Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Back Before Kirk with A Child of Two Worlds

Tiff steps away from the Voyager novel series with one from an earlier time...

Written by the New York Times Bestselling Author Greg Cox, A Child of Two Worlds is set in the Star Trek: The Original Series timeline and I must warn you that this review does contain spoilers.

As a fan of The Original Series, I was really looking forward to reading this book, my first by Greg Cox and one of only a few novels to focus on this time period, reuniting Captain Pike, Dr Boyce, Number One and a young Spock after the events of The Menagerie and The Cage.

The story begins with a prologue of Spock’s seventh birthday; He is struggling to maintain a Vulcan veneer, despite the constant interference of his human tendencies. We are then plunged headlong straight into the action onboard the USS Enterprise.

It is the year 2255, Captain Pike and his crew are dealing with a critical outbreak of Rigelian Fever on board the ship. There is however an experimental ‘cure’ on a Cyprian colony nearby (a rare mineral that may help the fast ailing crew). True enough whilst en route to the colony, they receive a distress call from a Cyprian ship under attack by Klingons!

Events spiral out of control and crises overlap when it emerges that one of the crew of the ship rescued is a child abducted and raised by the Klingons who lay claim to her, demanding her return (by force if necessary!).

More complications arise as it turns out the girl, Elzy, didn’t actually want to be rescued, certainly not by her biological sister. Elzy becomes a symbol for her peoples’ ambitious politicians who have been menaced by the nearby Klingons for many years populist Mob politics create a situation that it seems is almost impossible for Pike to solve.

The theme of the book is clear from the start, literally a child of two worlds whose destiny seems enforced by vested interests, Elzy serves to remind Spock of his own personal dilemmas. It creates some great character moments for Spock as he witnesses Elzy’s burden, being reconciled with her family on one hand, while her Mother disapproves of her insistence that she is a Klingon. Indeed this can be further seen within the relationship between Spock and his half brother Sybok as he reflects on the path his brother took when he chose to reject Vulcan logic in favour of exploring his emotions instead. 

But this familial crisis can be seen throughout the novel. Captain Pike, bound by his Starfleet ethics but trying at the same time to do his best for his crew and all concerned in the dispute around Elzy. The author does a wonderful job with the characterisation especially with the more familiar crew members and it’s heart-warming to have a chance to revisit Dr Boyce and Number One and especially the younger, less mature Spock.

The novel provides a wonderful insight into this rather neglected time period. Readers may also find some similarities here to The Next Generation episode Suddenly Human.  There are some shortcomings most notably the style of the novel is rather less mature than other Star Trek novels I have read.

My first impression was that it was written in the style of a Young Adult novel and my fear is that the author has misinterpreted the unique style of The Original SeriesInstead he has created a more simplistic read, both in style and format racking up the tension to almost unbelievable levels before miraculously, a solution is presented.

Today, we have a tendency to view The Original Series as bright, nostalgic and a little silly at times and it’s true that people have misinterpreted this as a simplistic version of Star TrekIndeed this novel at times encapsulates that within its Young Adult style. The Original Series at the time of its’ original airing was groundbreaking and covered a great many difficult and at time controversial issues and it’s a shame that A Child of Two Worlds doesn’t represent this.

That being said, as a light read, I enjoyed it immensely. It was fun to read, but ultimately very forgettable.

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