I knew it was gonna be bad. But I didn’t know it was gonna be this bad.
I read the two “Phoenix” books out of publishing order and saved them for the last of the Bantam books because I recalled that they took place one right after the other and I didn’t like them. I remember reading these books as a teen and thinking I just wasn’t knowledgeable enough to understand. I thought since I’d never read philosophy or gotten into politics, I just didn’t have the background to understand what was going on. I also remember being vaguely disturbed by them. Now here I am approaching 50, active in politics, knowledgeable about philosophy, having been out in the world, and I’ve decided the “Phoenix” books are just so much faux-philosophical bullshit and Marshak and Culbreath are very disturbed ladies who got in on the groundfloor of Star Trek fandom and proceeded to shit all over the show they claimed to love.
I can’t follow my usual template for my reviews because there is just SO much WTF to behold.
Our story, what little there is and assuming I understand it:
Black OMNE kidnaps Kirk and makes two duplicates of him with his super-duper cloning transporter. He lets one burn to death in a fire so the galaxy believes Kirk is dead. He offers the other to Spock in return for betraying the Federation. The Romulan Commander is there so she can take Spock and (duplicate) Kirk back to the Romulan Empire for safety after the betrayal, but she wasn’t in on the plan. It’s then revealed that the original Kirk is still alive, but OMNE is keeping him for himself. After many beatings and escapes and much discussion, Spock beats up OMNE who shoots himself in the head. OMNE’s magical transporter reincarnates him and he appears on the Enterprise for one final brawl before escaping.
The writing is repetitive and it repeats itself and it covers the same ground over and over and over, often using short, declarative sentences and overusing dashes—to make every phrase sound—important.
There are repetitive, endless, redundant, interminable, incessant, wordy discussions of Masculinity, Complexity, Subtlety, Alpha-maleness, Domination, Obedience, Submission, Honor, Identity, Price, Poker, Freedom, A Thousand Years, Strength, Scripts, Logic, Ownership, Mind, Will, Love, and–Thinking Outside the Phalanx. There are repetitive, endless, redundant, interminable, incessant, wordy discussions of Masculinity, Complexity, Subtlety, Alpha-maleness, Domination, Obedience, Submission, Honor, Identity, Price, Poker, Freedom, A Thousand Years, Strength, Scripts, Logic, Ownership, Mind, Will, Love, and–Thinking Outside the Phalanx. There are repetitive, endless, redundant, interminable, incessant, wordy discussions of Masculinity, Complexity, Subtlety, Alpha-maleness, Domination, Obedience, Submission, Honor, Identity, Price, Poker, Freedom, A Thousand Years, Strength, Scripts, Logic, Ownership, Mind, Will, Love, and–Thinking Outside the Phalanx.
“Such warning that I gave was all that I had to offer—and more than I owed.”
“Answer that without riddles if you wish to have time for riddles.”
After his presumed death, Spock remembers Kirk’s sideways looks, his eyes, his body language.
The replica Kirk is revealed lying nude on a dais, surrounded by candles and flowers. It is implied that Spock should wake him with a kiss.
Spock “closed long fingers on the bare, warm shoulder. Surprise. And then a smile played on the still sleeping lips. Then Spock saw the face relive the moment of astonishment, unbelief, belief. Veins stood out in ridges. The lips formed “Spock!” Stomach muscles knotted and flung the wide shoulders up into arms which caught them. The hazel eyes snapped open… “Spock?” The arms closed on Spock’s shoulders. “Shh—” Spock said and held for a moment, then disentangled and eased the shoulders down, pulled up the fallen sheet.”
The replica Kirk is a virgin. The sheet covering him is translucent, transparent.
Spock knows his Captain well: every contour. Every scar. Every injury.
Spock “took Kirk’s face in his hands, not asking this time a permission which had always been granted…Kirk’s hands reached to ease the shoulders and to draw him surprisingly close…Spock slipped in easily at the level of warmth. He had been there before. It knew how to accept him…A shudder, caught and held to stillness…Cheeks moving to swallow. Jaw firming…reaching deep, quickly, deeper than ever, a swift agony of barriers to be broken, reaching through to layers and levels and hidden places which wanted and did not want to be touched, gathering up gossamer strands of the link into a slender, dissoluble thread…The Human gasped and sagged against the Vulcan.”
What? That was a mind meld.
OMNE dresses Kirk like a model in International Male.
Kirk and the Romulan Commander kiss deeply but he thinks Spock will mind if they do more.
OMNE beats Kirk into submission with a leather strap until Kirk sobs and yields. The beating is lovingly detailed. OMNE then heals Kirk with magic aerosol.
OMNE may have fallen for Kirk? Kirk likes the idea? A thousand years won’t be enough for them? I feel nauseated?
Kirk envisions Spock as a cowboy, wearing black jeans, a silk shirt, and spurred Western boots.
“Spock pulled out as James Kirk opened his eyes.”
Kirk is cuffed (like a bear cuffs its cubs) often and carried everywhere. There’s a lot of talk about poles here…
“Kirk caught his lip between his teeth…He had been hurt before, terrified before. Tortured. Faced with more than he could take…But this time he had met his match…And Kirk had almost felt some ancient jungle law telling him that this man was his natural master…”
Spock and OMNE beat each other bloody. The battle is lovingly detailed.
“Spock went for the link, thrusting in with one single, tearing, unstoppable stroke…The great muscles heaved in convulsion…The giant’s great legs bucked and heaved his bulk backward, dragging Spock along…”
What? You guys, it’s a MIND MELD. What are you looking at?
“Kirk did what was needed. He was well down the thighs…with the jeans down around the boots, when Spock said, ‘ That will be enough, Captain.’”
What? First Aid!
Marshak and Culbreath claim that Gene Roddenberry considered this storyline for the plot of Star Trek: The Motion Picture. It’s very hard to believe this assertion.
If you don’t know what ‘slash’ is, you are very lucky and should strive to keep your innocence.
I’ll be in my bunk.