MINDSHADOW (Star Trek: TOS) by J. M. Dillard
Pocket Books, 1986, 252 pages, 0-671-70420-6, Mass Market Paperback, $4.50
Genre: Science Fiction
If you thought I was joking in my last review, when I said that it was always Spock who ends up getting himself critically injured, then this is where I get to say I told you so.
In Mindshadow, the Enterprise arrives at the planet Aritani where pirates have been attacking the native inhabitants and devastating their land. An arrangement is made to help protect them, which prompts the captain to beam down to meet the settlement’s leader. Spock undertakes the duty of investigating the nearby mountains and, as a result, falls victim to an accident. It causes extensive physical damage as well as critical injury to the left side of his brain – the side which generally controls his logic and the mental rules which allow him to function properly as a Vulcan. Additionally, he has lost his memory, which becomes increasingly frustrating as he’s certain that he has information that the captain needs.
As McCoy cares for him in sickbay, something goes wrong on the planet below. Despite the newly erected protective shield, the pirates manage to wreak even more havoc than before. As Kirk struggles to discover how this has happened, he must also deal with several onboard incidents and the possibility that Spock may never recover.
Now, I’m going to skip a lot of my usual rambly whatsit and just get to the point – I liked this one. I liked it more than Legacy, which wasn’t too bad in its own right. A heck of a lot was packed into a book that only has 252 pages, and for such a tight space the story was pretty interesting. Of course, what I particularly liked was the clearly visible relationship dynamic between the Big Three. I’m pretty sure any fan of the original series would agree that this was a huge element of that crew’s success, and I enjoy seeing it so well reiterated in the novels. Mindshadow did a very good job in that regard.
And, for what it’s worth, I also enjoyed watching Kirk get “owned” by McCoy when it came to the ladies. That was worth it for both the amusement factor and the bit of friction it created between them.
If anything could have been expounded upon, it was probably Spock’s struggle to hold it together despite his loss of the Vulcan mind rules. While Dillard handled it well enough given the space of the novel, it would have been interesting to see that played out a little further.
All in all, good stuff, and there are even a few allusions to other stories, such as Journey to Babel. Incidentally, I’ve noticed that the last two books that I’ve read have done an excellent job of seamlessly incorporating references to previous stories; which differs greatly from my opinion of how it was handled in Q & A. Part of this may have to do with the fact that, while Q & A seemed to do nothing but reference other plots, Legacy and Mindshadow used them quite sparingly and focused on the events of that moment.
I will now go and save the original rambly whatsit for a later post.