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Star Trek: To Reign in Hell – The Exile of Khan Noonien Singh by Greg Cox

This August, to celebrate the upcoming release of Star Trek: Into Darkness on DVD and blu ray, we’re taking a look at the Star Trek movies featuring the original cast. Movie reviews are every Tuesday and Thursday.

We’ll be supplementing our coverage of the movies with tie-ins around (and related to) the films. We’ll be doing one of these every week day. This is one such article.

I feel like I’m in the minority because I didn’t much care for Greg Cox’s The Eugenics Wars: The Rise and Fall of Khan Noonien Singh, Vol. 1 & 2. The books had an absolutely great premise, and Cox had a very clever way of explaining how the Star Trek universe could have had a major conflict between genetically-engineered supermen in the 1990s, despite the fact that their version of the 1990s looked a lot like ours. However, Cox became bogged down in shout-outs and continuity references and character cameos. Despite the seemingly epic scope of the story, it seemed like 20th century Earth was inhabited by twenty people who all knew one another.

In contrast, To Reign in Hell has a much less ambitious and exciting premise, but the novel also reigns in some of Cox’s excesses. While the author’s taste for continuity sometimes overwhelms the narrative, he is somewhat restrained in how heavily he cane lean on what came before. While Cox’s prose is still a little prosiac, and his narration a little ham-fisted, he at least has a bit more room here to develop Khan as a character. Without the crutch of feeling the need to reference every 20th century character ever to appear in Star Trek, Cox can focus on his leading man.

Well, mostly.

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Star Trek – Crucible: Spock – The Fire and the Rose by David R. George III (Review)

This August, to celebrate the upcoming release of Star Trek: Into Darkness on DVD and blu ray, we’re taking a look at the Star Trek movies featuring the original cast. Movie reviews are every Tuesday and Thursday.

We’ll be supplementing our coverage of the movies with tie-ins around (and related to) the films. We’ll be doing one of these every week day. This is one such article.

The second part of David R. George II’s epic Crucible trilogy, The Fire and the Rose, can’t quite measure up to the charm and warmth of the first instalment in the series, Provenance of Shadows. George’s Crucible trilogy is a breathtakingly ambitious piece of work. Celebrating the fortieth anniversary of Star Trek with a trilogy of novels, each grounded in The City on the Edge of Forever and each based around a different member of the show’s leading trinity. The Fire and the Rose is still a very smart and well-constructed read, but it stands in the shadow of the first of George’s three books.

I suspect that at least part of the reason The Fire and the Rose doesn’t work as well is down to the subject. Leonard McCoy is a vitally important Star Trek character, but he was also a relatively under-developed one. While he was one of the leading trio on the original show, he was never as popular as Kirk and Spock, and never garnered the same amount of attention. (Notwithstanding solid work done by writers like Diane a Duane.) So McCoy was a relatively blank canvas for George to develop.

In contrast, Spock is the face of Star Trek. He was part of the first episode of Star Trek ever produced. He appeared in the most recent film released. Although DeForest Kelley christened Star Trek: The Next Generation with a cameo in Encounter at Farpoint, Leonard Nimoy’s visit to the spin-off earned a full two-parter in Unification. As such, Spock is a character who has been developed and explored and expanded by countless writers over the franchise’s long history.

Quite frankly, it’s hard to imagine there’s too much left to say about him. George tries quite hard, and find a nuance or two, but The Fire and the Rose feels more like an attempt to consolidate what we already know of Spock.

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