Beyond T'hy'la: Slash Analysis of the Star Trek: The Motion Picture Novel

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Title: Beyond T'hy'la: Slash Analysis of the Star Trek: The Motion Picture Novel
Creator: bigmamag
Date(s): March 8, 2011
Medium: online
Fandom: Star Trek
External Links: Beyond T'hy'la: Slash Analysis of the Star Trek: The Motion Picture Novel; archive link
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Beyond T'hy'la: Slash Analysis of the Star Trek: The Motion Picture Novel is a detailed analysis of the slash relationships in Star Trek: The Motion Picture.

It was originally posted on Livejournal and is reproduced on Fanlore with permission.



Many moons ago I read the Star Trek: The Motion Picture novelization. I wrote notes on actual paper, got all excited, and then somehow it kept slipping my mind to write about it and when I did remember it, I kept putting it off for other projects or, honestly, because it seemed like too much work. Well, no more! Here it is, 10k worth of meta in two parts.

In preparation and because I love you guys, I have uploaded a *pdf file* that contains the novel, links to footnotes (mostly) and everything I quote in this essay highlighted for your convenience. All citations used in this essay refer to this file and do not coincide with the book itself, as the page numbers are different and a pdf is readable to anyone. I did it that way because I know there are a ton of people who have either never read the novel or don’t have a hard copy on hand. (Editor's note: the PDF is not included in this reproduction].

Super mega awesome thanks to cicero_drayon who beta'd most of this and gave me the idea of citations. She even offered to do them herself, but I believe in always being kind to your beta and she already does everything for me anyway. :)

This essay assumes you have seen Star Trek: TMP. It does not assume you have read the novel. In fact, the whole purpose of writing this essay is to show off the slashiness of the novel and entice others to read the book or at least flail over what they read here. I mean come on, just look at the cover. Don't think it's that more straight because there's a woman between Kirk and Spock in a rainbow vortex.


I’m not a huge Star Trek novel reader. In fact, this book is the only one I have read cover-to-cover, though I really do have a couple of the more slashy ones lined up to read later and I’ve read pieces of novels, especially Star Trek: The New Voyages. I guess you can call me a canon whore. If it’s not outright slash fic, I don’t really care for reading books that are, essentially, gen or het fanfic. The novels are strictly apocrypha, and while some are (from I’ve been told and believe to be true from what I’ve seen of them) really good, I have only a passing interest in the “slashiness” of some of the novels. But I actually consider this book a part of canon. Why is that? Because if you looked closely at the picture of the cover above, you will notice that the writer is none other than Gene Roddenberry, the creator of Star Trek. Look, if I can’t consider a novel written for the first movie by the damn show’s creator as at least somewhat canon, then what the hell can I call canon? But for most people, I think they see it as Gene Roddenberry doing fanfic. Either way, this means that whatever is in between the covers (*inappropriate snickering*) of this book is a reflection on how Gene Roddenberry envisions his characters.

I’m going to be completely honest here: I think the plot of the movie isn’t that bad. The pacing and execution are dreadful, but the story itself is quite good. If you haven’t seen the movie, read the book first, I definitely recommend it. I almost wish I could go back and read the book before seeing the movie so I could imagine them in uniforms that don’t resemble pajamas and save myself the pain of watching the bridge crew stare at dated special effects for two hours. The book actually makes the action scenes exciting, and taking the time to read those scenes is actually better than watching them in the film. Plus you get 1,000 details you don't get in the movie, my favorite probably being Decker actually having sex with the Ilia probe. Dude, and you're telling me Kirk sleeps with anything? (on a serious note, it's pretty sad scene since Decker really is in love with her and believed she was really in there, which *spoiler* she was.) If you read no other ST novel, go ahead and read this one, even if you didn't like the movie.

The story has a clear A plot and B plot. The A plot is basically a rehash of the TOS episode The Changeling on a larger, grander scale. Earth lost a probe a long time ago, probe gains shitload of knowledge out in the universe, calls all living things ‘units’, Spock gets mindfucked when trying to meld with it, and it’s searching for its creator and the meaning to life, the universe, everything. Simple, but gets serious upgrades in that V’Ger is fucking massive and you get the Ilia and Decker storyline (btw, if you haven’t read spookyfbi’s essay on the parallel between Ilia/Decker and Kirk/Spock,[1] STOP READING THIS STUPID SHIT AND GO READ THAT, WTF. I won’t even got into the parallels that much, just so I can intrigue you into reading it because she does all the work for me.) The B plot is Kirk and Spock, and what’s interesting is that it’s almost a lowercase ‘b’ plot because of how understated it is. Non-slasher viewers might even call the B plot ‘Spock coming to terms with his human side,’ which convinces me that these people have vision and hearing problems because they obviously could not see nor hear the entirety of the sickbay scene. But if the movie is being ambiguous about part of the plot being about Kirk/Spock, the novel…is still ambiguous, but ambiguous like the ambiguously gay duo are ambiguous.

But we’re not here for V’Ger or anything else except Kirk and Spock, because plot or no plot, this story is unequivocally about them and should truthfully be called the ‘A’ plot. Every other plot thread just weaves into the slash tapestry—the Ilia/Decker parallel, V’Ger’s search for something beyond itself, Kirk’s need for command, all are there to outwardly express an internal state of affairs between our favorite space husbands. Let’s see what this book gives us slashers that the movie doesn’t.

Spock’s Side


We meet Spock again on the morning of his kolinahr completion, the ritual that purges all human emotion and earns you the title of ‘Supremely Awesome Vulcan’. Now the movie never does explain why Spock left. I feel I must point this out because it’s a very simple question. I mean, even the shittiest of writers would attempt to address it; it’s that simple a question. That is, unless the writers were outright trying to avoid talking about something that would cause offense. Naturally, I went into this book expecting more of an explanation, because surely the book would have it if the movie didn’t have time or motivation to do so. Imagine my surprise when not a god damn thing is explained here either. Why isn’t it explained? When we left Spock in 1969 (well, WE in a general sense, as a good lot of us weren’t even a twinkle in our parent’s eye at that time), Spock seemed pretty secure on the Enterprise and satisfied working beside Kirk. Yes, he struggled with his identity, but kolinahr is quite an extreme measure to take to resolve that identity, don’t you think? Roddenberry gives us no explanation in the book either. We can maybe guess that Spock was about to approach his second pon farr and he didn’t wish to repeat what happened the first time, but how long would it take to write that into the narrative if it were a factor? It would take all of a paragraph, even just a sentence—and this entire argument would be moot.

