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The Precursor to "All Our Yesterdays"
written by Jean Lisette Aroeste
STORY OUTLINE, dated September 23, 1968

report & analysis by Dave Eversole

 

Since Aroeste's outline does not indicate act breaks, and since it is quite different than the aired episode, I will simply synopsize the story without guessing where they would have fallen.

The Enterprise orbits Sarpeidon, "a dead world under a dying sun," with no discernable life readings. Yet the Enterprise's sensors detect a massive power source on the planet. Kirk, Spock and McCoy beam down to investigate.

In a ruined city, there is one intact building, with lights on within. The landing party enters, finds that it is a library ran by Mr. Atoz, a man who is in every room simultaneously. McCoy tries to scan him with his medical tricorder, but it does not function here. Nor do their communicators. Atoz explains that their equipment might interfere with the vast machine which powers the library.

The library is a vast repository of books (with mechanical interpreters to translate them to any language desired), films, microprints, and "total-environment archaeological reconstructions."

Kirk watches a film (instantaneously translated into English for him) about the sea-merchant trade in ancient times when Sarpeidon had vast oceans. McCoy views one which depicts a later era when a sun flare-up almost destroyed the planet.

Spock continues searching for the library's power source. McCoy calls to him. He wants Spock to see a segment of the film he is watching--there are parallels between Sarpeidon's cultural history and Vulcan's. Spock moves over to look at the film.

Kirk suddenly hears a woman's scream, looks up and through a window sees a man and a woman struggling in the "mist" outside the building. Kirk dashes out the door to investigate.

Spock and McCoy follow Kirk through the door...only to find themselves in a barren desert. The ruined city which surrounded the library has vanished along with Kirk.

Kirk, arriving in a setting analogous to a late 19th century San Francisco waterfront, also finds the library gone. He rescues an injured woman from her assailant and suggests that McCoy can treat her wounds if they find their way back to the library.

They cannot find the library, but Kirk and Spock and McCoy soon discover that they can call to each other if they stand near the spot they arrived in their respective periods. All soon deduce that they were transported to the eras in the films they were viewing.

Kirk is captured by the police, and he and the woman (a pickpocket, as in the aired episode) are dragged before the local magistrate. Despite Kirk's attempts to explain that he traveled here from a future library, he is convicted of being an accomplice to the pick-pocket, and both are sentenced to death for this Sarpeidon capital offense.

Spock and McCoy have it almost as bad. McCoy is succumbing to the extreme heat, and they find themselves surrounded by misshapen humanoids who capture them, lock them in a holding compound.

In his prison cell, Kirk is visited by his sentencing magistrate, and is freed. The magistrate reveals that he could not speak up earlier, but he too came from the future when Sarpeidon's sun was dying. The magistrate and Kirk travel back to the future library, and attempt to locate Spock and McCoy. They call to them, and they answer. The magistrate tells them they must come back through at the exact spot they entered the past.

McCoy is delirious from the heat and can no longer stand. Spock carries him to the stone wall where they entered, and finds a portion of it is insubstantial. As McCoy tries to walk through, the portal closes, and he is trapped, with only his arm extending into the library. The monstrous humanoids move in to attack them again.

Mr. Atoz attacks Kirk and the magistrate. Not only is he the librarian, he is also a self-defense mechanism, created and recreated moment-to-moment by the vast machine which powers the library and portal.

Kirk finally holds Atoz long enough for the magistrate to reopen the portal and pull McCoy and Spock to safety in the library. One of the monsters follows them through. Kirk and Spock struggle with it, throw it back through to its time, and the magistrate closes the portal.

The magistrate grapples with Atoz, but is barely holding his own. He tells Kirk, Spock and McCoy to get out of the building quickly. Now that every single inhabitant of Sarpeidon has traveled into the past, the machinery controlling the library must be shut down lest aliens find it and travel back also. He will sacrifice himself.

From the outline:

Kirk, McCoy and Spock emerge from the library into the ruined street and the lights wink out behind them. They look back; the library is now a hollow ruin like everything else here. The magistrate is gone; Mr. Atoz does not exist; the machine is rusted and useless. Kirk finds an old, tattered book lying at his feet, but when he tries to pick it up it turns to dust in his hand.

Unlike her fully-formed, adeptly handled story outline for "Is There In Truth No Beauty?", this six-page outline by Jean Lisette Aroeste is extremely broad, containing only very generalized sketches of the story. It reads like an amateur's first try at a Star Trek story outline, not a second one by a writer who had already successfully sold her first. At its core, this story is not really about anything. Nothing is at stake other than survival. Kirk, Spock and McCoy walk through an adventure, they get captured, they escape, and there is no character conflict or growth.

All of that came later with the addition of the Zarabeth character (though Kirk still had nothing really interesting going on in his time period; nobody ever thinks of Kirk when this episode is mentioned).

Nonetheless, I prefer Aroeste's original vision of the library, and her final paragraph, quoted above, would have been lovely and visually poetic had it been filmed.


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