Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan
a novelization by Vonda McIntyre
reviewed by Randy Landers
Reviewing a novelization of a movie is a tricky thing at best. I'm not here to review the story--which I find the absolute best of all Star Trek movies--I'm here to review how Vonda McIntyre adapted her copy of the Bennett/Sowards script into a novel. Overall, she did a fairly good job at it.
Movie scripts are written, approved by the producers and studio, and shipped to the designated writer for adaptation. The problem with this is that movie scripts are re-written, revised and reedited long after the writer is working on the novelization. Some of this is apparent in McIntyre's novelization. Some of the critical dialogue, and especially some of the humorous dialogue, is different, and to an extent weaker, than what readers saw on the screen. For example, when Kirk comes aboard, Saavik remarks to Spock, "He's not what I expected, sir. He's so...Human." Spock replies, "Nobody's perfect, Saavik-kam." A wonderful exchange. However, in the novelization, Saavik remarks, "He's very...Human..." To which Spock replies, "You must remember that, as a member of Starfleet, you are unlikely to escape the presence of Humans or their influence. Tolerance is essential; in addition, it is logical." That's the sort of thing that permeates this novelization. Again, this is probably not McIntyre's fault. She is working from an earlier draft than the one from which the scene was shot. But it serves to illustrate why reviewing a novelization is not an easy task.
What I can concentrate on are McIntyre's development of the relationship between Lieutenant Saavik and Ensign Peter Preston. In the film, there's absolutely no interaction between the two characters. There's none in any of the drafts of this script I've ever seen. It's reasonable to conclude that this entire sub-plot was developed by McIntyre in her novelization, and it's nicely done. Likewise is the relationship between the scientists of Regula One, and to some extent between David Marcus and Saavik. I can also comment on McIntyre's story-telling ability, and for the most part, she excels in this area. Her pacing is good, and she does a good job of weaving her original material into the original script.
Overall, this is probably one of the best adaptations of a Star Trek movie script, and clearly one to be enjoyed.
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