Within the Prism
|Title:||Within the Prism|
|Fandom:||Star Trek: The Original Series|
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It was published in the print zine T'hy'la #1.
"While Kirk, Spock and McCoy check on the progress of a new colony, Kirk's mind is attacked by an uncovered machine and Spock must meld with him to get him back, just as he had with Pike on an earlier mission."
Sample from the Print
I art from T'hy'la, art by Merle Decker
Reactions and Reviews
If the author purposely imagined and pictured the workings of a mind meld by blending an emotional landscape with words, she has succeeded very well. The drawback was that it left me rather confused. Sometimes I didn’t know immediately who was showing/talking to whom. This halted the flow of my reading and forced me to return and read it again. What wasn’t clear is why Spock allowed the memories of his service with Pike and the traumatic incidents involved, to be played out in full, knowing that it was imperative to bring Kirk back to consciousness as soon as possible. Of course it gives us a golden opportunity to understand why Spock would defy Starfleet and Kirk to take Pike to Talos. I especially liked the author’s exploration of Spock’s reasoning to reverse course and return to the Vulcan Way. In a sense it’s Spock’s defensive path to deal with emotions. 
...reminds us that when an editor includes her own work, it isn't always a bad thing. This rather complex story moves Pike and Spock and Kirk and Spock through introspections via a nifty/nasty alien machine, allowing us to see a remarkable variety of what's going on inside their heads. 
Kirk's mind becomes entrapped by an alien machine, a 'telepathic enhancer'. In order to free the Captain, Spock is forced to initiate a mind-meld with him, and what takes place between the two men during this meld is what makes up the bulk of this relatively long story. It is an in-depth look into the mechanics of the mind-meld and the convoluted twistings and turnings of the Human (and Vulcan) mind. When Spock locates Kirk's mind, he still has to get them both back to reality. As the link takes hold and intensifies, another story unfolds, a story from out of Spock's past involving a similar accident, only that time, it was Christopher Pike's mind that was trapped - and there had been an alien working the controls of the contraption. What follows is a curious take-off on the story-within-a-story theme: a meld-within-a-meld. The perception distortion, the unpredictability of speeding thoughts, the mental images, the emotional undercurrents, and all the layers of the different personalities made this fascinating reading - I mean, this is GOOD STUFF! A most impressive piece of writing. 
This is a beautiful and tender novelette that mainly takes place within a mind meld. Not only do Kirk and Spock discover their love through this meld, as you might expect, but Kirk discovers a great deal about Spock's past that he had not known. The friendship between Spock and Pike is portrayed very movingly here, and I loved seeing the gay relationship that Pike shared with his Records Officer. Spock's have seen such a relationship helped pave the way for his eventual acceptance of K/S. The only problem I had with this tale was in retrospect. I didn't really notice the meld had gone on longer that it should have when I was reading it because I was so fascinated with the contents of the meld. Nevertheless, I should point out that since the purpose of the meld was to free Kirk from a machine that could cause him to lose his grip on material reality, surely such a prolonged meld wasn't advisable under those circumstances. There was a clear risk that remaining so long under the influence of that machine could have made Kirk and Spock forget that anything existed beyond the meld. So Spock should have done what was necessary, and then explored all the relationship facets in a safer context. Of course, it is easy to argue that if Spock hadn't dealt with all those relationship matters in that meld, there might never have been another opportunity to reach an understanding with Kirk. Yet I find it difficult to believe that Spock couldn't have somehow cut the meld short while ending it on a note of hope for Kirk that would have encouraged him to explore the possibility of K/S at a later time. It's easy to make Kirk hopeful. He's a pretty optimistic guy, so it wouldn't have taken much. I tend to think that all the background about Pike and his gay relationship could have kept for a later opportunity too. Yet it all seemed wonderful when I was engrossed in reading it. 
While exploring an archaeological dig on a Caitian colony, Kirk is trapped by a machine designed by the long-dead civilization to harvest experiences for their amusement. This is deja-vu for Spock, who had been present on the site when Pike was caught by the machine - though that time there had been a last surviving voyeur directing the programming. Spock managed to rescue Pike with his first, frightening mind-meld with a human, and destroy the greedy alien. This time, too, he must go into meld mode and rescue Kirk. The melds, which make up most of the tale, are exceptionally well done and very complex. Most of the time we are in Spock's mind, while he is in Kirk's mind, recalling his experiences before, after, and during the time he was in Pike's mind. It all works out nicely, and we get some great insights into Spock's behavior under Pike's command and his changed persona under Kirk's. The naked pain he confronts in Pike's mind as it recalls the death of his lover Hao Nguyen (during on a mission to rescue Andorian boys undergoing their adulthood ordeal) convinces Spock to give up his experimentation with developing his human side, and rigorously pursue the ways of Vulcan. There are, of course, revelations between Kirk and Spock about each hiding his love of the other. The Shore Leave planet fantasy scenes recalled by Kirk are particularly charming. All in all, a fine read with lots of nice tidbits integrating little bits from many episodes. The Caitians, though they play no major roles here, are quite delightful.