Eye of the Firestorm
|Fandom:||Star Trek: The Original Series|
Click here for related articles on Fanlore.
It was published in the print zine First Time #35.
From the publisher: "After being rejected by TʼPring, Spock feels himself going back into the fever and asks Kirk to accept his resignation so he can return to Vulcan."
"A tall silhouette, black on the starry black of space. It would have been carved in obsidian from Vulcan's famed L-langon hills. Kirk stood for a moment in the spill of light from the open doorway, watching his first officer and closest friend stand staring out at the stars, unmoving. He stepped inside. The door shut, sealing both men into the profound darkness, the profound light. Kirk stayed rooted to the spot for an eternity as his eyes adjusted."
Reactions and Reviews
From the beautiful Parnes covers (breathtaking) to this story this zine was put together with love and care. Ms. Calvalcante has burst upon fandom with a flourish and finds herself immersed in good, solid literature. Above average writing told simply with the appropriate tension. Who noticed the plot? 
This post "Amok Time" story contains a plethora of dramatic conflicts, plots, subplots and issues needing resolution, including the following:
1. As an unbonded male. Spock may be subject to a Vulcan tradition of casting out such persons to die in pon farr.
2. Spock is gay and will be drawn to Kirk in pon farr, but PF with a male partner is likely to get the latter killed.
3. Spock is gay and attracted to Kirk but Kirk has never even thought of a relationship with another man.
4. Spock loves Kirk and Kirk is actually in love with Spock but is too obtuse to realize it without the help of a) a beautiful and willing potential female partner whom Kirk uncharacteristically declines to bed; b) Spock himself; c) McCoy.
5. Kirk has difficulty with the 'submissive' role he must play during pon farr.
6. Spock is afraid ha will force Kirk into an involuntary bonding. Any one of these standard, off-the-shelf K/S plot lines would be an adequate basis for a story; two or three could have been accommodated gracefully. Six to eight, depending on how you count, is just too much for a story of less than thirty pages, large type. (It's a mistake, in my opinion, to assume that the drama in a story can be enhanced by increasing the sheer-number of conflicts. Rather, it is the sustained development of a single conflict that creates dramatic tension. Piling issue on top of issue does not enhance dramatic tension but dissipates it.)
The story begins with a poetic scene in the observation deck. It's beautifully written, though a bit too long and laden with too many of the aforementioned dramatic issues, which it is the task of this scene to reveal. Kirk has many things to learn in this scene about Vulcans, pon fan, bonding, and Spock's sexual orientation; consequently, he spends much of his time gaping in surprise, a posture that does not serve his character particularly well. The scene contains some exceptional phrases, e.g. "the profound darkness, the profound light" of the observation deck. Kirk's description of Spock's smile in Sickbay as "The of Kirk's "tour guide" to spend the night with him when she'd barely met him and we'd seen no signs that she was attracted to him was strange. Was she a diplomatic whore, or what? I mean, I know Kirk's charm is lethal, but I expect to see some evidence of its impact, at least.
Since Kirk leaves Altair thinking he's not in love with Spock, there's little dramatic justification for his announcement when we next see him, in a scene in Spock's cabin that seems to take place almost immediately afterwards, that he is in love with Spock. I re-read these scenes several times, thinking I had missed the passage in which Kirk experiences the feeling of being "in love" with Spock for the first time. Finally, I had to conclude that it happened when we weren't looking. I don't say this facetiously: I read the passage in which Kirk says he has "just realized" that he's in love with Spock, and I believe the author intended the experience to take place at that very moment. But all that happens at that moment is that Kirk says he has just realized it; we don't actually see it happen. Certainly, I don't disbelieve Kirk, but for the drama in this scene land the entire story) to work, I needed to experience what he experienced rather than having to take his word for it.
In any case, Spock is back in pon farr, and the author has set up a real humdinger of a problem; see plot 2 above. However, she ducks the ball. In an armchair discussion of what little [extremely little) they know of pon fan and bonding. Kirk and McCoy conclude that fifty million Vulcans must be wrong and pon farr should work between two males after all. Actually, Kirk decides rather smugly that he has caught Spock in a logical contradiction: Spock first said that a Vulcan in pon fan would kill a male lover, then said he would (merely?) rape the other man. It's a good thing for our heroes that Kirk stopped short of considering the possibility that being raped and killed could also be an option.
