Triangle

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You may be looking for the 1985 meta essay about the relationship between Spock and Christine Chapel, and Spock and Uhura: Triangle.

Title: Triangle
Creator: Myrna Culbreath & and Sondra Marshak
Date(s): March 1983
Medium: print
Fandom: Star Trek: TOS
Language: English
External Links:

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Triangle is a Star Trek pro novel written by Myrna Culbreath & and Sondra Marshak.

front cover

Summary

From the book jacket: "Kirk's soul... Spock's life A dark plan has been unleashed in the galaxy, a design so vast, only a collective – and ruthless – mind like the Totality could have conceived it. Now Captain Kirk must battle the seductive force of the Totality's will. It was reasonable that Captain Kirk and Federation Free Agent Sola Than would fall in love. But no reasoning in the universe could have foreseen the tragedy of Spock's own passion for the same woman. Now this unimaginable conflict could cost Captain Kirk his very soul, and bring death to the proud Vulcan. But in the unimaginable lies their only chance, and the freedom of the galaxy depends on the outcome of the... Triangle."[1]

Other Star Trek: TOS Pro Books with Fan Connections

Reactions and Reviews

1983

Their latest, TRIANGLE, is again a mixture of silly pseudo-philosophies and ideas whose consequences have not been thought out. [2]
I can't understand why many fans do not like this book. The reviews I have read and friends' comments all bring it down, but I must say I thoroughly enjoyed it.

For me Marshak and Culbreath are two of the best Trek writers, their understanding of the characters and their inter-relationships in my opinion is second to none. In this book that comes out to the full and weaved into an absorbing plot which includes Spock in Pon Farr and Kirk falling in love with the only woman that can save Spock's life - it is the setting for some pretty in-depth character analysis.

The plot itself is rather involved but includes all the ingredients of a Marshak
 and Culbreath recipe ie galactic conquering, bad guys, seemingly impossible feats
of strength and endurance by our heroes and the flashback rememberances to 
previous missions and events which for me not only enhance the story but give it
 the feel of real Trek.

Add to this the comedy and all the pure Trek touches such as "I'm a doctor, not a magician" and in my opinion you have the type of story Trek is all about. After all were not many of the 79 episodes and both movies littered with either a sweet talking Kirk or a First Officer forever pulling a rabbit out of his Vulcan hat? For me this novel captures that feeling and I would recommend it heartily.

My only reservation is to the final outcome which is fairly unimaginative, but the rest of the book more than makes up for this and I suggest if you haven't already bought a copy then at least borrow one, it's worth reading. [3]

1990

It was a promising idea but degenerated to the usual "Let's beat Kirk up and see if Spock will rescue him whilst delving deep into the emotions of both." [4]

1993

I would highly recommend a mainstream commercially published novel called 'Triangle' by Marshak and Culbreath. In this one, K and S both fall for a fascinating alien woman whose very presence causes S to go into Pon Farr. Each man sacrifices himself for his friend by encouraging him to sleep with her, so they both end up sleeping with her. It's very slashy by implication. Both men are jealous and the atmosphere seethes with barely controlled lust among all three members of the triangle... seriously, 'Triangle' is great. [5]

1995

Triangle was a very good and gripping book, but suffered from the premise that nothing in the situation of the Enterprise personnel must change. It was a let-down, but nevertheless this had all the makings of a triangular love story (_not_ a menage a trois, because none of them could sustain a family life). It was clear that Kirk would give an arm and a leg for Spock to be happy, and it is also clear that Kirk was the most important person Spock had ever come near to. The woman (and quite a woman, too) loved them both, intensely, but she also loved her work, and her priorities were incompatible with life on the Enterprise. [6]

2003

I just finished reading their _Triangle_ -- in part because someone here mentioned that they liked it, and I enjoyed it enormously. Sure, it was obvious that this was the sort of Trek book that fan reviewers (especially fan reviewers who don't like fanfic) would have torn to pieces as "femmefan wish fulfillment." But I found it enormously fun, like a trashy romance novel or a soap opera. There's a character in there who is basically Super Mary Sue (though I actually kinda liked her),[7] and she, Kirk and Spock spend way too much time babbling redundantly about their relationships with each other, but given that most Trek pro-novels go the other way, with endless reams about ion particles and theta radiation and anti-matter-wap-core-phaser-photon-velocity crap at the expense of anything to do with the characters, I really enjoyed this aspect of the book. On a recent ski-excursion with my husband, I spent most of my time in the lodge reading this book (I'm not that athletic), and I liked it so much that I ferreted out a copy of _Fate of the Phoenix_, which I am finding to be enjoyable in the same "guilty pleasure" way. But yes, I can certainly see where it would be considered a poor piece of writing -- especially compared to seriously good fanfic. [8]
What is so terrible about this one? "Farcical melodrama" truly sums it up. Kirk, Spock, and McCoy meet a Starfleet secret agent. Kirk, Spock, and the agent fall madly, deeply, passionately in love - in less than five minutes. And, my friends, this is a love without boundaries, destined for each from years back. The agent was fated for Kirk, but Spock needs a lover to survive pon farr, but Spock is conflicted because she's Kirk's woman, but Kirk is willing to sacrifice her for Spock, and oh my God it just goes on and on like that, enough to nauseate even those with the strongest stomachs. And keep in mind that this one takes place shortly after V-ger; so the reader is stuck with a mental image of Bad Hair Kirk playing the seducer. Yuck and double yuck. As if that wasn't enough, we are forced to deal with the same hyperbolic descriptions of Kirk and Spock we got in the authors' Phoenix series. Spock is the Supreme Vulcan Male, you see, and while Kirk is Supreme Human Male, he must still be tenderly protected by Spock from the Big Bad Universe. This melodrama was, somehow, tolerable in the Phoenix novels. After less than a hundred pages of this one, though, my eyeballs hurt so much from all the rolling that I had to take an Advil.[9]

