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Desperate Hours is the first original novel for the television series Discovery, written by David Mack. It was published in September 2017.


Aboard the starship USS Shenzhou, Lieutenant Michael Burnham, a Human woman raised and educated among Vulcans, is promoted to acting first officer. But if she wants to keep the job, she must prove to Captain Philippa Georgiou that she deserves to have it. She gets her chance when the Shenzhou must protect a Federation colony that is under attack by an ancient alien vessel that has surfaced from the deepest fathoms of the planet's dark, uncharted sea. As the menace from this mysterious vessel grows stronger, Starfleet declares the colony expendable in the name of halting the threat. To save thousands of innocent lives, Burnham must infiltrate the alien ship. But to do so she needs to face the truth of her troubled past, and seek the aid of a man she has tried to avoid her entire life—until now.


With the Shenzhou's first and second officers being promoted to another ship, Lieutenant Michael Burnham is made acting first officer ahead of science officer Saru, who will serve as acting second officer. It is up to Captain Georgiou whether or not she will retain the position.

The Shenzhou then receives a distress call from the colony on Sirsa III: Drilling operations have disturbed an ancient alien spaceship, dubbed the Juggernaut, which has despatched probes to attack the colony. The Shenzhou hurries to assist them but Starfleet sends the Enterprise with orders to destroy the Juggernaut, even though doing so will destroy the colony.

Burnham proposes she and Spock enter the Juggernaut to try and find a way of disabling it. Meanwhile, Saru discovers that the colony leaders hid evidence of an extinct civilization that once inhabited the planet: They will face charges if everyone survives. Burnham and Spock pass a number of challenges, at one point having to mind meld in order to remain in contact during one test. The Juggernaut's computer announces that by passing the test they have proved themselves worthy to join the long-extinct Turanian Dynasty: Those who refuse the offer or fail the tests are wiped out, as the planet's original inhabitants were. Burnham accepts the offer but the Juggernaut continues to attack the Enterprise and Shenzhou, deeming them aggressors. The two ships manage to damage the Juggernaut enough for Spock and Burnham to overload their phasers by key systems, disabling it.

The colony will be evacuated pending an archaeological examination although some may be allowed to return later. Georgiou confirms Burnham as first officer with a promotion to lieutenant commander.



USS Shenzhou personnel

BloomMichael BurnhamConiffDanby ConnorKeyla DetmerEspositoMary FanKamran GantPhilippa GeorgiouGoldsmithTroy JanuzziSaladin JoharKresselMcShaneAnton NambueJira NarwaniFrel glasch NeggNewitskyBelin OliveiraPayneReddickRogersSaruShull (USS Shenzhou)Gregor SpyropoulosTemkinTrokeBritch WeetonWierzbeski

USS Enterprise personnel

Caitlin BarryPhilip BoyceDatlowElena DonnellyGarisonGuptaNumber OneO'FrielYoshi OharaChristopher PikeNils PitcairnLao ShinSinghSpockJosé TylerNavah Wolfe

Other Starfleet personnel

Brett Anderson (Admiral)Itzel GarcíaSonnisar ch'Theloh

Other characters

Jae BarnesMikki BolanderJon BowenRamayan ChandraKiva CrossEichornTojiro IshiiGretchen KolovaCameron Le FevreHamid MedinaLewa OmaluFloyd TanzerRoy TassinThumper
Referenced only 
Calvin BurnhamMiles DavisNikos GeorgiouAmanda GraysonEgot HulnI-ChayaD.H. LawrenceLingSonny RollinsSarekSelekSogobu

Starships and vehicles

droneUSS Enterprise (Constitution-class heavy cruiser) • JuggernautUSS Shenzhou (Walker-class)
Referenced only 
colony transportUSS IntrepidUSS PersepolisUSS Tereshkova


Alpha QuadrantArcadia ExplorerLigot IVMilky WaySirsa III (Executive ComplexNew AstanaNew Astana Medical Center) • Sirsa system
Referenced only 
Beta VolanisCorratus PrimeDenobulaDoctari AlphaEarth (BeijingDüsseldorfLagosLisbonLondonMumbaiParisYucatán) • Giunta systemIllyriaIshanee systemKelpiaMarus IIIpenal colonyRegulusStarbase 7Teratus VVulcan (Llangon MountainsShiKahr)

