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The Journal of the Lincoln Heights Literary Society
Miscellanea and Ephemeron

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03/02/2005 Archived Entry: "Trek Book reivew: Duty, Honor, Redemption"

Duty, Honor, Redemption
by Vonda McIntyre
A Star Trek Signature Series novelization of "Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan", "Star Trek III: The Search for Spock", and "Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home."
Published by Pocket Books

Review by Ida Vega-Landow

This three-part compilation consists of the novelizations of three of the most popular Star Trek movies, first released in the 80's as companion novels to the above movies. Having originally read all three novels after first seeing the movies, and finding them a poor substitute for the real thing, I thought I would give them another try and see if my opinion of Ms. McIntyre's writing had improved with maturity. I was barely into my twenties at the time; now that I'm in my forties, I've mellowed about a lot of things I used to think harshly of in my careless youth. Unfortunately, Ms. McIntyre's writing isn't one of them.

In the first place, no one with access to a VCR can have possibly missed seeing ST II, III and IV by now. So this novelization can only be of service to someone who either has no VCR (or DVD player; I understand they're available on that format now), or who is dating a Trekkie and wants to impress him or her with their knowledge of the most beloved characters of the original series without the bother of actually seeing the movies. I hope whoever buys the book with this intent has the sense to stick to the gist of the stories and not try to quote the characters; the author has taken considerable liberties with the scripts. Little changes here and there, like Spock's memorable line to Kirk in the privacy of the captain's cabin when Kirk tries to apologize for relieving him of command in "The Wrath of Khan"; "You are my commanding officer, as well as my friend; I always shall be yours." The correct line is: "I have been, and always shall be, yours." Even Spock's poignant death scene in the engine room is padded out with additional dialog; do we really need to extend Spock's suffering, as well as ours?

Ms. McIntyre has also gone to considerable trouble to flesh out the minor supporting characters, like the female Klingon agent on board the doomed merchant freighter who is regretfully destroyed by the Klingon commander to whom she delivers the information about the Genesis Project. In the movie, it is understood that she is his par'makai, or lover. But when McIntyre quotes her last words, "Success my lord. And my love," she explains it as the woman's gratitude to her superior for an honorable death, rather than the understanding of a dutiful Klingon agent for the hard choice her equally dutiful lover must make, for the sake of the Klingon Empire. Several other alien characters, as well as humans, are similarly fleshed out and have words put into their mouths which I am sure were not the original motivation of the scriptwriters. How Ms. McIntyre managed to get away with this, I don't know. While I hardly expect the late Gene Roddenberry to have proofread every novelization of his movies, someone at Pocket Books should have made it their business to do so, knowing how fanatic Star Trek fans are about every little detail concerning our beloved heroes. Or did whoever edit the original three novels just flip through them and say, "This is good enough; those geeky kids will never know the difference"?

While I respect Ms. McIntyre's literary abilities enough to be grateful she took the time to write these novelizations in the first place, to put them all together under one cover and release them as something new is sure to irritate the very fan base she's trying to attract. So it is with polite regret that I must give Duty, Honor, Redemption a B minus for a sincere but misguided effort. I would prefer to read an original Star Trek novel that puts fresh words into my favorite characters' mouths, words that are consistent with their character, rather than this recycled bunch of secondhand quotes from somebody who couldn't have been paying much attention to the movies in the first place.

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