So what is said about Spock leaving? Well, let’s see what Spock himself has to say about it, as this is the only time in the entire novel that we get anything even resembling an answer:

It had seemed to Spock that he had no other choice. It was only through the Masters here on Gol that one could achieve Kolinahr. And it was only through Kolinahr that he could once and for all time unburden himself of his human half, which he believed responsible for his pain. (PDF 6)

But wait, you ask, what is this pain he’s talking about? Did you not quote the paragraph before it? There is only one paragraph before it, and it’s him explaining where he’s at and that he left shortly after the five year mission. So, what pain is he talking about? It never says, I’ve checked. You can assume that the pain is his turmoil over his Vulcan and human halves, but there’s still another question that you just can’t ignore: why the ever-loving hell is he suddenly hating his human half with such fervor? What caused this sudden backlash? It’s not referring to the general pain of self-identification either; he specifically wants to purge, eradicate, wipe out, and just wave bye-bye to his human half for good. If this was merely about pon farr, wouldn’t he be angry at his Vulcan side? He is solely blaming his human half for his pain. A page or so over, he goes on to talk about his troubled childhood, and then he talks about joining Starfleet in the first place because he wanted to prove all Vulcans wrong, that he could live and work with humans and be a perfect example of a Vulcan, but then he reveals that he hadn’t thought about these aspects until just that morning. You’re telling me he hadn’t thought about his childhood identity issues and bullying until the very morning of his kolinahr completion? It just proves that while Spock’s goal is being a True Vulcan, his motivations for achieving it are not about his past identify issues regarding his childhood or his reasoning behind joining Starfleet.

Enough of this appetizer—let’s get to best and most easily recognized part of this book, the part I’m sure you are all waiting for: t’hy’la, that magical Vulcan word that was never used in actual canon, never spoken by a character or included in any novel besides this one. If you actually don't know what this is, then—hello! Welcome to K/S fandom, enjoy the ease with which canon lets you ship. But seriously, if you don't know, I'm very excited to be the first one to quote its first appearance for you:

Jim! Good-bye my . . . my t’hy’la.2 This is the last time I will permit myself to think of you or even your name again. (PDF 6)

I’ve talked about this ad nauseam, but I never give up an opportunity to expound my space husbandly beliefs, so I must ask you, dear reader, to forget the arguments. Don’t ask whether the footnote was written as a no-homo clause, implying that the definition of t’hy’la means friend-or-brother-or-lover, which is not the same as friend-and-brother-and-lover, or as a covert way to slip something past the mass public, which is also a good argument as you can see by the line-by-line analysis.[2] I want you to instead focus on the definition itself. Friend. Brother. Lover. Let’s ask an even more important question that no one ever seems to ask:

Why put ‘lover’ into the definition in the first place?

There was absolutely no reason to tack on the lover part and write that entire footnote. First of all, it is unlikely Roddenberry had some sort of vendetta against K/S. Here’s a famous quote from him on the matter: “Yes, there's certainly some of that—certainly with love overtones. Deep love. The only difference being, the Greek ideal—we never suggested in the series—physical love between the two. But it's the—we certainly had the feeling that the affection was sufficient for that, if that were the particular style of the 23rd century.”[3] Roddenberry wasn’t bothered by K/S and he’s said that though he didn’t intentionally put slash in the series, he didn’t object to the subculture, so he definitely wouldn’t have put in this quote merely to discourage slashers. This isn’t some word used earlier in canon, either. If it was, then the footnote would make absolute sense, as we’d be exploring a new meaning behind the word.

No, Roddenberry made this word up for this novel, for Spock to use specifically to define his relationship with Kirk. If he wanted it to be mere bromance, he could easily have substituted another word, like ‘companion.’ Friend/brother/companion, sounds awesome, and it would get the idea across that they are extraordinarily close friends. Even if he would have put soulmate, it would have been less gay. Because the idea of soulmates is a Platonian concept, coming from the idea that all souls know each other before they are born and therefore some souls are soulmates which is where we get the term ‘Platonic love’ and yadda, yadda, yadda. It would have been fishy, yes, but not downright indicting. For example, in the TV series Supernatural, the main characters Sam and Dean, two brothers, share heaven while most souls do not because they are soulmates. In all likelihood, the writers of that show were leading in the platonic direction, though hey, a lot of us read Flowers in the Attic too. ‘Lover’ has an undeniably sexual aspect to it, which is why the footnote was included, to perhaps wave off the concern that some would see ‘lover’ and ask why Spock is calling Kirk that. My whole argument is that it simply didn’t have to be there, so why include it? Safe money’s on “to get away with murder buttsex” or “give something fun to the slash fans.”

Moving away from that argument but going back to the quote, notice that Spock is saying goodbye to Kirk FOREVER. He’s not getting an emotional enema for logic brownie points; he is seriously leaving his human side, his emotions, his friends, and Kirk behind. Right here we see a deep emotional reaction. Spock actually hesitates before searching and coming up with the word t’hy’la. Conjecture? Something happened on a highly emotional level with Kirk. We'll never know what exactly that something was, so we must make do with fanfic I suppose.

There’s another, more touching quote I want to address before we get to the big show. Spock is psyching himself up as he meets the Vulcan Masters, thinking about his attempts to prove himself a True Vulcan. Spock remembers this:

But what was it that Jim Kirk had once said? “Spock, why fight so hard to be a part of only one world? Why not fight instead to be the best of both?” (PDF 6)

Yeah, he’s still thinking of Kirk, and I’ve talked about this a lot, especially in my Journey to Babel meta, but this is more proof that Kirk gets Spock and is probably the only one who truly accepts all of Spock, not just wants him to be more Vulcan or more human. That is pretty romantic, if you ask me.

If you still find my arguments leaning more towards conspiracy theory, well, I do tend to reach a little farther than your average fan, but this next part leaps light years ahead of my tinhatting and leaves me in a trail of rainbow-colored dust. My favorite part of the whole novel is right here and it’s never mentioned in the movie. At all. We’re basically led to believe that what happened as Spock was about to receive kolinahr completion was that Spock sensed the consciousness of V’Ger and it somehow stirred up his human side, prompting him to later rejoin the Enterprise crew to get answers for his own capital ‘I’ issues. But that’s not the only thing Spock senses when High Master T’sai melds with him; this is so big that I had to get up and do a little fangirl dance before typing it because I just can’t contain the utter elation this scene stirs in me. Spock’s thoughts of Kirk are broken by a Master, and it’s like Spock had drifted off into Kirk-land and had to be forcibly brought out of the clouds. Here’s what happens after that (emphasis mine):

