Book Review: “Killing Time”

Whaaat? Now I’m doing book reviews? Well, this is a special case. You see, this is a Star Trek novel, and if you’re a Spirk shipper, an absolute must read.

(**Spoilers ahead.**)

Killing Time is a short novel by Della Van Hise, originally published in 1985. When Pocket Books first put it out, apparently it was so gay that Paramount Pictures requested that the slashier parts be taken out. That didn’t end up happening due to a screw-up in editing, and the book was published as is. At least, until Gene Roddenberry read it and made the publisher recall it. PB had to put out a new, less gay version of the story.

I’m pretty sure the version I read was the censored edition, but even then, it’s still really gay. Let me show you what I mean.

To summarize, KT is about Kirk having strange dreams about being an ensign on a starship in an alternate universe, serving under Captain Spock. It turns out that Spock and several other members of the Enterprise, including one Jerry Richardson, are having similar dreams.

However, the dream soon becomes reality, and the Enterprise has been replaced with the starship Shi’Khar. No one remembers the other reality. In the new reality, the Federation was created not by mankind, but by the Vulcans. Kirk was wrongly accused of murder and offered a station on the starship as an alternative to prison. In addition, he’s also got PTSD connected with some disciplinary mental torture device they used on him in order to get a confession out of him, and his cabinmate keeps beating the shit out of him. This universe is not nice to our Jimmy. 😢

It’s soon established that the Romulans have a device they’ve used to pervert history so that humanity never formed the Federation. The leader of the Romulans, who happens to be a character we’ve met before – Thea, from “The Enterprise Incident” – is behind it all, wanting revenge on Spock for spurning and humiliating her. A big part of her plot is separating him from Kirk, since she knows they’re totally t’hy’la, so she can claim Spock as her consort.

Luckily, it doesn’t work, and Kirk, Spock, and Richardson finally realize the Romulans have changed history. They all work together to fix it, knowing that they and their reality will disappear if they set time right again. The three sacrifice their lives to undo the history-change, and Kirk wakes up in the right reality, once again Captain of the Enterprise, with Spock as his right hand man, with the other reality remembered vaguely as a bad dream.

This book is a Kirk/Spock goldmine. For one thing, it is established very clearly that Kirk and Spock are t’hy’la (duh), and they have a mental bond! (In Vulcan culture, mental bonds are developed between married couple. Hmmm…)

The first few chapters talk a lot about the close, personal “friendship” between Spock and Kirk, and they are very tender with each other. There’s even a part where Spock lays his hand on Kirk’s shoulder and Kirk covers it with his own (gee, good thing Vulcans don’t kiss with their hands or anything…oh, wait). Also, Spock muses several times on Kirk’s looks: “firm features, tanned flesh, expressive hazel eyes, and a compelling human grin. Single lock of gold-bronze hair falling to the middle of a high forehead.” Geez, Spock, we all know Kirk is a dreamboat, but come on.

Even when time is changed and they don’t know each other, Spock and Kirk yearn for each other’s company. Kirk wakes up from a bad dream and immediately calls out for Spock; Spock has a vision of Kirk and wonders possibly if this is his t’hy’la. You know…the Vulcan equivalent of soulmate.

Not to mention, due to the time corruption, Spock goes into pon farr (because no Spirk fic is complete without the ritual Vulcan mating frenzy!), and he dreams longingly about Kirk! (Unfortunately he ends up banging the Romulan chick out of desperation. She kind of takes advantage of his needy state. It’s a little on the squickish side.)

But the homoerotic subtext doesn’t end with the space husbands! There’s also some flirting between Kirk and Richardson, who calls Kirk “Juliet”. When Richardson dies, Kirk sadly calls him “Romeo”. I am not making this up. Also, there’s a romance between Richardson and this alien chick who works on the Enterprise/Shi’Khar named S’Parva, and they perfectly parallel Kirk and Spock!!!!

