Anyone who has seen Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan or the episode of the original Star Trek series upon which it is based, Space Seed, knows the general story of Khan Noonien Singh. He is a genetically engineered human who rose up to great power in the 1990s and was eventually banished from Earth; sent away from the planet with his followers, all of whom had been put in cryogenic suspension until uncovered by Captain James T. Kirk and the crew of the Enterprise.
The Eugenics Wars Volume One gives the background to Khan’s ascent to power on Earth as well as how he came into being in the first place. It also ties up some loose ends of the original series episode involving Gary Seven, which seemed like it was the forerunner of its own series.
Captain Kirk is researching the history of The Eugenics Wars as he prepares to evaluate a genetically-engineered human colony, Paragon on the planet Sycorax, which departed Earth a century before, but is now looking to become a member of the Federation. It’s given him a very uneasy position to be in, and he wants to understand more of what led to the decision to ban any genetic engineering within the Federation.
Gary Seven is an alien from another world who has landed on Earth to try to save humankind from self-destruction. Along the way, he picks up an assistant, Roberta Lincoln. Together they have adventures using technology much more advanced than anyone except science-fiction fans could have imagined in the sixties and seventies to try and exert influence on events so mankind travels toward a more peaceful path.
When the two of them stumble upon something known as the Chrysalis Project, things seem to take a dire turn. At first, Seven and Roberta believe that the project is only researching the possibility of human genetic engineering. However, after she manages to infiltrate the project as a geneticist and he is captured as an apparent spy, they soon learn that not only have these people managed to figure out how to genetically engineer a human being, but that is has been put into practice already.
The book follows Seven and Roberta’s attempt to derail Chrysalis Project, as well as a few of their adventures. Khan is one of the oldest children of the project, and for a while Seven believes he has a great potential for good, leading Seven to dream of recruiting Khan as a third agent to work alongside himself and Roberta. After one particularly disastrous encounter with Khan as a teen, however, those hopes are dashed.
Cox has written a terrific story. I enjoyed this quite a bit and could hardly put it down. He has managed to create an adventure for the original crew of the starship Enterprise that intertwines itself with events in Earth’s past.
I can remember in 1984 there was an air like everyone was holding their breaths waiting for “Big Brother” to suddenly intrude on our lives as if George Orwell’s masterpiece would somehow suddenly become true. Just because our society in 1984 was not as depicted in his famous novel did not lessen the impact of that novel for me. However, it did feel like there was a collective sigh of relief in our society when that didn’t occur.
During the original series run, The Eugenics Wars were depicted as having occurred in the 1990s. When that didn’t happen, it meant nothing to me, as we’re dealing with science fiction here, and that didn’t mean it didn’t serve as a good warning as to what would happen to humanity should we start tinkering with our species’ DNA.
Cox, however, took that discrepancy to heart and has created a wonderful intertwining of our actual history with events in the Star Trek universe. Along the way, he involves Guinan from Star Trek: The Next Generation, events from the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode Little Green Men and the movie Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, and The Bionic Woman’s Jamie Sommers.
The novel reads quite well and I found it to be easy to follow, despite the jump between two eras as well as jumps across a few years in the story following Seven and Roberta Lincoln. Unlike other Star Trek novels which draw together events in the various series, Cox did not hit me over the head again and again with facts as if he is attempting to show me what a wonderful writer he is that he manages to keep up with what is going on in the Star Trek universe. Instead, his drawing together of events seems perfectly natural as he really is following the adventures of Gary Seven and Roberta Lincoln, and the part they play in the rise to power of Khan Noonien Singh.
I highly recommend this book to Star Trek fans, and anyone who enjoyed the Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan. You don’t need an in-depth knowledge of events in any of the series or about Gary Seven and Roberta Lincoln. Cox does a good job explaining what anyone needs to know to understand the events in this book. It is a terrific science fiction novel.
Next book in the series (link): Star Trek: The Eugenics Wars Volume Two by Greg Cox