The real problem here is not logic, however, but dramatic structure. The author has posed a major dramatic problem and instead of telling that story, she decides that it is not a problem after ail. I realize how difficult the premise that pon farr is potentially fatal to men is for any K/S fan; that's probably why so few stories on this theme have been written. However, the solution to this difficulty isn't to announce the problem at the beginning of a story and then walk away from it. If you're going to tackle this theme, then do it, for the Great Bird's sake. Tell the story! The pon farr scene was vivid and realistic. Since I find dominance, rape and "submission" a complete turnoff, it was wasted on me as erotica, but these are matters of taste. I re-read this scene several times trying to figure out why it was so important that Kirk "submit," why submission was "exactly what [Spock's] proud, pigheaded captain needed," and couldn't. There must be a premise here, never made explicit in the smile that broke my heart, and mended it." There are lovely descriptive touches, such as Kirk's shout "swallowed by solid, anacoustic walls" and the way the characters' faces are illuminated and shadowed by the changing light from Altair Six.
The poetic style of the first scene is not sustained in the rest of the story, which is written in more ordinary prose. That's not in itself a flaw, but it adds to the impression that a few too many stories are being told here. In contrast to the slow pace of the first scene, the scene on Altair Six is inordinately rushed. Its purpose seems to be to give Kirk an opportunity to reflect on what he's just learned and move him toward an understanding of his true feelings for Spock through a casual encounter with a woman (see subplot 4(a) above). However, Kirk explicitly concludes at the end of the scene that he loves but is not "in love" with Spock, which led me to expect that this scene would be followed by others in which Kirk continues to explore and wrestle with his feelings for Spock. Since it wasn't, I'm a little puzzled why the scene was there. The offer story that I just don't "get." Is there a unique ability of Vulcan women to "submit" that is somehow the key to the puzzle why Vulcan men cannot be partners in pan farrl If so, since "submission" is a learned behavior, not a genetically ascribed trait, why hasn't anyone figured out that men can learn how to do this too? Is "submission" a particular problem for Kirk, and if so, why wasn't this issue raised earlier in the story? Those are just some of the questions I asked when I read this scene.
A moment during a nice description of Spock's orgasm made me think that Kirk was going to start enjoying the particular activity at hand, but I was disappointed. Fortunately, since the story ends with the lovers bonded and happy, we can be confident that the future will hold much pleasure for Kirk despite a rather rocky first time (no pun intended).
One minor point: The time difference between the ship's time and the time in the Altair capital was a nice touch; however, I couldn't figure out why the story began in the wee hours of the night and moved on from there. Kirk went down to Altair when it was almost 3:30 AM ship's time and "early evening" Altair time, stayed an hour and a half at the banquet and then went to visit the falls, twenty minutes away. There was no suggestion in this scene that dusk was falling. I suppose the sun must set late in this particular latitude and season on the planet; however, it would have been reassuring to have been told that so we didn't have to wonder whether Kirk is going to see the falls in the dark.
But there is still the fact that the characters had to deal with the monumental events and changes in their lives in this story on NO SLEEP. I have as much stamina for all-nighters as most people, and I pull them with some frequency at my job, but the hours these characters kept made me feel exhausted. Maybe sheer lack of sleep was to blame for Kirk's and McCoy's uneven logic as discussed above.Another minor point: In the opening scene, Spock tells Kirk he is gay, or rather bisexual with a preference for men, using a Vulcan term that he translates as "homosexual," and gives Kirk the (tiny) percentage of Vulcans with this orientation. Spock's flashback to T'Pring's reaction to his first sexual experience with a man reinforces the notion that the term means "homosexual." Later, however, Spock says that the word means only "one who mates outside the traditional parameters of marriage," and McCoy tells Kirk that maybe Spock isn't really gay, just drawn to one man in particular. This isn't a major inconsistency, just the source of a slight loss of focus. Focus is a more general problem for this story, however, due to the large number of issues that are raised and not necessarily resolved.