Spock's World

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Spock's World is a 1989 novel by Diane Duane, set in the fictional Star Trek universe. The plot revolves around a movement on the planet Vulcan to secede from the United Federation of Planets. The book alternates chapters that advance the main plotline with chapters that relate important scenes from Vulcan's history, and much of the book explores underlying themes in Vulcan philosophy and culture, especially the idea of cthia, a Vulcan philosophical (and possibly religious, depending on interpretation) concept translated in the book as "reality-truth — seeing things the way they really are, instead of the way we would like to see them".

Plot synopsis[edit]

Certain Vulcan organizations, many with anti-human biases, have begun a movement calling for the secession of Vulcan from the United Federation of Planets, citing the emotionality and unpredictability of humans as dangerous factors for the further development of the planet Vulcan. The dispute is to be resolved by a planetwide vote, with televised debates by important figures for a certain time period beforehand. James T. Kirk and the rest of the crew of the Enterprise are called away from shore leave on Earth in order to serve as diplomats for Vulcan, arguing against the secession, as the odds that Vulcan will leave the Federation are considered very high. Spock, being half-human and half-Vulcan as well as a prominent Starfleet officer, is seen as one of the most important figures in the debate.

While on Vulcan, the crew discovers (mostly through detective work by Dr. Leonard McCoy, using the aid of a sentient computer named "Moira" resident on the Enterprise) that the secession movement was sparked at least partially by T'Pring, Spock's childhood bride-mate, who has nursed a grudge against Kirk and Spock for years for the deception involved in their participation in the koon-ut-kalifee ceremony (see the original series episode "Amok Time" for a description of these events). Using the financial resources and connections available to her after the death of Stonn, T'Pring funded many of the organizations seeking to spark anti-human prejudice in the larger Vulcan population, as well as arranging favorable contracts for them regarding Federation property that would revert to the care of the Vulcan government should the secession take place.

Kirk, Spock, and McCoy consult heavily with Sarek, Spock's father and head ambassador from Vulcan to the Federation, and Amanda Grayson, his mother, regarding how to inform the Vulcan population of the corruption, but are interrupted by the news that T'Pau, a Vulcan elder and possibly the most respected living figure on Vulcan at that point, is dying. T'Pau makes the decision to transfer her katra (in a sense, her soul) to Amanda, instead of another Vulcan, proving her trust in certain members of the human race, and tells Kirk, Spock, McCoy, Sarek, and Amanda that since T'Pring's plot was able to thrive in secrecy and subterfuge, it should be countered with openness and honesty, and that the information should simply be given to the Vulcan population. The news of the corruption throws the planet into turmoil, but the news of her death and cross-species katra transfer brings it to a muted standstill. By this point, Kirk and McCoy (who were, with Spock, invited to participate in the debates as Starfleet representatives), have already given their arguments against secession. Spock's argument concludes the debates, and the planet votes on the secession, which is decided by a large margin in favor of remaining in the Federation.

Points of note[edit]

Only half the book is devoted to the main plotline dealing with Spock, Kirk, McCoy, Sarek, Amanda, and T'Pring, with the remaining chapters retelling important scenes from the history of Vulcan. The "Vulcan chapters" chronicle the evolution of the Vulcan species from gentle forest-dwellers on a paradisical planet through the solar flare that decimated it and turned it into the desert it is known as in Star Trek continuity, to an incredibly warlike species slowly developing psychic powers through genetics and social breeding programs, through the development of space age technology, to with the teaching and adoption of "cthia" (loosely translated as "reality-truth") by Surak as a unifying philosophy that ends millennia of war by the Vulcan race. These chapters conclude with the initial meeting of Sarek and Amanda Grayson and their decision to bear and raise Spock.

The book is also notable for an understanding of actual scientific principles that many of the future technologies described in the book would have to implement, such as principles of linguistics, particle physics, and artificial intelligence. While obviously required to diverge somewhat from modern science by the necessities of remaining true to Star Trek continuity, possible and somewhat plausible details of implementation are given for a number of important technologies. The word "cthia" itself is not translated by the universal translation devices used by Kirk (who does not speak Vulcan), reflecting an understanding of difficulty in accurately translating complex cultural concepts between languages (almost always encountered in actual linguistics). McCoy, however, has taken a biochemical language-learning aid to assist his understanding of Vulcan, which is described as a "RNA messenger sequence" and works by biochemically adding cells to his brain that provide an understanding of Vulcan; RNA (or ribonucleic acid) is a main carrier of genetic information regarding protein synthesis in actual biology. "Moira" is the name of a computer on the Enterprise in the book that has been given artificial intelligence and a female personality and who uses "her" innate understanding of computers to retrieve information for Dr. McCoy, and is also presented in a way consistent with modern A.I. science at the time of the book's writing. Also notably, "she" argues against a fundamental difference between human intelligence and her own, using the phrase "protein chauvinist" to describe humans who believe their intelligence to be intrinsically superior to that of a computer with similar cognitive abilities.

Continuity[edit]

The book, which says that Surak was killed by terrorists, is contradicted by later televised Star Trek. Star Trek: Enterprise establishes that Surak instead had been killed by radiation poisoning, although one might consider the radiation exposure to be due to the act of terrorists. The book also alludes to the prior novel Strangers from the Sky in describing first contact between Humans and Vulcans, both of which were superseded by the film Star Trek: First Contact.

Influence[edit]

The novel spent eight weeks on the New York Times Best Seller List in 1988.[1]

The novel is a favorite of the 2009 film's co-writer Roberto Orci.[2]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "New York Times Best Seller List". Retrieved 2011-07-30. 
  2. ^ Anthony Pascale (2007-10-04). "Interview - Roberto Orci On Why He Is A Trekkie & Making Trek Big Again". TrekMovie. Retrieved 2008-10-17. 

External links[edit]