“Kirk was eternally fascinated by the procedures for making the Enterprise ship-shape for a long voyage. He was as familiar with every action as a man watching his wife dress in the morning, and yet…it had that same sort of fascination, of responsibility mixed with some perverse and impossible kind of ownership. NO individual could own a starship, any more than a man could own his wife. Still, the Enterprise was his .”
The Federation loses contact with a Vulcan research station in the Black Box Nebula. A distress call sent by the station has taken 10 years to arrive. Enterprise is sent to investigate. They are also testing new Starship Monitors, a watchdog computer system designed to oversee Command and Medical decisions and take over if needed. A very young and very naïve Federation News Service reporter is along for a story on the new monitors. When Enterprise arrives at the outpost, they find a sentient, malevolent proto-star has taken over the Vulcans and plans to end the universe.
Random Thoughts Written Down as I Read:
Did the Federation learn nothing from “The Ultimate Computer?” Does it make any sense EVER to let a computer override a Captain’s or a Doctor’s decisions? Computers can only know what they are programmed to know and space exploration is about discovering the unknown. How can a computer possibly know the right action to take in a completely new situation? Bah.
When Uhura lets the reporter Mason share her quarters, Uhura’s quarters allowance is upped and her mess bill is lowered. Enterprise crewmembers have to PAY for their berth and rations? Enterprise suddenly has no guest quarters?
Kirk designs his dream nurse: she’s 5’10,” beautiful, brainy, and obedient. McCoy calls him sexist, and rightly so. Obedient? Ick.
Spock is severely handsome and only eats in his quarters.
Roddenberry’s brain implant communication system is still creepy.
There’s a lot of unexplained Vulcan vocabulary and frankly odd Vulcan cultural behaviors.
Uhura’s uniform is sprayed on. Literally.
Nurse Chapel is spinsterish. I don’t know if this is better or worse than forever being in love with Spock. No difference perhaps. Both are lazy, insulting characterization.
There are several meetings in Kirk’s quarters, complete with product placement in the form of a Delkin Chair. They throw pajama parties, have pillow fights, and play mystery date.
Spock holds hands with a 13-year-old Vulcan girl, a distant relative.
The Corona of the title is a name. Corona possesses people. It uses the brains of cryogenically frozen researchers for data storage. It makes the Vulcan researchers build a huge machine. It owns something called an Eye-to-Stars, a space/time, probable universe telescope.
Corona also owns a Transformer, which is like a Transporter, but not, even though to my unscientific brain it sounds like the same thing.
Why would any section of Enterprise have a smaller “night” crew? Day and night are pretty much arbitrary aboard a starship and I’d really prefer my sole life support fully manned at all times. That said, why would the engine room ever be ‘virtually unmanned?’
If Spock uses the transporter again, Corona will be able to posses him! But why would he, when the transporter is behaving so erratically? Time for a plot contrivance to get out of the corner we wrote ourselves into.
After the ill-advised transport, the reporter Mason is the only female in the group. What happened to Chapel? Noooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!
Spock shares his katra with Mason in order to avoid being controlled by Corona.
Corona is a fugitive scientist whose universe ended with our Big Bang. It wants to recreate the Big Bang, thereby destroying our universe and restoring his own.
Spock calls the captain Kirk, not Jim or Captain.
Spock is in grave danger and Kirk can’t save him because the monitors have taken over. Did NOT see that coming.
Corona invades Mason’s mind. She makes a telepathic Kirk Summation and convinces it to wait until our universe is dying before enacting its Big Bang.
Corona then secretly stays with Mason, with her permission, to experience life in our universe. Then suddenly everyone knows Corona is with Mason.
Chapel is fine; the author just forgot she was with the landing party. Or maybe that she is female. I don’t know.
“Ah, peace, Kirk thought. Like seduction. Sometimes much more exciting than the act itself.”