Tag Archives: spock

Star Trek: The Entropy Effect

7 Jun

June 7, 2020

I’ve been reading a lot lately. With all the things going on the world, I wanted the book equivalent of comfort food. I decided to read an old Star Trek novel. It has been many years since I read one. I gave up on this type of fanfic sometime ago, but over the last couple of years my attitude has been slowly coming around. Truthfully, I was a being a snob about it.

So I picked The Entropy Effect by Vonda N. McIntyre. I read it may years ago, when it first came out and I remembered liking it, so I decided to give it another read. In fact, it was re-released ten years ago as part of Star Trek’s 40th anniversary celebration. 

This is the current cover.

That’s a pretty nice cover. Here’s the description from Wikipedia (their motto: we are constantly asking you to give us money although the work is all written and edited for free by you.):

The Entropy Effect is a novel by Vonda N. McIntyre set in the fictional Star Trek Universe. It was originally published in 1981 by Pocket Books and is the second in its long-running series of Star Trek novels (and the first original novel in that series; the first of the series is the novelization of Star Trek: The Motion Picture). It is also the first source to give Sulu and Uhura first names later made canon, Hikaru (in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country) and Nyota (in Star Trek).

Despite this book being nearly 40 years old, I’ll avoid spoilers and tell you only that it involves time travel shenanigans and the death of Captain Kirk. (What’s that you say? I said I’d avoid spoilers and then go right ahead and tell you that Kirk dies? Look, you know he’s alive at the end of the book. Give me a break.) 

As I said, that’s a pretty nice cover. Let’s see the original cover.

 

Not quite as interesting. It also has a few problems. As this came out in the wake of Star Trek: The Motion Picture, it shows the crew in the new movie uniforms and the movie version of the ship. (Note that the reissue has Spock in a TV series uniform.) This was common with the first few books in the series. Despite the story being set in the TV era, the new novels all have movie uniforms worn on the cover. I get it, that’s a Trekkie/nerd thing. But as a former Trekkie/nerd I spent a lot of time reading that book trying to figure out when it took place. 

That’s not the weird thing about the cover. That would be Sulu. On the cover he has very long hair and a mustache.

Kirk looks like he just showed up at a party wearing a pumpkin costume, not realizing that it was a formal dinner party. 

In the novel, Sulu had been letting his hair grow for six weeks, That looks like a lot more than 6 weeks growth to me, and I should know, having just gone about 16 weeks without a haircut.

Sulu’s hair growth is not something you would know until you read the book, so seeing him on the cover that way made no sense to me, back in 1981. I still clearly remember looking at the cover and being sure that someone had defaced it and drew on that hair and mustache with a pen. I actually tried to wipe it off.

The book is a good read and I do recommend it. But get the original cover. Not only is it funnier, a used copy can be gotten a lot cheaper than the reissue. 

 

 

The Best Line Ever Written In All Of Star Trek

3 Dec

December 3, 2018

Back in 2015 I introduced you to The Worst Line Ever Written In All Of Star Wars (“space diapers.”)

Today I’d like to introduce you to The Best Line Ever Written In All Of Star Trek. And appropriately, it comes from The Best Film Ever Made In All Of Star Trek, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.

(I’ll skip the spoiler warning as I’ll assume that you already know that Spock dies at the end. )

During the climactic battle with Khan, The Enterprise’s engines have been disabled and warp drive is offline. Khan, in his final act of defiance (“From hell’s heart, I stab at thee. For hate’s sake, I spit my last breath at thee”) has activated the Genesis device, which will wipe out anything it’s energy touches.

There’s some terrific writing in this scene, as the sense of impending doom is palpable. The Enterprise, flying as fast as it can, is swiftly being overtaken by the detonation and it is only a matter of minutes before everyone on the ship dies. This is driven home by Mr. Sulu, who was always  one of the more positive members of the crew. “We’re not going to make it, are we?”

Sulu looks at Captain Kirk, heroic and unstoppable, who during the course of the film discussed the many ways he’s beaten the unbeatable. Kirk, completely uncharacteristically, is sitting with his arms tightly folded across his chest, and simply looks at his son, David, a scientist behind the Genesis device.

David quietly shakes his head no.

There is doom, there is dread, and there is Mr. Scott, to whom Kirk had earlier said “Scotty, I need warp speed in three minutes or we’re all dead.”

It is a perfect Star Trek line, one we’ve heard dozens of times in the TV series. Scotty is a miracle worker. He’ll get the engines back online. He’s done exactly that in situations as bad as these many times over. It’s almost a joke. So when Captain Kirk tells Scotty he needs warp speed in three minutes, he’s pretty sure he’ll have them back in two.

But he won’t. And we know he won’t, because down in engineering Scotty is barely conscious and being treated by Dr. McCoy. We know but Kirk doesn’t. But Spock does. It is Spock who saves the ship, who sacrifices his own life. (“The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few. Or the one.”)

But Jim Kirk doesn’t know it. So when the engines come online, the ship goes to warp speed and everyone escapes certain doom, Kirk says the best line written in all of Star Trek:

“Bless you Scotty.”

Because we know it wasn’t Scotty. We know it was Spock. We know he’s dying, probably already dead. We see his empty chair on the bridge but Kirk hasn’t seen it yet. In the moment Kirk is blessing his miracle working engineer, we the fans are already mourning his best friend’s death. The line, delivered so thankfully by Kirk, is actually painful to us watching the film.

Alfred Hitchcock defines suspense as, in a nutshell, the audience knowing something bad that the characters do not. It is us seeing the bomb under the table while the couple slowly drinks their morning coffee, oblivious to the countdown. It is good writing. And it is also good writing with us knowing Spock has died while Kirk is praising the wrong man for saving the ship.

But Kirk soon finds out, and it’s when he calls engineering to congratulate Scotty, only to hear Dr. McCoy grimly say, in what is the second best line written in all of Star Trek, “Jim… I think you better get down here.” Followed by “Better hurry.” Kirk looks at Spock’s empty chair, and he knows.

The whole ending of the film, leading up to Spock’s death, is dark and portentous. It is heavy and funerary in a way Star Trek has never gone before. This one film is full of fantastically quotable lines, from the campy “Khaaaaaan!” to the subtle “how we face death is at least as important as how we face life. ” Star Trek II is well-written in the same way every single Star Trek film since 2009 has not been

“Bless you Scotty.” The best line in all of Star Trek. Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, written by Jack B. Sowards and Nicholas Meyer.


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