“Spock, your thoughts. Open them to me.”
Spock could not refuse the High Master T’sai, not even at this moment of shame. As she touched him, Spock let his mind open, in the giving and receiving of mindmeld Oneness. Kaiidth! What was there was there, and it was T’sai’s right to learn the complete truth of it.
//The Klingons weren’t destroyed. It feels like . . . like they’ve become “wall exhibits in Hell.” And it’s headed for Earth. Spock, I wish you were here to help me understand.//
Spock looked up, puzzled. That had felt like Jim Kirk’s thoughts. And yet it was T’sai who was standing here and to whom he had opened his thoughts. She was now releasing Spock’s consciousness and retrieving her own. Then her lips opened, and before she spoke Spock already knew what her words would be.
“Your answer lies elsewhere, Spock.” (PDF 7)

OH HO HO! So it was not just V’Ger in Spock’s head. Why, I wonder why the movie might neglect to mention that Spock heard the thoughts of James T. Kirk, who was back on Earth at the time. Not only that, but aside from Kirk’s thoughts being about the intruder, you can tell that the whole point is that Kirk is thinking of Spock, Spock is thinking of Kirk, and Master T’sai is responding to their connection, not the intruder. Furthermore, in the first chapter we see Kirk actually watching the Klingon attack and thinking about it, but nowhere does it say that Kirk actively thinks, “Spock, I wish you were here to help me understand.” (PDF 5) This confused me before I realized that Spock might be reading something Kirk didn’t know he was thinking. Later Kirk will say that he’s just used to having Spock around for emergencies (PDF 40), but that’s just him trying explain what happened and clearly indicating that he has no idea he thought that, meaning that Spock must have been reading an emotion from Kirk, which must mean Spock was going pretty deep there (mind melds must go deeper. /lame Inception joke.)

To recap, especially since I couldn’t quote the entire chapter, here is the sequence of events and you can check them yourself:

  • Spock blames his human half for his pain and decides to undergo kolinahr
  • Spock was content with his decision for nearly three years, right up until the morning of his kolinahr graduation
  • Spock looks up to where Earth is in the sky and says goodbye to Kirk
  • The intruder senses Spock’s powerful emotion and probes Spock’s mind
  • Spock starts wavering and thinking of what Jim Kirk had once said, second-guessing his decision
  • T’sai interrupts these thoughts and melds with Spock, who is feeling shame
  • Spock hears Kirk’s thoughts and he’s also thinking of Spock at that very moment
  • T’sai tells him his answer lies elsewhere

Fuck. Just, fuck. When you look at it that way, it starts to look less and less like T’sai is telling Spock to meld with the intruder for answers and more like T’sai is telling Spock that he needs to go sweep his man off his feet and leave this logic stuff to Vulcans who aren’t madly in love with humans. In fact, I dare say it makes more sense because nowhere does it say after the initial probing that the intruder is still contacting Spock, so T’sai is directly responding to the fact that [her] pupil is communicating with his t’hy’la over the cosmos and that Spock is more likely to skip through a meadow in the near future than obtain pure logic. I mean sure, you could say that V’Ger facilitated Spock hearing Kirk, but why is Spock hearing the thoughts of Kirk over the literally billions of other thoughts he could have heard at that moment? How serendipitous was it that Kirk just happened to be wishing that Spock was there by his side? Perhaps they had both been telepathically reaching for the other and connected. Nope, I’m convinced: V’Ger was responding to the mental connection and the emotion they shared. V’Ger is void of love and beauty and was coming to Earth in search of something it couldn’t name and to quote Spock from the movie, “it knows only that it needs, but like so many of us, it does not know what.” The ‘what’ is love, that simple feeling that V’Ger can’t comprehend. Yep, that not only puts the last nail in the big gay coffin, it fucking holds a funeral service and buries it six feet under solid concrete. I’m going to end this paragraph abruptly, because we’ll be talking more about this later and I need to retire to my newly-installed fainting room.

Kirk’s side


We’ve just gone over how much Spock has changed since the five-year mission, but that is nothing compared to how much Kirk has changed. The movie is much more blatant about the transformation without giving us a lot of background on it, as movies must often do: the moment Kirk steps from the shuttle and engages with Sonak at the academy (and do I really need to point out how obvious it is that Kirk is adamant that his science officer must be a Vulcan?), we’re almost blown away at Kirk’s serious and no-nonsense movements and speech. Gone is the charming sparkle in his eyes, that commanding-yet-inviting stride, that lilt to his voice that can convince armies to follow his lead. After a few scenes with no change to his demeanor, it starts to sink in: Kirk isn’t just extra-serious for an important mission. Even his jokes are edged with a sort of bleakness, as when he’s speaking with Scotty in the transport shuttle to the Enterprise. And let me tell you, those five minutes or so of looking at the model of the Enterprise isn’t just awkward because of the absurd length of the scene; something vital is missing in Kirk. This is where I sort of like the novel better, because it gradually eases you into Kirk’s new persona instead. We read from his POV, so therefore you don’t really cotton on that something is wrong until you start getting evidence that Kirk’s life is terrible. And I mean it, Kirk’s life since the end of the mission—and, coincidentally, since Spock left—has been an austere, leeching existence.

First of all, we learn that Kirk was promoted to the admiralty shortly after the five year mission. (Backstory on PDF 8-9)Kirk says that he had not realized how “desperately unhappy” the last three years of his life have been. Of course, this is highly understandable in itself and the text goes on to talk about what we all know to be true, that Kirk is happier having an adventure and not stuck behind a desk. Le duh. But then we get something mighty interesting that tingles my “something fishy is going on here” spidey sense. Turns out, McCoy didn’t want Kirk to be promoted. Well, that’s understandable too. After all, next to Spock, McCoy knows Jim Kirk better than anyone else and he’s trained in psychology to boot. But there’s more to it, as evidenced later in McCoy’s POV:

McCoy had felt some vague worries about Jim Kirk from the moment he had heard that his former captain had somehow regained command of the Enterprise again. After all, McCoy’s resignation from the service had concerned this very subject. Upon learning that Admiral’s stars were to be offered to Kirk, McCoy had protested vehemently and had secured the backing of other prominent medical officers in the fight. (PDF 28)

McCoy didn’t just disapprove of Kirk getting promoted; he flat-out resigned from Starfleet over it. That’s why a reserve activation clause had been activated to bring hippie McCoy back from retirement; McCoy loudly protested Kirk getting promoted and Kirk had ignored the arguments as ‘trivial’ at the time. This isn’t a small detail, people. How often does Kirk take McCoy’s opinion “lightly”, especially on a decision so major? Sure, Kirk sometimes doesn’t listen to McCoy’s good advice, but does he ever just consider it “trivial?”