Toward the end after they’ve saved the universe, Spock is dying from a poison bullet wound, and the second reality is collapsing. And Kirk and Spock decide to die holding each other????? While melding their minds one last time????????? What kind of old-couple-cuddling-each-other-as-the-Titantic-is-sinking romantic tripe is this?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!

These are are some lines that made me fangirl squee with joy:

Surely, he told himself, there would be someone with whom the Vulcan could bond, someone who could walk the path with him, balance him, love him. For a long time, Kirk considered that. (just platonically pondering whether or not your bro will have a life partner)

…when he opened his eyes again, it was to see Spock still standing, looking down at him questioningly. There was concern–and possibly Vulcan worry–written in the black eyes. Kirk held the penetrating gaze for a moment, then managed a smile when he saw the Vulcan soften. (And then he drags Spock off to the ship’s garden for a date I MEAN manly stroll.)

Absently, he reached out to touch the human’s cheek for confirmation, but stopped when Kirk’s eyes widened fearfully. (So Captain Spock notices a bruise on Kirk’s cheek and just casually reaches out to caress his face. #JustBroThings)

For an illogical moment, he found himself thinking of the future–with Kirk at his side. . . (THIS SPOCK BARELY KNOWS THIS KIRK AND HE WANTS TO SPEND THE REST OF HIS LIFE WITH HIM WHAT THE HELL)

The images whisper-walked through his mind. Blue and gold. Warmth and companionship. Stolen moments when the firm Vulcan mask did not have to fit so tightly. (I’M ABOUT TO EXPLODE I SWEAR TO SURAK)

He glanced up, meeting the Vulcan’s eyes. Somehow, shirtless, and with hair slightly dishelved, the Shi’Kahr’s legendary captain seemed almost vulnerable in the dim lighting… almost reachable. (Kirk checkin’ out Spock’s hot Vulcan bod, hell yeah.)

“Kidnap James Kirk, keep him from the Vulcan long enough … and Spock will do anything in his power to get him back safely, Sarela.” (Damn, Thea knows EXACTLY what Spock’s weak spot is.)

…what is dearest to him in all the combined universes… (This is what Kirk is to Spock, according to Thea. I MEAN)

Spock knew he must be there when his companion awakened… (So Kirk and this other crew member were in danger and Spock only had time to save one of them, and of course he picked his darling Kirky! Now Kirk is knocked out in sick bay, and Spock is longing to be at his bedside, calling Kirk his companion. Again, HE BARELY KNOWS KIRK.)

In seven years as command of the Shi’Kahr, he had never met a human who could arouse such forbidden feelings, who could wrestle emotion from him as easily as turning on the light. (*me, screaming* Also, they’re sexy anger-wrestling right now.)

“I need you. The Empire needs you. . . . What more can there be?” “James Kirk,” the Vulcan murmured without hesitation. (Lady, you just got REJECTED.)

“Can he be worth what you are doing, Spock? Can any one man be worth an entire universe?” The Vulcan’s response was direct and without hesitation. “Yes.” (JIM IS WORTH THE ENTIRE UNIVERSE TO SPOCK I CAN’T)

Kirk smiled wistfully, then reached out to touch the Vulcan’s arm reassuringly as he remembered the mind-fever he’d felt himself. Without explanation, it had vanished … and as he glanced at Thea, the reason became clearer. “As long as you’re alive,” he said quietly, absently projecting a warmth into his companion’s mind. (Kirk is “wistful” that Spock had sex with Thea. That’s not something I made up. Also, Kirk felt Spock’s pon farr????? Vulcan marital mental bond much?????)

He is even deeper in your blood than Vulcan. It was, he realized, a very simple truth. (*more screaming*)

“Perhaps it would be wise to discuss the matter in more detail later this evening,” he suggested. “Since we are both due on the bridge …” He let the sentence trail off, unfinished. (DID SPOCK JUST INVITE KIRK TO HAVE SEXY TIME LATER??????)

