Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Provenance of Shadows

Crucible, McCoy: Provenance of Shadows
© 2006 David R. George III
627 pages

Leonard McCoy is a man lost in time. Accidentally thrust into 1930s New York by the Guardian of Forever, McCoy befriends an idealistic young social worker named Edith Keeler, saving her life -- and in so doing, destroys his own future. Although Kirk and Spock, temporarily protected by the Guardian, are able to restore the timeline,  McCoy still experienced that futureless life: in Crucible, McCoy: Provenance of Shadows,  McCoy lives two lives -- one aboard the Enterprise in the 23rd century, going boldly where no man has gone before -- and one in 1930s America, first in New York and eventually in a small southern town.

Their stories run concurrently, the author alternating settings after every chapter. While "Len" McCoy attempts in vain to find a way back to the future, migrating southward once he loses hope, Dr. McCoy continues as the Enterprise's chief medical officer throughout Star Trek's third season and movies. While he experiences all the curiosities and dangers of Enterprise's various missions and attempts to solve a mystery of physics, "Len" McCoy enjoys a quiet existence in a small South Carolinian town, serving as the local doctor and cultivating new friendships. His contentment turns to horror when the version of World War 2 his fellow citizens experience diverts radically from the version he learned in the history books -- to the detriment of humanity. Both struggle against McCoy's ancient demons in coming to grips with his past and trying to learn to love again.

Provenance made for a quick read: George's habit of switching back and forth did not distract, although I tended to see the novelization of TOS's post-City on the Edge of Forever canon as a diversion. That thread picked up interest after The Undiscovered Country, as George explored new territory.  The hold that McCoy's previous marriage held on him -- in prompting him to join Starfleet, and which makes him reluctant to enter into romantic relationships -- is explored in both books.

Enjoyable story; McCoy fans will especially appreciate it.



  1. sc said: McCoy befriends an idealistic young social worker named Edith Keeler, saving her life -- and in so doing, destroys his own future.

    One of my favourite ST:OS episodes.... I do like alternate history (as you may have already noticed).

  2. Same here, though what I remember most about it is Kirk's awkward explanation to the policeman about Spock's unfortunate accident with a Chinese mechanical rice-picker.

    The alternate realities or timeline episodes from the various Star Trek shows typically rank among my favorites.


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