More is revealed of Kirk’s troubled psyche when we are told that Kirk had basically been in a complete fog for over three years and, after a lot of explanation in chapter three, Kirk ends this entire back story with:

Also, he had not really understood how deeply Spock’s abrupt departure for Vulcan had affected him. He had been depending on the Vulcan’s friendship and logic much more than he realized. (PDF 9)

Spock left abruptly, and in the ‘physical and emotional’ exhaustion after the five year mission, Kirk gets a desk job and becomes a shell of his former self? That’s strange, since we were there for three years of that mission. Did something major happen in the last two years that really pounded on Kirk’s equilibrium? It never says, but I pretty much assume that it’s about the same level that we’ve seen on screen, which begs the question: Why did Kirk do a total 180 from being captain, something he clung onto with every fiber of his being, to getting a desk job because he was worn out? You take shore leave, you move on. It’s not like he was that old and several times in the original series we see that Kirk has a pathological need to have command, even going so far as to suggest that Kirk was able to overcome the effects of the Dohlman’s tears in Elaan of Troyius simply because he had the Enterprise. Spock left and Kirk just shut down and started living this half life. I’m not exaggerating, because not only did Kirk accept this promotion, he was also manipulated for three years.

This stuff is never mentioned in the movie, but Kirk sort of has an awakening after the Klingon ship is destroyed by V’Ger at the beginning of the novel and he starts to see that his life has been manipulated by Starfleet brass because they wanted an honored hero and experienced captain for political purposes, to ‘smile and wave’ as it were, and Kirk, who we all know is incredibly intelligent and can smell bullshit miles away from the vacuum of space, just…let all this happen. Huh. To make it even more interesting, we learn that not only was Kirk manipulated by Admiral Nogura, but Nogura sends a recent ex-lover of Kirk’s, Lori, to ‘manage’ Kirk in her introductory scene.

Wait, back the fuck up, who’s Lori? (PDF 9-10) Why have we never heard of her and why isn’t she mentioned in the movie? She actually is in the movie, except we only see her as she gets killed in the transporter accident that also kills Sonak, thus we see the obvious metaphor that is her purpose in this narrative—a redshirt who got to bang Kirk for a bit. ***omg, aprilleigh24 made the brilliant observation here that she always "saw the transporter accident involving Lori (Human; Kirk's lover and companion) and Sonak (Vulcan; science officer and representative of Starfleet) as very obvious metaphor for the futilely of Kirk's search for a replacement for Spock." Dude, that is a valid thought. I mean, how come it had to be those two? Maybe Sonak we could get away with, but why Lori too? Mind=blown*** Vice Admiral Lori Ciani was Kirk’s lover for a year, which for him is practically an engagement. Kirk thinks of that time fondly, even finds himself getting aroused in her presence again. He describes her as perfection, but it’s like he’s ticking off a laundry list of traits and it’s clear he’s not upset that they’re not together and there’s no indication that he longs for her and wants her back. Interestingly, he realizes that “she had become a surrogate Enterprise to him.” (PDF 9) The more astute slash readers are now raising their eyebrows. Lori, who we are explicitly told to equate with the love Kirk has for the Enterprise, is not that big of a deal to him, as he isn’t really pining over her or thinking of her with anything except distant fondness.

...The next person to tell me that the love of Kirk’s life was the Enterprise is going to get sucker punched, I swear to god.

Even after Lori dies, Kirk thinks of her for a moment, sad about her death, but with the same emotion he shows any crewmember who dies in the line of duty. His parting thoughts on her are quite interesting.

That first year back on Earth he had needed exactly what she had been to him. She had realized that, too, and it had pleased her immensely to both heal and pleasure him so. The fact that the old fox Nogura had used her took none of that away. (PDF 20)

Lori was explicitly there to put together a broken Kirk, which he’s thankful for but doesn’t seem to want to go back to, like he’d broken his arm and was thankful for the cast but doesn’t want to wear the itchy thing anymore. I realize that it says that Kirk was physically and emotionally exhausted after the five year mission, but how could that bring him down to this level? Was he lobotomized sometime in those last three years? It’s like he was holding together just fine until Spock “left abruptly” and suddenly he’s blithely accepting a promotion he clearly shouldn’t, not listening to McCoy wage war against accepting said promotion, essentially hiding from the world, and equates Lori, a woman he contentedly dated for a year to a stand-in Enterprise. You could say that it’s not all about Spock, that Kirk simply needed a purpose again, needed the Enterprise again, and you would be 100% right if not for the following fact:

Even after Kirk gets the Enterprise back, he’s still not happy and continues to be robo!Kirk until Spock returns.

Sure, Kirk’s seeing clearer, is amazed at how good it feels to be back in command and to have all brain cells firing and strategizing and all that, but Kirk is still a fucking dick. You see this plainly in the movie, and even if you get more of Kirk’s self-doubting inner voice in the novel, his actions still spell out D-I-C-K in flashing neon lights. Kirk tells Scotty that “they gave her back to me,” but in all actuality he had to browbeat and argue his way back into command of the Enterprise, getting revenge on Nogura for manipulating him in the first place. Now, that part is a little understandable because Kirk deserves some justice for being Starfleet’s puppet, but in order to do it, he must usurp the command chair from Decker, who Kirk himself specifically recommended to be the new captain of the Enterprise. It wasn’t about getting justice at all, and Kirk knows it. Kirk took command from Decker, command he had personally vouched for, a man who knows a hell of a lot more about the refitted Enterprise than Kirk, because he needs the Enterprise. That is incredibly selfish and very unlike Kirk, who even justifies this kick to the nuts by telling himself that Decker will have his moment later but for Kirk to be on the bridge again is like Lazarus stepping into the sunlight.(PDF 26) That’s…both a fucked up viewpoint and a depressing one, considering that Kirk is basically equating himself to a biblical character who was raised from the dead by Jesus, which means Kirk felt like he had been in a empty, death-like existence for the past three years.

Later we cringe as Kirk makes a wrong (almost fatal) decision because he’s not familiar with the refit and Decker actually saves them all by belaying an order of Kirk’s, which is incredible given what we know of Kirk’s superb command ability. What’s worse is that even before this moment, Kirk knows he’s off balance because he drags McCoy out of retirement because he simply needs him. We all laugh at the hilariously homoerotic scene of, “I need you. BADLY” in the movie, but in the novel you get an idea of how accurate Shatner’s portrayal is. Kirk needs a conscience, needs McCoy there to tell him when he’s going too far, and that’s pretty scary when you think about it. Want to see more proof that something is wrong with Kirk?

