Wednesday, September 1, 1976

September 1976: "Spock, Messiah!"

Commander Spock has always been a master of twenty-third century technology. But in the wake of a cruel experiment, technology has mastered Spock. The result: He has renounced the U.S.S. Enterprise and become the most dangerous man on the planet Kyros - the Messiah! 

Our review of "Spock, Messiah!" follows the cut.

by Theodore R. Cogswell and Charles A. Spano, Jr.
Mass Market Paperback - 182 pages
Bantam Books - September 1976 - $1.75 (original price)

What is it about survey missions? Data gets fragged and goes fritzo on the Baku, Riker and Troi are imperiled while peering in on some proto-Vulcans, and, in this particular outing, Spock dabbles in religious zealotry whilst engaging in what should be a nice, quiet visit to a backwoods planet that rates rather low on Richter’s civilization scale. The problem, it seems, lay with a wonderful little technological device the Federation has decided to test with the Enterprise crew, an implant that allows Feddie personnel channel the languages, skills, and affects of local inhabitants. While everyone else gets hooked into ‘dops’ who come from a wide array of mundane skills, Spock gets hooked up with a hill preacher who has visions of world domination. And, of course, he winds up getting so hooked by a girl who wants to bag him for herself.

Ensign George
“Spock, Messiah!”, the only contribution of Theodore R. Cogswell and Charles A. Spano, Jr. to the Trek lit-verse, suffers on so many levels, that, like Spock towards the novel’s end, one wishes to avoid the post-mortem and just consider the patient dead. But, this wouldn’t be much of a review if I didn’t at least take the time to comment on some major elements of the story, starting with Ensign George.

George, a prim and proper thing, is among the group on the Enterprise to deploy the new thought-channeling implants designed for survey work. It seems, however, that as soon as she arrives, she has two things on her mind – contempt for the women who want Spock, and an equally lascivious desire to have him for herself. Insert some implants, put them together, and within the first thirty pages, George has had her way. Most of the story line uses her alternatingly as a joke or an attempt at titillation (as she goes about most of the time in various states of undress) – both of which basically fail.

Trilithium crystals
Poor Scotty gets misused throughout the book – his talents are employed in producing counterfeit currency and weird masks far more than in providing engineering solutions to problems. Jokes about his propensity for drinking make the good engineer into a slobbering drunkard, and his appearances serve more to provide some humor than any real plot-furthering purpose. Scotty, the brilliant genius who has saved the ship in more than one major scrape, should have been able to easily overcome Spock’s theft of a few tiny crystals (trilithium crystals, to be specific) from the warp drive… crystals that fit inside Spock’s tricorder.

Kirk and McCoy are, by far, the best written members of the regular crew; at times, both Shatner and Kelley come shining through their lines with great effect. Spock, too, when written as his normal self, works fine. However, no matter how well the lines are spoken, the overall use of Ensign George, and the weak story that precipitates the danger to our heroes makes “Spock, Messiah!” a novel that can only echo the Horta mother’s cry of “pain” in the soul of any Star Trek fan. 

Alternate Cover Art from Various Releases:


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