We left off with the last volume with the Klingons having sabotaged the protective dome at Paragon Colony, leaving it to Kirk and McCoy to….
Heh. That’s not what you want to hear about. We wanna know about Khan. So scrap the framing story out of your heads, and let’s get back to the real plot of this book. We left them off with Khan finally ready to start his effort to conquer the world, ruled by himself and his chosen subordinates-all products of the Chrysalis Project. He’s gotten a bunch of useful information from Gary Seven’s computer, and has used that information to build a weapon unlike any other-a satellite that rips holes in the Earth’s ozone layer. Really, really big holes. As he’s no dummy, though, he uses it much like the U. S. uses nuclear weapons-a deterrent against military conquest against him.
Of course, Khan still has a couple of irritants to deal with. Seven and his ally Roberta Lincoln are still working against him-although only rarely coming into direct conflict. As annoying as they are, however, they pale to the threat posed by a small number of other genetically enhanced people-whose agendas clash with Khan’s. Each has a somewhat different outlook, from the Amazonian, to the militant American, to the fellow who believes it’s all foreordained by the “starfathers”.
In the meantime, while Seven and Roberta play their chess-like game against Khan’s ambitions, and Khan busies himself with getting ready to take over the world and surviving attacks by his brethren, a small group of people who have unwittingly (and in most cases, unknowingly) had contact with the future get together to design what will become the most advanced spacecraft of this time. Characters who have shown up in episodes of the original Star Trek, Deep Space Nine, and Voyager all are represented here (I don’t think anyone was in Next Generation, but I can’t prove a thing).
This book really took me by surprise. Volume Two, I’d expected, would be somewhat apocalyptic, far more overt than it actually turned out to be. In many ways, I found it far better than my expectations; as with Volume One, it takes a very significant number of real life events and ties them to the war between Khan, his compatriots and Seven. And make no mistake-while the warfare is not open, there are definitely large amounts of casualties justifying the antipathy Earth holds for the genetically enhanced even in the time of the Next Generation.
Khan is written totally in character…shifting between gentility and raw fury with equal ease, and every bit the master strategist you’d expect (except, naturally, for a minor tactical flaw as mentioned in the quote above). His associates, Ament and Joaquin, balance him quite nicely-one a voice of reason, and the other the fanatic bodyguard who really hates it when his master puts himself in harm’s way. Seven doesn’t get too much time in this one, as he’s gotten significantly older, and so plays the part of Roberta’s mentor more than before. Roberta’s finally gotten out of some of her more annoying habits, which was a relief to me.
Aside from a very important plot point I figured out by chapter two (and most readers will probably catch it too), I found the journey of getting to Khan’s final destiny to be rather enjoyable. Greg Cox is to be highly commended for putting together a pair of books that only peripherally touch on Star Trek as a whole; if you switched some names and removed the framing story, it’d stand out quite nicely as a science fiction novel on its own merits. The fact that it is a Star Trek book, though, allows it to hit some rather nice touches that it couldn’t have done otherwise. I highly recommend The Eugenics Wars to any fan of Star Trek, and especially to those who loved the original episode “Space Seed” and the movie “The Wrath of Khan”.
(Side note: Cox once again includes a handy afterword with historic references…enough to make me wonder if Khan’s legacy isn’t still with us)
(Another side note: I wonder if we can find a way to get Cox to write up the third world war mentioned a couple times in Trek…after this one, I think he’d be a natural)