After the turbolift doors closed behind Kirk, there was a lull on the bridge before work was resumed. It was as if his presence had left an electric charge lingering there. Chekov was surprised to find that he had been holding his breath for some reason.
“He wanted her back,” said Sulu. “I wouldn’t have wanted to be in his way when he went after her!”
Uhura nodded. This was exactly what she had just felt in Kirk, too. He had also had that look which comes into some men’s eyes when they’ve just won a woman and she lies there ready to be taken. Uhura was not unacquainted with that look, but she was troubled at the amount of hunger she had seen there too. (PDF 17)

Damn. These people who have seen Kirk at his worst in the five years they worked together are all unnerved by what Kirk has become. Even better, this confirms my theory that Kirk’s personality change is directly linked to Spock’s departure because if those last two years of the five year mission were so terrible, then why is his old bridge crew so surprised by the changes they see in Kirk? Another sign of change is hinted at when Chapel updates McCoy on her recent notes of Kirk’s behavior, she likens Kirk’s dependency on the Enterprise to someone going through a narcotic withdrawal (PDF 28) McCoy at first thinks she’s off base, but then has to agree with her when he thinks about it. So now the Enterprise is like a drug now? The poor ship is taking a beating in this book along with Kirk, the recovering drug addict in need of a fix.

The best way to sum up the condition Kirk is in before Spock returns is…in the scene right before Spock returns, how convenient. It is the scene right after Decker saves their asses by overriding Kirk’s authority and leaves the room. The movie only has McCoy laying it out for Kirk, and the novel has that too, but it manages to go a little darker, as you’ll see.

“I intend to keep her?” Kirk said tightly. “Is that what you’re saying, Doctor?”
McCoy was nodding. “And I can tell you exactly how you hope to keep her. Whether you’re actually aware of it or not, Jim, you are gambling that the Intruder will make it possible somehow . . . ”
Kirk heard himself interrupting—and felt the chill of what he believed to be cold anger. Had he just threatened to physically throw McCoy from his cabin? Yes, something ridiculous like that, but McCoy was nevertheless continuing.
“ . . . and if the Intruder is that dangerous, and if you win, there’ll be enough gratitude for you to name what you want. And if you die in the attempt—incidentally taking all of us with you—so what the hell? You’d rather be dead than give this up again, wouldn’t you, Jim?” (PDF 32)

McCoy, scarily, has Kirk’s intentions nailed down. Kirk is flying balls-to-the-wall, people. He’s not only behaving with an obsessed and do-or-die mindset, but he’s not truly aware of his actions. He’s not even aware of what he’s saying because notice that he hears himself interrupting McCoy and feeling the ‘chill of cold anger’ but he doesn’t even remembering threatening to throw McCoy from his cabin. It’s like Kirk has nothing to lose anymore. Kirk is very good at deluding himself. It makes sense that he’d truly not know how deeply Spock’s “abrupt departure” would affect him, and in my opinion, it’s completely valid that he’s even deluding himself into thinking it’s the Enterprise that will make him a whole person again, when even in full command he’s still not the Kirk we know and love. Astonishingly, Kirk actually thinks about giving command back to Decker when McCoy points out his douchebaggery (PDF 33), and that is when he gets news that they’ve got a surprise guest. Why, I wonder what could be arriving on the courier today?

The Reunion

Kirk! The mere name made Spock groan inwardly as he remembered what it had cost him to turn away from that welcome. T’hy’la! ♥

The novel doesn’t really deviate too much in this scene, so to recap, in chapter 13 Spock comes back to the Enterprise to find some answers from V’Ger about why he can’t get his shit together and complete kolinahr. There’s a little interesting pov from Decker who has heard of Kirk and Spock’s famous friendship and missions and when Spock arrives “his estimation of Kirk began slowly growing again toward what it had been in the past,” simply because Spock admired Kirk. Not much to say on that except I love outsider POVs on K/S and it’s clear that whatever happened between Kirk and Spock is not public knowledge. Hell, it seems that Decker doesn’t even realize that they’re not bffs anymore.

I find it interesting that Kirk’s reaction to Spock appearing on the bridge differs between the movie and the novel. We all know how Shatner does it in the movie, staring at Spock like he’s an angel descended from above, but he does something a little different in the novel—Kirk stares in amazement for just a moment and then reaches toward Spock with his hand outstretched (PDF 35). Considering all that we all know about the sensitivity of Vulcan hands and what the touching of hands means to Vulcans (*cough*kissing*cough*) this seems mighty fascinating. What was he planning on doing with that hand? Shake it? Unlikely, as we all know Vulcans use the ta’al to greet others and Kirk would know better than anyone that Vulcans do not like to touch. Conjecture? Kirk honestly thought that Spock returning meant that Spock was returning, his best friend and something more was coming back to him. Kirk was all ready for this to be the epic climax in which he and Spock run in a metaphorical field of flowers toward each other with romantic violins singing in the air and they kiss passionately, apologize between breaths, braid daisies in their hair, and Spock promises to never leave again.

But then Spock gives him the cold shoulder, and Kirk is confused and hurt. Yet even though this is not the reunion he wanted and Kirk is still at odds with Spock, he still sheds his dickishness like a second skin and from this point on in the novel, Kirk is no longer second-guessing himself or angsting about his state in life. He’s also suddenly friendlier to everyone, respecting Decker more, listen to McCoy fully, and in the movie he even winks at Chekov. Kirk states at the end of the chapter that, despite Spock’s off behavior, “Spock’s very presence did seem to promise that everything was soon to get better.” (PDF 36) Man, give the guy his Spocky back and he’s suddenly Mr. Ray of Sunshine.

In fact, I’m starting to think my conjectures aren’t really that far off, not in light of what comes after Kirk’s hopes of becoming space married right then and there are dashed when Spock coolly dismisses him. You might want to sit down for this one.

Although Kirk had been as dumbfounded as the others, he was pleased to note that he had recovered first and was now handling all this with some degree of command presence. But it still felt painful to be reminded so powerfully and unexpectedly of his friendship and affection for Spock—theirs had been the touching of two minds which the old poets of Spock’s home planet had proclaimed as superior even to the wild physical love which affected Vulcans every seventh year during pon farr. However, Spock’s new demeanor warned Kirk to stay clear of personal considerations for the moment. (PDF 35)

That is just…delicious. First off, there’s that word ‘affection’ again. Remember that word from Operation—Annihilate! in the scene in the science lab when McCoy had to fish around for it to describe Kirk and Spock’s relationship? But more importantly—the touching of two minds. Ancient poets of Vulcan. Superior to pon farr. Ladies and gentlemen, this is quite possibly the gayest paragraph ever to be written. Not only is Roddenberry bringing up pon farr in relation to Kirk and Spock, but he puts their relationship above that. Yes, I understand that sex is just sex and love in general is better than physical release, but then there’s the part where he added the touching of two minds. He is specifically speaking not on a human level, but on a Vulcan level—an ancient Vulcan level, at that. Vulcans consider the mind to be sacred, and so ‘the touching of two minds’ is not just a human euphemism for any old strong connection in this paragraph’s context. Also, let’s not forget that this is Kirk’s POV, so it’s fascinating that Kirk’s mind just goes there, immediately connects their relationship to the poetry of ancient Vulcan and being above physical love. He also has to clear his mind of these “personal considerations”, and really, there are about a thousand ways to reword this entire paragraph and make it less gay. I’d flail less about this, but come on—pon farr is all about marriage and bonding and extreme fuck-or-die ultimatums, not just rubbing a few bits together. It’s an ancient biological drive that goes beyond logic, goes back to the time when violent emotions almost destroyed the Vulcan race. Plus, there was the part where Spock heard Kirk’s goddamn thoughts across 16 light years, so the ‘touching of two minds’ has already been shown to be quite literal in this narrative. Really, are some fans so off base when they speculate that Kirk and Spock shared some sort of bond prior to this point in time? I certainly give some credence to that interpretation.

