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Spock: The Fire and the Rose by David R.…
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I wasn't going to bother with Spock's story in David R. George's Crucible series, because the Kirk and McCoy instalments hardly set the world alight and I didn't know if I could stand a whole novel about Vulcan philosophies and rituals. Turns out I was right on the first count - I wouldn't have missed much - but find myself strangely cheated on the second: this story is more a rehash of the Kirk and McCoy narratives, with a second stab at Spock's Kohlinar thrown in for good measure. Mr George could have saved himself a lot of time by just writing one book.

In order of grievances, Spock's story is lacking three key details: action, originality and t'hy'la. Spock's life seems stuck in a loop: he leaves Starfleet because working closely with humans is throwing his Vulcan reserve out of whack, journeys to Vulcan to cleanse himself of all emotion, realises that he can no more deny his human half than his Vulcan heritage, returns to Starfleet. Lather, rinse, repeat. The only trouble is, for those who have seen Star Trek: the Motion Picture, George's rehash of all this is rather redundant. In fact, the whole novel adds little to the original series or the films. We also get a summary of season one episode 'The City on the Edge of Forever' - strangely, for a novel about Spock, from Kirk's perspective - which goes nowhere, and is also used in McCoy's narrative. Basically, Spock feels guilty - both about interfering in time and not interfering enough - and tries again to achieve Kohlinar. He is successful this time, but decides - completely randomly - that he made a mistake, and undoes the rigorous training in a paragraph of dialogue with McCoy. That's the story in a nutshell.

Then we have Spock and Kirk. Now, your mileage may vary, but there is no denying how close these two were during the series and the films - even Roddenberry admitted that the Captain and his Vulcan First Officer love each other, whether physically or purely emotionally. The Vulcan word for this is t'hy'la, meaning friend, brother and/or lover. Jim Kirk was Spock's t'hy'la - only not in David R. George's view, oh no sir. Spock might have lead a lonely life, and Kirk might have had a 'solitary nature', but these two were just friends looking for the right heterosexual life partners. Nothing to see here, move on. Even though George can't explain what prompted Spock to try for Kohlinar in the first place, immediately after the end of the five year mission with Kirk, he is certain that Spock's feelings for the Captain have nothing to do with anything. Denial doesn't begin to cover George's canon blindness. He even throws in a beautiful, intelligent female ambassador - who looks a lot like Droxine from The Cloud Minders, an awkward Spock flirtation from the series - and has the usually solitary and reserved Vulcan fall instantly head over heels in love with her to emphasise his point.

The only trouble is, denying the depth and nature of Spock's love for Kirk, then having him forge an instant relationship with Ambassador Mary Sue, doesn't work with the Spock we know from the original series and the films. Neither does Spock's overwhelming 'guilt' about various past events during his time aboard the Enterprise - Spock would have made the correct logical decision at the time, and would hardly have cause to doubt his actions years down the line. The word I think the author was looking for is 'grief' not 'guilt', only he painted himself into a corner by denying Spock his t'hy'la and had to embroider an introspective, platonic alternative. Needless to say, the ending is ridiculously implausible - neat, but unlikely, and hardly satisfying.

I think I shall have to look elsewhere for a more honest appraisal of Mr Spock's true character! ( )
1 vote AdonisGuilfoyle | Jul 10, 2014 |
This first book of the trilogy was heartwrenching. I think I cried at least twice during the reading.
Overall I loved it. ( )
  TheInvernessie | Nov 26, 2013 |
This is the second in a trilogy of books published in celebration of Star Trek's 40th Anniversary. Each of the three books explores the life of one of the triumvirate of Kirk, Spock, and McCoy, and all three books take the events of TOS episode "The City on the Edge of Forever" as central to the understanding of our three main characters. I reviewed the first book (Crucible: McCoy: Provenance of Shadows) here. The rest of the following review will get slightly spoilery for The Fire and the Rose and for a few TOS episodes.

Within Star Trek fandom, there is a reasonably widely accepted interpretation of TOS canon (by which I mean a lot of people accept it and a larger lot of people don't) which posits that Kirk and Spock were sexually and romantically attracted to one another and most likely acted on these feelings, perhaps to the point of forming a long-term, committed relationship. I am one of those fans who find this interpretation both plausible and satisfying. So, when I come across a Star Trek story which builds its narrative around a core comprised of Spock's feelings toward Kirk, I'm going to balk a bit when those feelings are those of friendship and nothing but. That simply isn't my read of these characters, and the author is going to have to work hard to make me find his interpretation compelling. (This reaction is much like when a movie is made of a favorite book and an actor cast as a cherished character looks nothing like how I'd pictured that character. The script may be first-rate and the acting brilliant, but that version of the character isn't going to sit right, and it's going to take a lot of convincing to get me to accept it.)

I give you this background so that I can convey the appropriate amount of praise when I say that George manages to get me thoroughly invested in this story about Spock's feelings of friendship toward Kirk. I was utterly sold by George's interpretation of their relationship and found thoroughly compelling Spock's pain and regret at his failure to be a good friend to Kirk during the Edith Keeler catastrophe. The later exploration of Spock's emotional crisis after Kirk's death, his subsequent persual of the Kolinahr (the years-long Vulcan ritual to purge all emotion (rather than simply control it) that we see Spock fail at in the beginning of Star Trek: The Motion Picture), and his realization that he can only be who he is meant to be if he embraces both his Vulcan and his (emotional) human sides is well done and very nicely illustrates how we get from the Spock of, say, TOS season one to the far more mature and sometimes almost emotional Spock who appears in TNG (and in the 2009 Reboot, but, of course, George can't be referencing that since this book was published in 2006). All of these things push the book into four-star territory, while some points of the execution would have left it hanging out around three.

