The Flame of Chaos
|Title:||The Flame of Chaos|
|Fandom:||Star Trek: The Original Series|
Click here for related articles on Fanlore.
It was published in the print zine T'hy'la #14.
"When Spock returns from a visit home, he rejects his lover, Kirk, and itʼs only after he collapses is the truth of what has been done to him is revealed."
Reactions and Reviews
Carolyn Spencer’s story “The Flame of Chaos” in T’hy’la 14 is one of the earlier stories by this most-gifted writer who likes to focus on Spock and his travails. Here he returns to the Enterprise with secrets to conceal, causing him to break off his relationship with Kirk. The author’s characteristic angst is on full display here. 
This long story reads as though it was written at white heat. Although the plot is a familiar variation on an even more familiar theme in K/S (Spock's fear of hurting Kirk in pon farr), the story's searing intensity and the quality of the writing distinguish it from more pedestrian treatments of the same concepts.
The story begins and ends with passages that are strongly written, poetic and have almost a mythic quality. The opening scenes that show Spock and Kirk in the early (pre-bonding stages of a committed relationship, with Spock about to leave for a brief visit to Vulcan, are extremely sexy and sensuous, and the hint of gathering clouds on the horizon in the form of a obviously black-hearted Klingon sends a delicious shudder of impending danger down the reader's spine.
After the marvelous beginning the story gets bogged down in some of the more predictable K/S cliches. Spock returns to the ship and rejects Kirk brusquely and hurtfully. The reader, having caught a glimpse of the dastardly Klingon, can guess the reason but Kirk can't and is devastated. Instead of figuring out that Spock is not himself and fighting for his love in true Kirk fashion (this is the same guy, after all, who programmed rejection into his own android replica to alert Spock that the duplicate was not really Kirk--and that was when they were just friends), our hero wallows in the misunderstanding to end all misunderstandings.
Finally, however. Kirk snaps out of it, begins to act like the captain of the Enterprise again, and decides to stand up and fight. (I appreciated this twist, which is not often found in Kirk/Spock Misunderstanding stories,) The mystery deepens, and then, with McCoy's help is gradually unveiled as the prose becomes almost incandescent in its intensity.I enjoyed the superior writing and the characterization of Kirk as, overall, the active, dynamic decisive character he is. However, Kirk was a bit too self-centerecj and arrogant for my taste, and Spock far too wimpy and fragile. The latter is not just from the traumatic events of the story: This is the Spock-as-an-Emotional-Basket-Case school of K/S with vengeance The story could have used more serious attention to plot. Despite the success with which the author built anticipation, the mystery just sort of ... petered out (no pun intended), and the reader's final impression is the story was set up rather offhandedly just to get our heroes into a lot of emotional turmoil. The Klingon's motives are never clear, and although he receives his just desserts (depending on your point of view) at the end, the reasons for that are murky as well. I felt that the author had a tendency to force the characters to behave in ways that were out of character in the interest of wringing emotional intensity from a situation. An example is the scene in Sickbay in which McCoy hurls accusations at Kirk that go beyond anything that seems justified by the evidence at hand and suggest that McCoy holds an extremely low opinion of his captain. All in all, however, a good read and a gripping story. 
A good story-line - plenty of interesting elements but not torturously complicated. Action and detail, jeopardy and angst; beautiful insightful feelings; satisfying resolution. Did the editor neglect to italicize thoughts? Other than that, I felt this to be flawlessly written. Lot of things about the writing that I really admired, besides being so held by the story. I liked these particular elements of conflict between Kirk and Spock. With the first-time scenario out of the way, yet it still being a very new relationship, the focus can be on certain things they now find they have to deal with each other, after having already taken the first step. It is a wonderful love for Kirk, a beautiful love and sexual awakening for Spock; but as yet, Kirk has not allowed penetration by Spock. And Spock does not find it easy to express himself in words of love as Kirk is able to do. A tormented humanoid in eternal flame bondage appears in the prologue and throughout the story. This metaphorical element worked well also. Spock's flamingness and Kirk's unique way to help him through it...
... I liked Kirk being sensual at the meal with the long green columnar vegetable, but I didn't like it with the chicken, at least not with Spock...