Moving on (very reluctantly and on shaky legs), their reunion ends almost the same as in the movie, but the book adds a little twist to it (emphasis mine).

Kirk could see a pattern emerging; except as duty situations required, Spock obviously intended to completely and impartially ignore every member of this starship’s crew. The reasons for that might turn out to be as interesting as whatever it was that brought him here. Perhaps as painful, too. Kirk decided that it would not hurt Spock to be reminded that pain could be two-edged.
He waited until the Vulcan was in mid-step into the waiting turbolift. Then:
“Mister Spock! Welcome aboard.”
Spock hesitated for an instant—Kirk knew that his voice had carried enough sincerity to call forth a memory or two in the Vulcan’s mind. But although he had hesitated for an instant, Spock continued into the turbolift.(PDF 36)

Remember what I said about Kirk being nicer to everyone? Well, I wasn’t telling the whole story. I meant to say that Kirk is treating everyone nicer except Spock. When I watched the movie, I just thought that by Kirk getting Spock’s attention and saying, ‘Welcome aboard,’ he was giving a confused, last-ditch effort to get some emotion out of Spock, to make sure that Spock really was bent on ignoring everyone and being an ice prince. Except here Kirk is explicitly doing it to lash out at Spock. Guys, Kirk is being petty, is acting exactly as a jilted lover would act upon seeing their ex-space boyfriend after three years apart and then being ignored by them. Thank god there isn’t much left to go over, because my mind can’t take much more of this shit.

Sit the fuck down, Spock


Before we get to Kirk and McCoy interviewing Spock, there’s an entire scene that takes place right after Spock returns in which we get to see inside Spock’s head. Spock goes to meditate, his emotions out of whack from seeing everyone again. As he goes to an area of the ship where there are private places for people to go and meditate and such, Spock accidentally hears a couple starting to have sex and he scoffs at the human need to “continually rub this and that part of their bodies together.” (PDF 37) While I don’t see any real connection to K/S here, I’m just amused that it’s not sex in particular that annoys Spock, but that humans do it while rational and even talk during it. I think this confirms that Spock has never had sex when he was not drugged or out of his mind, since he still associates the act with pon farr insanity. In canon we know for certain he had sex with Zarabeth and we can assume he had sex with Leila, but we also know that in both instances he was not fully conscious of what he was doing. So in my personal canon, I don’t think Kirk and Spock had sex before this point, though I’m willing to accept that maybe something sexual did happen and there’s an interesting story here about why it drove them apart and made Spock have such a negative view of human relations.

Also, we get the second and best use of t’hy’la as Spock thinks of all the emotions he’s going through and is bemoaning the fact that it looks like kolinahr did precisely jack shit.

And on the bridge—Kirk! The mere name made Spock groan inwardly as he remembered what it had cost him to turn away from that welcome. T’hy’la! (PDF 37)

Dude, Roddenberry, if you’re trying not to make us connect t’hy’la with unbridled romance, you are failing hard. Glossing over the part where thinking of Kirk’s name makes Spock groan, Spock uses t’hy’la in a different way than he does the first time. That time it was more like a title, like saying ‘my brother’ or ‘my friend’. This time it’s an exclamation and while you can say that he’s exclaiming ‘brother!’ or ‘friend!’ the fact that he says it cost him so damn much to turn away and the fact that he has already exclaimed ‘Kirk’ makes it much more of a romantic utterance. I mean, it seems weird to exclaim the same meaning twice, doesn’t it? Replace t’hy’la with Kirk again. Kirk! Kirk! That would be the gist of the sentiment using t’hy’la in a normal, non-romantic manner, which is awkward and needless repetition. Now replace t’hy’la with ‘my love!’ See the difference?

Now we get to the last major K/S scene before The Sickbay Scene, the scene in which Kirk and McCoy talk to Spock in the observation lounge, and dear lord is it a doozy. That attitude Kirk sports when Spock gives him the cold shoulder on the bridge? Yeah, it hasn’t left. The movie has an entirely different tone, featuring Kirk still riding the high of Spock coming back, talking about how he needs him and looking like a kicked puppy when Spock responds to that by saying, “Then my presence is to our mutual advantage.” In the novel, Kirk is less like a kicked puppy and more like a stray dog growling at someone who took food away from him. I mean it, the novel may as well be the mirrorverse because of how differently the scene plays out. Spock walks in, announces that he is reporting as ordered, and this happens:

“Sit down, please,” Kirk said.
Spock remained standing. “Sir, I would appreciate Dr. McCoy absenting himself from this interview.”
McCoy saw Kirk’s look harden. “I want him here,” Kirk said. “Sit down!”
This was unmistakably given as an order—even then, for a moment, it looked as if Spock would refuse. Finally, he sat, but formally, rigidly, his eyes centered on the captain alone. (PDF 38)

I had to really emphasize that order to sit the fuck down. Not only does Spock not sit down when he’s asked nicely, he wants McCoy to leave like he has any right to ask Kirk for anything after being a douchebag extraordinaire. Kirk doesn’t ask again—he fucking orders Spock to sit the fuck down and—get this—Spock actually waits a minute before sitting. We all get that Kirk is angry and upset with Spock, but what is this? Spock is clearly rebelling a little, and he does it even as Kirk is being polite and asking him to sit. Doesn’t this just scream that something happened between Kirk and Spock, or at least that there is a whole story not being mentioned but constantly alluded to? It’s clear that Spock cares about Kirk deeply. He called him t’hy’la; he finds it hard to turn away from his greeting; and up until this point, he hasn’t shown one iota of hard feeling or reluctance to interact with Kirk aside from it being difficult to be around him and maintain his Vulcan shields. I’m willing to bet that, now that Spock is constantly faced with Kirk and his control is cracking, he’s feeling a little resentful of Kirk for having that kind of power over him. Makes sense, doesn’t it?

