Theodore R. Cogswell & Charles A. Spano, Jr.
reviewed by Carolyn Kaberline
The crew of the Enterprise has been sent to the planet Kyros to check out a new survey tool: a telescan cephalic implant designed to connect the mind of a survey team member with that of a native of the planet. The hope is that this implant will allow those using it to quickly understand both the language and the customs of the planet as well as adopt the mannerisms of the natives. If the field test is successful, it is believed that this new invention will allow a more in depth study of a planet and its inhabitants. However, when Mr. Spock is connected to a half-insane revolutionary by mistake, he sabotages the Enterprise, leaving it helpless against an approaching radiation front that will make the ship uninhabitable in a matter of days. Its up to Captain Kirk, Dr. McCoy, and a young ensign to find Mr. Spock and bring him back to sanity in order to save the Enterprise and stop a full-blown revolution on the planet.
While new inventions often have glitches that cause malfunctions, this story adds a new twist: the invention works well. Its the application of the invention that causes all the problems. And while there are several clues throughout the novel as to the real identity of the planets messiah, they tend to be overlooked, thus providing a few false leads.
This is a very readable novel with enough twists and turns to capture the attention of readers of all ages. Probably the only real weakness in the plot is that the climax is summarized more than shown, leaving the reader to wonder about the specifics. There also seems to be a gap between the rescue of Kirk and his men and Spocks final attempt to undo the damage that has been caused on the planet. Even with this weakness in plot, the characters are well-developed, and the whole story seems more than plausible. Theres even a little humor when Dr. McCoy shows that he can handle any muleor neelot in this particular case.
While not as strong as many of the earlier novels, Spock, Messiah! should still prove a good read for all.
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