One of my favorite things about libraries is that you stand a very good chance of just happening upon an interesting book. Over the weekend, I stopped into the library so that a friend could drop off a DVD. Another friend pointed out a book that spelled out Vulcan proudly on its cover. And just like that I had checked it out and stowed it away in my bag. The book was The Hunt for Vulcan:...And How Albert Einstein Destroyed a Planet, Discovered Relativity, and Deciphered the Universe by Thomas Levenson. I have to applaud them for the gorgeous cover which not only loudly proclaims the home planet of some super rad aliens but features our galaxy and the elliptical paths of our planets. It's the kind of cover I'd love to have as decoration on my wall. Levenson takes the reader on an historical journey through physics, cosmology, and mathematics. From Newton to Einstein, a detailed exploration is made explaining why scientists from the past believed that a small planet named Vulcan caused Mercury to bend near the Sun and deform its elliptical orbit. He talks about the scientific method and how science is so unique because it is a system of theories and hypotheses which is constantly changing. Scientists seek to shed light on the mysteries of the universe and to do so means that there will inevitably be errors that must be corrected over time as instruments improve and knowledge expands. Einstein's theory of relativity and the relationship of gravity between the planets threw Newton's theories for a loop (I hope that planet joke went down well for you) and changed the way we see the cosmos. It's a really great little book that I think all science nerds can appreciate. (It was super quick also!)
This short but fascinating book works as both an illustration of how scientific ideas advance and an engaging focused history that stretches from Newton, whose work crowned the scientific revolution and helped inspire Europe’s Age of Enlightenment, to Einstein, who spent the WWI years absorbed in his nascent theories of relativity which changed the way we look at the world and made possible most further developments in science and technology. Framing the book’s story is the hunt for a missing planet, known as Vulcan (not Mr. Spock’s planet, unfortunately).
In 1846 Urbain Le Verrier, a French scientist, used the mathematics of Newton's theories of gravity to predict the existence and location of Neptune, which was still undiscovered, based on slight anomalies in the orbit of Uranus. With almost perfect accuracy, Le Verrier was able to tell skywatchers where to point their telescopes and several found the planet immediately, a highly exciting moment in physics and astronomy that was downright inspiring to read about.
So when Le Verrier used Newton’s formulas to postulate the existence of a planet between the Sun and Mercury based on anomalies in Mercury’s orbit, everyone assumed he was correct--both Newton and Le Verrier had proven themselves almost god-like in their insights after all. Scientists spent 50 years looking for the planet they called Vulcan--some actually thought they had found it and no one was willing to jettison Newton’s universal law of gravitation--until 1915 when Einstein used the theories of relativity and the bending of spacetime by gravity to prove that Vulcan doesn’t, and couldn't, exist.
With biographical sketches, some history of the era, and accessible explanations of the involved science, The Hunt for Vulcan is informative and highly entertaining.
After a skirmish with a Klingon ship Kirk, McCoy and Spock accompany an injured crewman to Vulcan for a revolutionary medical treatment - a treatment which Spock's mother is undergoing at the same time. Problems arise when a third patient mysteriously dies... accident or sabotage?
This novel was published in 1984, so it doesn't take into account anything about Vulcan tradition that was established later on in canon. Within TOS it is set a few months after Journey to Babel.
There are a quite a few things I enjoyed immensely in this novel. First of all, the depiction of Spock's family, his relationship with his father and mother, the relationship between Sarek and Amanda, all serving to paint a picture of misunderstanding, respect, pride and love more detailed that Amok Time (why weren't Spock's parents there?) and Journey to Babel could. It's a marvel to think that Spock's parents made such an impact in only one episode, more than most other characters can claim for themselves despite having appeared more often. If I had to nitpick a bit it would be that, while they work as persons, Sorel, Corrigan, and especially T'Mir lack a bit of background. Why did Corrigan come to Vulcan? Etc. But I guess that would have been too much for a 250p. book.
Then there are the original characters, the Vulcan healer Sorel (and his family to some extent) and his human partner Dr Daniel Corrigan who incidentally helped Amanda carry Spock to term. This novel is as much about fleshing them out as it is about Spock and Sarek. And even though I'm loathe about original characters in a tie-in novel, they simply work and come across as nuanced and real as the TV-protagonists - but without taking anything away from them. I guess it's difficult to introduce new characters in tie-in novels because you have to cater to an audience who wants to read about well-known characters. So, to find the balance of old vs. new must be really hard. But this is something Lorrah definitely excels in as she's shown here and in her early TNG-novels.
And I have to say I was intrigued by the Vulcan traditions and lifestyle Lorrah introduced in this novel. Some have since become obsolete by new canon, but in this context it just works.
If there has to be some criticism then it's especially aimed at the investigation into the perceived system failure - once it's established that a crime has been comitted, Kirk starts to investigate himself and forms a list of likely suspects. But he doesn't think of the simplest (and therefore most obvious) of all motivations which makes this part of the novel a bit tedious.
Overall, this novel has its flaws, mainly the rather obvious plot and the lack of background characterization in the original characters, but it manages to continue the family reunion of Spock and Sarek in a very satisfying way. And it certainly whets my appetite for Lorrah's next TOS-adventure.
I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest review
I've loved both books one and two in the Vulcan Legacies series, but I have to say, I think this novella is my favorite so far. Black Atonement captured love, sacrifice, and regret so well. It amazes me that Ms. Hibbs was able to yank my heart around so completely, so quickly.
Brandi blew me away in this story. I absolutely loved her character. So fiercely determined to do what she felt she must even at the risk of sacrificing her future happiness. I love a strong heroine, and Brandi certainly fit the bill. Even when she wallowed in despair, she managed to claw her way out in order to push ahead with her plans.
The plot was so fast-paced, I didn't put the novella down once I started reading. I loved the scenes with Abraham, he's such an intriguing character. I really hope he's featured in future books. There is just something so satisfying about being pulled heart and soul into a story, and that is exactly what happened with Black Atonement.
If you haven't read any of the books in this series, I have to say that you're missing out on some great writing and characterization.