Mr. Laser Beam wrote:
I assume there's a reason why McCoy can't simply contact Starfleet Command and ask them to relieve him? Surely if Kirk has the authority to do so, then so must anyone who outranks Kirk.
Basically, there's a fair length of subspace delay, and the mission has accidentally ended up on the desk of an "in my day kids KEPT OFF MY DAMN LAWN" admiral, who basically says that kirk probably had a good reason to put McCoy in charge and he's senior enough to be able to handle it so he sees no reason to supersede kirk's orders.
It's horribly contrived - every part of McCoy being in charge is - but it's the only weak point of the book, and it's pretty necessary to avoid having to have spock, scotty, sulu and so on ALL off the ship to give McCoy a reason to be in command, which would give him no-one to bounce off. So I don't mind it in that sense.