Friday, March 25, 2011

Reading Room Spotlight-
"Star Trek- Inception"
By S.D. Perry &
Britta Dennison

Ever wondered what the relationship between a young James T. Kirk and Carol Marcus was like? Or perhaps you've pondered what Spock saw in Leila Kalomi before their reunion in "This Side Of Paradise"? Well, wonder no more... (FAIR WARNING- Their are some slight spoilers in this review!)

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The novel "Star Trek- Inception" attempts to tell the backstory of these 2 doomed romances, filling in an unexplored gap in the characters' lives. The story of their relationships is set against the backdrop of the Inception program (a precursor to the Genesis experiment), to which both Carol Marcus and Leila Kalomi are contributing. A crazed space environmentalist named Thaddeus Kent wants to shut Inception down by any means necessary, and it will take the combined efforts of Kirk and Spock to make sure that Marcus and Kalomi's work doesn't turn into a galactic disaster.

I was a bit trepidacious about this one when I first picked it up. Prequel stories are often very hard to pull off (as evidenced by Star Wars Episodes 1-3), since the reader knows how the story truly ends before they even turn the first page. Still, I thought it would be nice to see the author's interpretation of exactly how these relationships formed (and ended). I'd always wondered how Kirk made the decision to walk out on a pregnant Carol Marcus, or how the emotionless Mr. Spock had formed such a bond with Leila Kalomi. So I dug into it. The results were quite a mixed bag...

What the book gets right is the personification of the characters. Kirk and Spock are just as they should be, with Spock's unfamiliarity with emotion and Kirk's confident nature being showcased as the core of their characters. What's truly impressive though is the way the authors handle Marcus and Kalomi. While existing canon doesn't provide a whole lot on these two, the authors manage to capture their personalities quite well, even intertwining their histories in a completely believable manner. The authors also manage to get all 4 main players working together while not actually having Kirk and Spock cross paths, thereby avoiding any possible hiccups in the characters' histories.

Unfortunately, there is a lot that didn't work for me as well. First, there's the main villain of the piece: Thaddeus Kent. A great deal of the book is spent exploring his character and motivations. So much so in fact, that I feel the main characters get slighted in favor of learning more about why Kent does what he does. While I understand the need for a reader to identify with what motivates a villain, I felt that the exploration of his character was needlessly long, especially when you consider that the book is trying to cover two relationships in fairly short story. That's where my other main problem comes in: There isn't enough of either the Kirk/ Carol or Spock/ Leila relationships to fulfill any preconceived questions that the reader might have. I don't think I'm alone in putting the question of how Kirk left a pregnant Marcus as my main question in his and Carol's relationship. The entire book teases us with Carol's inability to reveal the pregnancy to Jim, awaiting the moment when all will be revealed and Kirk will make the decision to leave. Sadly, it never happens. The book ties up the Kent struggle in fairly short order, but the pregnancy thread is just left dangling out there. Even worse than that in my eyes is the way the Leila/ Spock relationship is handled. While one could see how Leila's feelings in "This side Of Paradise" could have been inspired by the events shown here, I don't see anything on Spock's side that would have caused the emotional reaction shown in that episode. I feel like the authors could have played a bit more towards Spock's inability to hide his emotions at this earlier stage in his life, showing a connection with Leila that would cause the stirring of emotions we witness in TSOP. It just feels like a lost opportunity all around.

While I do have some gripes with this one, it was still fun to see these relationships in the limelight. I can't recommend this one as a "must-buy", but since the book is fairly short (only around 300 pages with a pretty large type-font used), it might make a relaxing read on a rainy afternoon. If you go into this knowing that your questions on their relationships will largely go unanswered, you should be able to just check your inquisitive mind at the door and enjoy the ride...

3 comments:

  1. So are Kirk and Spock in Starfleet separately and don't meet or is this before Starfleet for both? Depending on how you look at the new movie (either alternate Universe or a completely changed TOS time line) Kirk and Spock now meet right in the Academy (an idea I loathe, BTW). Of course, I am blocking out the new movie from conscious memory.

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  2. This is during their tenure in Starfleet, with both stationed on separate ships...

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