Tuesday, July 29, 2014

The Rise and Fall of KHAAAAAAAN! Volume II

The Eugenics Wars: the Rise and Fall of Khan Noonien Singh, Volume II
© Greg Cox 2001
434 pages



 Having seized power in India and cultivated a network of spies and yes-men who will do his bidding throughout Asia, genetically engineered and predestined ruler of the world Khan Noonien Singh is ready for expansion. Having experienced his first difficulty in politics (people), Khan hopes that joining forces with his fellow augments will expedite his dreams of world domination. Enter sibling rivalry…with biogenic weapons.  The second volume of The Eugenics Wars tries to fit the wars themselves into the geopolitical events of the early 1990s,  rather like stuffing a gorilla into a tuxedo. It doesn’t work out too well, but it’s still entertaining to witness.

As with the first volume, this is a Gary Seven story. Seven,   for whom thwarting Khan has turned into a full-time job,  will be remembered as the Secret Agent Man from Space in “Assignment: Earth”.  Having saved the child Khan from the explosion of his insane mother’s underground base, Seven feels some responsibility for having turned him loose onto the world. Their perennial feud is first marked by professional respect for the others’ skills, but later grows personal when Khan learns that Seven blew up mommy.  Also personal is the grudgemath between Khan and his kin, who really don’t like one another.  None of them are quite powerful enough to  war openly, however, so they resort to terrorist attacks on the people their counterparts wish they were ruling. Two manage to buy submarines and they have a little torpedo tête-à-tête in the east Med, but ‘real’ warfare is nonexistent.

Unfortunately for the plot, there aren’t enough real-world dead people in the small window of time canon allows for the coexistence of the Eugenics Wars with our own history, at least not if the Wars are to be given their “bad-as-WW3” feel experienced in “Space Seed”.   That these events could have happened is believable, but why would Kirk and company be fussed about it several centuries from now?    But explanations can be found;  considering that genetic engineering reared its head several more times, perhaps the historians of Kirk’s time have come to believe a more legendary version of Eugenics history, that Khan’s escape marked the end of the beginning, but not the end altogether. At any rate, the established character-based portions are terrific as usual, as are the little connections and allusions to greater Trek. Even Star Trek Voyager gets a nod, unavoidable given that it had an episode set in the 1990s.  The supermen themselves aren’t an asset to the book, consisting of caricatures (a Marxist revolutionary and a man-hating chieftess with an army of ‘amazons’, for starters) who don’t help general believability.  While the sequel isn’t quite as terrific as the first novel promised it might be,  the third – To Reign in Hell – will – will be freed of having to conform to real world history, so I imagine the series will end on a strong note.

Related:

  • From History's Shadow, Dayton Ward. Another impressive and fun  integration of ST canon and real-world history
  • Assignment: Eternity, possibly my first ST novel, and another Gary Seven tale by Greg Cox. 



2 comments:

  1. Don't worry -- the third Khan volume (To Reign in Hell) absolutely kicks ass, and gets pretty horrific and unsettling at times, too. You'll actually squirm a few times while reading it; Greg Cox did a stupendous job climaxing the trilogy with that book.

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  2. I'm looking forward to it -- it will make watching TWOK even better!

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