reviewed by David Eversole
For reasons I cannot quite fathom, this early Star Trek novel is often placed on many readers "All-Time Worst List." It is certainly not a cutting-edge novel, not one that will expand your horizons and leave you an enriched, superior Homo sapien sol, but it aint all that bad either. Certainly as far as professional Star Trek fiction of the 1970's goes, it is quite okay. A diverting, quick read. A couple things grate here and there, but Id rather be irritated by an author than bored by one.
A brief précis of the plot: Due to ion storms at the edge of the Neutral Zone which separates Federation and Romulan space, the boundaries of the zone are shifting. Soon the planet Arachnae, now in Federation space, will fall within the Romulans territory. The Enterprise is sent to search for intelligent life there before this happens. Doctor Katalya Tremain, the foremost expert on the exobiology of this region of space, is assigned to aid in the search. Dr. McCoy, who refers to Tremain as "the best thing to happen to biology since Charles Darwin," is ecstatic as she arrives. Even Spock allows himself a slight smile at meeting a woman whose mind equals and probably surpasses his own.
And shes damn fine lookin too. Ain't they always?
But soon we learn that Tremain harbors an irrational hatred of Vulcans. One which she refuses to discuss.
Without giving too much away, Spock and Tremain (as any astute reader would have realized almost from the first moment she set her hateful gaze upon him) are stranded on Arachnae and must work together to survive.
Ill say no more about the plot. Its serviceable if not original. Skys prose is likewise. She tells her story in unadorned language. Shell never equal the graceful prose of Theodore Sturgeon nor the fiery wordsmithing of Harlan Ellison (how many writers do?!), but she puts her sentences together in an eminently readable fashion.
Only a couple (to my sensibilities) glaring plotholes.
Vulcan! comes with a complimentary introduction by David Gerrold (who seems to left-handedly give Skys then husband, author Stephen Goldin, more credit for the novel than the byline suggests).
Honesty compels me to add that this was the first Star Trek novel I ever read. At fourteen years of age, the cover caught my attention quite easily and the horde of Arachnae natives surrounding Spock and Tremain, promised high adventure. And the scene were Spock mindmelds with the Arachnae natives sent my young mind into that vaulted "sense of wonder" that science fiction literature strives for (but does not always achieve). It represents a time in my life, one that thirty years later I, as many of you no doubt do as well, long nostalgically for (of course glossing over all the negative points to remember the positive ones).
Read this book for the first time without any preconceived notions, or reread it with an open mind. Despite the viciousness of Tremains prejudices, I think you might enjoy it.
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Carolyn Kaberline's review.
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