*** (3 stars out of 5)
In Treknology Today: Tritanium is 21.4 times as hard as diamond. No word on whether it's harder than cast rodinium. (See 'Arena' and 'Balance of Terror' for previous runners-up as the hardest known substance in the Federation)
Anyway, nothing is harder than facing up to our weaknesses! For some, obsession. For others, the loss of every red corpuscle in their bodies. What could do such a thing to the redshirts on planet Argus X, you ask?
Why, it's the Crackling Vampire Cloud with the sweet honey center!
Captain Kirk recognized the beast from 11 years ago. When he was a Lieutenant Kirk in phaser control on the U.S.S. Farragut, he hesitated as much as two seconds before the cloud ate his mentor Captain Garrovick and incidentally 200 other people. Kirk has always blamed himself.
Today, security officer Ensign Garrovick (the son) has found himself in the same boat with probably the same creature. Minor hesitation, deaths, and self-recrimination. Today, it becomes clear: the phasers do nothing! Not against this transmuting, warp-capable, intelligent energy-gas. The hesitation made no difference.
Best line of the episode goes to Nurse Chapel and her applied psychology for young Garrovick. "Self-pity is a terrible first course. Why don't you try the soup instead?"
In fact, forget soup: an ounce of antimatter with the power of 10,000 cobalt bombs does the trick, destroying the creature, a huge chunk of its homeworld, and blowing off the atmosphere. Is that overkill? Well, planet Tycho IV looked like one of those lousy cloth-and-styrofoam geologies anyway. No big loss.
Space Moby Dick was probably done better in 'The Doomsday Machine' and Space Vampire better in 'The Man Trap'. Nobody does a better "cross circuiting to B" than Spock to save the day in the transporter room, however. Whatever that means.
"Obsessed With Star Trek" by Chip Carter from Chronicle Books came out this summer, ISBN 9781452101712, retailing for $33.95 Canadian. By the way, it's not a self-help book, it's more a "how-to" but in multiple choice form. Fun for the whole family, if your family is obsessed nerds.
"Obsession" is more than just a perfume from Calvin Clone. Wronged by a monster or impersonal force, our characters have been driven to take vengeance even at the expense of all they have left.
Like my own Star Trek obsession: having lost scads of money and uncounted months of free time collecting, watching, and reading it, I am driven to take vengeance... by spending more hours than ever before analyzing it, writing about it, and making stupid jokes.
Now who's the sucker?