Interview with a Vulcan
|Title:||Interview with a Vulcan|
|Fandom:||Star Trek: The Original Series|
|External Links:||Interview with a Vulcan|
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"Spock has returned from the dead, and a reporter wants to ask him probing questions about the experience. Is he willing - or even able - to answer her about the deepest secret in his heart?"
Reactions and Reviews
I liked the writing so much in this story that my first impression when I read it at Shore Leave was positive. However, the more I thought about it, the more the basic premise bothered me. In this story, as you would guess, Spock is being interviewed. Specifically, he's being interviewed about his experiences with death and rebirth, and the story is told from the POV of the reporter. There's some great writing here, as you would expect from Deanna Gray. I liked the way she described the reporter's first impressions of Spock. The whole part where Spock is talking about how he sacrified himself so Kirk would not die, and his anguish that he was blind in the reactor chamber and so could not see Kirk one last time was heartbreaking to read, as was Spock admitting that the thing he regretted was that he caused Kirk pain by dying. Deanna's whole discussion about Spock and his memories was fascinating—that he could recall certain memories, but not the related emotions, and so the memories were distorted. Really fine writing here, very intriguing. The interview then goes on and Spock admits that Kirk is the focal point of his memories, and says that his place is with Kirk, but he doesnt know why. He is looking to the reporter to help him with the answers to his questions about his relationship with Kirk. She had no personal knowledge of the two men, but in the course of their conversation gets Spock to admit he loves Kirk, and persuades him to tell Kirk. As I thought about this story after I read it, I just could not suspend disbelief enough to accept the basic plot. Spock is talking to a journalist who is a complete stranger, and divulging his most private thoughts and most intimate memories. Why? First of all, why trust a journalist not to reveal everything he told her? In the story it is established that this journalist has moral integrity and scruples, and a long track record of turning down assignments that would invade the privacy of others. But still, it seemed a really big risk to take, especially since in the story Spock asked for no assurances or guarantees of her silence about his intimate disclosures. Then, the real sticking point for me, is why ask her for answers? She was a total stranger who had never even met Kirk and Spock. Why not ask McCoy about the relationship? Or Uhura? Or any of the others who knew both Kirk and Spock before Spock's death? This choosing to confide in the journalist was confusing, and never explained to my satisfaction. The refusal to consult McCoy was explained by saying he was a long time friend of Kirk's. But why does that rule him out? Shouldn't that instead make him the perfect person to ask? I just couldn't get past this problem I had with the basic premise, so despite the wonderful writing, this story was ultimately unsatisfying for me. However, since this story tied for first place in the KiScon 2001 story contest, mine would seem to be a minority opinion.
It is after Spock's resurrection and the Galaxy Review has sent its best reporter to get the answers to the questions all the worlds want to know. What is death? Is there a hereafter?
I was very impressed with the writing in this piece. This is Spock; his mannerisms, his aura, his voice are captured perfectly. Yes, this is exactly what would happen if our dispassionate Vulcan scientist would deign to consent to such an interview in the first place. Dispassionate, that is, until the subject turns to Kirk. Then we see that Spock is using the interview to find some answers to the questions in his own life.
There were many small touches in this story that I liked very much, such as this one near the beginning: "As I look at the imposing gaze of the stem figure before me I can't help but recall Captain Kirk's words to me just a moment ago in the comdor 'don't upset him'. I wonder if Kirk had bothered issuing a similar warning to the Vulcan." Just three words from the captain's mouth expresses Kirk's concern and protectiveness and love.Very nice work, Deanna. 
I don’t know what else to say. I loved this. A totally different approach to a reporter assigned to interview a certain Vulcan following the Fal Tor Pan. Of course it would be a tremendous scoop to be the only person granted permission to find from the only person who has experienced it what it is like to return from death. Quite predictably, the newsperson meets with a great deal of resistance. She has been briefed on Vulcan resistance to discussing personal issues, and what could be more personal than dying? This one is thorough, experienced and determined.
