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Kathleen Sky

reviewed by Carolyn Kaberline

Ion storms of unbelievable magnitude are causing the Neutral Zone between the Romulan Empire and Federation space to shift. Because of this, the star system containing the planet Arachnae will soon leave Federation space and be part of Romulan territory. The Enterprise is thus assigned to explore this system and determine whether or not sentient life exists on the planet; if they find such life they are to help the inhabitants avoid Romulan domination. To aid in this exploration Dr. Katalya Tremain, the Federation’s foremost specialist on exobiology in this region of space, is assigned to the Enterprise.

While Captain Kirk is somewhat worried about Dr. Tremain’s posting because of the possible danger to ship and crew, both Dr. McCoy and Mr. Spock are excited at the possibility of meeting her—so much so that Kirk puts them totally in charge of her visit. However, all are totally unprepared for her arrival; she professes to loathe Vulcans and refuses to serve on a ship with one. While Captain Kirk and Dr. McCoy are horrified at her attitude, Spock seems to be his usual non-emotional self. And when Commodore Stone refuses to alter her assignment, she and Mr. Spock are forced to work together. Although Dr. McCoy deplores her attitude toward Spock, it isn’t long before he finds himself falling for Tremain and is left to get to the root of her dislike.

After much conflict, Tremain and Spock finally form an uneasy truce as they explore the planet together with a small landing party. Soon the party is attacked; most of the group is killed, and Spock is injured; it is Tremain that must save his life despite her attitude toward him. To make matters more complicated, a Romulan warship has arrived to wait for the planet to cross totally into Romulan space; because of this and the Romulan commander’s refusal to believe the Enterprise has anyone on the planet, Captain Kirk is unable to lower the ship’s shields and transport Tremain and Spock aboard.

The spotlight in this novel is totally on Spock and McCoy as the physician finds his growing feelings for Tremain in conflict with his friendship with Spock. The more he is drawn into a relationship with her, the more he must try to get to the root of her dislike of Vulcans--something that is so deeply ingrained in her  that he's not sure he can solve the problem. While the story is primarily serious in tone, there are also some humorous portions as Spock and McCoy try to outdo each other in preparing for Tremain's arrival aboard the Enterprise. In addition, Spock's attempts to hide his excitement at Tremain's posting prove completely ironic when her feelings toward him are made known.

While this is a relative short book and a very easy read, I would recommend it for its insight into the McCoy-Spock friendship—something that the two of them are not always aware exists.

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