Star Trek II - The Wrath of Khan (Vonda N. McIntyre)


The movie Wrath of Khan has been ruined forever. All hail the Wrath of Khan (book)! Let me explain, because Vonda McIntyre owned this.

For father's day, I do not require much. Give me a hot meal, a warm cuddle, and a chilly blanket covered viewing of StarTrek: The Wrath of Khan. Family time at it's best. Unfortunately, this year my children are of an age where this movie would cause undue stress. Ear-worms, explosions, blind revenge and blood really don't jive too well with toddlers, so it is on pause for a couple years. We watched The Voyage Home instead, yes, the awesome time travel whale movie.

Why are you reading this?

The Lack of Khan meant my wonderful wife felt concern that my father's day would be lackluster. She searched out and located me a copy of the 1982 paperback edition Wrath of Khan. Giddy and sweaty palmed, I jigged in my seat when I opened my gift from her.
Also included was a hardback copy of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, but I can discuss that at a later date.

This geeky film will never be the same. The story of Wrath of Khan is no secret. Dumbed down- On Federation/Civilian research mission to a dead planet, Khan Noonien Singh is found, crazed and vengeful. He plots to find and punish James T Kirk, who he blames for the death of his wife and followers. In the process, he captures a star-ship and a device which can reorganize the structure of matter, destroying whatever previously existed and rebuilding habitable worlds from the blocks.

Kirk is in a fight to save his inexperienced trainee crew, while protecting innocent lives from the damage a deranged madman can wreck.

It has been thirty years since this movie and it's novelization were released. The geek in me picked out several elements requiring highlight. 

First and most verbosely- In reading this, the Wrath if Khan has NOTHING to do with Khan or Kirk. Some aspects of this are displayed on the movie, but nowhere to the depth the novelization took it. This novel is about Savvik. 

Savvik's backstory in the movies is ridiculously thin. She is 'just' a Vulcan cadet on the path to becoming an officer. She 'just' questions human behavior and is 'just' under the tutelage of Spock. In the novelization, 'just' is a description which can never be. 

Separate yourself from what you know from the film. The Wrath of Khan easily becomes Savvik's story. Born of a forbidden and potentially disturbing relationship between a Vulcan and a Romulan, she was orphaned and abandoned on a planet with all the other half-lings. Spock, on a research mission, finds her feral and removed. He brings her back to society and treats her as an equal,  almost like a daughter. She has warring genetics and culture, she has a desire for logic and an emotional flame that wants to burn the entire universe. It is Spock's assistance and training which allow her to control herself.

The story revolves entirely around her actions and reactions to her environment, people she meets, internal warring, and ultimately grief.

Having read this, Khan becomes irrelevant. He is a tool to harness a greater story-line. It is disappointing that Savvik in film is relegated to the role of trainee and nothing more. In the follow up film, she takes on the role of mother and lover. Nothing literally nothing to the level of required character definition that she deserves based on this novelization. In film she exists as a plot tool to move action or set Kirk up for his lines.

Though not all perspectives were hers, hers were the most relevant and genuine feeling. STARTREK REBOOTers: pay attention to Savvik! She is more than she was allowed to be!

Second point- Wonderful backstory and characters fleshed out for scientists on the Genesis research station. Who are they? How did their roles lead them to being tortured to death in the name of Genesis.

Third- Through the same scientists, it is introduced that the building blocks of all matter are five sub-components of quarks. In the novel they are named after the five elements of a Lewis Carrol poem. The timing of this reading could not be more properly timed. Only ten days before I began reading this, the Large Hadron Collider was able to prove PentaQuarks.. I was reading poetic references to the very same elements that we now are proud to have proven.

Fourth and lastly- Apparently a 50MB hard drive must be stored in a liquid nitrogen based cooling system in order to handle the data loads that Genesis algorithms require. Likewise reprogramming something would require OCR feeds of raw paper printouts, which would need mass QA to remove optical character recognition errors. To quote Sulu, "Oh, My!".

This book was amazing. Go find it nerds. It is worth shelling some bucks out for it.

Comments

  1. I am so glad you like your Father's Day gift and that I could deliver Khan in some way to you. Could you imagine what adventures in the garden would be like if Finn thought worms could crawl into his ears? He'd probably run into traffic every time he saw a worm and then, should he survive, we'd have to put him on one of those dreaded toddler leash things **shudder** just to go outside in the rainy season, which is all the time in this corner of the states

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    Replies
    1. He would end up mangled in the street like Christopher Pike (horrifically damaged Pre-Kirk Captain, not the amazingly formulaic horror writer we all love to hate to love to hate)

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