Icefire

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Zine
Title: Icefire
Publisher: MKASHEF Enterprises, editor Wendy Rathbone
Editor:
Author(s): Ann Mara Crouch
Cover Artist(s):
Illustrator(s):
Date(s): November 1986
Medium: print
Size:
Genre:
Fandom: Star Trek: TOS
Language: English
External Links: Online Flyer
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Icefire is a slash Star Trek: TOS 194-page novel by Ann Mara Crouch. It is edited by Wendy Rathbone and Ann Mara Crouch.

It won the 1987 Surak Award for Best Novel.

Summary

Summary from an ad in On the Double:
Meet Nicolaus Greyson, Spock's all too human, 'matchmaker' uncle, a very reputable scientist and admiral in Starfleet. His talent for mental manipulation rivals that of even the most stubborn of Vulcans. Therefore, his plan to bring Kirk and Spock together can't possibly fail... or can it? Problem: Vulcan culture vs. human culture. Can love alone overcome the differences?


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Reactions and Reviews

This is sort of an alternate universe story, in that its key setting differs from some details of the Trek universe with which we are familiar from the movies. The whole story takes place in the San Francisco Bay area,where Spock,instead of going to Gol, took a ground assignment at Headquarters when he left the Enterprise.

It is basically a study of Spock's alien physiology and psychology, showing facets of Spock not dealt with before in fan fiction. I particularly enjoyed the background details, and we are treated to some interesting cameos of peripheral Trek characters who do not usually show up in zines — such as Nogura's wife. One of the central characters is Nicolaus Grayson, Amanda's delightfully off-center brother. Spock's relationship with his human uncle — with whom he lives — is interestingly convincing, as is the interplay between Spock, Nicolaus, and Kirk, who turns up in San Francisco early in the story. Kirk's mother is also well-characterized as a veterinarian, and an independent lady. ICEFIRE is well-written, the story tracks well and held my interest. A nice little side trip to get out of space and off the Enterprise for awhile.

