Liz reads: The Star Trek: Discovery Annual 2018

In an attempt to pivot the blog away from being just Star Trek stuff, I’m aiming for a minimum of one post a week on what I’ve been reading. But to ease us into the change … what I read yesterday was the Star Trek: Discovery Annual 2018.

Two Discovery tie-in novels have been released since the series started, and they were both quite terrible. Probably not by coincidence, they were also drafted before anything was filmed, and revised later, and were written by people who weren’t involved in the TV production.

Cover art for this comic: sketches of Stamets, Culber and Tilly.

(Not that anything could have saved Dayton Ward’s Drastic Measures, in my opinion — aside from toxic tropes like fridged girlfriends and dead lesbians, it aimed for a mature and considered approach to moral ambiguity and was let down by bland, mediocre writing.)

The comics, on the other hand, are co-written by Kirsten Beyer, who works on the show. I didn’t read the first set, because it was about Klingons and I didn’t care, but I’ve pre-ordered the upcoming Mirror Universe series, and I was quite keen to read this, advertised as the story of “who Stamets is, how he and his old partner, Straal, come to discover the mycelial network, and also how Stamets met both Medical Officer Hugh Culber and Cadet Sylvia Tilly!”

Expectations: set and … somewhat met?

This is very much a Stamets story, and it gives a lot more space to his friendship with Dr Straal than his relationship with Culber. Culber remains a two-dimensional cinnamon roll: he’s lovely, he and Paul are good together, but he’s still about as deep as a puddle. So if your interest in this is purely for shipping purposes, I would manage those expectations right down.

On the other hand, we do learn a fair bit about Stamets, and we get a rare glimpse into the lives of Federation citizens whose ambitions don’t begin and end in Starfleet. This is particularly great because I just watched “The Way of the Warrior”, in which I kind of wanted to shake Sisko and Worf and explain that Starfleet is not the priesthood, and there is no shame in a mid-life career change.

It’s not a comic that’s going to change the world, but I liked it enough that, having bought the electronic edition via ComiXology, I just strolled down to my local comic shop to see if they had it in hardcopy.

(Result: who knows? When I say “strolled”, I mean “sort of limped because I sprained my ankle and tore my meniscus a month ago, and everything hurts so I gave up halfway and took a bus back to the office.)

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What I’m reading now

In a complete change of pace, genre, style, medium and subject matter, I’ve moved on to Elizabeth Macarthur: A Life at the Edge of the World by Michelle Scott Tucker, a new biography of the first “gentlewoman” in Australia.

At 5%, my reactions so far have been:

  • concern, at how much early Australian history I’ve forgotten — like that the Second and Third Fleets existed;
  • amazement that the Rum Rebellion happened at all (even though it was really a very serious dispute, and was “only” about rum like the Whiskey Rebellion was “only” about whiskey, and the notion that it was a dispute about alcohol was an invention of Victorian temperance campaigners (so I haven’t forgotten everything about Australian history);
  • marvelling, because John Macarthur was basically a minor villain from a Jane Austen novel, but in real life.

Stay tuned.

Author: Liz Barr

Words written. Opinions expressed.

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