Monday, June 30, 2014

Seasons of Light and Darkness

Star Trek: The Original Series
Seasons of Light and Darkness by Michael A. Martin
Published April 28th 2014
Read May 1st 2014


Previous book (The Original Series): No Time Like the Past
Next book (The Original Series): Serpents in the Garden


Purchase (Kindle) from Amazon.com | Amazon.ca | Amazon.co.uk

Spoilers ahead for Seasons of Light and Darkness!

About the novella:

Near the beginning of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, you may recall Kirk and McCoy discussing Kirk's current circumstances as a Starfleet admiral, and McCoy's frustration with Kirk for not pursuing his first, best destiny: command of a starship. In this novella, we join the two of them during that discussion, after which McCoy leaves Kirk's apartment and seeks the counsel of an old colleague: Spock. Somewhat intoxicated, McCoy discusses with Spock his belief that Jim is making a mistake, and regales the Vulcan with a tale of his mission to Capella IV, before joining the crew of the Enterprise (referenced in the TOS episode "Friday's Child").

Kirk and Bones drink Romulan ale and discuss the Admiral's career choices.


My thoughts:

When I first watched The Original Series as a kid, my favorite character by far was the enigmatic Mr. Spock. However, upon re-watching the series (many times) as an adult, my favorite character became Dr. Leonard McCoy. The warmth and humanity he brought to the show was an important counter-balance to the logical and completely rational Spock. Therefore, when I heard that this novella would be focusing on his character, I was on board.

In the recent run of Star Trek e-book novellas, we've seen where they succeed: as small, self-contained episode-like instalments. In Seasons of Light and Darkness, we see another area in which they can succeed: as small character pieces that highlight aspects of the characters' lives. As we follow McCoy in his encounter on Capella IV, we see the foundation of the man he would become in the television series.

The strength of this story lies in how true it is to McCoy's character. We see his compassion and dedication to his duty as a physician shine through as he deals with the people of Capella IV. Another aspect of the story that fascinated me was the exploration of Capellan society itself. We get into it a bit in the original television episode, but Martin is able to explore the nuances of this culture in more depth here. I enjoyed the way he portrayed their society, especially in parts such as members of the landing party being given the "gift" of combat.

In Seasons of Light and Darkness, we learn more about Capella IV's people and customs.

The most disturbing thing that came out of this novella, however? The idea that the Federation's need for a particular mineral seems to completely trump the prime directive. I suppose, however, that this idea was part and parcel of the episode "Friday's Child," and didn't originate here.

Final thoughts:

An interesting character piece that gives insight into the character of Dr. McCoy. Martin has a good handle on his character, and I could definitely hear the late Deforest Kelley's "voice" as I read this novella. A fun read that one is able to get through in an afternoon. The author uses the e-book novella format very well here. This is one that I recommend for any fan of McCoy.

Further resources:

TrekBBS review and discussion thread for Seasons of Light and Darkness
Podcast: Literary Treks 60: Hierarchy over Hippocrates (discussion of Seasons of Light and Darkness)

Also by Michael A. Martin:

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: Mission Gamma, Book Three: Cathedral with Andy Mangels (2002)
Star Trek: Enterprise: Last Full Measure with Andy Mangels (2006)
Star Trek: Excelsior: Forged in Fire with Andy Mangels (2007)
Star Trek: Enterprise: The Romulan War: To Brave the Storm (2011)
Star Trek: Titan: Fallen Gods (2012)

My next read:

Next review: another catch-up review from last month: The Lost Era: One Constant Star by David R. George III. Until next time!