Beyond the Barrier
|Title:||Beyond the Barrier|
|Fandom:||Star Trek: The Original Series|
|External Links:||The Kirk/Spock Archive|
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It was published in California K/S #1 06/1984.
From the California K/S #1: "Sent with another starship to check out a disturbance near the edge of the galaxy, all the telepaths on both crews are attacked by a psychic energy, causing Spock to break his bond to Kirk."
The Author Comments
There’s no story I regret writing. I do regret that I didn’t wait to develop my writing skills before I tackled something as ambitious as "Beyond the Barrier" (California K/S, #1 06/1984). I was going for Big Themes, but I didn’t have the writing ability to achieve my goal. How do you write a story that deliberately doesn’t resolve the unresolvable? I wanted to tackle what is clearly a key part of Spock’s personality: his ability to make crucial decisions and take radical actions without bothering to inform Kirk of his plans. There are so many trust issues to explore, so many possibilities for pain and misunderstanding arising from this aspect of his personality. When I wrote this story, I was thinking specifically of two incidents: Talos IV, and Spock’s spacewalk to mindmeld with V’ger. The later movies add further evidence about this aspect of Spock’s character. Two examples: Spock’s dive into the whale tank in ST4, and his negotiations with the Klingons in ST6. Assuming a long-standing relationship between Kirk and Spock, how would Kirk deal with the emotional fallout of Spock’s ability to unilaterally make important decisions, decisions that effect both of them? Kirk is the Captain, after all, and yet Spock continually decides on a course of action without consulting him—and gets away with it. I recently re-read "Beyond the Barrier", and, if I were to write it today, I would probably keep the plot intact. I would also keep the same ending. What I would do is expand the emotional scenes between the two men. The ending needs to be lengthened; there needs to be more conversation, more discussion, more nuance and subtlety. I would still leave the issues unresolved—because that was my entire point of writing the story. These men are who they are—and there are issues they will always have to deal with because of their strong personalities. 
Reactions and Reviews
"Beyond the Barrier" is a wonderful TOS story by CatalenaMara.
Kirk is commanding another five year mission when the tonKitzhe Hegemony petitions the Federation to begin negotiations for entry. As the seven planets include both humanoids and felinoids, the Enterprise is sent, together with the Caitian ship, the Heart of Taenor to handle the talks. Jheungseih, the leading world of the hegemony is located close to the Galactic Barrier, and as they approach, a disturbing alien intrusion is felt by all those with higher psyionic abilities. This includes all the Vulcans aboard and many of the Caitans, leaving them incapacitated for the duration of the psychic attack. Since Kirk is bonded to Spock, he feels the attack second hand through the bond and finds them so debilitating, Spock deems it necessary to shut the bond down. Kirk finds the loss of their connection distressful but has no choice but to accept it if he wants to be able to function effectively. The attacks continue in severity, causing some deaths among the Caitians, and Kirk is forced to watch, helpless, as Spock is wracked by some unknown force. When the source is found to be located beyond the barrier, Kirk orders the two ships to turn around, but they begin to experience a slow power drain and when they attempt to retreat, they find themselves unable to as they are held in some form of tractor field. It is while Kirk is asleep that the threat becomes more personal and desperate.
[excerpt from story snippet]
The story shifts between Kirk and Spock‘s point of view allowing the reader to see how each of them deals with the on-going emergency as the author skilfully ratchets up the tension. Kirk and Spock‘s characterisations feel very authentic – both carefully balancing their personal and professional lives and very much creatures of duty, which they always put before their own needs. They both come across as intelligent and capable, thoughtful and deep. CatalenaMara has an almost encylopedic knowledge of the Star Trek universe and it really shows in this story; couple that with her understanding of the relevant science, and "Beyond the Barrier" genuinely feels like it could be an (albeit rather slashy) episode!One of the delights of this story is that this crew has a far greater mix of non-humans, their differing cultures and values handled deftly in a slick, tight and fast-paced narrative. Catalenamara is a really excellent writer and this story is a great means to show-case it. It's nice and long – almost 25,000 words – with a well-thought out and executed plot that wouldn't allow me to put it down until I'd reached the final word. 
I think my favorite story [in this zine] is Kathy Resch's "Beyond The Barrier", an intensely written story about the Enterprise's encounter once again with the galactic barrier and how it effects the crew. An intelligence calls out to the psi positive crew members, especially Spock, and a dangerous set of events are set in play. Excellent characterization, excellent folding of the K/S relationship into the plot. As always, very well written.