The Price of the Phoenix

The Price of the Phoenix - Sondra Marshak, Myrna Culbreath An astonishing book, no less so because it has that same inability to realize concrete detail, the same abstraction of characterization that I have noticed in this pair's other stuff. And the reason for this is absolutely clear - in the first 20 pages, we have things which most writers would shrink from as too strong for a climax - Kirk's death, his resurrection, a deep emotional link, the discovery that he's really a duplicate, the beginnings of a relationship with the Romulan Commander. Even as it is, the whole thing is far too overcharged emotionally. Every exchange of dialogue carries a whopping great reverberation of sentiment and unspoken meanings. Marshak & Culbreath have discovered the power of self-reference (i.e. to other situations in the book) and reference back to the series. And they exploit it shamelessly. And in the end, like anything moving that's overdone, it becomes almost tedious in its intensity, reminiscent of pornography - constant and repetitious stimulus, all highs and no recoveries. In fact, I'd go so far as to say this is a kind of pornography - pornography of the emotions, "K/S" without the sex. (I think the sex would be there if they could get away with publishing it - there is a rather adolescent fascination with nudity in the book). Harsh? yes - only because, rather like the drugstore romances, this puts the reader (no - me!) in touch with emotions and responses I'd rather not admit to having. In these post-Victorian days, it's fashionable to admit to being sexually stimulable, but response to emotional titillation isn't yet out of the closet!