Spoilers TOS #5 The Prometheus Design by Sondra Marshak and Myrna Culbreath Review Thread

Discussion in 'Trek Literature' started by tomswift2002, Apr 30, 2017.

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Rate The Prometheus Design

  1. Outstanding

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  2. Above Average

    6.3%
  3. Average

    18.8%
  4. Below Average

    18.8%
  5. Poor

    56.3%
  1. tomswift2002

    tomswift2002 Commodore Commodore

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    The Prometheus Design
    Published: February 1982
    Originally Published with no number

    So I'm just starting this novel that I've had sitting around for about 10 years. In a way it's antiquated due to it having been written prior to all the changes introduced by the 24th century Trek's that would come about 5.5 years later.

    Also, I'm not too sure how this book will go, as I've read Marshak & Culbreath's The Price Of The Phoenix, which even to this day I tend to call it the "long-winded" novel that went nowhere. Just like you can have people just talk and be "long-winded" and not say anything, that's how I felt their previous novel was.
     
  2. TheUsualSuspect

    TheUsualSuspect Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    I voted "below average" on this one based on my memories of reading it at least once when it first came out, and then again about ten years later.

    I remember being puzzled by the direction Marshak and Culbreath went with Spock's character after the events of TMP, although it was consistent with their portrayal of Spock in the Phoenix books. They seem to see him as this uber-stoic character who constantly uses logic and mental discipline to suppress a seething mass of powerful emotions struggling to be released. It just doesn't seem consistent with the way Spock was portrayed in either the TV series or, especially, in TMP and the later movies. (Although, to be fair, when this book was published, I think only TMP had been released.)
     
  3. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Yes, it came out in March '82. It's paradoxical, because it embraced elements from TMP more than most other early Pocket novels (the previous book, The Covenant of the Crown, was set post-TMP but felt little different from a TOS story), and yet it totally rejected Spock's life-changing character growth from TMP and took him in the exact opposite direction. They had their own very... eccentric... view of the characters that was implicitly rooted in homoerotic "slash" and domination-submission fantasies. All their books, pretty much, are about alpha males locking horns in fierce power struggles and the alpha females who are powerful enough to be their equals yet succumb to their overpowering maleness. Although somehow it's always Kirk who ends up in the submissive role despite his best efforts.

    The Marshak-Culbreath books are basically trashy romance novels, but I give The Fate of the Phoenix and The Prometheus Design credit for at least trying to be about bigger philosophical questions. The former was the first Trek novel that made an attempt to explore the ethical quandaries of the Prime Directive, and the latter was an examination of the capacity of sentient beings for violence and self-destruction and whether it can be transcended. So they were conceptually ambitious. But they didn't really follow through. They posed the questions, had characters make some philosophical speeches, but they didn't offer any kind of resolution. Still, I'd say TPD was the most effective, or at least the most readable, of their four novels.
     
  4. TheUsualSuspect

    TheUsualSuspect Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    I was forgetting about the Prime Directive stuff in The Fate of the Phoenix. I also found that a pretty intriguing theme. If I remember right, there's a big debate held involving Kirk on the side of the Federation, the Romulan commander from "The Enterprise Incident," and others, I guess, which is moderated by the villian, Omne. It doesn't last long though, because it gets interrupted by the plot somehow. I remember being disappointed we didn't get to see more of that debate.
     
  5. King Daniel Beyond

    King Daniel Beyond Admiral Admiral

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    Damn, Kirk and Spock were really into each other in those old novels.
     
  6. flandry84

    flandry84 Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    I felt as though I had had a lobotomy reading the Phoenix books.Couldn't tell what the hell was going on.TBH I can't remember anything about Prometheus either although I know I have it on a shelf somewhere.
     
  7. tomswift2002

    tomswift2002 Commodore Commodore

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    I was just thinking back to an issue that people were having back in 2002 when David R. George III's MIssion Gamma: Twilight came out and people were complaining about how the font was about a 9 or so, but it had to be to fit the entire book in the specified book dimensions that had been sent out to book sellers months earlier, and how people wished that it had been printed in two books with a font size maybe around a 12 or 14.

    Well The Prometheus Design, at least my 2nd printing from Paperjacks, I think beats Twilight, as the font size must be around a 6. But the book is only 187 pages long, so I guess the book came in longer than expected, or else Pocket figure people had better eyesight in February 1982.
     
  8. tomswift2002

    tomswift2002 Commodore Commodore

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    It's funny, but in this book it seems like the authors were trying to link both the 70's Bantam books in with the 80's Pocket line. So far in The Prometheus Design authors have referenced The Price of the Phoenix & Surprise! (from The New Voyages anthology), along with Gene Roddenberry's novelization of Star Trek The Motion Picture, along with referencing events from The Corbomite Maneuver & Obsession. And they are literally referenced, as every so often I'll come across an asterisks and in footnote it will mention which book or episode they are actually referring to.