So the scene putters on a bit, Spock telling them that he felt a consciousness and we all know it’s V’Ger and Spock is trying his damndest to ignore McCoy’s needling, but then we shockingly stumble over the proverbial pot o’ gold when Kirk asks Spock if that was the only thing that Spock sensed on Vulcan. Oh boy. Now that you’ve just started recuperating from all the shaking and crying this particular topic provoked the first time it occurred, I bring to you the promised continuation of my abruptly abandoned paragraph from earlier.

“Is that all of it so far?” asked Kirk. “Two mind contacts with something out here? Nothing more?”
Spock wished Kirk’s question had not been asked so broadly.
“On Vulcan, I seemed for a moment to be also sensing your thoughts, Captain. It felt as if you were wondering whether the Klingon cruisers and crews were actually destroyed . . . or had been converted into exhibits of some sort.”
Kirk’s expression told McCoy there had indeed been such a thought—although this surprised McCoy much less than the fact that Spock had admitted sensing it, considering his present unfriendliness. It was common knowledge that telepathic rapport between Vulcan and human was possible only in cases of extraordinarily close friendship. (PDF 38)

I…what…who can even…SHIT DAMN. That wasn’t just a little slip of Roddenberry’s, oh no. He is mentioning Spock sensing Kirk’s mind from millions of miles away again, just to make sure we don’t forget it. And just like the ‘lover’ part of t’hy’la, Roddenberry doesn’t have to include it in the first place, let alone bring it up a second time. It literally serves no purpose to the main plot—this plot tidbit isn’t seen in the movie, possibly because it’s so glaringly G-A-Y. Also, notice that if one of them were a girl, this might have been included in the movie because it’s so obviously following the romantic story pattern: boy hears the thoughts of his soulmate across a great distance, and then later when faced with his love, he reveals what happened. It’s in McCoy’s POV which is another telling sign because I know that if I were to covertly inject such steamy subtext into a book, I’d make sure that a third person is interpreting the events because the romantic pairing is too busy thinking of how much they long for the other. But McCoy’s reaction is in itself juicy because by showing surprise, he informs the reader that this is an intimate moment that connects the two. Spock didn’t read just anyone’s thoughts—he read Kirk’s. Also, extraordinarily close friendship? Just how close do you need to be to not only hear the thoughts of another but from 16 light years away? Notice that McCoy doesn’t say telepathic rapport from a great distance, but just telepathic rapport, meaning that any telepathic report at all between a Vulcan and a human is rare. Imagine just how rare and special it must be to not only have the rapport needed for telepathic oneness but to share minds over such a distance. And remember when I mentioned earlier that Kirk treats this information rather blithely, “casually?” Don’t you think it’s rather odd that he’s not showing a lot of surprise? McCoy sure is acting shocked, but Kirk is treating this like it’s perfectly natural that Spock would sense his thoughts from such a distance.

After all that, we get even more tension between the two.

“I heard you went to Gol after you left,” Kirk said. “Were you studying with the Vulcan Masters?
“That question invades my personal life, Captain.” (PDF 38)

So Kirk didn’t know where the fuck Spock went and had to hear from someone else? Damn, saying Spock left “abruptly” is not exaggerating. No damn wonder Kirk is upset—he’d be pissed if it had been McCoy fucking off with no warning or hint of where he went too. By the way, note that Kirk knows about the Vulcan Masters. Nothing too major, just that Kirk either knows Vulcan society well enough to make the leap or as soon as he heard anything about Spock he researched the area and culture. Then there’s Spock telling Kirk in his own Spockian way to mind his own fucking business. This coming from the same Vulcan who once disclosed the mortifying secret of pon farr to Kirk. Oh, how far we’ve gone from normal.

Then this happens:

“Isn’t it lucky we happened to be going your way,” said McCoy.
“Let it drop, Bones,” Kirk said. But he continued, to Spock: “You are my science officer—I’ll expect an immediate report on anything further you learn or *sense* from here on.”
“I have accepted service here as a Starfleet officer,” said Spock, stiffly.
Kirk nodded, accepting the rebuke. “This has been painful for me, too. Thank you.” (PDF 38)

Just look at this language. Kirk snidely emphasizes ‘sense’ like he’s reacting in a personal manner to Spock caring more about getting answers from the intruder than helping out his old friends and colleagues. Spock responds stiffly, the text confirming that Spock is admonishing Kirk for questioning his loyalty, though later he does go rogue. Kirk acknowledges that this was painful for him. He…acknowledges that it was painful. For both of them. Because…oh Christ on a bike, must I spell out the awkward tension and how they’re trying not to talk about how Spock ran away three years ago after Kirk sucked his cock at the end-of-mission fiesta?

The Sickbay Scene


We skip through a lot of stuff that’s in the movie, and really it’s just a lot of build up for the obvious Kirk/Spock, Decker/Ilia parallel. One thing to movie doesn’t mention about Deltans is that when they have sex, their minds join with their mates and humans incapacitated by the joining. I’d go on about this but spookyfbi did an amazing job, but really it’s so easy to see that Decker is Kirk, Kirk even acknowledging how alike they are a zillion times, and Ilia is like the sexy version of Spock, all with telepathy and being alien and having strange mating practices.

But there’s a fascinating addition during the part where Spock mind melds with V’Ger in chapter 24. It goes into V’Ger’s POV, and get this: the damn thing barely registers Spock mind melding with it (PDF 64). Now, if the intruder had been interested in Spock’s mind and connecting with humans, it would recognize Spock as the dude it had sensed earlier instantly. Nope, Spock isn’t thinking of Kirk and there’s no emotion of that sort being broadcast, so V’Ger doesn’t give two shits about this tiny speck of carbon molecules bugging it. Eventually it does remember that this is Spock from earlier, but it thinks ‘meh’ and only lets Spock live because his mind is a little more orderly than the rest of the parasites and hey, it can always kill him after it figures out what the fuck he’s doing. And now that we’ve established that, let’s turn our squee up to eleven: in a sort-of humorous scene, V’Ger is confused at what Decker is doing to the Ilia-probe, and we know he’s having sex with it. That means that Spock is ignored in favor of figuring out why the probe is experiencing all these emotions. It then goes on to show V’Ger’s thoughts, about how it’s feeling all these new things and how it’s searching for answers, much like our intrepid hero Spock is doing. V’Ger doesn’t even register Spock’s mind and only notices that he almost ceases functioning, further driving home the point that it’s not Spock’s mind it wants, but that emotion Spock was feeling.

