Killing Time
Della van Hise

a review by Kristen Brady

A review in which one critic considers the work in question to be not even very worthy of killing time.

Killing Time, by Della Van Hise, is a fascinating mixture of the good, the very good, the quite excellent, and the utterly and irrevocably out of line. If you are familiar enough with the Trek underground to associate the name of the author with various K/S publications, then you can begin to understand what I mean when I state that Killing Time is sissified K/S in a glossy, soft-soap package made commercially palatable so as to be acceptable to a general audience.

There is nothing blatant, of course—well, not patently blatant anyway, although the pseudo-sexual symbolism approaches the downright over at times—perhaps ‘explicit’ is a better word. There is nothing truly explicit, of course, and Ms. Van Hise—when she is not riding on ecstatic waves of "intense hazel globes" and "fathomless black eyes which (seem) to reflect starlight"—is not an incompetent writer. On the contrary, this novel has a lot going for it—almost enough, in fact, to make one forget that the major plot device used—"a Romulan time-tampering project"—is identical to the one used in the novel immediately preceding this one (Ishmael, in which it is the Klingons instead of Romulans who dabble In time-tampering). In both instances, the idea is to obliterate the Federation by traveling backwards in time and making sure that certain individuals who will ultimately be responsible for the Federation’s eventual emergence are "removed." But unlike Ishmael—where the evil plot is foiled by Our Heroes, the Romulans actually succeed early on in the novel with their plan to alter the shape of the universe, and it is up to you-know-who to put everything back the way it was "before the galaxy hurtles toward total destruction!"

Killing Time opens with a strange, recurring bad dream which manifests itself to various members of the Enterprise crew. In this dream, Spock is Captain and Kirk is an ensign on board an Enterprise which is not quite the Enterprise. Kirk attempts to pass if off as edginess, due to the fact that the Enterprise has been patrolling the Neutral Zone in which there have been reports of increased Romulan Fleet activity (also, certain intelligence agents are missing and there is talk of some Romulan time-travel experiment), but it betties clear that something is truly wrong when increasing numbers of people admit to having the same disturbing dream and even Spock is affected. Before there is time to investigate fully however, Ensign Kirk wakes up one day on board the V.S.S. ShiKahr, Captain Spock, commanding.

But all is not as the Bad Guys hoped it would be. The scheme turns out to be partially successful in that there is no longer any Federation in the ‘Second History,’ but there is a Vulcan Alliance, a thing very similar to our own United Federation of Planets, as a matter of fact. This is not welcome news to the Romulans (it is a well-known fact that Romulans have more respect for Vulcans, their distant ancestors, than they do for Humans), so in effect, they consider themselves to be worse off in the Second History than they were in the First. But the Praetor has a plan...

Meanwhile, the Good Guys have figured out, that something is definitely wrong—a Galactic Menace Alert, no less, is in effect. It would seem that the First History still exists somewhere in the ‘molecular memory’ of the universe. It becomes apparent that the mind can reach beyond the physical boundaries of universes, however, because the minds of individuals who existed in both histories are "seeking their natural environment," which is, of course, the First History. In other words, the time displacement is causing a psychic disturbance which will inevitably, and in a very short time (two weeks!), render everyone in the Second History—an entire universe—insane.

Along the way to the inevitable happy conclusion, there are some twists, some surprises, and of course some complications—but what is basically a very intriguing concept is never allowed to unfold to its potential because it is constantly being forced to compete with what can only be termed heavy-handed homoerotic goo such as the eyes-locking-together stuff, the melding-of-the-gold-and-blue stuff, the "he(Kirk)-is-even-deeper-in-your-blood-than-Vulcan" stuff, the two-who-are-one-entity stuff. I should think this would all be extremely bewildering to anyone who was unaware of the K/S aspect and just reading it ‘straight’ because it does tend to interfere with the basic story. And there is more: the forced mind-link Spock perpetrates on Kirk at one point is nothing less than a type of rape ("ebony-black eyes stabbed through hazel-golden pools"), although, of course, Kirk is not really as reluctant as he seems to be at first. The entire thing culminates—or should I say ‘climaxes’?—in a scene in which the alternate universe Kirk and Spock, in order that the real universe Kirk and Spock may assume their rightful realities, in their last action before dying together (as necessity dictates—I don’t think I’m giving anything away by stating it), meld their minds together so that they are linked as they go out. Together. The symbolic sexual implications of such a set-up are hard to ignore, especially after having been so enthusiastically fueled by all the two-who-are-one jazz.

To conclude, Killing Time as a pro-novel, is a failure. The thing would have been much better had it been written as straight action-adventure, without the K/S element; it also would have been better had it been written as straight K/S (if indeed there is such a thing as "straight K/S"), which of course would have made it an entirely different story. Whatever the author’s reason for doing it the way she did (and I believe it was a conscious decision), it just doesn’t work. It doesn’t work as straight Trek, and it doesn’t work as K/S. Killing Time is not merely the work of a K/S writer whose basic K/S instincts cause her to be carried away when attempting to write straight Trek—Ms. Hise is a much writer than that. The inclusion of the K/S aspect in the novel was a deliberate choice, and one which remains unfathomable to me. But I do know this: the disappointment I experienced with Killing Time was all the more intense because I realized that with one whole hell of a lot of editing, this novel could have been one whole hell of a lot better.

Editor’s Note: Once Pocketbooks’ editorial staff realized that this novel had been printed with K/S material (allegedly by mistake), it was quickly pulled and replaced with an expurgated version. It was subsequently learned that Della van Hise released the deleted, sexually explicit K/S scenes (along with others) to fans of that genre, allowing the readers to see the naughty bits which had been excised. Pocketbooks purportedly learned of this, and put an end to it.

main.gif (11611 bytes)

Free counters provided by Andale.

banner.gif (754 bytes)

Click here to return to the Star Trek novels page.
Click here to return to the Main Index Page.