Publisher: Gallery Books (Trade Paperback Format – 8 January 2019)
Series: Star Trek Discovery – Book 4
Length: 276 pages
My Rating: 3.75 out of 5 stars
Get ready to dive into the extended Star Trek universe with The Way To The Stars, the latest tie-in novel to the franchise’s current show, Star Trek Discovery.
While most people would be familiar with the iconic Star Trek television shows and movies, some may be unaware that there is an extremely rich and extensive Star Trek universe across a variety of different media formats. This is particularly true when it comes to the vast number of Star Trek novels which utilise the franchise’s massive universe. Since 1967, during the run of the original Star Trek television series, a bevy of authors have contributed to this extended universe by creating a huge number of novels made up a range of different series and publishers. There are now over 840 Star Trek novels, not only complementing the various Star Trek movies and television shows but also creating a series of new adventures.
With the announcement of the latest Star Trek television show, Star Trek Discovery, in late 2017, a new series of related novels was commissioned for release around the same time. This new series focused on several of the characters featured within Star Trek Discovery, providing intriguing character history and a series of new, exciting adventures. The first book in this series, Desperate Hours, was released in 2017, days after the premier episode of Star Trek Discovery. These books have so far covered several of the show’s key characters, including Michael Burnham, Saru, Gabriel Lorca and Philippa Georgiou, while a fifth book out later this year will focus on Christopher Pyke and the original crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise. I actually have a copy of the second book in this series, Drastic Measures, on my bookshelf at home, and I have been intending to read it for some time. I will hopefully get to that, and the other books in the Star Trek Discovery book range, at some point in the future.
I have to admit that I am more of a casual Star Trek fan and I have more of a preference for Star Wars (and with that, I lose several Trekkies reading this review). That being said, I have watched a number of the movies and I am really enjoying Star Trek Discovery at the moment. This book is the first actual Star Trek novel that I have had the pleasure of reading, and there are several cool-sounding upcoming Star Trek novels that I am probably going to try and check out.
The Way To The Stars focuses on the character of Sylvia Tilly, the young, brilliant and awkward Starfleet cadet and essential member of the U.S.S. Discovery’s crew. However, when she was 16, years before she joined Starfleet, her life was going down a different path. The daughter of a high-ranking United Federation of Planets (the Federation) diplomat, Tilly finds herself under intense pressure to succeed. Forced by her domineering mother to abandon her love of science and engineering to pursue a career as a diplomat, Tilly is shipped off to an elite off-world boarding school.
Forced out of her comfort zone, and continuously micromanaged by her mother, Tilly begins to crack under the pressure until, for the first time in her life, she rebels. Escaping the school and embarking on a dangerous off-world trip, Tilly seeks her own path in life, which will eventually lead her join Starfleet and adventure out into the stars.
The Way To The Stars is the fourth entry in the Star Trek Discovery book series, and it is written by veteran science fiction and tie-in novel author, Dr Una McCormack. Dr McCormack is an expert when it comes to the novelisation of popular science fiction television shows, having written a number of Doctor Who tie-in novels throughout her career. Dr McCormack also has a large amount of experience when it comes to the Star Trek extended universe, having authored several novels that continue the adventures of The Next Generation and Deep Space Nine television series.
This book was a little different to what I anticipated it would be. Rather than featuring an action-packed adventure with Starfleet like the previous books in the Star Trek Discovery series, The Way To The Stars mainly focused on Tilly’s school and family life. While this was still a very interesting and enjoyable read, I kept expecting pirates, aliens or some sort of antagonist to drop in and take over the school, forcing Tilly to use the engineering skills that her mother and school friends were so dismissive of to save the day. So it was a tad disappointing to find this book only contained a mostly school-based story, more concerned with Tilly’s studies, her overbearing mother and her problems making friends. Do not get me wrong; there are a lot of fun and enjoyable elements to these parts of the story, and the later part of the book in which Tilly runs away from school and tries to make her own way in space are very interesting. It was, however, somewhat lighter than what I was expecting from a Star Trek novel, and its tone and writing style reminded me more of a young adult school novel.
That said, this was still a very enjoyable novel as Dr McCormack does an amazing job of bringing one of Star Trek Discovery’s most entertaining characters to life while placing her in a fun and interesting coming of age story. The author makes great use of the Star Trek elements to tell her story, and I found it fascinating to see the advanced interplanetary schooling (rich boarding schools are rich boarding schools no matter what planet they are on), as well as Tilly’s adventures on human planets and ships outside of Federation space. The latter parts of the book set on the Starfleet ship were fun, and it was great to see the adventures of a scientific ship, as well as Tilly’s contributions to their voyage. The resultant first contact that they make was interesting, and it was cool to see elements from the part of the story set in the school come into play during this bit. Overall, I did have a lot of fun reading The Way To The Stars, and found it to be a very well-written story with a lot of intriguing elements to it. I really got into the story and managed to read it in only a couple of days, so many people should have fun reading it.
One of the things that I did like about The Way To The Stars was the way the author brought the book’s main character, Tilly, to life. Within Star Trek Discovery, Tilly, as portrayed by Mary Wiseman, is a fun, brilliant and neurotic character who serves as the show’s moral centre and heart. Despite mostly being a kind and thoughtful person, Tilly is regularly able to take control of a situation and act in a command capacity, often with humorous results. I felt that Dr McCormack’s portrayal of Tilly within this book did an excellent job of either showing that these were already existing qualities/personality traits or else examined the first time that Tilly ever showcased these traits. It was really good to see where Tilly came from and the sort of influences she had in her life to turn her into the character that is so beloved in the show. As a result, The Way To The Stars is an excellent coming of age story, and I really enjoyed the way that the author wrote the character within the book.
This book is strongly related to the Star Trek Discovery television show; however, I do not believe that too much pre-existing knowledge or fandom experience is required to enjoy The Way To The Stars. Dr McCormack has an inclusive writing style and I believe that anyone with even a basic knowledge of Star Trek will be able to pick this book up and enjoy the fun story within. It should go without saying, though, that those people who are fans of the Star Trek universe will get a lot more out of this story. This is especially true for fans of Star Trek Discovery, who will appreciate this deeper dive into the protagonist’s backstory and the examination of her early life. I believe that The Way To The Stars is considered to be a canon story within the Star Trek universe; however, I doubt that the events within will have any impact on the show. Still, it is quite an interesting inclusion that will really interest those who have come to enjoy the characters of Star Trek Discovery.
Star Trek Discovery: The Way To The Stars is a fun and enjoyable tie-in novel that does an amazing job of examining the past of a key character of the show. Dr McCormack creates an interesting coming-of-age story that will appeal to hardcore Trekkies and casual science fiction readers alike. I quite enjoyed my first foray into the Star Trek extended universe, and I am planning to try and get some of other Star Trek books coming out later this year. Stay tuned to see me go further beyond the final frontier.