In the original Star Trek series episode, Space Seed, viewers were first introduced to the madman Khan Noonien Singh (portrayed then by Ricardo Montalban). Khan was a genetically engineered madman of the late 20th century Earth, sent off into space in a sleeper ship when Captain Kirk’s Enterprise happens across him.
Very little about Khan’s antics on Earth were known, just a general description that he wreaked havoc at a time when the Earth was in turmoil. Of course, that did not happen in the last ten years of the twentieth century…. or did it?
Where The Eugenics Wars Volume One dealt primarily with Khan’s origins from a super-secret project designed to breed super-humans and his youth into the 1980s, The Eugenics Wars: Volume Two follows Khan throughout the nineties as he attempts to control the Earth and his descent from wanting to be a protector to a destroyer.
Greg Cox weaves Khan’s story throughout events of the nineties that actually took place, using the other “Children of Chrysalis” (the genetic engineering project) as figures of insane dictators in the Baltic region responsible for ethnic cleansing, American militia-leaders paranoid of our government and capable of mass-murder, the leader of a religious cult which sounds suspiciously similar to the “Heaven’s Gate” cult, some amazonian superwomen, and an Idi Amin-like African dictator.
Trying to reign in all of these figures is Gary Seven, a figure also from the original Star Trek as well as his assistant, Roberta Lincoln. Khan knows they pose a threat to his plan, and there is a consistent tug-of-war throughout the novel as Seven and Roberta attempt to thwart Khan, while he is attempting to put an end to their interference.
The novel is truly for fans of the Star Trek genre, as it combines events and characters from the first three series. Unless you’ve seen the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode, Little Green Men, you won’t understand the Roswell references. If you haven’t seen Guinan in the Star Trek: The Next Generation episodes Time’s Arrow, you won’t understand her presence on Earth during this time. There are also a lot of non-obvious references to events in the series, such as the who the tourist is in the Palais des Nations. For some of the references, you might not get, Cox has a tongue-in-cheek Historical Afterword at the end of the novel.
That’s not to say characters from Star Trek are completely missing. There is a sub-story that started this all, where Kirk is trying to decide whether or not to recommend the admittance of a genetically engineered human colony to the Federation of Planets. To complicate matters, the Klingons are very willing to take possession of the colony, if only for their knowledge of genetic engineering. Kirk is reading the historical accounts of Khan to try to decide whether or not genetically engineered humans and us “regular folk” can possibly co-exist in his time when it was unsuccessful years before.
The pace of Khan’s deterioration into madness seemed perfect in reference to the events Cox depicts, as his evolution seems natural, rather than forced. The circumstances and events surrounding this seem to flow together for the most part, rather than being placed there conveniently to further the story Cox wants to tell. There are some moments of tie-ins between events in the future of Star Trek and what happen during Khan’s time that does seem a bit contrived, but I felt these could easily be forgiven.
For me, as a fan, it was a wonderful read. These two novels were easily some of the best Trek-fiction I’ve read. Cox makes the characters interesting and believable. Although I know the outcome – that Khan ends up on a sleeper ship in space – just how he gets there and where he fir into the events of the last fifteen years or so is handled in a way that kept me glued to the pages once I purchased the book. Yes, there are references to other science-fiction series that I missed out on, but it doesn’t take away from the story itself.
Previous book in the series (link): Star Trek: The Eugenics Wars Volume One by Greg Cox
Next book in the series (link): Star Trek: To Reign in Hell: The Exile of Khan Noonien Singh by Greg Cox