It is 2246, ten years prior to the Battle at the Binary Stars, and an aggressive contagion is ravaging the food supplies of the remote Federation colony Tarsus IV and the eight thousand people who call it home.
Distress signals have been sent, but any meaningful assistance is weeks away. Lieutenant Commander Gabriel Lorca and a small team assigned to a Starfleet monitoring outpost are caught up in the escalating crisis, and bear witness as the colony’s governor, Adrian Kodos, employs an unimaginable solution in order to prevent mass starvation.
While awaiting transfer to her next assignment, Commander Philippa Georgiou is tasked with leading to Tarsus IV a small, hastily assembled group of first responders.
It’s hoped this advance party can help stabilize the situation until more aid arrives, but Georgiou and her team discover that they‘re too late—Governor Kodos has already implemented his heinous strategy for extending the colony’s besieged food stores and safeguarding the community’s long-term survival.
In the midst of their rescue mission, Georgiou and Lorca must now hunt for the architect of this horrific tragedy and the man whom history will one day brand “Kodos the Executioner”….
Star Trek: Discovery’s novel line continues this Tuesday with Drastic Measures by Dayton Ward, which dives into the characters of Gabriel Lorca and Phillipa Georgiou and gives us the full history of the Massacre of Tarsus IV, referenced in The Original Series episode “The Conscience of the King.”
If you are a fan of Discovery these novels should be considered indispensable, as they provide additional character depth, exploration of the themes of the show – and even hint at an answer to one of the show’s biggest questions! Despite being set ten years before the events of the show, this book is a timely companion to some of the ideas that Discovery has explored in recent weeks.
Unfortunately, it’s impossible to talk about this book without spoilers, and so here is your warning – if you don’t want to know what happens in Drastic Measures or how it ties into the show, stop now, go and read the book, and then come back!
WARNING: SPOILERS BELOW!
The big question everyone is asking about this book following the revelation in recent weeks that the Gabriel Lorca we have been seeing in Discovery has actually been the Lorca from the Mirror Universe has been – which Lorca is in this book? And I’ll give you the answer – he’s 100% Grade A Prime Lorca.
As we know from “What’s Past is Prologue,” Mirror Lorca entered the Prime Universe about two years prior to the events of the episode, and with Drastic Measures set 10 years before “The Battle of the Binary Stars,” we’re introduced for the first time to Lorca’s Prime counterpart.
Ward does a stellar job of introducing the character, making Prime Lorca feel familiar and yet different, and providing lots of directions for the character to be interpreted differently should be re-appear at any point in Discovery’s future.
One of the most interesting elements of the Mirror Universe, which is explored in Discovery as Burnham grapples in “The Wolf Inside” with blending in with the universe around her, is how different we really are from our darker reflections. Ward takes this idea and, without using the Mirror Universe, applies it to Prime Lorca in this novel.
Lorca’s behavior and motivations in the book have a number of similarities with Mirror Lorca, but they are driven by the trauma and rage he experiences when his partner is murdered as part of Kodos’s plan to reduce the colony’s population to extend its food supplies. Ward poses the same questions as the earlier arc of Discovery did for the character before we knew his origins – during a time of strife, how much morally questionable behavior is acceptable?
It’s a question that Lorca grapples with throughout the novel, but ultimately, he does not submit to the darker excesses of his Mirror counterpart. While there may be similarities between the characters as Lorca works through his rage and grief at the loss of his partner, he chooses not to cross the lines that his Mirror counterpart doesn’t think twice about.
The book’s release is also particularly timely because it allows us to compare the Empress Georgiou we have spent time getting to know over the past few weeks on Discovery, and Prime Georgiou, who makes a welcome return in this book.
Despite only being a Commander in this novel, Georgiou has all the commanding hallmarks of the character we met in the pilot episodes of Discovery. She stands in stark contrast to the Empress of the Mirror Universe, who is driven by the conquest and rules by fear.
The Prime Georgiou of this novel is ultimately a humanitarian, driven by a need to serve and do good that pushes her to her limits as the crisis on Tarsus IV unfolds. This is a Georgiou who cares about everyone, including a little girl that she develops a relationship with that goes on to make a nice framing story for the novel.
In addition to the character work for Lorca and Georgiou, we get the full story of the Massacre at Tarsus IV, of which a young James T Kirk (who makes a brief cameo appearance) is one of the survivors. “The Conscience of the King” is a heady, suspenseful episode of the Original Series, but its description for the events on Tarsus IV never really made a ton of sense given the later depictions of how well-connected the Federation is.
Ward does a great job taking what little we know from canon about the massacre and spinning the story out from there, reconciling the early season one episode with the wider Star Trek canon that has since developed. Kodos is an interesting figure who gets some attention in the book, though Ward appears to hesitate in pushing farther with the idea that Kodos is driven by additional motives that go beyond making a difficult choice to avoid a disaster.
Finally, that coda! Reminiscent of Marvel movies’ inclusion of a short after-credits scene to tease the next movie, this book has a short scene right at the end that creates a lot of exciting possibilities for Discovery. Whether it’s something that play out on television or in tie-in media — such as the next novel, “Fear Itself,” coming in June from author James Swallow — will have to remain to be seen, but you will not want to miss it.
Ultimately, Ward does a smashing job with Drastic Measures and justifies his position as one of the top Star Trek authors, presenting an exciting Star Trek story that deep dives into fan favorite Discovery characters, and providing additional world-building that continues to build upon the Star Trek universe.
What more could you possibly hope for?
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If you liked Drastic Measures, you should check out:
- Desperate Hours by David Mack – The first Star Trek: Discovery novel is set one year before “The Vulcan Hello” and dives deeper into the Burnham-Spock relationship, with plot threads for Georgiou, Saru, and an appearance by Captain Christopher Pike’s USS Enterprise!
- Headlong Flight by Dayton Ward – A fun standalone Star Trek: The Next Generation novel, Headlong Flight continues the story of Captain Picard and the Enterprise-E as they find themselves caught up in cross-dimensional capers.
- From History’s Shadow by Dayton Ward – A fun, irreverent novel with a pulpy mid-century sci-fi vibe that weaves together many of the known encounters between 20th century Earth and aliens from the Star Trek universe.