We end the meld and we cut to Kirk coming after Spock in a space suit, and the movie does it much, much better because in the book we cut from Kirk hovering in space waiting for Spock to the sickbay, so we don’t get the highly romantic scene of Kirk holding his space husband in his arms, but I’m sure you don’t mind because WE’VE MADE IT, WE’RE AT THE SICKBAY SCENE. Now watch as Kirk and Spock become a couple right in front of your very eyes! For this, I shall start by quoting the actual hand grabbing and Spock declaring his love for Kirk, in so many words:

Spock laughed again. Then he saw Kirk’s face. He reached out weakly and found Kirk’s arm, then his hand, and took a startled Kirk’s hand in his own.
“Jim,” Spock said.
McCoy looked his astonishment at the visible and unashamed emotion on Spock’s face as he clutched Kirk’s hand.
Kirk returned the pressure and brought his other hand to cover Spock’s, holding it between both of his, signaling Spock that there was no shame in either giving or in answering fully.
“This simple feeling . . . “—Spock struggled for strength—” . . . is so far . . . beyond Vejur’s comprehension . . . ” (PDF 66)

First of all, note the use of the word ‘shame’ and ‘unashamed’. Earlier in this essay when I quoted the scene of Spock failing to achieve kolinahr, the word ‘shame’ is used, that time because Spock had an emotional reaction to Kirk and it shamed him. Now he’s unashamed. Remember in The Naked Time when Spock told Kirk that when he felt friendship for Kirk, he was ‘ashamed?’ For the first time in his life, Spock is unashamed to feel whatever he wants, and it’s all centers around Kirk. In an upgrade from the movie, Kirk, knowing Spock better than anyone in the universe, doesn’t hesitate to grab Spock’s hand and immediately holds it between his own. Can you imagine the inner life of this character right now? It has been an uphill battle with Kirk for years, constantly reaching out to Spock and falling back when Spock steps out of reach, and now Spock is letting himself acknowledge this thing between them, this love, and he wants to make sure Spock knows that it’s okay, he’s here for Spock and Spock can come to him without shame or fear. MY HEART IS BEATING ITS WAY OUT OF MY RIBCAGE OVER THESE TWO.

Now let’s move on to the fact that Kirk and Spock hold hands for much longer than in the movie. In the movie, we get the condensed version of Spock’s revelation whereas in the book it goes on to have McCoy join in the convo and discuss V’Ger some. Not only do they hold hands a little longer, but we get to see what Spock is thinking, and note that they’ve been holding hands for quite a while at this point.

Spock felt himself clinging to Kirk’s hand—he was both shocked and pleased to feel such profound pain over the timeless, meaningless existences he had seen among the machines on that planet. They should not have been built so well and left there to exist without the capacity to know hunger or fear or loneliness or anger or any of those marvelous things that would have driven them to adjust their programming to fit their own needs. How important it was to a living thing to have needs! (PDF 66)'

#clinging to Kirk’s hand #clinging to Kirk’s hand #clinging to Kirk’s hand

Oh, Spock, I just bet you have needs! And just like in the movie, Spock is amazed that V’Ger has no answers. V’Ger isn’t concerned with Spock and has no answers for him. V’Ger and Spock are both asking questions, and both end up finding the same answer: love. This is the heart of the story. Kirk and Spock are deluding themselves through this entire novel. Kirk believes that what he’s missing is command of the Enterprise, yet when he gets it he’s no happier than he was before. Spock tries to erase his human half and goes searching for answers to achieve this goal, not realizing that the answer was right in front of him the whole time. This whole story is about two idiot men who can’t own up to their feelings and instead try to find substitutes for the thing they really want. They really are perfect for each other, aren’t they?

Wrapping up

Fittingly, the sickbay scene is where I stop because the rest of the novel ends pretty much the same as the movie. V’Ger finds its own answer in Decker and Ilia’s love, experiencing love and being able to “join with its creator” and Kirk and Spock, presumably, celebrate the end of this mission with hours christening the captain’s quarters with marathon interspecies sex. The only cute thing the movie leaves out is at the very end when Kirk says that he wants to go “out there, thataway!” and Spock responds in the novel, “Quite logical, Captain.” (PDF 77) I wish they would have kept that because it’s clearly not logical to point and go wherever, and it’s a clear indication that Spock has changed fundamentally, setting us up for this new Spock who can freely joke, exaggerate, guess, cheat, and imply.

Later Spock will say to his half-brother Sybok, “I am not the outcast boy you left behind those many years ago. Since that time I found myself and my place and I know who I am.” This is the story of how he found what he was missing in himself, and the key to that self-awareness is Kirk. That same key is passed down years and years later, when Spock (now Spock Prime) gives it to his younger counterpart in Hangar 1.

“Then why did you send Kirk aboard, when you alone could have explained the truth?”
“Because, you needed each other. I could not deprive you of the revelation of all that you could accomplish together. Of a friendship, that would define you both, in ways you cannot yet realize.”
Spock Prime (top) from Star Trek (2009), New Spock (bottom)


At the original post:

Utterly fantastic! You've pointed out many things I would've never really though of like the whole bit about T'sai telling Spock that the answer he searches for is in Kirk and not V'ger: When you look at it that way, it starts to look less and less like T’sai is telling Spock to meld with the intruder for answers and more like T’sai is telling Spock that he needs to go sweep his man off his feet and leave this logic stuff to Vulcans who aren’t madly in love with humans. In fact, I dare say it makes more sense because nowhere does it say after the initial probing that the intruder is still contacting Spock, so T’sai is directly responding to the fact that his pupil is communicating with his t’hy’la over the cosmos and that Spock is more likely to skip through a meadow in the near future than obtain pure logic.

This makes so much sense! Thank you for bringing that to light! :D

Also, I love all of the humour you throw into your metas; it certainly makes reading them a lot of fun!
Fantastic meta! I've never read the novel myself (the movie put me off), but I'm definitely gonna have to pick it up now!

In particular, the line concerning Uhura's train of thought about Kirk caught my eye:

He had also had that look which comes into some men’s eyes when they’ve just won a woman and she lies there ready to be taken.

Considering how many people have likened Kirk's love of the Enterprise to Kirk's love of Spock (not only likened, but flat-out replaced the word "Enterprise" with "Spock" as it appears in dialogue of the series and movies, as I believe spookyfbi did in the essay you linked)...

Well, Uhura's little observation suddenly got a lot more interesting for me. :D
OMG, this is so perfect and accurate and perfect! Sums up many of the thoughts I had while reading/watching, and ads some new ideas, as well.

On Tumblr:

If anyone is looking for some quality meta on this book and the movie, I highly recommend reading: Beyond T'hy'la: Slash Analysis of the Star Trek: The Motion Picture Novel[4]


  1. WebCite.
  2. Judith Gran's 1997 Analysis WebCite.
  3. Ed. note: That quote is from Shatner: Where No Man, the first authorized biography of William Shatner, by Sondra Marshak and Myrna Culbreath (Ace, 1979).
  4. Futures Worth Remembering : moonbeamtea: in which Spock goes to..., Archived version