2005

I absolutely could not put down "Triangle." I loved every trashy, kinky, slashy, Mary Sue-filled page of that book. [10]

2014

...same authors as the Phoenix books. It has K & S fall for the same woman but I swear, she is SUCH an obvious homosexual conduct. [11]

2016

There is one thing, and one thing only that is good about this Star Trek novel. It’s the last one written by Marshak and Culbreath... Once again, this one seems as nothing more than an excuse to write some shoddy fan fiction. One could argue that all the Star Trek novels are fan fiction, as they aren’t considered canon, but there are levels of professionalism and solid writing in others that is lacking here....

They may have some good science fiction ideas, but their designs and intentions to push the characters outside of themselves to fit into the authors’ stories distracts from any real story they may want to tell.

In today’s day and age, I’m sure they would be writing slash fan fiction on a website somewhere, and it still boggles my mind that Paramount and Pocket Books okayed this book, or their others, to be published.

It really is like no one at either company read their work, they just wanted another Star Trek book on the shelves to rake in some more cash. Instead of treating the franchise with respect, something that took a long time to happen, they simply wanted a cash flow from the fans who would buy something with the Star Trek name on it.

Thankfully the next one looks a little better, in fact, it was the first Star Trek novel to hit the bestsellers list, which should hopefully let us forget that this one and their others were ever written.

Ugh.[12]

Undated

[mid-2000s?]: Captain Kirk has been ordered to take Ambassador Gailbraith and a contingent of New Humans to Zaran, a planet recently unreachable because of a zone of mysterious disappearances. While passing through this Marie Celeste sector, Spock detects a one-man spacecraft on the surface of Cephalus IV, a marginally habitable class M planet.

All the meanwhile, Gailbraith and his New Human associates have been taking over the minds of Kirk’s crew, bringing them into the Oneness they want to bring to the galaxy. Gailbraith even touches Kirk’s mind while saving him from drowning in the ship’s swimming pool.

Uhura detects a signal from a Free Agent, a sort of 007 Federation super agent to whom every Starfleet and Federation vessel must answer. Kirk and Spock beam down to the surface of Cephalus IV and rescue the Free Agent Sola Thane in a scene which has so much dialogue and discussion that it’s almost laughably reminiscent of all the battles from Dragonball Z wherein the characters talk to and threaten each other as much as they actually fight. It’s totally distracting, quite unbelievable, and so typical of much of the rest of this book.

James T. Kirk is a man of action, not of incessant talk, especially when action is needed. This is not to say Kirk is not a deeply introspective character (we’ve seen that he is), but he knows not to be so self-absorbed during a crisis. Unfortunately, the authors do not seem to understand that. In every battle, crisis, physical confrontation, they go to extremes to have Kirk and Spock and Sola discuss every single possible nuance of the infinite permutations of the situation.

The resolution doesn’t exist. The characters just agree to part ways, although it could be said that Gailbraith actually experiences character growth. The solution of a Kirk-Spock-Sola triangle seems unthinkable to our heroes, and one can’t understand all the sturm und drang of the physical and metaphysical crises because it’s all lost in extraneous dialogue.

It makes for a very sorry read." [13]

References

  1. A fan using the handle "Sileya lek_Thun", writing in 1998, cited this cover blurb in part of a discussion on "K/S Slip in Pro Novel" and said "You know how I mentioned that the book "Triangle" seemed to be very slashy? Well, guess who wrote it...none other than Sondra Marshak and Myrna Culbreath. Imagine that." K/S Slip in Pro Novel, Usenet alt.startrek.creative.erotica.moderated, dated August 21, 1998.
  2. from Joan V in Interstat #67
  3. from Beta-Niobe, August 1983
  4. from IDIC #8
  5. comment at VVirgule-L by E (June 8, 1993)
  6. comment on Virgule-L, quoted anonymously (November 18, 1995)
  7. Sondra Marshak reportedly based Sola on Modesty Blaise, a James Bond-like competent woman character who is often labeled a Canon Sue.
  8. comment by Chris at alt.startrek.creative.erotica.moderated
  9. "Farcical Melodrama", review by amazon.com user jrmspnc at amazon.com's page for Triangle dated Sept. 21, 2003.
  10. 2005 comment at ASCEML
  11. a fan's comment at Star Trek book recs, November 2014
  12. Timothy Rideout and Sue Maynard, review of Star Trek: Triangle at The Mind Reels, 2016-04-27: WebCite
  13. from Randy Landers at Orion Press