Spock, Messiah!

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Spock, Messiah!
Cover of the 1976 edition
Author Theodore R. Cogswell and Charles A. Spano, Jr.
Country United States
Language English
Subject Star Trek
Genre Science fiction
Published September 1976
Pages 182[1]
Preceded by Spock Must Die!
Followed by The Price of the Phoenix

Spock, Messiah! is the second original novel based on the universe of the American television series, Star Trek. It was co-authored by Theodore R. Cogswell and Charles A. Spano, Jr., and was the first Star Trek novel to be published since 1970's Spock Must Die!. Cogswell had been an experienced author at the time of publishing, and invited Spano to co-author the book with him after he was approached by editor Frederik Pohl. It was later republished with new cover artwork in 1993. The novel was poorly received by fans and was criticised by critics for being exploitative and inaccurate.

Plot summary[edit]

The USS Enterprise visits the planet Kyros to observe the population and test a new telepathic implant. The people living on the planet traditionally cover their faces, and the devices allow the user to mentally link with a member of the populace, accessing both their memories and instincts which will allow the crew to walk around the planet freely. Something goes wrong when Ensign Sara George becomes sexually promiscuous. Following an away mission to the planet, Spock refuses to return to the ship and declares himself to be the messiah of the planet. He threatens to destroy some important crystals on the planet which are needed by the ship. The crew discover he was linked to a fanatical lunatic named Chag Gara. Due to an increase in radiation output, the Enterprise must leave the area sooner than expected, but cannot leave without the crystals. It is discovered that George damaged Spock's implant; after hers is fixed, she returns to the planet with Kirk, Engineer Montgomery Scott and Ensign Pavel Chekov.

This team tracks down Spock, who flees when he sees George. The first attempt to subdue him fails, and a second attempt has Kirk dressing as a gypsy to follow Spock. The team is captured by Spock's disciples, but after a demonstration of technology by the Starfleet crew, they are allowed to live. George performs a striptease for their captors, and seduces the Messiah. She realises that it is not Spock, but instead Chag Gara. By knocking him unconscious, Spock is revived and returns with the away team to the Enterprise.

Production[edit]

Prior to the publication of Spock, Messiah!, the only original book for adults set in the Star Trek universe was Spock Must Die! by James Blish.[2] The book sold well, and it was intended that further books would be produced but following Blish's death, this was postponed. Frederik Pohl was hired as an editor in 1976 with the task of producing new novels based on Star Trek: The Original Series. The first book in this line was Spock, Messiah!, which was written by Theodore R. Cogswell and Charles A. Spano, Jr..[3]

Spano contacted Cogswell, already a published science fiction writer, hoping that Cogswell could critique some of Spano's work. Cogswell asked Spano if he would be interested in co-authoring a Star Trek novel for Pohl. Spano wrote most of the first draft in 1975, inspired by the 1973 oil crisis. He said that although it had roots in the rise of Islamism in the Western Hemisphere,[4][5] "the idea that a fanatical desert leader could arise to threaten a civilisation was a staple throughout history".[5]

Cogswell rewrote several chapters that Spano described as unfocused and rambling; Cogswell also copyedited the work. They submitted the revised draft to Pohl, who requested minor changes. The book was published in September 1976.[5] The book was later reprinted by Bantam Books in October 1993 with new cover art[6] by Kazuhiko Sano.[7]

Reception[edit]

The initial fan reaction to Spock, Messiah! was poor, and sales were lower than expected following the earlier success of Spock Must Die!.[3] The review in Science Fiction and Fantasy Book Review magazine suggested that the plot was far-fetched, and described it as "Spocks-ploitation".[8] In a review of the book on the Daily Kos website, Spock, Messiah! was described as "[the] single worst Star Trek story I have ever read, either fan or pro."[6] The issues with the book included racism (where Uhura is called "a black" and Sulu "the oriental"),[6] and also parts where the novel ignored specific elements of the series such as giving Scotty red hair and removed the sonic showers from the Enterprise. It summed up the review by saying that the "book isn't just bad, it's shamefully bad."[6] The first edition of the book was sold for $1.75 in the United States,[8] and by 2006, it was valued at between $7 to $8.[9]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Ayers (2006): p. 13
  2. ^ Cheeseman-Meyer, Ellen (March 12, 2012). "Spock Must Die!: The First Star Trek Novel". Tor.com. Retrieved September 5, 2013. 
  3. ^ a b Greenberger (2012): p. 81
  4. ^ Ayers (2006): p. 14
  5. ^ a b c Ayers (2006): p. 15
  6. ^ a b c d "Books So Bad They're Good: To Boldly Go Where No Tie-In Has Gone Before". Daily Kos. July 9, 2011. Retrieved September 5, 2013. 
  7. ^ "The Locus Index to Science Fiction: 1984-1998: Cover Artists". Locus. Retrieved September 5, 2013. 
  8. ^ a b Ed. Barron & Reginald (2006): p. 153
  9. ^ Kelley (2008): p. 54

References[edit]

  • Ayers, Jeff (2006). Voyages of Imagination. New York: Pocket Books. ISBN 978-141650-3491. 
  • Barron, Neil; Reginald, Robert, ed. (2006). Science Fiction and Fantasy Book Review, The Complete Series 1979-80. San Bernardino, CA: Borgo Press. 
  • Greenberger, Robert (2012). Star Trek: The Complete Unauthorized History. Minneapolis: Voyageur Press. ISBN 978-076034-3593. 
  • Kelley, Steve (2008). Star Trek The Collectibles. Iola, WI: Krause Publications. ISBN 978-089689-6376. 

External links[edit]