Like the reporter, I cringed while Spock explained the clinical aspects of exposure to radiation: it sears away skin, burning muscles and nerves, shutting down the organs, boiling the blood. Suddenly, Spock reveals the true extent of the pain when he says, faltering, “The worst was not being able to....” And we know. Spock recovers, detailing the reasons for his sacrifice: the ship, the young cadets, his fellow crew. “That he would die.... I...could not bear the thought...that he would...would....” And the reporter knows. Now with great compassion and understanding replacing her curiosity, she probes gently as Spock explains just how lost he has been since the refusion. He has facts but no feelings to support them. He has been told of his experiences but has not lived them. He concedes that only those occurrences linked directly to James T. Kirk have any substance. Listening to him review his recollections of his captain, the, terribly personal views of how much this human influenced him, caused him concern, made him happy, was heart-wrenching. With acumen typical of her profession, the reporter has listened. Finally she asks, “You love him”. “Yes.” Will the world know?Not a chance. Spock of Vulcan has touched her soul as his human friend has touched Spock’s own. “You have to tell him,” she says. The dry and lackluster story is the worst of her career. Important only that now, finally, Kirk knows. 
To be honest, sitting down and taking time out of a day to write a story review is not something I consider doing 99.5% of the time. So what impelled me today? I asked myself that, (and answered, too) (uh-oh, fend off those men in the white jackets) and realized that to inspire me to heft myself off my duff while I'm in the middle of reading K/S, a story must have strongly impressed me in some way outside of the norm. It could be in a variety of ways, but it had to have contained enough ammunition to fire my
butt (and fingers) into action. As I started reading Interview with a Vulcan (I know I'm not the only one out there whose mind wants to read it as Vampire) I admit that in the first half-page I had a fairly immediate, "uh-oh, is this a Mary Sue?" reaction. Quite illuminating, in retrospect...do I suspect all original female characters in slash to be two-dimensional and obnoxious? I hadn't believed so, but perhaps I suffer from latent Mary Sue paranoia. In any event, reading further thankfully quashed that erroneous fear: Ms. Green is a wonderful character developed as fully as needed, through whose first-person perspective the story is told. So...even in the first half-page, the story had me asking thoughtful questions of it and of myself, definitely not a run-of-the-mill story response. As Ms. Greene first meets and begins to interact with Spock, the person she's come to interview, the story skillfully drew me in. With scant prose, I too was empathizing with the journalist's reaction to meeting a legend: "I stopped dead in my tracks, my eyes riveting to his. How does one explain the sense of awe you feel when looking into the depths of space?"..."I took my seat, squirming slightly under his intense gaze." The story continues as the journalist begins to question Spock, all the usual questions that would be asked of Spock post-fal- tor-pan, and through the process, she starts to relax, and her fear and awe of the alien legend become sublimated into the skill of her profession. During the questioning, the real action is between, or hidden within, the lines, a subtle tug-of-war between Greene and Spock as she attempts to pull out of him that which he, at first, seems to have no plans on giving up, despite being agreeable to the quite rare interview: his personal words and feelings about the extraordinary things he's undergone. Greene's and Spock's covert meeting of willpower is well-drawn...
[MUCH snipped due to length]
The denouement is like buttercream icing on a luscious cake. Two months later, Greene sits listening privately once again to that amazing recording, reveling in how it moves her. She has written her interview, a dry, fact- ridden piece with few revealing words by Spock, and has garnered no professional approbation for it. But flowers sit on her desk, and the accompanying handwritten card tells all: Thank you, Captain James T. Kirk, U.S.S. Enterprise- A. Interview is quite lovely, one of those seemingly simple stories that in fact is not so simple after all. Everything about it is charming: the original character's point of view and slowly revealed character; Spock's slow revelation to her of his inner self; Greene's empathy for Spock's situation, both her own feelings and the Vulcan-induced feelings she experiences; the gradual realization by Greene and the reader that Spock might not have been so innocent and unwilling a participant after all in the interview; and best of all, the climax and epilogue wherein tension is relieved, and joy is found. Lovely pacing, lovely execution.I found one more thing charming, as it spoke, at least to me, of the honest labor of words that a writer undertakes. Usually, I do not find mixed tenses (or any other error of the like) to be appealing, and Interview had its fair share of confused verbs. On the other hand, the editors stated clearly that no editing had been given to the challenge stories in the zine, and there is a sort of rough intimacy gained in reading the words as they've come straight from the writer's fingers. Given the excellence of the story's execution, the wrong tenses and missed words don't detract overall from the story, but instead add to its oddly charming appeal. Given all of the above, it's no wonder the .5% struck me on Interview, and had me burbling into my computer about it. Find yourself a copy and read/re-read it soon. 
- from The K/S Press #61
- from The K/S Press #61
- from The K/S Press #66
- from The K/S Press #86