In the Vulcan’s quarters, Kirk sat slowly on the ornate meditation pillows (OH YEAH THEY DEFINITELY DID THE NASTY)

Remembering an ancient human proverb, he found some small comfort in the knowledge that Kirk was obviously laughing to keep from crying. (Again, they’re talking about Spock hooking up with Thea and Jim has laugh to keep from crying???????)

This novel is so perfect. ~TRL

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In Defense of Star Trek V

The original Star Trek series spawned six movies. A lot of Trekkies will tell you, “the evens are good, the odds are bad”. I’m sorry, but you will never take away my love for Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, aka, the redheaded stepchild of the Star Trek movie sextet. (Spoilers ahead.)

The plot is basically the crew of the Enterprise is roped into helping Spock’s surprise half-brother find the garden of Eden. That’s it, that’s the story. It doesn’t sound promising, I know.

People argue that the problem with the religious overtones of the movie don’t mesh with the overall philosophy of the pantheon. But I say why not. Star Trek has touched on topics of racism, gender, politics – why not touch on religion? To me, Star Trek has always been about hope, and the ideal that humanity will grow and improve. Sybok is tricked by the fake God figure. He’s searched for “Sha Ka Ree”, paradise, his entire life, only to finally reach it and find out it’s all a joke. But Sybok isn’t disheartened by his defeat. He shows incredible courage by sacrificing himself to save the others and the rest of the universe. It’s a story about faith, and the idea that we can become strong in times of misfortune, and I think that very much fits in with Star Trek.

Then people complain that FF doesn’t work within the Trek universe because it presents a society of criminals and amoral individuals: the denizen planet of Nimbus III. I, on the other hand, find it a very ambitious path to take. Before, Star Trek has only shown us shiny worlds like those within the Federation, like Earth or Vulcan, or planets that become fixed by being influenced by Federation ideals. But I think it’s necessary to show cesspools such as Nimbus III, to show that Starfleet hasn’t fixed everything, because they can’t. The point of being existence is to develop. As James T. Kirk once said, “Man stagnates if he has no ambition, no desire to be more than he is.” The universe will never be a utopia, but we will always work to make it so.

But if you’re still not convinced, let me just show you some moments you’re missing out on:

Camping Bros.png

Kirk, Spock, and Bones go camping together. Kirk climbs a mountain and almost falls to his death but Spock saves him, while Bones watches and worries from afar. They sing “Row Row Your Boat” around the campfire and Spock roasts “marshmelons”. (Also Sulu and Chekov get lost hiking in the woods and pretend that there’s a blizzard so Uhura will save them.)

Go Climb A Rock

Also, Kirk wears this shirt.

Uhotty

Canon Uhura/Scotty!!!!!! And they’re so adorable!!!!!!!!!!!!

Spocket Boots

Did I mention Spock has rocket boots? (He’s carrying Kirk and Bones up an elevator shaft.)

In Front Of The Klingons

THIS. F**KING. SCENE. Kirk almost dies but Spock saves him AGAIN and Kirk almost kisses him, but unfortunately, Spock stops him. (“Please, Captain. Not in front of the Klingons.”)

And there’s a lot more moments that I probably missed. But in conclusion, Star Trek V doesn’t deserve the bad rep it gets. If you disagree, go climb a rock. ~TRL

Why The Star Trek Reboots Annoy Me

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Don’t get me wrong, the 21st century Star Trek movies have some good things going for them. I love Simon Pegg as Scotty, and Karl Urban as Bones is just so on point (seriously, if they’d given him blue contacts, I would’ve sworn it was DeForest Kelley).

But the problem for me is that James Kirk and Uhura are completely wrong.

I’ve always loved Chris Pine, and Zoe Saldana is a kickass actress. But they don’t much convey everything I love about Shatner’s Kirk and Nichols’s Uhura. Pine!Kirk is not actually Kirk. He’s the Kirk stereotype.

