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Old March 19 2013, 01:13 AM   #15
rfmcdpei
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Re: TOS: Spock Must Die! by James Blish [SPOILERS]

Christopher wrote: View Post
rfmcdpei wrote: View Post
Spock Must Die! has a good story, its narrative dominated by the compelling philosophical question about the nature of individuality in an era of matter duplication and an exciting astropolitics of battle against the Klingons, stitched together by plausible-sounding physics.
Hmm, I found the physics to be highly implausible, at least in one key area. The rationale for tachyons as the particles of thought was ridiculous. We don't imagine distant objects by sending FTL particles to get a radar picture of them, or remember things in the past by sending particles back through time. We store memories in our brains and we imagine things based on information and concepts already in our memories. Otherwise we'd always remember or imagine everything perfectly, which certainly isn't the case. I've always found that claim in the book to be one of the most preposterous things I've ever seen proposed in an SF novel.
Is it necessarily? Modern Trek literature seems to have settled upon quantum entanglement as the mechanism by which telepathy works, but absent spooky action at a distance some sort of psionic radiation is necessary. Tachyons make as much sense as any other form, especially given the tendency in science fiction before Star Trek (Heinlein's Time for the Stars, say) to describe telepaths as able to communicate simultaneously across light-years and to distinguish between the mere material workings of the brain and the infinite powers of the mind.

Flawed, sure, but at worst it shares in the flaws of its genre.

In other respects, Blish's writing betrays the attitude of his times somewhat, specifically in terms of gender, most notably when the female crew are imagined by Blish's Kirk to be fascinated sexually by Spock.
Well, that was just a reflection of the fact that female viewers of the show were fascinated sexually by Spock. He was a huge sex symbol at the time, and this got a lot of attention in the media, probably more than any other aspect of the show. So I don't think Blish was projecting any sexist assumptions onto things; he was just reflecting the reality he perceived, namely that Spock was fascinating to women.
An apparently mysterious reality?


Still, I have picked up on two references in later novels, the first possible and the second almost certain, both in Duane novels.

* The Hilbert space with energies that one Spock taps to an improvised warp drive sounds much like the De Sitter space accessed by K't'lk in The Wounded Sky and Duane's later novels.
That wasn't a Spock Must Die! reference. Rather, Hilbert space and de Sitter space are both concepts from real theoretical physics. They're similar in that they're both generalizable to an unlimited number of dimensions.
That's what I thought. It's not a strong connection, I think.

* More compellingly, in Spock's World Kirk comes across a posting by Uhura in the ship's BBS asking for tourist dictionaries in a variety of languages, including one for the Dalton recension of the Eurish language of James Joyce that Uhura used to communicate with Starfleet Command.
Couldn't they both have been independently referencing Joyce?
Sure, but for me, the Dalton recension of the Eurish language bit jumped out at me because in all of my readings, within Trek and without, Blish and Duane are the only two authors who have specifically mentioned the Dalton recension of Eurish. That, and the fact that it was Uhura who mentioned it, makes me seriously wonder.

Garrovick wrote: View Post
It's been about a year since the last time I read Spock Must Die! - I read it for the first time back in the 1980s. Although I agree that James Blish deserves a pass on the continuity issues, I did find it rather hard to believe that the Klingons could have come up with the device they used to reflect tachyons and isolate the Organians from the rest of the galaxy. Of course, at the time, the only information available on the Organians' capabilities came from the last few minutes of one TOS episode, but if they really are "as far above us on the evolutionary chain as we are above the amoeba", I just have a hard time imagining that the Klingons could so completely isolate them (and eventually destroy the Organians altogether). I'd have found it more plausible if the Tachyon-reflecting sphere came from some third party with an unrelated quarrel with the Organians and the Klingons simply found out about it somehow and took advantage of it.
No substantive disagreements here, though I suppose that the Klingons might simply have gotten very lucky (and then, once they were found out, very unlucky).

The thing I enjoyed the most about the book were the discussions of what happens to the "soul" during the transport process, and if the person who comes out of the transporter is truly the same as the person who enters it. I believe that is the first time such discussions occurred in Trek, although it wasn't the last. I must admit that if transporter technology ever becomes a reality, such concerns would definitely make me hesistate before having my atoms scattered all across the universe.
I don't think I'd share in those fears, but, well, we're far from developing transporter technology so I've no way to test them.
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