Star Trek: Spock Must Die!

{2/5} “Perhaps you can learn to live with two Spocks, but it would be somewhat painful for me. If you would imagine what it would be like to have a second James T. Kirk abroad in the universe, you will readily understand why.”

Star Trek: Spock Must Die! by James Blish, published in 1970

The Klingons have declared war on the Federation. Captain James T. Kirk decides to head to Organia to see what has happened to the energy beings who previously stopped a war. Scotty comes up with a modification to the transporter that will duplicate the person and transport the duplicate. Spock enters the transporter, and two Spocks emerge.

This is probably the worst Star Trek novel I’ve read — certainly the worst in decades. It’s one of the earliest TOS novels. It wouldn’t have been this bad in the 1980s, as they had better editors (although I haven’t read the everyone-knows-it’s-bad Shadow Lord).

The premise is worthy of an episode, but I have come to expect better from a novel. The characters don’t always sound like themselves. Some paragraphs here and there are jarring, and almost take you right out of the story.

There are mistakes in logic, science, and consistency. For example, Kirk references Abbott and Costello in the middle of a serious conversation. Kirk keeps calling McCoy “Doc.” Even more seriously, they’re much too happy to kill Klingons.

I was disappointed that the replicate was a “mirror image.” It would have been more interesting if he’d been the same.

It’s a short novel — I wouldn’t have finished it if it were longer. But there are dozens of better TOS novels than this one. If someone on the internet tells you this is one of the best TOS novels, don’t trust their judgement.

This is the 2nd novel I’ve read by Blish. I read A Case of Conscience many years ago. He also wrote the novelizations of the TOS episodes.

This entry was posted on Tuesday, July 27th, 2021 at 8:02 pm and is filed under Reviews of books. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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