The Price of the Phoenix (Star Trek Adventures, #4)

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A courageous and important book that dares to posit the theory: Kirk & Spock…friends, shipmates, comrades…LOVERS???

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A careful reading of this book makes it obvious that the piercing insight of the authors, Ms. Marshak & Ms. Culbreath, perceived far more deeply than most into the subtleties and nuances of the complicated relationship between Kirk and Spock. In fact, they saw more than many of the most ardent fans of the show may have been willing to notice or even admit. Crazy you say? Balderdash you challenge? Well, open your mind and read on and you may be very surprised by the time this review is over.

At the outset, let me say I was quite impressed that the authors did not shy away from the strength of their convictions regarding the true nature of the Kirk/Spock relationship, despite such nature being well outside the recognized, approved depiction of Star trek canon. Before analyzing their conclusions in light of “official” Star Trek doctrine, I thought it would be appropriate to let people see for themselves the unrestrained passion, the physical hunger, the deeply felt emotion that the authors so admirably (at least in this reviewers opinion) gave full expression.

PLEASE NOTE: None of the text below has been altered or embellished in any way and is reproduced verbatim from the book though I will provide a bit of context so you can understand the quotes. For these passages, all you need to know is that immediately prior to the beginning of the novel, Kirk has apparently been killed, leaving Spock both enraged and despondent. Subsequently, Spock learns that Kirk is still alive and the following takes place immediately after Spock’s discovery of Kirk’s body.
He [Spock] looked down and was stopped for a moment. He could not use the name. If he used the name he was certainly lost. He unlocked a hand from behind his back and 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.
After a moment they focused. The waking voice whispered, “Spock?” The arms closed on Spock’s shoulders.
“Shh-” Spock said [to Kirk] and held for a moment, then disentangled and eased the shoulders down, pulled up the fallen sheet. “Rest.”

[..................A short while later.....................]
“This is my Captain,” Spock said. “I require no inspection.”
“But I require it.” Omne answered.
Kirk’s eyes never left Spock, acknowledged no other presence. “And I require it,” he said. “Your faith was what I wanted. It is your certainty I need— and my own. Use the mind-touch, Spock.”

[.................And a short while later................]
He took Kirk’s face in his hands, not asking, this time a permission which had always been granted.
His fingers found the stylized position of the mind-touch and he cleared his own mind of the vision of the flames. He could do it now. He swept mind and body clean of the horror that must not be in the touch.
And he saw the same kind of clearing in Kirk’s face, the steadying down to quiet control, the fine courage of the willingness to open.
...And then Kirk’s hands reached to ease the shoulders and to draw him surprisingly close. “We are alone, Mr. Spock,” he said. “Quite alone. Do You Understand?” “Indeed, Captain. Quite alone.” And he made it true.
The mind-touch was a lowering of personal barriers. It did not require privacy, it nonetheless cried for it.
Spock slipped in easily at the level of warmth. He had been here before. It knew how to accept him.
Spock fought to keep the touch narrow, to move quickly up to the cooler level of consciousness. “Jim?”
My God, yes! It is yes? Spock heard the soft mind-laughter. “Hell, yes! Spock?”
“Yes. Indeed, yes!”
Laughter again, rippling like quicksilver. Where is my logical Vulcan?
Here.
Sudden catching of breath. ‘Even if-it’s not-me, Spock?”
It is you, all of you, irrespective of anything which has happened. That is my certainty, and your own. A shudder, caught and held to stillness.”

Now let’s pause for just a moment to examine more closely a few of these passages as they are quite telling: “...and then Kirk’s hands reached to ease the shoulders and to draw him surprisingly close. ‘We are alone, Mr. Spock,’ he said. ‘Quite alone. Do You Understand?’ ‘Indeed, Captain. Quite alone.’"........Powerful, powerful stuff folks. Keep in mind this is a Star Trek novel and not a Harlequin romance. These authors are not afraid to take chances.

What about this, “Spock slipped in easily at the level of warmth . He had been here before. It knew how to accept him.”.....uh...uh...I'm pretty sure a comment is called for, but I'm a little disorientated right now, so let's move on.

Finally, what about the courage to include the following risqué imagery, “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.”
........All I can say is WOW!!!

So after completing the novel, I was forced to ponder the meaning (the mark of any great literature in my opinion). Did the authors have some inside knowledge of Star Trek that those of us who watched the show were not made privy? I mean it makes sense given the period in which the show was made (1967-1969) that Gene Roddenberry would feel the need to disguise certain aspects of Kirk and Spock’s relationship in order to pass muster with the Network stiffs and censors. Make sense to you?
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So I decided to do some digging into this interesting premise and lo and behold, what I found was...to quote Mr. Spock...fascinating. My research made two things painfully clear (at least to me):

1. Kirk and Spock were indeed much more than friends and this dynamic was intentional on the part of the show’s creators, though for obvious reasons their relationship needed to be somewhat disguised.

2. Kirk and Spock’s relationship was the primary source of tension between Spock and McCoy due to McCoy’s old fashioned outlook and his disapproval of their…intimacy.


Let’s look at number 1 first. To back my conclusion I will use only material that is part of the official Star Trek Canon to demonstrate the clear, though subtly disguised, intimate nature of Kirk and Spock’s relationship,

Item #1 is a “thinly masked” exchange between the two:
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I don’t know about you, but it made me feel pretty stupid for not having seen it before. Additionally, what about this even less subtle interaction:
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Good heavens, what blinders we had on. For the life of me, I’m not sure how we missed this one:
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Think about it, the show takes place in the 24th century and it is logical to assume that by then all of the hang ups and prejudices about sexual orientation would have long since vanished. Mr.Roddenberry was a man of vision and it seems clear that he was determined to share his hope of a world without prejudice of any kind and took those steps he felt necessary to share that vision while still placating the close-minded attitudes of the “network executives” at the time.

Moving on to my second point (i.e., that McCoy and Spock’s animosity was the direct result of McCoy’s unwillingness to accept their relationship), we find some amazing things.

Think about the following:

A. McCoy’s character is described as very “old fashioned” and Bones is someone who resists change of any kind. He's what you refer to as “set in his ways.” Therefore, the look of utter loathing and disgust on McCoy’s face in the following scene when Spock innocently tries touches him is very revealing:
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It's been right there in front of us the whole time. Pretty clear isn’t it?

B. Finally, and most obvious of all, is McCoy’s numerous, misguided attempts to steer Kirk towards members of the opposite sex in the hopes of persuading Jim to give up his alternative lifestyle:
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Taken together, it becomes clear that the authors knew of what they were writing and have come closest to describing the true essence of this legendary relationship. I found it an eye opening experience and my great respect and admiration for Gene Roddenberry’s unique vision has only increased.

Now ultimately, I am only giving this book 2.5 stars because, despite the deeply passionate and evocative writing as it related to Kirk and Spock, I was somewhat disappointed in some of the pacing and I was not a fan of the end which seemed way too much of a dues ex machina.

Still this is a book that should be read for the keen and piercing insight into one of the most storied relationships in television history. Bravo Ms. Marshak, Bravo Ms. Culbreath.

PDF Sondra Marshak download The Price of the Phoenix (Star Trek Adventures, #4)

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