Friday 30 July 2021

Star Trek: Discovery: Die Standing - John Jackson Miller

Title: Die Standing
Author: John Jackson Miller
Published: 2020
Chronological Period: 2257 (Overture: 2233 / 2255)

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“Die Standing” by John Jackson Miller is a Star Trek Discovery novel which picks up just after the ending of the show’s first season. The novel follows the exploits of Emperor Philippa Georgiou, former ruler of the Terran Empire, from the mirror universe who has been stranded in the prime universe. In particular it showcases the various events which transpired from her being trapped on the Klingon home world of Qo’noS to her joining the ranks of Section 31. Her initial test run with Section 31 is chaotic as she uses it as an opportunity to escape, but due to an issue on the USS Farragut she gets a second chance on a mission to investigate a possible biological weapon, that will lead her to a pocket of the galaxy surrounded by mystery, where a trio of very different alien species trade internally via the help of a rather flamboyant human, who had a relationship with the now deceased prime Universe’s Captain Georgiou.

This was another enjoyable Discovery novel from Miller who manages to weave together a rather complicated and entertaining plot which pulls on events and characters from the Original Series, Discovery and DS9. What was interesting to me was that using an "anti-hero" protagonist like Phillipa Georgiou gave the novel a much darker vibe than Trek literature is normally known for and whilst some people may dislike this, I found it refreshingly different. My one word of caution about the novel’s plot however is that having a sound understanding of Star Trek’s various shows is required to fully appreciating the story and character work included within the novel. Yes, you can enjoy the novel without this as Miller makes sure that all the key elements are explained in sufficient detail to follow and enjoy the story, but when he starts throwing in the characters of Emony Dax and Sean Finnegan or shout outs to the USS Farragut incident then you know that this novel is most suitable for established Star Trek fans.

I have already touched on the novel’s protagonist being Phillipa Georgiou but I want to highlight how good a job Miller has done in capturing her and the arrogant, cunning and sarcastic personality seen on the show. It is important to note that Miller has done more than this, he has also tried to delve deeper into the character. The reader really gets to see how self-serving and twisted her motives and thought process actually are, but we also get to see some of her own self-examination as the story progresses. This helps in making Georgiou a much more compelling and intriguing character, taking her beyond a character that is just being seen as simply evil and ruthless.

Overall, this is another well written and entertaining novel from John Jackson Miller which features some interesting character-based elements, primarily focussed around the Mirror Universe version of  Georgiou. It is a wonderful piece of fiction which nicely ties up her story between Season One and Season Two of Discovery and leave's the reader hoping there might be more stories out there in the future showing her time in Section 31.

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