Everyone gets Kirk wrong. People always see Kirk as this machismo, arrogant, gun-slinger womanizer, but that’s selling his character really short. James Tiberius Kirk is so kind and caring, and actually pretty brilliant. He loves classic literature and can recite Shakespeare and poetry by heart. His crew adores him because he shows them respect and is a good captain. And yes, fine, he is a lady-killer. But it’s not like Kirk’s just lookin’ to get laid. He’s a romantic, and he really does care about the women he woos. Or, alternatively, he uses his sex appeal against villainous ladies to disarm and defeat them. If this were a woman charming men like this, we would call her a femme fatale. It’s the same thing for Kirk. I kinda dig it. It’s resourceful, and subversive.

But truly, Kirk respects women. In the episode “Charlie X”, Kirk tries to explain to a young man why one shouldn’t objectify women (and go around slapping their asses). There’s a scene in “Tomorrow is Yesterday”, where a fighter pilot from 1960s Earth gets accidentally beamed onto the Enterprise. As Kirk is showing him around the ship, a female crew member passes by. The pilot says to Kirk, awed, “A woman?” Kirk gently corrects him: “A crewman.” Gene Roddenberry wanted to paint a future where people of all types are equal, so it wouldn’t exactly do for the main hero to be a misogynist, would it? I’ll grant you, it’s not perfect feminism, but it was the ’60s, after all.

And unfortunately, the reboots portray Kirk as the Han Solo type that he is exactly not. (This is a Tumblr post that perfectly illustrates my point.)

And Uhura. Darling sweet Uhura. I think it was the writers’ misguided attempt at feminism to have Zoe Saldana play Uhura as tough, emotionally distant, and alpha female, but honestly, Uhura from the original series was gentle and serene. She sang pretty songs for her crewmates on her off-duty hours. And she was still totally awesome. I think it’s great that Uhura plays a more active role in the reboots instead of just sitting at the comm station relaying transmissions, but filmmakers need to learn that writing strong female characters doesn’t necessarily mean making them more like men. Not every feminist icon has to be Buffy. Saldana!Uhura is basically just a not-green version of Gamora from Guardians Of The Galaxy.

Plus…why the fuck is Uhura with Spock when she and Scotty are already together in the original series?

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LOOK AT THEM! THEY ARE ADORABLE AS HELL! I AM SO ANGRY ABOUT THIS!!!!!!!

Also, everyone knows Spock and Jim belong together. They are literally soulmates. “This simple feeling” doesn’t mean friendship, sports fans. Their love is so powerful, it literally created the concept of shipping at a time when shipping wasn’t even a thing. It’s 2017 and Spock hasn’t been allowed to kiss Jim Kirk onscreen yet and both I and William Shatner think this is a disgrace. See, this is the kind of bullshit that happens when you put a man like Jar Jar Abrams in charge. He doesn’t even LIKE Star Trek; he said it himself!!! *raging*

Uhura being with Spock was the most out-of-left-field romance I’ve ever seen in a movie. There’s literally no development. I think they have like, one conversation before macking in the turbolift. All we know about their relationship is that he was a professor at Starfleet Academy and she was his star pupil. Then all of a sudden…they’re in love? Because…heteronormativity, I guess?

A LOT of Uhura’s motivation for Star Trek (2009) and Star Trek Into Darkness (2013) stemmed from her romantic involvement with Spock. This is the exact opposite of writing a strong female character. When 95% of her actions revolve around a man, especially a romantic attachment, that’s not good. That’s just enforcing the idea that a woman is only an object in a man’s life, and not an actual person. (To be fair, Star Trek Beyond does wayyyyyy better in this respect. Thank you, Simon Pegg.)