Races and cultures

AndorianHuman (GermanPolynesian) • IllyrianKelpienTellariteTulianVulcan
Referenced only 
BolianChoblikDenobulanOrionPahkwa-thanhRegulanSirsa III nativeTuranian

States and organizations

Civil Air PatrolCivil Air Patrol Commandmedical teampoliceStarfleetUnited Federation of Planets
Referenced only 
Andorian Imperial Drum CorpsDaystrom InstituteFederation Colonial AuthorityFederation colonial courtFederation CouncilJudge Advocate General • Kayo Mining ConsortiumOrion SyndicateRaxan FoundationStarfleet AcademyStarfleet CommandStarfleet IntelligenceTuranian DynastyVulcan Expeditionary Group • Vulcan Science Academy

Ranks and titles

admiralambassadorCAP leadercaptaincargo transporter operatorchief engineerchief medical officerchief of policechief of staffchief petty officercombat mediccommandercommunications officercomputer techniciancoordinatordeck officerdental hygienistdentistdeputy chief science officerdeputy security chiefengineerensignfirst officerflight coordinatorforemanforensic engineergovernorgovernor's aidegovernor-in-exileguardhelm officerjunior officerlieutenantlieutenant commanderlieutenant junior grademanagermechanicmedical technicianmerchant princenavigatornurseoperations officerpacifistparamedicpilotproctorrig commanderrig engineerscience adviserscience officerscientistsecond officersecurity officersentryserfsoldiertactical officertransporter chieftransporter operatorvegetarianxenoarchaeologistwingmanyeoman

Science and technology

ablative hullafterburnerairlockamputationanalgesicannular confinement beamanoxiaanti-inflammatoryantisepticantitoxinartificial gravityartificial singularityasphyxiationastringentastrophysicsatmosphereatomaudio sensorautonomous robotic attack systembatterybiomechanicsbiometric padblasterblood • brain (occipital lobe) • broad spectrum antibioticC-bandcargo craneCelsiuschronometercipher patterncollimating lenscolor subcarrier datacommand-and-control systemcommand-confirmation subchannelcommunicationscommunicatorconcave podconcussionconstellationdata carddata coredata slatedecryption matrixdeep space probedeflector geometrydepth of fieldDNAduotronic chipearthquakeecosystemelectricityelectromagnetic pulseelectron microscopeenergizer arrayenergy dampenerexogeologyFibonacci sequenceflight recorderforensicsfractal matrixfrequencyFTL arrayfuel podfusion reactorg-forcegogglesgravitygravity wellgravity-based con-deep righalf-life decayhaptic interfaceheadsethologramholographic orbholographic presentation systemholographic projectorholographic targeting helmetholovidhyposprayimpulse driveinertial damperinfrasonic pulseinterplex circuitjamming signalK class starkinetic bombKo-Mog subspace amplifierlaserlegacy cipherlungmain sequence starmaster system displaymaterials analysismatter-antimatter reactormechanical oilmemory coremolecular structuremonochromenoise-cancelling waveoptronic cableoral surgeryparallaxoxygenparental lockoutperiodic tablephaserphaser bankphaser batteryphonetic languagephoton grenadephoton torpedoplasmaplasma cannonplasma drillpoisonpower relayprime numberprobepulsarquantum resonance frequencyroot canalscattering fieldselective focussensor arrayshock gunsonic pulsesonic receiverstructural integrity fieldstun batonstun pistolsubspace antennasubspace communicationssubspace transceiversubsurface imagingsupernovasymbolic languagesynthetic skintectonicstelepathytelescopetemperaturethreat gangliathroat spiraclestractor beamtraffic-control systemtransparent aluminumtransportertransporter scramblertricordertype-x phaserVan Muren transceivervanadiumVR helmetwarp core breachwarp drivewarp-impulse cross-patchwaste processor

