Wednesday 27 March 2024

USS Cerritos Crew Handbook

No secret, I love Lower Decks so after a recent acquisition of the Beckett Mariner Funko Pop, the Crew Handbook was always going to be on the list.

Taking a more light hearted look into the Star Trek universe, this is the ultimate guide to the USS Cerritos rather than as a series companion. With the overview of a guide for new Lower Deckers, readers are taken through every crucial area of the ship, introduced to the crew and given notes on potential foes and allies from across the Alpha, Beta and Delta Quadrants.

Realised in print by Chris Farnell, the book is a weighty 175pages in paperback and you want to keep on turning them.

The text itself isn't a trawl to read and instead the necessities of the Cerritos are broken down into more manageable chunks coupled with the stunning animation from the show itself. It's also incredibly current with the lieutenant ranks of Boimler, Mariner, Tendi and Rutherford in place. 

But what adds to this perhaps in a different way to the more "serious" technical manuals and other reference works is the asides (proof reader notes in-universe) from the crew. Adding a level of character to the handbook and keeping in line with the personalities of those characters at the same time!

Lower Decks has always been a little more sartorial when it comes to the Star Trek universe and the handbook is no exception. It doesn't take itself too seriously and the balance of information and humour means that this is accessible to fans of all knowledge levels and interest. A highlight for you ship connoisseurs is a potted history of the Cerritos' namesake which you may or may not take with a pinch of salt and in a way helps put a little substance into the series backstory.

In fact that's one of the big wins for me here. While there's a lot of suggestion and intimation it still leaves fans without 100% clarity and allows your imagination to fill in some of the blanks. Bits you might be able to join the dots thanks to episodes (certainly An Embarrassment of Dooplers) but in other instances it leaves a good amount of room for future developments. However, according to the author, the wonderfully UK-based Chris Farnell, the matter surrounding Admiral Jellico's circulatory system IS canon. Period. Fight him.

But that's not to say that the book ignores the canon of the show's episodes so far. Readers get nods to all types of stripy tricorder, the best holodeck programmes to run and even a Strange New Worlds homage with Cerritos bingo which might be a tad more extreme and expectedly curveball. 

Indeed, Farnell might have been given the reins to do as he wished with the handbook but he's absolutely kept it under control and well within Star Trek specifications especially since it still had to get the seal of approval from The Top Man Mike McMahan before printing (as Chris noted to me during a brief chat!).

If you're expecting a detailed technical piece of literary wizardry a la the TNG Technical Manual then this isn't the book however if you are looking for something that acts as a side guide and extremely entertaining companion to Lower Decks then this will definitely hit the spot.

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