    In a way I wish that the newer books included footnotes.
     
  9. The Original Series

    The Original Series Lieutenant Red Shirt

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    Y
    You are a long-winded jackass, Sir!
     
  10. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Not really. The only Bantam stories they referenced were the ones they'd written themselves. So it wasn't about linking the whole lines, just about carrying their own work forward regardless of the publisher change, which isn't uncommon for series authors who change publishers. Most of the multiple-book authors from Bantam and Pocket had continuity among their own successive books even if they didn't reference anyone else's. Marshak & Culbreath happen to be the only ones who wrote for both publishers. (Except for David Gerrold, who wrote the "Encounter at Farpoint" novelization for Pocket, but that wasn't an original novel.)
     
  11. tomswift2002

    tomswift2002 Commodore Commodore

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    Well Surprise! was written by Nichelle Nichols, not Marshk or Culbreath. Sure they edited the anthology (and wrote The Procrustean Petard short story), but the Surprise! story was Nichol's.
     
  12. The Original Series

    The Original Series Lieutenant Red Shirt

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    Learn how to read AND retain what you've read. Your problems are YOUR problems. Don't blame others for your suburban idiocy!
     
  13. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    No, it was credited to Nichelle Nichols with Sondra Marshak & Myrna Culbreath. It's obvious from reading it that it's in M&C's writing style and is informed by their particular sexual preoccupation with Kirk and Spock, so I'd say M&C largely wrote it from an idea by Nichols, or in collaboration with her -- much like the way Judith & Garfield Reeves-Stevens collaborated on the William Shatner Trek novels. I don't know why Memory Beta omits M&C's credits for "Surprise!", but you can find confirmation in most other sources, including Memory Alpha and Voyages of the Imagination.
     
  14. JD

    JD Admiral Admiral

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    That would be nice. I usually do a pretty good job picking up the references, but are some to episodes I don't remember that well. I guess we do get annotations from some of the writers that serve this purpose now.
     
  15. flandry84

    flandry84 Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    The only thing "original"about a buttwipe like you is your name.
     
  16. Defcon

    Defcon Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    The Original Series has been axed by @T'Bonz .
     
  17. flandry84

    flandry84 Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Apologies for the intemperate language.
     
  18. trampledamage

    trampledamage Clone Moderator

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    Apology accepted.

    Everyone, please remember that insulting other posters is against the rules and will earn you a warning even if the other person was rude first. The better approach is to click the "Report" link that's under each post and let us moderators know about it.

    Thank you :)
     
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  19. tomswift2002

    tomswift2002 Commodore Commodore

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    I just got further into the story, and Marshak & Culbreath have cited both the episode The Errand of Mercy and the short story Mind-Sifter by Shirley Maiewski from The New Voyages 1. Not to mention, but Gene Roddenberry's novelization (not the movie, but the novelization) of Star Trek The Motion Picture/I] has been cited in the book numerous times.

    On another topic, it's interesting how Marshak & Culbreath's explanation for the formation of the Federation is similar to the official version, but is still very different. 1982 was still 20 years before Enterprise would be on the air, and 22 years before it's 4th season would air and show us the formation of the Coalition of Planets/United Federation of Planets. But in the book the authors have the Vulcan's being one of the fouding members of the Federation, but that was only after humans and the other species had met the Vulcan's in outer space. And apparently it was Savaj who was the first Vulcan to contact humans, as he was the commander of the first Vulcan ship to initiate contact.

    But the authors also have it that it was Savaj who recommended that while Starfleet was formed, there would be separate fleets, such as one just for Vulcan's, another just for humans (which is what we were apparently following in TOS, hence the reason for Kirk in early episodes referring to UESPA ), etc. (You can check out page 87 of the book) But members of different species were not discouraged from serving aboard different ships, hence Spock's posting on the Enterprise, but ships like the "Intrepid" having Vulcan only crews. The authors version of the Federation basically had it that certain races were superior to other races, with Vulcan's apparently being at the top, and even special command over rides that allowed ships, such as Enterprise with it's mixed race crew, to be placed in a "Vulcan command mode".
     
  20. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Okay, books they wrote or edited, and the book of the movie. That hardly proves an attempt to integrate the entire Bantam line with the Pocket line.

    That's not surprising, since the idea is even older than that. The Star Fleet Technical Manual from 1975 established the Federation's founding systems as Earth, Alpha Centauri, 40 Eridani, Epsilon Indi, and 61 Cygni. James Blish had previously established 40 Eridani as Vulcan's home star. The SFTM apparently presented the others as human colonies, but the Star Fleet Medical Reference Manual in 1977 established Eps Indi as Andor and 61 Cygni as Tellar. So most sources ever since have treated Earth, Alpha Centauri, Vulcan, Tellar, and Andor as the founding worlds, and Enterprise simply made it official.
     
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