Other references

apex-predatorartifactbailiwickbassbellbronze agebugbunkerbureaucracycavecave paintingchampagnechesschumclarinetclassical musicClass Mcoffeecolonial chartercolonycutlerydaydistress calldogduraniumduty shiftevasive maneuverseyeglassesFederation colonial lawFederation Galactic Catalogfishforce majuregarlicgeodeGeneral Order 24girderglassgraphical narrativegreen teagurneyhazmat protocolhelmethegemonyicebergillustrationjazzkatrakatric echoKobayashi Maru scenariokrakenle-matyamaelstrommanganesemapmarblemedkitmind meldminingmosaicmuralnondisclosure contractofficer's loungeoperations levelpay gradepebblepermitpianopincer attackplomeek soupPrime Directivepsychologyready roomreptilereservoirrocket jockeysailingsalt watersapsatchelsaxophonesculpturesehlatsequential artSelf-PitysewagesharkSibellian hunting treesnail • Starfleet CharterStarfleet Code of Military JusticeStarfleet dress uniformStarfleet uniform (2240s-2265)stonestone agestretchersubpoenasurface-to-air defensesymbalstelepathythermoconcretethree-dimensional chesstritaniumtrumpetturntabletriagetyrannyvampirevegetation casserolevinyl recordVulcan Learning Centerwaiverwaterwater mainwire-brush percussionxenoanthropologyyear


Related media


David Mack has written about the novel's relationship to the production of Star Trek Discovery, saying of the Shenzhou's characters:

"Most of them I developed on my own, along with detailed character bios, backstories, quirks, interests, etc. Those were then submitted to the show via Kirsten Beyer for approval. Some, such as Gant, Detmer, and Jannuzzi [sic], ended up being used on the show. (A few, like Connor and Britch Weeton, were established by the show's writers.) Also, Kirsten tells me that the Shenzhou bridge crew actors were given my bios of their characters to provide a foundation for their performances." [1]

The novel features Burnham encountering her adopted brother Spock and Christopher Pike for the first time in the franchise, predating their on-screen introductions in Season 2 by more than a year.



Media featuring Christopher Pike
Episodes and movies The Original Series The CageThe Menagerie
Movies Star TrekkStar Trek Into Darknessk
Discovery Will You Take My Hand?BrotherNew EdenPoint of LightAn Obol for CharonSaints of ImperfectionThe Sound of ThunderLight and ShadowsIf Memory ServesProject DaedalusThe Red AngelPerpetual InfinityThrough the Valley of ShadowsSuch Sweet Sorrow
Short Treks Q&AThe Trouble with EdwardAsk Not
Novels Killing TimeaEnterprise: The First AdventureVulcan's GloryLegacyThe RiftWhere Sea Meets SkyBurning DreamsA Less Perfect UnionaThe Children of KingsChild of Two WorldsDesperate HoursThe Enterprise War
Short stories "Conflicting Natures" • "A Private Anecdote" • "Sins of the Mother" • "The Greater Good"m
Comics Early Voyages "Flesh of My Flesh" • "The Fires of Pharos" • "Our Dearest Blood" • "Nor Iron Bars a Cage" • Cloak and Dagger (12) • "The Flat, Gold Forever" • "Immortal Wounds" • "One of a Kind" • The Fallen (12) • "Futures, Part One" • "Future Tense" • "Futures" • "Now and Then" • "Thanatos" • "Nemesis"
Starfleet Academy "Return to the Forbidden Planet" • "A Prelude to War"
Crew "Shadows of the Past" • "The Ends of Eternity"
other "All Those Years Ago..." • "To Walk the Night" • "Door in the Cage" • Alien Spotlight Alien Spotlight, Volume I (VulcansOrions) • Mirror Imagesm (1245) • Spock: Reflections, Issue 2Star Trek Movie Adaptationk (23456) • Captain's Log: PikeAftermath (123)
k : Kelvin timelinem : Mirror Universea : alternate reality


published order
Previous novel:
first in the series
Discovery unnumbered novels Next novel:
Drastic Measures
Previous novel:
Novels by:
David Mack
Next novel:
Fortune of War
chronological order

External link