Like the McCoy installment of the trilogy, this one somewhat clumsily summarizes many events of the Star Trek canon. George actually does an admirable job of incorporating canonical stuff into his own storyline; it's the way he gets the canonical material on the page that is less than satisfactory. This is a problem of audience, I suppose. He's clearly writing for that guy who's seen all these Trek eps and movies but who doesn't really remember them too well. Thing is, I don't think that guy reads this book. So, I'm left sitting there shaking my book and muttering, "I know what happened in The Voyage Home! I don't need a three-page plot refresher!" Over the course of nearly four hundred pages, this actually got quite annoying and would often throw me out of a story that I was otherwise quite caught up in. George also has an unfortunate tendency to over-write his dialogue tags: "'This is not the fal-tor-pan', Spock said, obviously understanding McCoy's implication." Aaaaauuuugghh! Let us pick up on the connections ourselves, especially if they're obvious. Aaaauuuggghhh!

But all in all, a satisfying Star Trek novel, though one final observation: George has a pretty impressive handle on the canon and a nice talent for making connections between bits of the canon that make sense within his own story. That being the case, I don't see how he can possibly have left the events of the episode "Requiem for Methuselah" out of this book. (He makes a passing reference to the "Dame of the Hour" from this ep once or twice, but only in a list of Kirk's lost or tragic loves--there's nothing specific about it.) George casts Spock as tormented by his failure to be a good friend to Kirk in "The City on the Edge of Forever." Spock comes to believe that he either should have tried to find a way to preserve the time line without letting Edith die or been more supportive (dare I say "emotionally available"?) to Kirk given his (Spock's) understanding of what was going down. Now, in "Requiem for Methuselah," Kirk falls in love with a young woman who turns out to be an android. She "dies" because she can't handle the power of the conflicting emotions she feels for Kirk and for her mentor, Flint. Kirk is devastated by this; the episode ends with him sitting dejectedly at his desk (tellingly, not seeing to ship's business, but letting Spock take care of things). When Spock comes in to give a report, Kirk says, "A very old and lonely man. And a young and lonely man. We put on a pretty poor show, didn't we? If only I could forget." And then he falls asleep at his desk. McCoy comes in and makes a speech to Spock about the joys and sorrows of love, pointing out that Spock will never know either (how this conversation doesn't wake Kirk up is anyone's guess). When McCoy leaves, Spock initiates a mind-meld with Kirk and says, "Forget." Roll credits. Seems to me that this episode speaks directly to Spock's friendship failures in "City." Basically, he's trying (though clumsily, maybe) to help his friend in the ways he failed to earlier. So where the heck is this bit in The Fire and the Rose? I can only hope that George was saving it for the book on Kirk. (I'll note that George sort of skirts the issue by placing Spock's realization of his failures in "City" after the events of "Requiem" (during the events of TAS episode "Yesteryear"), though that still begs the question: what was Spock thinking at the end of "Requiem"?) ( )
2 vote lycomayflower | Mar 2, 2010 |
Having read Provenance of Shadows, I think that I had a better idea of what to expect going into The Fire and the Rose than I had going into Provenance. I have two problems with this book. First, it didn't seem related to Provenance. It may have been similar in tone, in purpose, but it didn't seem to touch on any of the plot points that Provenance brought up.

Worse, though, is that it didn't feel original to me. Where Provenance offered us a look at McCoy in a manner we hadn't really seen before, Fire was basically a retread of J.M. Dillard's The Lost Years and Star Trek: The Motion Picture. Throughout the book I had a pervasive feeling of having already seen it before.

Provenance gave us a look at McCoy in two situations, really exploring the character's history and self in a way that hadn't been done before (to my knowledge). The Fire and the Rose, by contrast, merely offers the same analysis as before, with the same result, and suffers for it. ( )
  ATimson | Feb 11, 2008 |
This is the second volume of the Crucible trilogy, a tale celebrating the 40th Anniversary of Star Trek. I picked up the first volume, Provenance of Shadows, for the flight home from Hong Kong and enjoyed that enough to check out the rest. This book isn't quite as enjoyable. The main storyline follows Spock as he tries again to achieve Kolinahr and remove all of his emotions. Interwoven throughout the story are flashbacks from Spock's career, most notably events experienced in the episode "City on the Edge of Forever". I think the main premise is flawed. The events of Star Trek: The Motion Picture had pretty much put Spock's desire to achieve Kolinahr at rest and to have him want to try again after so many years, even under the circumstances laid out in the story, is--dare I say it?--illogical. But so it goes. Mr. George does love Star Trek and has written a number of fine moments into the book. So I can't complain too much.
--J. ( )
  Hamburgerclan | Oct 26, 2007 |
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To Audrey and Walter Ragan/ -- Audrey Ann and the Navy Man --/two of my favorite people,/who welcomed me into their family/with extraordinary love and support
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As he regained consciousness, his head pounded and he felt -- Nothing.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0743491696, Mass Market Paperback)

Spock, displaced in time, watches his closest friend heed his advice by allowing the love of his life to die in a traffic accident, thereby preserving Earth's history. Returning to the present, Spock confronts other such crises, and chooses instead to willfully alter the past. Challenged by the thorny demands of his logic, he will have to find a way to face his conflicting decisions. Once, he preserved the timeline at the cost of Jim Kirk's happiness. Now he is forced to re-examine the fundamental choices he has made for his own life. Unwilling to accept his feelings of loss and regret, he seeks that which has previously eluded him: complete mastery of his emotions. But while that quest will move him beyond his turmoil, another loss will bring him full circle to once more face the fire he had never embraced.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:01:22 -0400)

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