You wanna show an interracial couple? PLEASE, GOD, DO IT. But for the love of Surak, respect the goddamn canon. Like I said, Scotty and Uhura were already together, why didn’t you just do that? To block me from shipping Spirk? Too bad, motherfucker, how bout I do anyway?

If the reboots weren’t reboots, if they were totally original, I wouldn’t have that much problem with them. But they’re based on content that I’ve recently come to know and love, and it annoys me.

And one more thing, why they got Benedict Cumberbatch’s lily white ass playin’ Khan when Ricardo Montalbán was from Mexico? Helloooooo? ~TRL

On fair Vulcan where we lay our scene…

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One of Star Trek’s most famous episodes is “Amok Time”, in which seemingly unemotional science officer Spock undergoes pon farr, a biological mating ritual that Vulcans go through every 7 years. But while the plot focuses on Spock’s marriage to fellow Vulcan T’Pring, I say that “Amok Time” is actually a retelling of Romeo And Juliet. But the love story isn’t between Spock and T’Pring. It’s between Spock and Captain Kirk.

First, let’s establish some roles. You may think that, since Spock is the one engaged to a person he’s not in love with, he’s the Juliet of this scenario. But I think, actually, Jim is Juliet and Spock is Romeo in this case.

So, the story. R+J begins with Romeo pining for a girl named Rosalind. Similarly, Spock is longing for T’Pring so he can mate with her. Rosalind has spurned Romeo, just as T’Pring ends up spurning Spock for Stonn. It’s important to note that in R+J, Romeo’s feelings for Rosalind are presented more as lust than love. Spock barely knows T’Pring; their bond is solely physiological, not mental or emotional. But Juliet makes Romeo forget all about Rosalind…

…and this time, it really is true love.

(Spock is so overjoyed when he sees Jim alive in this scene, he literally twirls him around.)

(And I know that R and J’s romance is emblematic of adolescent idiotic love, but make no mistake, they are soulmates. “Star-crossed” means doomed – doomed to fall in love, and doomed to be destroyed. The forces of the universe literally pushed them together. And according to Gene Roddenberry’s novelization of Star Trek: The Motion Picture, Jim is Spock’s t’hy’la, a Vulcan word for “friend, brother, and/or lover” –  it’s basically the Vulcan equivalent of soulmate. So, yes, Jim is Spock’s soulmate.)

Meanwhile, Jim is forced to choose between his orders, or saving Spock’s life, much like Juliet’s loyalties are torn between her duty to her family and her true love. There’s even mentioned that T’Pau turned down a seat on the Federation Council, so while it’s not exactly like Spock’s clan and Starfleet are feuding, they are, respectively, the Montagues and Capulets of the story. And like Juliet, Jim ultimately choses love over duty.

Spock, like Romeo, is forced into a fight that he doesn’t want to be in (except it’s with “Juliet” and not Tybalt). And Jim, like Juliet, ends up faking his own suicide by taking a drug given to him by a trusted friend to solve the problem. Romeo and Spock are both despondent at their beloveds’ deaths. Romeo kills himself and Spock is prepared to hand himself over to authorities for murder (killing a commanding officer is a court martial worthy offense in Starfleet, so Spock is therefore committing suicide by cop). Luckily, in this version of the story, Juliet awakens and gets to stay with Romeo.

Let’s talk about the fight scene. Spock is literally in a “fuck or die” scenario. In Shakespeare’s time, people commonly associated death with sex. The French term for sexual climax was even called le petit mort, or “the little death”. The Italian madrigal, “Baci, soavi e cari” by Claudio Monteverdi, is basically about a person saying the kisses of the person they love make them feel like they’re going to die (read: have an orgasm). This pops up in Shakespeare’s works frequently as well. In R+J, the two young lovers perish after consummating their marriage. Jim “dies” during his fight with Spock. Remember, Spock had to have sex to survive pon farr, but he never actually got laid…or did he? Some moments in that fight scene sure look homoerotic… x

Maybe he got laid after all. 😉 -TRL