Saturday, November 10, 2012

Spock's World

Star Trek: Spock's World by Diane Duane
Published September 1988
Read July 21st, 2012

Previous book (The Original Series): #41: The Three-Minute Universe
Next book (The Original Series): #42: Memory Prime

Spoilers ahead for Spock's World!

From the back cover:
"I am Spock ... I hold the rank of Commander in the Starfleet of the United Federation of Planets; I serve as First Officer of the Starship Enterprise. I am the son of two worlds. Of Earth, whose history is an open book... and of Vulcan, whose secrets have lain hidden beneath its burning sands... Until now..."
It is the twenty-third century. On the planet Vulcan, a crisis of unprecedented proportions has caused the convocation of the planet's ruling council - and summoned the USS Enterprise from halfway across the galaxy, to bring Vulcan's most famous son home in its hour of need. As Commander Spock, his father Sarek, and Captain James T. Kirk struggle to preserve the very future of the Federation, the innermost secrets of the planet Vulcan are laid before us, from its beginnings millions of years ago to its savage prehistory, from merciless tribal warfare to medieval court intrigue, from the exploration of space to the development of c'thia - the ruling ethic of logic.
And Spock - torn between his duty to Starfleet and the unbreakable ties that bind him to Vulcan - must find a way to reconcile both his own inner conflict and the external dilemma his planet faces... lest the Federation itself be ripped asunder.

My Thoughts:

After reading the Rihannsu series by Diane Duane, I was excited to read more by this author. A few months prior, I had also read Doctor's Orders, and I really enjoyed her treatment of the TOS characters, especially the interplay between Spock and Dr. McCoy. After seeing a great deal of praise for Spock's World on the TrekBBS, I decided to give it a try, and I was definitely not disappointed.

The story revolves around a coming vote on Vulcan about whether or not to secede from the United Federation of Planets. Presenting arguments against secession, Captain Kirk, Mr. Spock, and Dr. McCoy are all given a chance to make their cases heard by the citizens of Vulcan. In addition, it becomes clear that there is a diabolical element fueling this movement towards secession, and it takes some cunning detective work by our intrepid Dr. McCoy to ferret it out. The novel alternates between the current crisis and a recounting of the history of Vulcan, giving the readers an insight into one of Trek's most famous and enduring cultures.

The history of Vulcan as presented in alternating chapters is worth the purchase price alone. Much like The Romulan Way, Spock's World acts as a sort of history text, covering millennia of Vulcan history through the eyes of various players in that history. Oftentimes in Star Trek, the aliens are merely humans with bumpy foreheads or different colour skin. The Vulcans, as Trek's first major alien race, are something special. Spock's World shows us how different their culture truly is, and provides reasons why the motivations of the Vulcans can sometimes seem so, well, alien.

The history of harsh and arid Vulcan is explored in Spock's World.

Spock's World was a truly fun read. Diane Duane has long been one of the premiere writers of Trek fiction, and Spock's World showcases some of her best work, in my opinion. In particular, her writing of Dr. McCoy was flawless. I could hear DeForrest Kelley's voice in my head as I read McCoy's dialogue and inner monologues. In addition, the speech that McCoy gives on Vulcan is one of the best selections of Star Trek writing that I've ever had the pleasure of reading. As McCoy himself notes, his speech is "every argument I've ever had with (Spock) rolled up into one." Reading this novel, one can certainly see the love and attention that has gone into getting every tone, every nuance just right.

Continuity Issues:

As Spock's World was published before much of the "canon" of Star Trek was filmed, a number of continuity issues crop up in intervening years. Unlike Star Wars fiction, filmed Star Trek works are under no obligation to take the "expanded universe" of the novels, comics, and other media into account when writing new stories. What follows is a brief overview of areas in which the Star Trek universe has diverged from that which is presented in this novel. Also listed are connections between this novel and other works of Trek fiction.

  • Spock's World presents a different version of first contact between Humans and Vulcans than what we saw in Star Trek: First Contact.
  • Sarek mentions that he attended the 2180 baseball World Series, an event which, according to Deep Space Nine's "If Wishes Were Horses," did not occur, as the final World Series was held in 2042. The final game was attended by only 300 fans.
  • Spock's World ties into other fiction, notably by Diane Duane but by others as well, through the characters of Harb Tanzer and Naraht. Mr. Tanzer is the "recreation officer" of the Starship Enterprise, in charge of maintaining the recreation facilities under the auspices of the ship's medical department. Naraht is the ever-cheerful Horta crewmember who appears in a number of Star Trek novels and comics.

Final Thoughts:

An excellent entry into the panoply of Star Trek fiction, and one that should be a must-read for every fan of Star Trek novels. Diane Duane writes the characters pitch-perfect, and her presentation of the history of Vulcan is every bit as fascinating as the page-turning "contemporary" events of the novel.
My next read:

The next novel on my summer reading catch-up odyssey is Uhura's Song by Janet Kagen. Look for that one to be published soon.


  1. I figure this one's another of the Star Trek books worth breaking my recent taboo on the genre, continuity being outdated and all. It's a giant of the book line.

  2. Definitely. Personally, I'd exempt any and all of Diane Duane's books, but then again, I want to read every novel ever published in the Pocket Books line!