STAR TREK: SPOCK: REFLECTIONS (2009)
“All living beings require illumination and wisdom. And none so much as a child’s mind yearning for insight…that it is unable to find...”
- Old Spock to the Saurian passenger
We start by a Saurian talking to him about leaving The Romulus-Federation Neutral Zone, and we get a flashback to Captain John Harriman taking over the Enterprise. John shows Spock a plaque he had committed in Kirk’s honor, and tells him that Kirk told him to take risks, if he wanted to sit in the Captain’s chair. Spock remarks that there is no need for ceremony because Kirk was only following his nature. It keeps things simple and logical, as Spock would no doubt have wanted. B- if only for the perfect Spock answer to Harriman.
While the first story deals with Spock’s need for logic and simplicity, the next is a well-crafted excellent story about Spock’s emotional struggles. Sarek (Spock’s dad) is angry with Spock and goes after him for being out too late in the desert. Young Spock argues that he simply has a different course of logic. From there, on top of a beautiful Vulcan cliff, Spock explains that when he is outside, he feels at peace, and that he knows that him being half-human is a constant reminder to his father that he’s not a Vulcan. Sarek changes the subject and says that he will worry his mother. She is human, after all. And he leads Spock back home. A+ for this beautiful, well-drawn scene!
Very little is often said about what Spock’s dad actually thinks of Spock’s half-breed nature. Although he tries to stay logical, his emotions interfere too. It’s a beautiful scene. Next, we see Spock with Captain Pike, on a planet too far for transporters to reach. An engineer has developed portable wormholes to make long-term transportation easier. When Spock mentions that wormholes are unstable, he falls in, and Pike saves him in an act of selflessness. It alludes to his later sacrifice without ripping it off exactly from The Wrath of Khan! B for a grade, as far as that story goes, since we’ve already seen it with another Captain.
Then, we get a flashback to Romulus where he is teaching the ways of logic to some kids. Even though there’s the two-part TNG episode “Unification” (1991), with Spock on Romulus, you don’t actually see him do much teaching, so that was nice. It’s here he learns that James T. Kirk is dead, which is the reason he’s back on the shuttle talking to the Saurian. One thing that happens in-between the next story is that he stops in Vulcan, and meets his former wife. An unnecessary detour, since next I either want to see Kirk or Picard.
And the next story is a Kirk story! It is short and sweet, and set in The Original Series era. A warp core breach threatens the U.S.S. Collins, Jim Kirk beams down to save the elderly female Captain, who won’t leave out of pride. When Spock remarks that he risked much for her, Kirk replies, “Surely, you weren’t worried, Mr. Spock?” (Tipton writes such great Kirk lines!) Bones says don’t be silly…to be worried he’d have to have a heart! I can almost hear the ending theme from The Original Series. Essentially, though it’s a repeat of the virtue of sacrifice with Pike…we don’t have enough info on what Pike would’ve been like…so this is much better. A+!
Finally, there is one last flashback. To Saavik’s Kobayashi Maru. Saavik is disappointed and expresses her annoyance working with humans, and wants to know what she can do. Spock tells her to learn to trust. Although it is illogical. A sweet story, but somewhat incomplete feeling, and I wasn’t exactly clamoring to see Saavik. C+.
Finally, the end stories (Thankfully not flashbacks.) are Spock reading the death notice, then meeting with Picard. Picard tells Spock he’s welcome back to The Federation at any position, but Spock declines. He notes that he’s served with men of “exemplary character”, but his duties are on Romulus. They exchange Vulcan salutes, and cut to Spock on Romulus happily teaching children. A- . Picard is as dignified as ever, but put in the situation of being shot down by Spock.
Overall, it’s a good book. It just gets bogged down by its own flashback devices. Since many of the virtues that Spock learns in this volume are repeated, particularly from Pike to Kirk, it loses a bit of it’s power. And yet, Captain Kirk is as charming as I’d expect him, and Picard’s Vulcan salute at the end is touching. I remember when I first got this book, I couldn’t put it down. It’s good, if a bit long-winded! The most powerful stories come from the relationships Spock had with these exemplary characters!
But, since I don’t know a lot about Pike…(other than being disabled later, and played by Jeffrey Hunter in the failed Original Series pilot episode!) or how Spock related to Saavik, or even T’pring, it kind of just feels like melodrama in-between. Which is not to say that it isn’t good! Just feels less powerful…then again, Spock being a Vulcan, maybe that was the point…to drift between feeling and stone cold logic. A-, just for a little excess, but a fun read if you’re trapped between alien worlds like Spock and I! Oh, and the art gallery is just stunning! (No phaser pun intended!)
Me? Oh, yes! I exist between the able-bodied world and the disabled world. Between what I can and can’t do. The limitlessness of my mind vs. the weight of my body. Although I could never walk, and don’t want to, I walk in my dreams and my words carry my weight, along with my power chair of course! Yes, I think I know what it’s like to be in two worlds! I’m an alien too! Live long and prosper, everybody!