The artwork by Ann and graphics by Alayne follow the story well and add to its atmosphere. A well-done zine, worth the price. [1]
The novel opens with Spock living in San Francisco with his uncle Admiral Nicolaus Grayson, a doctor and member of Starfleet who is also 1) friendly with Admiral Nogura, and 2) willing to meddle in his nephew's affairs. Spock is no longer with the Enterprise; he left to bond with someone on Vulcan, but the bond was rejected because of a link with Kirk he is unwilling to pursue. But Grayson will have none of his nephew's reluctance, especially when the Enterprise is forced into a layover at Earth base because of the incompetence of Spock's replacement as first officer. Nicolaus invites Kirk to stay with him and Spock over the Vulcan's objections, and Kirk accepts with alacrity. Nicolaus acts as an intermediary and sounding board for Kirk while captain and former first officer circle one another. He emphasizes the differences in their cultures, and points out with considerable humor Spock's unusual eating habits. (He likes avocado with mustard, and spaghetti, raw Brussels sprouts and Romano cheese.) These differences are actually the compelling force in this novel, the differences between human and Vulcan that will make a union between Kirk and Spock more of a challenge then Kirk understands. But our forge-ahead captain will not allow any obstacles to stand between him and the man he's finally decided he loves. By page 40 the two have shared a confusing first kiss, and by page 52 they are in bed together. There's some misunderstanding between them as Spock insists they cannot yet complete the bond because of Kirk's inadequacies as a telepath, but he claims that they will each know when the time is correct, and it's then that Kirk can assume the dominant role. This happens in short order, and there's a strange, violent sexual encounter where Spock is hurt enough to need to enter the healing trance, but the bond is fully formed. Kirk is appalled by how he injured his lover during the otherworldly episode, but Spock insists that it was necessary. Further problems erupt as Kirk waits for permission from Starfleet for the Enterprise to resume her journey. Spock reacts with a Vulcan's form of jealousy during an evening's gathering at Nicolaus's house, and it's during Kirk's attempts to understand the reactions from an alien point of view that a compelling story from Spock's childhood finally comes pouring out. It explains why Spock is so frightened of his own, of Vulcan sexuality, and why he was so reluctant to pursue the bond with Kirk. Kirk's mother walks into the story when she comes to visit the household on the beach (the Icefire of the title is a sailboat owned by Nicolaus and crewed by him and Nogura in races). She is a veterinarian, and doesn't know about the new committed relationship between her son and Spock. There's a confrontation between her and the uncomfortable Vulcan when the truth comes out and she accepts it. And finally, Spock's role as a leader of Vulcan society emerges when a representative from Vulcan, actually a boyhood friend, travels to Earth to pass on the symbol of that role to the leader's bondmate, now Kirk. We learn that a seeress appeared at the time of Spock's birth and predicted his importance in initiating change for Vulcan, as well as his choice of an outworlder as bondmate. Kirk accepts his responsibilities for Vulcan that will be required in the future, although he has some problems with believing how much of his life and Spock's has been pre-ordained. The story ends with Kirk and Spock back in their roles on the Enterprise, and the hint that Kirk's mother and Nicolaus might form a romantic attachment. This novel is easy to read but difficult to summarize, in part because so very little actually happens in it. There's a very even tempo to all events, whether it's a lunch in Nicolaus's kitchen or an emergency when he collapses from an inherited disease or a love scene. Icefire is unique in our genre for two things. First, it attempts to point out the differences between Vulcan and human culture and how they would inhibit a relationship between Kirk and Spock. The exploration of Vulcan culture as it is slowly revealed to Kirk forms the framework on which the story hangs. I found the intent of the novel laudatory, but the execution wasn't so wonderful. The story lacks a build-up to a true climax, although it's possible that the appearance of Spock's boyhood friend and the revelation of what Vulcan will need of the new bondmates in the future was intended as the apex of the novel. I mainly found it annoying, since I don't go for mystical elements on Vulcan or anywhere else, and I usually cringe when Spock is characterized as a Vulcan prince. Icefire is also unique for its use of Nicolaus as a primary character. He stands as a bridge between Kirk and Spock in the beginning, and as a safe, understanding harbor for Kirk when the complexities of the relationship get to be too much for the captain. He also has a vast knowledge of "things Vulcan," supposedly garnered through Amanda's relationship with Sarek. I found him a likable character who knew far more than he should have, and who was irritating with his constant manipulations and self-confidence. He was granted a big dose of sympathetic humanity, though, because of the disease from which he suffers, and his continuing grief over the loss of his partner of twenty years, Martin. He's an easy character to forgive, and is fully realized through nice writing. The author also makes nice use of Jan Kirk, Kirk's mother, and Admiral Nogura for local color and to push some aspects of the story along. As I said, this is an easy story to read, but it lacks a compelling story line that pulls the reader along in breathless anticipation. But there's lots of interesting detail about Spock's past, and a well-developed concept of Vulcan society. Nice reading for a rainy Sunday afternoon, but not the sort of K/S story that I would feel compelled to put on the kitchen counter and read while I was cooking dinner! [2]
The story opens in San Francisco, where Spock is living with his human uncle. Spock has left the Enterprise and is now teaching at a facility in the city. Kirk, meanwhile, is still commanding the Enterprise. A somewhat familiar premise for a K/S story, but what evolves is absolutely delightful. Icefire's the name of the boat owned by Nicholas, Spock's uncle, who is viewed by most to be somewhat eccentric, but it becomes obvious that this very quality is what draws people to him, including the reader of this zine. I found myself warmed in experiencing the great love and understanding this man holds for Spock. We have witnessed so much estrangement and pain for Spock when delving into his relationship with his family. Nicholas has finally given Spock the love he deserves and Spock accepts and returns it in the manner that is characteristic to him, but somehow I sense the absence of the familiar fear and mistrust when he converses with his uncle. Nicholas knows about loneliness and about loss and he senses these things in Spock, as well as Spock's intense longing for a certain human Starship Captain. It seems that Ann Mara Crouch has taken the characters of Kirk and Spock and left them unchanged, weaving a very real and beautiful K/S story around them. The dialogue is superb and also believable. The story takes into account the complexities involved when a very complex human comes together with a very understandably emotionally mixed-up Vulcan half-breed. (Sorry, Spock!) I found this also adds to the believability of the story. I, for one, have grown tired of the oft repeated reading of the two suddenly coming together in a blaze of while light to live happily ever after end of story. Life isn't like that. And like life, Kirk and Spock work through the problemss only to bring themselves to a better understanding of themselves as individuals and of what they are together. There is more to the story, but I won't reveal it here. I urge you to purchase a copy of Icefire, though. Settle down and read it... and be warmed. [3]
Our heroes do get together, of course, but the unfortunate part is that it happens within the first 50 pages. The plot is weak of the remainder of the story, and centers around the revelation of Kirk and Spock's importance to Vulcan's future. The reader is told a great deal about Vulcan rituals and planet's political system, but nothing happens with this information. When I turned to the last page, I expected to see 'to be continued.' The reader is not left hanging, but there is a feeling of being set up for a climax that never happens... This novel is unique in that it is as much about Nicolaus as it is about Kirk and Spock. I quickly tired of Nicolaus doing most of the talking and constantly explaining Spock and Vulcan ways to Kirk. Even when Nicolaus admits he doesn't know what he's talking about, he goes into lengthy speeches. Poor Kirk always seems to be at least a half step behind and is almost always on the listening end during long stretches of dialogue. The one large speech he gets to make is near the end when he gives Spock a history lesson on farm tractors when they are visiting his mother in Iowa... Icefire does have some charming moments... and some light humor... Icefire's illustrations are very simplistic and fit the story well. The novel is told in a fresh and unusual way, and emphasizes setting and character (Nicolaus) much more than plot or tone. I thought it had lots of potential, and it's a shame the author didn't capitalize on the background and the setting that she created. [4]
This one is an older zine; the author also did the art, which is all chiaroscuro and much of it very nicely done. The story itself is one that pleases me greatly; I enjoyed reading it the first time and upon re-reading it now I find I like it even more. Among other reasons, the character of Spock's uncle, Admiral Nicolaus Grayson of StarFleet, Amanda's brother as if you couldn't guess, is one of the better-written original characters I've seen. As a rule I'm not much for original characters who are members of Spock's family we've never met before; so many of them are just clunky. Nicolaus is one of the few exceptions that proves the rule. He gave Spock somewhere to stay when he came to Earth to join StarFleet, and over the course of the story we learn a lot about both his and Spock's history, and it is all very believable and emotionally rings true.