[much clipped due to length of review]
... I really liked the details about the Kamorh'dag Klingons and the Gevish'rae Klingons. I had read someplace that interesting "explanation" about why Klingons of the series are different than Klingons of the movies. I also love the use of Kor from Organian episode, and Kruge, who is the first officer who frees Spock in this story. I like the continuity between episodes and movies and stories this creates. And I loved that the G-Klingon frees Spock; he doesn't like the K-Klingons and remembers Kirk and Spock from Organia.
I felt a little impatient with Spock's shame in himself. He feels it is a perversion for a Vulcan to need so much; and he is appalled, to put it mildly, at his desire to kill. He sure seems to have an immensity of "false" pride sometimes. Things he thinks are abominable might not seem to be such big deals if he really looks at it logically. I would think he had a broader vision, could see way beyond ego. (I realize this is a human saying this; what do I know?) I loved the sex, but it seems like Spock is too smooth, too in control over Kirk, after being so wretched moments before. Spock fucks Kirk for the first time. (I wondered, why choose this very awkward position?)Spock has now experienced Pon Farr with awareness. What exactly is he calling Pon Farr? I couldn't quite get that I assume the re-appearance of the captive-of-flame-being has to do specifically with Pon Farr. Or is he referring to when he was drugged with the Klingons? The meld with Kirk to free Spock - great metaphysical stuff. Kiri< extinguishes the flames of chaos. Spock can't climb the walls of Vulcan disapproval in order to be himself, so they walk right through them - how perfect! A very rich story, enjoyable reading. 
[A fan wrote in her Shore Leave convention report that one of the highlights was meeting the author] who after I genuflected for the hundredth time before her for "Flame Of Chaos" and spoke about that masterpiece of a story in hushed and reverent tones (i.e.: I screamed and raved about it every chance I got), enjoyed a fascinating group discussion initiated by her about how we identify with either Kirk or Spock. The word was flying fast and furious that her new story in WTM9 is a winner. 
There is a vibrant scene as Kirk seduces Spock over dinner. I could just tfifil the texture of the food as it went into Kirk's mouth. Even though this is a sexually aggressive Kirk and a passive Spock (the opposite of how I see them) I just loved the rich, sensual nature of the slow lovemaking. When Kirk removes Spock's robe, it's: "The first baring of the body. But it was the second baring of the tender soul that caused blood to heat, breath to catch, and fire to burn in Kirk's loins." This is lyrical writing -yet strong and powerful emotionally. I was simply swept up in it. At least as far as the beginning lovemaking scene goes, this Spock is quite passive. But done in an almost stylized way. I don't mean to imply that he's unreal, far from it, but there's a quality about him that is "Victorian". "Victorian as in stylized romance - this is a Spock that I wouldn't be surprised to have the vapors"! He quivers and quakes and almost swoons. And you know what? I loved it! I could not get this scene out of my mind. And even if, as I said before, this is not "my" Spock - I so enjoyed the writing, the emotions, the very feel of Spock, that it completely won me over. 
The greatest strength of this story is in the language. It contained some nice images -- especially the tears that looked like molten gold, It reminded me of the golden tears of the Goddess Freya. Kirk can be very godlike. There were some implausibilities and inconsistencies in the plot line, It occurred to me that the two week separation between Kirk and Spock didn't have to happen because Kirk's presence wasn't necessary for that mission, and he could have argued that point successfully with his superiors at Starfleet Command, He could have gotten leave to bond before Spock left, with Spock then. Since Kirk seemed eager to bond before Spock left, I don't understand why he didn't even try to get leave. If Kirk had accompanied Spock, they could have resisted Spock's kidnaping effectively, and it probably wouldn't have happened. There was also an inconsistency involving the telepathic aspect. I understand why Spock didn't want to meld with Kirk during sex before bonding, He undoubtedly thought that he couldn't control the depth of the melds, this is confirmed when his mental barriers failed during sex. Vulcans are touch telepaths, it is always important to remember this - especially during sex scenes, There should have at least been some telepathic leakage during this scene, but there wasn't any telepathic interchange. This is inconsistent with what is known of Vulcan telepathy. The story's resolution worked better for me than the opening, Although I usually don't buy quick recovers from rape, I was willing to accept the premise that Spock was capable of locking the trauma away in his mind through the use of Vulcan mind disciplines, Perhaps Carolyn should have started the story with Spock's kidnaping. That would have eliminated the earlier problematic portions of the narrative.