Leonard Nimoy: A Tribute in Print
Like science fiction fans around the globe, I was saddened to learn of the death, aged 83, of that giant of imagined space exploration, Leonard Nimoy. Whether you watched him play Mr Spock in the original series back in the late sixties, smiled when he revived and grew his iconic character for the movies in the eighties and nineties, or only knew him as his older, Ambassadorial self, guest starring in Next Generation episodes, he was one of our most beloved screen stars, who brought joy (and occasionally tears) to countless generations.
In tribute, we have spent the last twenty-four hours combing through shelves and boxes, to bring you some of the printed highlights of both Spock and Nimoy's careers colourful careers. Some of these volumes haven't been dusted off in years, but they brought back memories, and made us smile. If you know them, they may do the same for you. If you don't, then here are some chances to appreciate a great man's talents ...
'Star Trek: The Children of Kings' by David Stern (2010)
Not the earliest Spock-centered novel by a long shot, but one of the earliest in chronological terms. In it, we get to see a young, recently commissioned Lt. Spock working as the Enterprise's Science Officer under Captain Pike, as the pair take on the menace of Klingons, and meet another potentially deadly foe, the Orions. A great read, and a great opportunity to consider what Spock would have been like before he met Jim Kirk and commenced the five-year mission.
'Star Trek: Corona' by Greg Bear (1984)
One of the earliest (#15) of the Pocket Books series of Star Trek paperbacks, 'Corona' was penned by one of science fiction's big names, Greg Bear, author of "Eon" (1985), "The Forge of God" (1987), and most recently "War Dogs" (2014). Bear gave us a classic Star Trek tale, in which a sentient cluster of protostars, Corona, takes over the minds of a group of Vulcan scientists, one of whom turns out to be a distant relative of Spock's. The Enterprise, now under Captain Kirk's command, must race against time to find a peaceful solution to a problem which, left unchecked, could spell the end to all known life across the universe. As well as allowing us some fascinating insights into Spock's everyday life (at one point, it is explained that this relatively early version of the character insists on eating alone in his quarters, for example), Bear also spends a good bit of time looking at Vulcan vocabulary and cultural behaviours.
'Star Trek: Spock's World' by Diane Duane (1988)
An impending vote on Vulcan over the issue of withdrawl from the Federation takes Spock home. As we watch Spock work alongside his father, Sarek, to maintain the status quo, the the innermost secrets of the planet Vulcan are laid before us, from its beginnings millions of years ago to its savage prehistory, from merciless tribal warfare to medieval court intrigue, from the exploration of space to the development of c'thia - the ruling ethic of logic.Duane, one of the leading authors in the expanded Star Trek universe, wrote this particular volume before a number of the films were released, and as a result there are some continuity issues. None of them form major distractions though, and the alternating chapters which deal with Vulcan's history make this a must-read for any Spock fans.'Spock's World' had the distinction of sitting in the New York Times bestseller list for eight weeks.
'Star Trek: Killing Time' by Delia van Hise (1985)
Ever wondered what Star Trek might have been like if Spock has been in command of the Enterprise instead of Kirk? Well, in 'Killing Time', we get a glimpse ... The Romulans have gone back in time, hoping to destroy the Federation before it was even born. Instead, what they have created is an alternate Federation in which their cousins the Vulcans are in charge.The USS Enterprise becomes the VSS ShiKahr, and Captain Kirk wakes up to find himself Ensign Kirk, a drug-addled ex-convict who has been aboard for all of a day. Captain Spock, meanwhile, must both command and come to terms with the fact that something is not quite right with the universe, eventually leading an away team with his troublesome new Ensign, in an attempt to set things right again.
'Star Trek: The Vulcan Academy Murders' by Jean Lorrah (1984)
Not the greatest Star Trek novel ever written (though it did reach 12th spot in the New York Times bestseller list immediately after publication), but worth including in any list of Vulcan or Spock-based fiction, for no other reason than it is one of the only novels we can think of that blends Star Trek with the murder mystery genre.Travelling to a Vulcan facility to seek medical help for one of the crew, the Enterprise team meet up with Spock's parents, Sarek and Amanda, and soon find themselves embroiled in their first officer's personal life. When bodies start to pile up, Kirk investigates, but finds himself running up against a belief among his Vulcan hosts that murder is illogical, and therefore unlikey to occur on their home world. These must, therefore be accidents, surely?This is as much a pulp detective novel as anything else, but worth the couple of hours it will take you to read for its look at Spock's relationship with his parents.
We could go on like this for hours - there are just so many good Spock stories out there in the expanded universe, and if you haven't already sampled some of them, this would be a great time to go back and enjoy at least a few of the moments you missed. Search Amazon, it won't take you long.
But Nimoy wasn't only an actor, he wrote as well. Many readers will already be aware of at least one of his two autobiographical volumes, but did you know he was also a published poet, with no less than four collections to his name, published as far apart at 1977 and 2002? None of them are easy to come across these days - you won't find them on the shelves in your local Barnes & Noble - but you can come across them online from time to time, and they make a fascinating addition to any Trekie's collection.
Rest in peace, Leonard, and thank you for all the years of entertainment. It only seems right to paraphrase your greatest of creations, and to remind you that you have always been, and shall remain, our friend.