Sunday, July 20, 2014

Rise and Fall of KHAAAAAAAAAN! Volume I

Star Trek Eugenic Wars: the Rise and Fall of Khan Noonien Singh, Volume I
© 2001 Greg Cox
520 pages

Ah, how well I remember the 1990s -- neon colored plastic pants, frizzy hair, and that gang of genetically engineered supermen starting World War III in a bid to gain total command over Earth and institute order out of chaos...

..no?  Star Trek's canon ran into a bit of a problem as it aged, as in the 1960s it predicted things that not only never happened, but bear no semblance to what happened. Not only did Earth not send a manned mission to Saturn in the 1990s,  but by the end of the 20th century it had confined space exploration to robotic probes sent to planets. Still, not all the failed predictions were losses for humankind; we gave the civilization-destroying Eugenics Wars a total miss. Or did we? In The Eugenics Wars: the Rise and Fall of Khan Noonien Singh,  veteran Trek author Greg Cox attempted to reconcile the events of "Space Seed" with our own history,  grounding Khan in the real-life events of the 20th century.   Framed by Captain Kirk consulting the historical records in preparation for an encounter with a planet of genetically engineered humans (rather like TNG's 'Masterpiece Society', complete with a domed colony),  the principle characters are of course Khan, and the mysterious Gary Seven.   When Seven realizes there's a group of mad scientists with an underground base in the middle of nowhere hatching a plot to create a tribe of supermen, he decides that such a thing definitely falls under his job description of preventing humanity from destroying itself.  It takes more than a team of cosmic secret agent men to take down Khan, however, and in the end Seven finds more than he bargained for.   Since this first novel primarily concerns Khan growing up and deciding to pursue evil mastermindedness as a career,  the real artwork is yet to come -- however will Cox create a war that kills millions out of the 1990s?  Even so,  the big events of the novel,  like the use of a nuclear power plant contained within the mad scientists' lair, are tied into real-world events smartly.   There's a lot to like about this novel; the dead-on use of Seven and Khan, the subtle connections to the Trek canon (including appearances by Ralph Offenhouse, Grumpy Robber Baron Extraordinaire), and the utterly fun historical shenanigans. Frenzied action scenes take place across the globe, from New York to India and even Lenin's tomb.   For Trek fans, this is a must-read.

Volume II should be quite a treat.

Related:
From History's Shadow, Dayton Ward. Another impressive and fun  integration of ST canon and real-world history.

2 comments:

  1. Didn't Gary Seven get his own TV series for a while? Or did I imagine (hope for) that?

    Yet another GREAT character from ST:OS.

    Oh, and I'm just going to have to buy this now you realise?

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  2. Roddenberry intended for that episode of TOS to be a pilot for a new series starring Seven, but network executives never went for it.

    Hah! It can be your first foray into modern Trek literature. ;-)

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