From nearly any television show or movie about Star Trek, one hears Captain Kirk demanding, “Give it all she’s got, Scotty!” or “Status, Mr. Sulu.” Even with four different series (Star Trek, Star Trek – the Next Generation, Star Trek – Deep Space Nine, and Star Trek – Voyager) and an assortment of movies, I crave more stories, even re-told ones, about my favorite characters and their adventures around the universe. As an avid reader, I have many books to feed my need. My favorite science fiction collection of short stories is Star Trek ® The Classic Episodes 3, which put into print twenty-four shows comprising the final season.
Adapted by James Blish with J. A. Lawrence, and printed by Bantam Books in 1991, this collection consists of the best of the series. By this time, a generation knew the characters on Star Trek, including snatches of their family history, what their childhood was like, how their cities and planets had evolved since the 20th century, and which planets and people were friend, foe, or neutral. It restored a drive for scientific study, as the idea of so many marvelous things being taken for granted in Kirk’s time touched a yearning within the souls of many.
My favorite story is “For the World is Hollow and I Have Touched the Sky”, written by Rik Vollaerts. Primarily centered around Dr. “Bones” McCoy, the story begins with the discovery by the doctor that he’s got a rare terminal blood disease, Xenopolycythemia, and has less than a year to live. When one reviews all the medical technology in Dr. McCoy’s Sick Bay and recalls the many things he’s done to save lives in prior episodes, it is a surprise that he accepts certain death rather than racing right for the lab to create a cure.
Setting the Stage
A barrage of archaic missiles (over 10,000 years old) were fired at the Enterprise and destroyed. Kirk and Spock discover an asteroid, which is really a powered spaceship with no apparent life forms. Bound on a collision course with an inhabited planet, Daran V, it must be stopped. Beaming to the internal surface of the ship, Kirk, Spock, and McCoy find plants, mountains, rubble, and cylinders. Not showing signs of life, they pass by, but are attacked by men swarming out to overtake the Enterprise officers. Oh, dear! I forgot to mention the beautiful woman. Star Trek taught us that different shapes, colors, and characteristics of life forms could be beautiful, even as those which are most familiar can be evil and frightening. Natira, the High Priestess of the People of Yonada, saved the crew from further injury or death by stopping the trouncing. However, McCoy is hurt very badly when Kirk assures Natira they come in friendship and the three crewmembers are felled by an intense charge of electricity.
Tell Me, For I Want to Know
Placed in confinement, the men are approached by an older man who asks to be told of the outside, as he is ignorant. He tells them how he climbed the mountains years ago, even though forbidden. In response to why it’s forbidden to climb the mountains, he replies he isn’t sure, but he knows things aren’t as they’ve been told, “for the world is hollow and I have touched the sky.”(page 258) The man is killed by some force for revealing what he knows.
Natira has guards gently remove the man. She appears to be quite taken with McCoy, who gets some good-natured ribbing from Spock and Kirk. She tells them the Oracle wants them treated like honored guests, and gives Spock and Kirk permission to meet the People while she stays with McCoy.
Love can Strike at Any Time
Natira’s proposal to McCoy is no surprise. He tells her of his fatal disease; she tells him of the future, when they will reach a new home. Kirk and Spock, enter the room of the Oracle (Spock memorized the code from earlier). Natira comes in shortly thereafter to request the Oracle’s permission to marry McCoy. The Oracle has no human form, but seems to know what is going on. He approves if McCoy becomes one of the people, which includes getting an obedience insert in his head. Discovered in the room, Kirk and Spock are sentenced to death. McCoy, however, has thought about his lonely life, and tells Natira he will marry her if she lets his friends return to the Enterprise. He assures Kirk of the love he’s found, and the happiness in knowing his last days won’t be alone.
Sometimes knowledge can almost kill you
McCoy is shown the Book of the People, which can only be opened and read when their final destination is reached. Contacting the Enterprise to make them aware of its existence, he is nearly killed for being disobedient. Returning to Yonada, Kirk and Spock materialize in Natira’s room, where she is holding the dying McCoy. Spock removes McCoy’s insert, and when the Oracle nearly destroys Natira after she demands to know the tructh, McCoy removes hers.
Loyalty to Who You Are
Choices are difficult to make at the best of times. Natira felt duty-bound to stay with her people till the end of the journey. Spock, after repairing and recalibrating the ship,recorded the entire history of the Fabrini people, who built the traveling asteroid and sent some of their best people on a voyage across space to survival. McCoy, having changed Natira’s life forever, returned to the Enterprise with Kirk and Spock, where Spock found the cure for McCoy’s disease on the history scan, created the formula, and saved McCoy’s life. Kirk, glad to have his dear friend and comrade back again, hinted to McCoy that he’d see the Enterprise in their vicinity when Yonada and Natira reached their destination.