S.D. Perry & Britta Dennison
reviewed by Randall Landers
In 2261, Doctor Carol Marcus and Commander James T. Kirk, an officer of the Federation starship Mizuki, are involved in an on-again, off-again, relationship which neither finds truly satisfying. Both want their respective partners in their world, and neither partner seems willing to make the sacrifice to their own careers. Marcus is developing an experiment using the unstable compound nitrilin to create change in the Martian environment. Joining her scientific team is Leila Kalomi who, after breaking up with her live-in boyfriend, basically falls head over heels in love with a young Lieutenant Spock who happens to be on Earth studying its culture. Kalomi creates elaborate fantasies about herself and her relationship with Spock. While a realistic situation in some ways, it's very disturbing to see Kalomi act in this manner even though it could be argued that it's a logical extrapolation of the character we see in "This Side of Paradise." Opposing Doctor Marcus' experiments (and make no mistake, the novel is basically about Marcus and Kalomi more than Kirk and Spock) are two factions: Whole Earth, who have no ethical boundaries when it comes to stopping an experiment of the sort Marcus is creating, and Redpeace (sort of a Martian Greenpeace whose leader chooses to look the other way when Whole Earth engages in sabotage/terrorism to accomplish their goals. When the experiment is sabotaged by Whole Earth, it's up to Starfleet (and Kirk and Spock in particular) to save the day.
Some minor quibbles: Nitrilin, used as an explosive in the Deep Space Nine series, seems some sort of compromise on the part of the writers who seemed unwilling to embrace the use of protomatter. Sadly, had they done so, it would have set up the event that would have led most 23rd century scientists to regard the substance as dangerous. A missed opportunity to be sure. Another deliberate decision was not to regard Carol Marcus as the "blonde lab technician" Gary Mitchell sicced on Jim Kirk. Another missed opportunity for sure as the authors minimalized the blonde lab technician even though we know from the series that Kirk "almost married her" (a fact conveniently omitted by the authors).
Still the book is an interesting one, especially in regards to current events in the Gulf. Recommended for contemplation more than enjoyment...
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