntyre in her Enterprise: The First Adventure novel from 1986. And most recently Discovery had Pike call Number One “Una,” the first name given to her in the 2016 Star Trek: Legacies trilogy by Greg Cox, David Mack, and Dayton Ward & Kevin Dilmore.
Anyhow, here’s what we’ve got for reading matter to tide you over.
We start with stuff that’s already out. Following the first three novels that focused on Michael Burnham, Captains Georgiou and Lorca, and Saru, Una McCormack (the Trek author after whom Cox, Mack, Ward, and Dilmore named Number One as a tribute to her excellent work) focuses on Sylvia Tilly in The Way to the Stars. Here’s the back cover copy:
Despite being an inexperienced Starfleet cadet, Sylvia Tilly became essential to the U.S.S. Discovery finding its way back home from the Mirror Universe. But how did she find that courage? From where did she get that steel? Who nurtured that spark of brilliance? The Way to the Stars recounts for fans everywhere the untold story of Tilly’s past.
It’s not easy being sixteen, especially when everyone expects great things from Tilly. It’s even harder when her mother and father are Federation luminaries, not to mention pressing her to attend one of the best schools that the Federation has to offer. Tilly wants to achieve great things—even though she hasn’t quite worked out how to do that or what it is she wants to do. But this year, everything will change for Tilly, as she is about to embark upon the adventure of a lifetime—an adventure that will take her ever closer to the stars…
The Way to the Stars came out in January of this year, and is a nice companion piece to the Short Treks episode “Runaway,” as McCormack fleshes out Tilly’s contentious relationship with her mother, hinted at in that short, as well as other episodes. We get a fun look at Tilly’s pre-Starfleet life and what led her to the bridge of Discovery.
McCormack’s previous Trek work includes several novels focusing on the Cardassians—she’s done tremendous work with the character of Garak in particular—and more besides. She’s also one of the few authors to write for both Star Trek and Doctor Who, having penned four Who novels, as well as short stories and audio dramas.
Having done one novel this year featuring season one’s breakout character, the next 2019 release from S&S will be by John Jackson Miller, and feature season two’s breakout, Christopher Pike. The Enterprise War will focus on Pike, Spock, Number One, and the rest of the crew of the Enterprise and show us what they were doing during the Klingon War. As established in “Brother,” Enterprise was deliberately kept out of the war that raged through the first season of Discovery, and Miller’s novel will let us know what they were doing.
The cover copy:
A shattered ship, a divided crew—trapped in the infernal nightmare of conflict!
Hearing of the outbreak of hostilities between the United Federation of Planets and the Klingon Empire, Captain Christopher Pike attempts to bring the U.S.S. Enterprise home to join in the fight. But in the hellish nebula known as the Pergamum, the stalwart commander instead finds an epic battle of his own, pitting ancient enemies against one another—with not just the Enterprise, but her crew as the spoils of war.
Lost and out of contact with Earth for an entire year, Pike and his trusted first officer, Number One, struggle to find and reunite the ship’s crew—all while Science Officer Spock confronts a mystery that puts even his exceptional skills to the test… with more than their own survival possibly riding on the outcome…
The Enterprise War will be out in July. Miller is another who’s written in two major SF tie-in lines, but in his case besides the half-a-dozen Trek novels he’s penned, he’s also a veteran of Star Wars, most recently the novels Kenobi and A New Dawn.
On the comics side of things, IDW recently released the Captain Saru one-shot by Kirsten Beyer, Mike Johnson, and Angel Hernandez. This story took place between scenes in the season one finale “Will You Take My Hand?” before Discovery heads to Vulcan for their fateful encounter with the Enterprise, as Saru, still in charge following the death of the Mirror Gabriel Lorca, answers a distress call.
The only new comic IDW has announced so far is one that is in the same vein as The Enterprise War, but in the other direction as Beyer, Johnson, and Tony Shasteen give us the three-issue miniseries Aftermath. While season three of the show will be showing us what happened to Discovery after they bopped ahead to the future, Aftermath will focus on those left behind, as Spock, Pike, Number One, and the gang must deal with the fallout of Discovery’s disappearance.
The miniseries will debut in August, and wasn’t even announced until after the second season ended to avoid spoilers.
Presumably, there will be more novels and comics announced soon, not just to tie into Discovery, but also to the upcoming Picard series. Meantime, this is plenty to tide you over…
Keith R.A. DeCandido, who has reviewed every episode of Star Trek Discovery for this site, has made a career of writing tie-in fiction, and was even given a Lifetime Achievement Award for his work as both a writer and editor of licensed fiction in 2009 by the International Association of Media Tie-in Writers. His resumé includes quite a bit of Star Trek fiction, including prose for Simon & Schuster and comics for IDW. All together he’s worked in more than thirty different licensed universes, from Aliens to Zorro.