Published Nov 21, 2023
Your First Look at the Star Trek: Lower Decks - U.S.S. Cerritos Crew Handbook
Ahead of its December release, author Chris Farnell details what makes the Cerritos special, how it differs from other starships as well as other franchises like Doctor Who!
By Christine Dinh
Welcome aboard the U.S.S. Cerritos!
From author Chris Farnell, get ready for a funny and illuminating guide to life on the U.S.S. Cerritos from Star Trek: Lower Decks, through the eyes of the beloved lower deckers themselves, with the release of Star Trek: Lower Decks - U.S.S. Cerritos Crew Handbook!
Hitting shelves on December 19, Titan Books is thrilled to share you can pre-order the Star Trek: Lower Decks - U.S.S. Cerritos Crew Handbook at your preferred retailer and get it in time for the holidays!
Join the crew of the U.S.S. Cerritos as they seek out new life and travel where people may, or may not, have been before!
Based on the hit Paramount+ animated series Star Trek: Lower Decks, Mariner, Boimler, and all their friends offer advice and insider knowledge to new crewmembers. This hilarious and informative handbook will help you come to grips with the ship, your duties, and your fellow lower deckers, especially as they’ve generously left comments throughout.
Thanks to our friends over at Titan Books, StarTrek.com has an exclusive preview of Star Trek: Lower Decks - U.S.S. Cerritos Crew Handbook and an interview with its author Chris Farnell!
StarTrek.com: What is your point of First Contact?
Chris Farnell: Pretty sure my earliest memory of Star Trek was my mum showing me "Encounter at Farpoint" when it was first broadcast on BBC 2. I was six, and not long after, I remember seeing The Motion Picture and being told it was set before The Next Generation, so I naturally assumed Kirk was Picard back when he still had hair.
StarTrek.com: You’re no stranger to the wonderful world of sci-fi fare; an author of your own apocalyptic space opera series as well as tie-ins for Doctor Who. What was it like diving into the world of Star Trek?
Chris Farnell: Like coming home. It’s why I started writing the Fermi’s Progress stories - to capture that Star Trek-ish “planet of the week” feeling, of the bizarre and unexplored as routine.
Okay, here’s the dark secret from my past — The very first writing I ever did that was read by an audience beyond my parents or teachers was a Star Trek “Play by Email” RPG. Everyone created their own characters and wrote their own chapters to the ongoing plot from their point of view, and as a newcomer to the game, the only character slots open to me were the very low, Ensign-level positions.
So, in a very real sense, I have been in training to write this book specifically my entire life.
StarTrek.com: How does the crew of the U.S.S. Cerritos stand apart from other flagship ships across the franchise, and how did you approach the crew’s handbook?
Chris Farnell: You mentioned my Doctor Who work, and Doctor Who is my other great sci-fi love, but the thing about the Doctor is they are perpetually on holiday. Even when they’re facing threats to the entire universe, they’re really only doing this for fun.
What’s great about Star Trek is this is their job. You watch The Next Generation especially, and the episodes are wall-to-wall meetings and performance reviews and stacks of paperwork where each individual bit of paper is given its own iPad. It’s a workplace drama every bit as much as Grey’s Anatomy or The Office.
And I think everyone who’s a fan of Star Trek has wanted to get a closer look at the ships with the less glamorous jobs. The Excelsior classes, the Oberth classes, all those little kitbashes that got smashed to bits at Wolf-359. And the U.S.S. Cerritos is really the patron saint of all those bit-part ships and crews (apart from the scientific outpost crews, obviously – they’re weird).
So I think Lower Decks is a show that a lot of us were waiting for for a really long time before Mike McMahan finally did us the favour of actually making it.
When it came to writing the book, that’s the energy I tried to bring to it. The sort of handbook that gets foisted on every new guy on their first day on the job and probably sits in the bottom drawer of every desk. I think a lot of people are going to read and enjoy this book, but privately I have my doubts about how many of the actual Cerritos crew will crack it open.
StarTrek.com: The handbook covers a lot of essential ground for new crewmembers ranging from the senior crew, the different divisions and shifts, tech, guide to other species, as well as different scenarios laid out by Badgey. What was your favorite part to tackle?
Chris Farnell: So many candidates here. Shaxs’ "W.O.R.F." method, the poolside rules for Cetacean Ops, and the (not entirely reliable) history of ships to bear the name "Cerritos." Like any sensible person given access to a starship, my first question was "What can I get away with?" and the answer was "A frightening amount."
But at this particular moment, my favourite bit is Alpha Shift — the shift before Beta, Delta, and Gamma shift who claim to have far more exciting and glamorous adventures while everyone else is asleep.
StarTrek.com: The handbook also covers some new ground from the recently aired fourth season. Were you given the keys to the entire season in preparation or had tons of conversations with the creative minds behind Star Trek: Lower Decks?
Chris Farnell: We had some video calls and emails with Mike McMahan, Brad Winters, Trek author Dayton Ward and others at Paramount to make sure we got the continuity right and that, basically, we were writing a handbook worthy of the U.S.S. Cerritos crew. I mean, it’s every nerd’s dream to not only get to ask the show creators all those irritating continuity questions nobody else cares about, but to have a professional obligation to do so.
But also – I got to read the scripts! Really, credit here has to go to my partner, Ella. She was the one who had to listen to me cackle my way through them from the next room, and then had to watch me not-so-subtly bite my tongue all the way through actually watching the series.
Do you know how many times I tried to think of a subtle way to suggest rewatching "The First Duty?" I never managed it.
StarTrek.com: You’re assigned some fresh-faced Academy graduates. What are your top 3 tips for these mentees as they brave their first Starfleet posts?
- That utopian civilization you just encountered definitely harbours a dark and sinister secret. But the one that you’re from is probably fine.
- Find a cool and innovative way to sit on and get up from chairs. Nobody’s getting their own command just by bending at the knees and waist.
- Always knock before entering the holodeck.
Pre-order the Star Trek: Lower Decks - U.S.S. Cerritos Crew Handbook, on-shelves December 19, from Titan Books! And be sure to watch the first four seasons of the hit animated series now!