This week, I finally tackled Crucible: Provenance of Shadows, the first in a trilogy of books that independently examines each of the three main characters of Star Trek: The Original Series. At three times the length of most Trek novels, Crucible initially intimidated me — but with the Spock's book now out, and Kirk's due next month, it felt time to get cracking on McCoy's installment.

I'm enjoying the book thoroughly, and I'll go into more detail why once I've finished it. But I thought it worth writing today in memory of the actor who brought Bones to life, as today would've been his 87th birthday. It was a sad day eight years ago when DeForest Kelley was the first of the Enterprise's crew to pass beyond the galactic barrier, where he's since been joined by James Doohan. But as I read Crucible, it brings Mr. Kelley's performance back to life in a very real way. It's probably expected of today's Trek actors, but I doubt forty-one years ago, the crew of the Enterprise's maiden voyage realized they would be immortalized, with countless untold stories yet to be discovered and explored, in novels, comics, films, and fiction for decades to come. I can't imagine how different a scape our imaginations would be, had any other actor come to personify Leonard McCoy. I hope novels such as Crucible continue to do his legacy proud.

I regret that I'm not a bigger fan of westerns, as it seems that genre is where Mr. Kelley can most be seen outside the realm of Star Trek. Can anyone recommend some of his films?

Fortunately, he was more than an actor, as today I was delighted to discover a trilogy of Star Trek poems written by the late doctor. "The Big Bird's Dream" presents a rhyming narrative of Gene Roddenberry (whose nickname was "The Great Bird of the Galaxy") and his efforts to realize his screenplay dream. Be sure to follow the links to the two sequel poems as well.

One Reply to “Just an old country doctor…”

  1. I finished this book a week or two ago. Its chapters alternate between the lives of two different Leonard McCoys, diverging in the episode "The City on the Edge of Forever": one who was rescued from 1930s New York City, and one who never was — the timeline in which Edith Keeler survived. For the next 28 years in each the 20th and 23rd centuries, the lives of this one man unfold.

    Perhaps that is why Crucible is twice as long as most Trek books, and why the payoff is so long in coming. When the two storylines eventually weave together, it's somewhat improbable, though satisfying in a non-scientific way.

    The book tries to adhere to established continuity, but when necessary, it disregards other precepts, especially non-canonical ones. For example, it acknowledges the use of the Guardian of Forever in the animated series, but permanently precludes any appearance of the device in any future stories, even though many such tales have been told.

    Crucible also novelizes snippets of many TOS episodes, as well as the second, third, fourth, and sixth movies. It was a bit boring to be reading events I'd already seen so often — but for the story to truly span 28 years of Bones' life, these vignettes could not be ignored.

    Overall, Crucible was a good book with a great concept; I'm just not sure it had to take so long to say what it had to say.

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