Monday, 9 January 2012

Star Trek The Eugenics Wars: The Rise and Fall of Khan Noonien Singh Vol 1 - Greg Cox



Title: The Rise and Fall of Khan Noonien Singh Vol 1
Author: Greg Cox
Genre: Sci-Fi
Published: 2001
Formats: Hardback/Paperback/Ebook

Available at:
Amazon
The Book Depository
Amazon UK

"The Rise and Fall of Khan Noonien Singh Volume 1" by Greg Cox is the latest book in my Star Trek Reading Challenge. This book is the first in the challenge whose time period I had missed when putting the stories into a chronological order. Whilst the framing story is set in the 2260s, the main plotline is actually set in the 1970s and 1980s and therefore should probably have been read prior to the novels I had been reading. There is an argument in regards to if you should use the framing story or the main plotline period when trying to read novels in some sort of chronological order but I try to stick with using the main plotline, especially in a Universe like the Star Trek one which I already know a fair about. Anyway, I have now realised my little mistake in not reading this previously and I have now finished it and will read Volume 2 before continuing any further with the books set in the later time periods.

The story itself starts with a framing story in which Kirk and his crew are heading to a colony that has been practicing genetic engineering on humans. This inspires the captain to research the historical records from the late 20th century which was when a group of genetically engineered super-humans attempted to take over the planet. The book then moves onto the main story which follows the exploits of Gary Seven and his colleagues, Roberta Lincoln and Isis in the late twentieth century as they try to ensure that humanity doesn't destroy itself. Together they begin an investigation into some missing scientists which leads them to a secret group known as the Chrysalis Project who have managed to create several genetically engineered children, one of whom is the infamous Khan Noonian Singh. Gary Seven and his team therefore begin to keep tabs on the super-human children over the following years with a specific interest in the charismatic Khan in the hope that none of them use their intellect and strength to threaten humanity's future.

I found the novel to be interesting read that explores some of the back-story to one of Star Trek's most infamous characters and builds up a little bit more information about his history. Cox writes the novel with an obvious love for Star Trek and its lore as he includes various characters from other Trek stories within this novel and I did quite enjoy seeing the odd cameo in the novel. However, I do feel that Cox perhaps overdid it a little bit as by the end of the book I was finding it a little bit ridiculous the way in which everything happening seemed to involve some sort of meeting with another characters from the Trek Universe. Some people will love these constant references but I just found there was a little bit to much of it.

Cox also goes a little bit further than just using elements from other Star Trek stories in the novel; he also uses real life events from history as well. It was at times quite interesting to view the manner in which he linked these various real life events such as the Bhopal Disaster into the story in a manner which gave them an enhanced effect and reason for occuring beyond the real thing. In a way though, I think this was a little bit of a missed opportunity as personally I would rather have seen how things had gone differently because of Kahn being around instead of how his and other actions were hidden etc.

The main issue I did have with the novel though was that I found the story to be a little bit slow at times. It takes quite a while to even get to Kahn's introduction and even then he is just a toddler so other readers shouldn't expect an action packed novel full of battles and destruction. In addition, I think the concentration on Gary Seven in the story kind of ruined the entire premise of the novel. It mainly felt like a spy novel following his team's exploits than being about Kahn and his super-human colleagues.

Overall, I did enjoy the novel and it was nice to get some more information on Kahn and how he became the person he did. I doubt however that the book will really appeal to anyone not already aware of the Star Trek universe as there is so many elements that will appear random and pointless to the reader unless you understand the links to other stories. This is a shame really as the entire Eugenics War premise would be an interesting topic for any Alternate History novel and could have also appealed to non Star Trek fans if the novel had been aimed slightly differently.