The Beginner's Guide to Kraith Collected

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Title: The Beginner's Guide to Kraith Collected
Creator: Vivienne Rivers
Date(s): 1982
Medium: English
Fandom: Star Trek: TOS
Topic:
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The Beginner's Guide to Kraith Collected is a two part essay by Vivienne Rivers.

It was printed in Communicator #4 and #5.

The first part is a short introduction to Kraith and a description of the contents of Kraith Collected #1. The second part is more of an opinion piece about Kraith itself.

From Part One

If you are new to fandom, you will probably have heard about 'Kraith' 'through 'Star Trek Lives', and will be wondering what it is all about. What I intend to do in this, and subsequent articles, is to explore 'Kraith' and pass on some of my impressions of the characters created. I say 'created' advisedly for, although the names are the same. Kirk, Spock and McCoy are definitely not the people we have come to know. By necessity, you will have to discover 'Kraith' with me, as at the moment, only 'Kraith Collected I and VI are available, leaving a gaping hole in the middle... I await II, III and IV, for it is my opinion that most of VI is meaningless without them.

'Kraith' is the brainchild of Jacqueline Lichtenberg, who incidentally wrote several of the main stories as script outlines, then reworked them into narrative, coming up with eight main series stories: I Spock's Affirmation; II Spock's Mission; III Spock's Argument; IV Spock's Nemesis; V Spock's Decision; VI, VII, VIII, as far as I can tell, are as yet unwritten.

Around this series was left room for stories filling in and following up the main stories. There is also provision for stories occurring during the main series stories.
Many of those intertwining stories have been written by the fans 'within' the 'Kraith 
universe, according to the 'Kraith Creator's Manual'.
The basic theme of 'Kraith' is the clash between pre-Federation Vulcan culture and what is seen to be a human dominated Federation. (This theme is, it seems, later expanded to include other cultures that, also feel the same way as the Vulcans.). The planet Vulcan is portrayed as far more alien than any Vulcan we have met before, bound by tradition and ceremony. One comment made evidently suggested that Vulcan was the star of the series and not Kirk or Spock etc. I think you will find that, on the whole, that is fair comment.

From Part Two

I confess now that I write this review as a confirmed K'S'er so it has been very trying for me emotionally, however I will try to be objective.

I am very uneasy with the 'Kraith' Spock as he seems a rather confused portrayal. Generally, he is probably closer to the aired Spock than many 'zine' Spocks - that is, if you accept him at face value and believe him when he says he feels little or no emotion. (Never in a million years!)

Okay, so you have orientated yourself to that of a stiff, unbending, precise Spock ... and that impression is confirmed in his relationship with Kirk which (particularly in Spock's Affirmation) is positively distant to the point of indifference. also tends to fling his Vulcanness in Kirk's face rather too much for my taste. Gentle teasing maybe all right but this is setting himself apart. Kirk, in fact, seems far more 'devoted' to Spock than Spock is to him - a complete role reversal to my mind, and also, in view of Spock's behaviour, it is difficult to see why he should care much at all. Obviously this rankles with me as a K/S fan but standing, back from all those considerations I suppose, again, that if one takes aired Trek literally, this Spock is a closer extrapolation than many.

Fine, that's settled, then you find that Spock borders on the emotional only with his women. He eyes up T'Rruel (and I can't think of a better way to describe it) in such a blatant fashion that even Christine Chapel and McCoy notice and confesses in a dreadful conversation with Tanya that he has been in 'hell', all the time giving, her straight-faced logical reasons why she should marry him.

"...my dedication to haste is emotional. I've been through...hell...these last few years. I need to put an end to it while I can still think clearly and logically. There are reasons for our custom of choosing one another at such an early age. There is a peace that can only come from that kind of commitment. The chance of someone else like T'Rruel turning up is negligible."

Charming! Here is propounded the theory-that, ever since T'Pring's rejection, Spock has been continually on the look out for another woman and edgy... searching for this mystical inner peace. To quote McCoy:

"...His body was waiting, ready to respond to the slightest trigger. And then came T'Rruel..."

After knowring T'Rruel for a matter of days, then marrying her, Spock comes to the conclusion that he has found this peace.

"...Spock had just had a brief glimpse of the meaning of life; the kind of thing that gives a (Vulcan) drive, purpose, direction, and the only meaningful immortality. It still lay warmly within him reawakening all his childhood yearnings toward belonging, a hope he'd abandoned years ago. In a few short hours he'd acquired a wife and a son...and he found an emotional basis for his reluctance to part with them...."

[snipped]

I have always fondly imagined especially since 'Journey to Babel' that Spock had found his inner peace, a sense of home with Kirk and the Enterprise, so that I find the concept of a Spock aching in search of a woman a bit hard to swallow.

For a very alien Vulcan (and this is a personal objection to the writing style), Spock's language is very Americanised and at times borders on the colloquial, something,that grates and brings me up short while reading. This extends to Sarek also:

"'... he'll require a transfusion... to whip it completely'."
"... Spock eyed the doctor sourly. '... I feel 'lousy' doctor...'"
I miss, also, the small pieces of humour in the interchanges between the Vulcan and Kirk or McCoy. The humour when it occurs is mainly in the narrative, and frequently to my mind seems misplaced.
I am not sanguine about the likelihood of Vulcans persisting with the various ancient ceremonies etc. described but pushing my misgivings to one side and accepting what is written as fact I must say that Kraith is a very challenging and stimulating form of Trek fiction, and I found it very difficult to put down once started. Jacqueline Lichtenberg makes two comments in her preface. One is that Kraith bears reading more than once (I would say that was imperative). The second point is that love it or loathe it, Kraith makes you think. I'll drink to that.'