This is a somewhat more emotionally open Spock than we often see. At the beginning of the story he is staying with his uncle and teaching at the Academy, having left the Enterprise and Kirk to pursue another bonding. That attempt was not successful, and we soon find out that Spock is pretty much expecting to die of the pon farr the next time it comes around. Yet he's refused to consider Kirk as bondmate, is scared spitless of the idea in fact -- and as the story progresses we realize why. The author does a really good job of showing the problems that might arise between human and Vulcan bondmates, the things that Vulcans are capable of when their reason and control are lost to them, and how much Spock fears what might happen to Kirk. And of course, Jim doesn't give a damn. The ship returns to Earth for a board of inquiry; Spock's replacement has done something idiotic that left the Enterprise fairly badly damaged and in need of refitting; this officer is now gone, and Nicolaus takes advantage of all this to invite Kirk to stay with him and Spock while the ship is at Earth. Spock gets all pissy, and there's a great scene of his uncle basically poking at him the way Bones often did, getting him finally to at least admit how important Kirk is to him. Then he tells him, "he's going to be here, so deal with it."

The scenes of the two of them meeting again, the talks they have, and how they come to a decision, are very well done, and the sex, when it happens, is tasty, if a little tame by our broad-minded modern standards. All is not peachy-keen -- they do in fact encounter some of the problems Spock feared, and this is handled in a very believable way, as is the scene where Spock recounts to Jim a childhood encounter that nearly got him killed, which in turn was a big reason he feared to even ask Jim to bond with him.

Nothing world-shaking here, but very good solid story-telling, entertaining original characters, lots of trippy Vulcan history and politics that manages to be not a bit dry but intriguing instead.

Call the rating, three dancing popcorn guys... [5]

References

  1. from On the Double #2
  2. from The K/S Press #2
  3. from Datazine #47
  4. from Treklink #7
  5. from Greywolf the Wanderer in The K/S Press #136