About this novella:
In an early segment of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, Leonard McCoy sat with Kirk in the admiral’s San Francisco apartment as they spoke about the doctor’s frustration with Kirk for not pursuing his first, best destiny: command of a starship.
In this novella, we follow McCoy after he leaves Kirk’s apartment and as he seeks the counsel of an old colleague: Spock. Somewhat intoxicated, he tells Spock that Jim is making a mistake, and regales the Vulcan with a tale of his first visit to Capella IV, years before joining the crew of the Enterprise.
When I first watched the Original Series as a kid, my favorite character by far was the enigmatic Mr. Spock. However, upon re-watching the series as an adult, my favorite character became Dr. Leonard McCoy. The warmth and humanity he brought to the show was an important counterbalance to the logical and completely rational Spock — and when I heard that this novella would be focusing on his character, I was totally on board.
In the recent run of Star Trek eBook novellas, we’ve seen them succeed as small, self-contained episode-like installments. In Seasons of Light and Darkness, we see another area in which they can succeed, as small character pieces that highlight aspects of the characters’ lives. As we follow McCoy’s adventure on Capella IV, we can see the foundation of the man he would eventually become in the television series.
The strength of this story lies in how true it is to McCoy’s character. We see his compassion and dedication to his duty as a physician shine as he deals with the people of Capella IV. Another aspect of the story that fascinated me was the exploration of Capellan society itself. We get into it a bit in “Friday’s Child,” but Michael A. Martin is able to explore the nuances of this culture in much more depth here. I enjoyed the way he portrayed their society, especially in parts such as members of the landing party being given the “gift” of combat.
The most disturbing thing that came out of this novella, however, is the idea that the Federation’s need for a particular mineral seems to completely trump the Prime Directive — though this idea was part and parcel of “Friday’s Child,” and didn’t originate here.
Seasons of Light and Darkness is an interesting character piece that gives insight into the character of Dr. McCoy. Martin has a good handle on his character, and I could definitely hear the late DeForest Kelley’s “voice” as I read this novella.
It’s a fun story that you’ll be able to get through in an single afternoon, and is a recommended read for every McCoy fan.
– Reviewed by Literature Editor Dan Gunther
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